Sunday, September 18, 2011

Flying By

The year is certainly flying by quickly. And so am I. Yesterday I made my 26th flight of the year. It was from Lima to Arequipa in Peru. Earlier in the day Gay and I had flown over the famous Nazca lines.

I have wanted to visit Peru and see the ancient structures and other remnants of Peruvian cultures, ever since, at the age of 10, I somehow managed to get hold of William Prescott's famous book The Conquest of Peru.

The Nazca lines are immense carvings in the floor of the Nazca desert. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, llamas, and lizards.There are many geometric designs and representations of humans and animals. The great mystery surrounding them is that they can only be seen from the air. If you were on the ground you would not be able to see them. Some of the lines stretch for miles. So how (and why?) were they carved in the desert so long ago? They were constructed by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD

In an action-packed first four days we have also seen the pre-Inca ruins at Pachacamac, The museum at Ica, the oasis and immense sand dunes at Huacachina, and made a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, with unbelievable numbers of cormorants, pelicans and blue-footed boobies -so many that guano collection and removal is a very visible industry there.

For the Nazca lines we flew from Pisco, a town largely destroyed by a recent earthquake in 2007. We stayed for two nights at a very splendid resort at nearby Paracas. It was very reassuring to know that this resort had been completely demolished in the earthquake, which had resulted in the rebuilding to a much higher standard. That would have been a great comfort if another earthquake had come along when we were there.

Pisco airport is clearly also a military base. It was very interesting to see the pictured Canberra aircraft there - a wonderfully versatile aircraft built by English Electric, now known as British Aerospace or BAe, the company my son-in-law Kenny and my granddaughter Alexandra work for. The Canberra was retired by its first operator, the Royal Air Force (RAF), on 23 June 2006, 57 years after its first flight. NASA are still using some of the American version for meteorological work. There were others dispersed around the airfield.

We are now in Arequipa at well over 2000 meters, on our way into the high Andes for visits such as Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu.

For details of where to find my book "Vic's Big Walk from SW France to NW England" double click on this.

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