Thursday, June 3, 2010

"We have sunshine!" For the first time in 4 days, we had sunshine when we woke up. The whole hotel looked much nicer, with the white walls looking nice against the backdrop of the bright blue sky. Justin walked around to get some photos while the sunshine lasted, and saw a number of birds enjoying the dates in the date palms. Alas, this bummed Justin out, because one of our largest palm trees at our house (a Canary Island Date Palm) contracted a fatal disease from birds (or mice) eating our dates after eating dates from diseased dates from other trees. These birds didn't seem to care, however.

We had packed the night before, and were expecting leisurely morning, but we got call shortly after 8 stating that Guillermo was waiting for us. We thought he was picking us up at 8:30 to drive to Ica and board plane there, but instead, our flight was at 8:30, and not in Ica, but thankfully in Pisco. He drove us over to the tiny airport, and fortunately we did get there right at 8:30. After we had "checked in" and gone through security, we realized we had no idea what was going on - everything was different than what we had in our itinerary, and no one spoke any English. All we cared about, however, was seeing Nazca lines. People at the airport gave us a little map with a route for our plane, and the various Nazca lines, so we figured it would all work out.

The plane was small, about the size of some planes we flew in Africa and to Lizard Island. There were four rows of 2&1 seats, but since there were only 8 people, everyone got a window seat, and lots of puke bags. We were at the back, lessening the odds that the wing would get in our way, and also allowing us to shoot over our shoulders through the windows behind us. The landscape flying down to the lines was similar to Atacama (a couple hundred miles to the south) - lots of sand, lots of mountains. The flight was nice and calm, but once we got to the lines, we dropped really low, and we were flying much faster than we were expecting. This made it very tough to 1) locate the lines, and 2) get a decent photo in time before we had already passed by.

Many of them were much harder to see than what you would expect from photos on the internet. In those photos, it must have been at a different time of day, or they used some sort of filter to enhance the contrast. For us, eventually, we think we found what we were supposed to, but with a high degree of difficulty. The pilot would fly by with lines on one side of the plane, then would bank the plane doing a 180, then fly by on the other side. This gave us two bites at the apple, but also increased our odds of getting sick. The "spider" was the easiest to see, and the "alien" was the only Nazca Line with lines inside of lines. All told, we saw:

The current line of thought is that the lines were meant to be walked (like a procession), which is why lines do not cross, and end where they start. Crystal just avoided being ill, she was happy when we straightened out and started back to Pisco. On the return flight, it was once again nice and calm. Landing was easy, and we were back at the resort well before noon. Since we were done much earlier than expected, and gave some thought to taking boat back out to Candelabra, since it was sunny. We had noticed that all the photos the day before were a little blurry, likely because 1) it wasn't sunny, and 2) the camera had no idea what to focus on. We also gave some thought to getting an earlier flight to Arequipa, but in the end did nothing. We did sleep quite a bit on the drive back to Lima, taking off the motion sickness patches after we realized we didn't need them any more. We stopped for lunch at El Piloto in Canate - lots of tourists there, but food was quite good. Since we hadn't altered our schedule, we got to the Lima airport around 3:30 for a 7:55 flight. We killed some time reading our books and catching up on the diary.

We got to Arequipa just before 10. We got some disturbing news that although we were leaving our hotel at 7:30 the next day (Friday) for Colca Canyon, we wouldn't be doing the Condor Lookout until Sunday. In other words, Saturday would be a wasted day - again different from what was in our itinerary. Justin was not happy with this, given the events earlier in the day, plus some pushback we'd gotten on proposed transfers (which, interestingly, Miguel confirmed for us were actually more appropriate). Crystal wasn't feeling well, so she went to sleep at our hotel (the Casa Andina Private Collection). Justin, also not feeling well (but for a different reason) went out to dinner at Trattoria del Monasterio. It was pretty good, and he told Crystal that they should go back when she was feeling better.