My newly made friend, Christy and I said goodbye and got our buses, hers headed to Lima and mine to Nazca. It just happened that the three Israeli girls I met in Cabanaconde were sitting in front of me so we chatted for a bit. as soon as the bus got rolling I started to feel nauseous so I took a Dramamine and zonked out, waking up to the call to deboard in Nazca.
It was about 6am, chilly and i was in that groggy don’t bother me mood. Immediately off of the bus I was swarmed by, “TAXI! TAXI? TAXI!? AMIGO! HOSTAL! HOSTAL? HOSTAL!? At that moment all I really wanted to do was sit down in the bus terminal for a minute and collect myself but there is no bus terminal in Nazca its just a gated parking lot where buses load and unload so i just walked out to a nearby plaza, down the road, away from the vulturous chaos of that station and got a taxi to the place Christy recommended which was being entirely occupied by a construction crew. I pulled out my guide that I borrowed from the hostal in Arequipa and found another place. got checked in and went to sleep.
Nazca has a few touristy things to do you could check off almost all in a day but i didn’t get moving till around noon. I walked around looking for agencies to take me to the Cerro Blanco, the tallest dune in the world so I could sand board but it turns out its difficult to find a group tour so I would have been going alone on a 5 hour hike into a remote desert environment. I opted to take a dune buggy ride into smaller but still big dunes nearer to the city and the trip also included some ruins and sailboarding.
The Nazca people built underground channels and spiral wells in the desert around 500 C.E. When they found two types of trees within a certain distance of one another they would dig a square well to look for water. If they found it they elaborated on the design.
Our first stop on the buggy tour was the Ocongalla Aquaduct which is constructed with stones and no mortar.At one end you can still see the water flowing in from the underground channels that were dug and lined with stones over a thousand years ago.these water sources were essential to maintaining agriculture in the desert landscape.
From there we rumbled on, drifting around sandy corners and bouncing over potholes on the way to Cahuachi. In the desert the roads cant be painted with lines so they use big white rocks to line the edge of roads. Cahuachi was a ceremonial site for the Nazca people. Supposedly there was a year of heavy rains that damaged many of the structures. Now Italian and Peruvian archaeologists are working to rebuild it and learn more. as we drove away from the construction I could swear there were hand cut blocks poking out from the sand wind erosion doesn’t look like that and it doesn’t rain out in the desert. I think that desert holds a ton of secrets waiting to be uncovered.
the buggy approached a big set of dunes and gunned it working up to top gear and then gradually bogged down as we got close to the top. The driver steered us back down part way gunning it again, picking up momentum to get us to the top. Once at the top he drove us around flying down steep dunes. The tires flying over the soft sand was unforgettable; it was like a swarm of bees then near the bottom he would fire up the engine again.
At the top again he stopped and we unloaded, grabbing a sandboard. The Colombian family I was with weren’t much of surfers skaters or snowboarders so they were listening to instructions from the guide and taking turns sliding down sitting on the boards. I tried snowboarding once when I was younger but didn’t do too well though i grew up skateboarding and surfing. So i figured no problem here strap it on and go. The dunes were immense and I was slightly intimidated but I hopped hopped towards the edge and leaned in starting to slide. Sand and Snowboarding is not like skateboarding and surfing; here you need to weight your front foot slightly more than the back which isn’t instinctual. I let the toe side edge catch a little and started to turn and then turned too much and crashed tossing me around and creating a cloud of sand and dust, filling my pockets, pants and everything else with sand. We climbed up the dune, fighting a self induced avalanche of sand and had a few more tries before packing up and buckling in for the best part of the buggy ride; when we jumped a dune. I’m not sure how much air we got but I know i’m glad I tightened my seat belt and had my backpack strapped in too because it was a pretty big bump.
I’m not much into touristy guided trips and that sort of thing but i’m really glad I took this little tour.