23rd - 27th April (Nasca to Puno)
We had travelled back down to the much less oppressive altitude of 598m, my plastic water bottle had completely caved in. I thought it best to get the flight done as soon as possible as the sky was perfectly clear. 192 soles to share a Cessna with four old Italians for half an hour as the pilot swung around each of the images below so that people on both sides of the plane could see clearly. The Nasca lines are mysterious images carved into the mostly flat rocky landscape below by several different civilisations between 900bc and 600ad. Nobody can prove exactly why and it is the different theories that make them so fascinating. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_Lines. Lots of geometric lines, a monkey, hummingbird, astronaut, spider, dog whale.
The photos from above were no good as the colours involved are kind of grey on a grey background but when I went to planetarium later that night for a fantastically entertaining and informative presentation on the lines, the mystery surrounding them became much greater. Also I saw the rings of saturn clearly through a telescope and the craters of the half moon as if I could reach out and touch them.
The town of Nasca isn't at all pretty with most of the buildings looking like they are not yet finished. The main street is nice enough and well lit at night. It is extremely hot. I bought 8 dvds for 12 soles so they should be top quality and legal!
I went to the Museo Antinini which would have ben completely dull if it weren't for the wonderful trophy heads! After a lunch that I never managed I sat and read for a while before taking a tour with a taxi driver to see bones and mummies out in the desert,
stopping at the less than fascinating gold prospectors and pottery working place where they tried to sell me stuff I had no use for. I Arived 45 minuted early for the 23.00 bus which arrived an hour and a quarter late.
I awoke on the bus around sunrise, the hills looked like massive sand dunes with a scattering of rocks on them. This desolation continued for miles until suddenly we got to an area irrigated by the river that was lush with trees and farmland. There was a confusing bus change but we eventually got to where we were going and I met Raymond, a strange young Korean living in Canada. We booked in to the lovely and cheap 'Hospedaje el caminante class'(15S), went to the museo santaurios andinos for an interesting presentation on the young Inca sacrifices found in the nearby mountains, and the very weird contemporary art museum. The football kicked off earlier than I expected so I missed most of the Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool first leg but watched the rest in an Irish pub. In the evening I ate Ceviche (marinated raw fish) as I can't quite bring myself to eat the local delicacy of fried guinea pig (served whole). Ray and I went out drinking with a couple of others and played some pool.
The next morning we went to the Convento Santa Catalina which is a massive convent village for years hidden from public view behind huge walls, a fascinating building, pleasant gardens and all that but it seems I am unable to find much enjoyment from anything religious and trudged around completely bored. Later Ray and I caught a 20S bus to Puno, the price was reflected in the standard, an hour late leaving, dirty and for a while I thought the most uncomfortable bus I had ever been on as my chair wouldn't recline and the guys in front did until he was almost behind me! But then I remembered some of those bus journeys in asia and just laughed as the truly horible martial arts slapstick film played loudly above me.
We arrived in Puno in the evening. It was dark and the streets were wet and dirty. The buildings, again unfinished. We tried looking for a sociable hostel but instead found a dive with a bathroom that had a smell that could make your nose run, your eyes water. Truly horrible. We went out for Lasagne and even that never really got my appetite going. I thought of Carly's lasagne, with garlic bread and a lovely trifle for pudding. Back at our 12S hostel, the beds were actually pretty good and I slept well despite being back at the uncomfortable altitude of 3,855m (taking tablets again).
The hotel shower was cold and looked horrid so I skipped it. Puno looks just as bad in the day. Ray and I walked to the port where we joined a 15S half day boat tour to the floating reed islands of Uros. The people here have an interesting lifestyle living mostly off of fishing although they do supplement this by selling tat to tourists! The morning was hot and bright but it rained when we got back to Puno, I ate another half meal before we changed to a much nicer 30S hotel.