October 13, 2005
I got up early again because of the noise. When I looked across the room, Morad wasn't there. Then I sat up and see him sleeping on the floor with his sleeping bag. "Bedbugs," was his response. "They must have been in my sheets. I'm bitten from head to toe." I examined myself for bites. None. I guess I just got lucky. When he told the people at the front desk, they said that it was the first time it had happened and he probably tracked them in himself. Talk about blaming the victim.
Even besides the flea problem, I don't like this hostel. The base price is cheap, but they sure make everything else expensive. The Internet costs 1 sol/hour everywhere else in town, but at the hostel, it's 2 soles/hour. Breakfast consists of coffee and two pieces of bread. Everything else costs more. A lot more. Orange Juice is 2.5 soles for glass. You can get an entire meal for that much elsewhere in the city! It also costs 3 soles to put your backpack in their storage, which isn't very secure to begin with. I haven't had to pay for that service anywhere else. And finally, our room came with a TV set, but the chord wasn't long enough to plug into the single outlet in the room. At the reception desk, they had extension chords. I didn't even bother asking how much those were. "We said your room had a TV... We never said you could use it." OK, enough complaining.
The main goal of the day was to see the Nazca Lines. Morad and I grabbed a cab to the airport to talk directly with the agencies. Before we could even get out of the cab, an agency lady dragged us into an office. She gave the typical speech and offered to go for $55. We said that was ridiculous, so she lowered it to $40. We said it was still too much, so the lady leaned in closely and gave us a "special price" of $35. That was better, but we still had to pay an airport tax. We said we would inquire with the other agencies and return if her price was still the best. She said she'd cut the tax in half, and we finally agreed to go.
The first thing we did was watch a video about the lines. The video first showed how the giant figures drawn in the desert were discovered and popularized. It then went into the possible explanations for the lines. This part of the video was very interesting, but highly biased toward the supernatural. Were the lines created by aliens? Were they created by the Nazca people to welcome their new alien overlords? Finally at the end of the video, a lady said something sensible: The lines were created 2500 years ago by the Nazca people. This can be shown through radiocarbon dating and the fact that the Nazca pottery featured many of the same figures. To say that they were created by aliens is insulting to the Nazca culture. As soon as the pilot was ready, the video was abruptly turned off and we boarded the plane.
The ride wasn't all it was cracked up to be. After about five minutes of flying over the desert, we reached the site of the lines. "There's the parrot; there's the astronaut," the pilot said. I guess I just expected the figures to be bigger. I thought I they would cover all of the visble land, even from the plane, but most of them seemed tiny. It still is amazing that the people here created the figures over 2500 years ago, but the experience was hyped up so much that when I finally was in the plane, I was disappointed. By the end of the 45-minute ride, I started to feel queasy. Motion sickness was something I had never experienced in my life, but with the plane constantly weaving back and forth with such sharp turns, I finally felt what so many people had described to me. I think we landed just in time.
After I got back to the hostel, I had a nice nap and went out Morad and Francesca, from Switzerland, for lunch. We discussed going to the Maria Reiche Museum, named in honor of the woman who dedicated her life to studying and popularizing the Nazca Lines. Morad hates museums, so Francesca and I took the 30-minute bus ride to the museum, which was in the middle of nowhere, without him.
The first thing I noticed at the museum was that there were two llamas near the entrance. I petted them a little bit, but after my previous lesson, I didn't take any chances in posing for a photo with them. Next, our museum guide showed us some mummified corpses that were discovered nearby, one of which looked like Bob Marley. We then learned about the life of Maria Reiche and were told that the museum actually used to be her house. Finally we walked around the courtyard, which was still decorated with lots of flowers.
There was still a little daylight left, so we decided to take another bus to the Mirador, a lookout tower from which two of the Nazca figures are visible. We got there about 30 minutes after what must have been a magnificent sunset in the middle of the desert. The lines actually seemed slightly more interesting from that vantage point. After we walked back to the ground, we noticed that the lines weren't visible at all from ground-level. No wonder they went so long without being discovered!
After the Mirador experience, it was almost completely dark and the buses that passed by us on the Panamerican Highway would have a hard time seeing us. The employees at the Mirador saw this and offered us an interesting solution: They would drive us back to the museum, where there were street lights, on motorcycles! As I stared down the long road ahead of me wearing no protection except my sandals, I couldn't help but think of "The Motorcycle Diaries," where Che and his buddy kept falling off their old motorcycle every time they went around a corner. It was a wild ride, but neither of us fell. After saying our "Thank You's" to the motorcycle drivers, we waited fifteen minutes for the next bus to take us back into town.
Later that night, I went out with a bunch of people to what I believe is the most expensive restaurant in town. Still, they did have really good food there. After a long day, I finally went to bed in hopes of finally getting a good night's sleep.