Despite the blue ocean off to the west, this is the bleakest place I’ve ever seen – even more desolate than the Sinai and without the grandeur of that harsh landscape. The only place I can think of that begins to compare is the outlying Navajo lands of the southwest, not in it looks (the Navajo land consists largely of stones, while this land is solid rock covered by dust and sand), but in it’s barrenness.
This area was hit hard by the 2007 earthquake, which explains the fallen brick walls, the piles of rubble along the road, and the fact that most of the buildings we see appear to be new.
Despite the new buildings, this still seems a very poor place.
It also explains why the airport that I thought was 1 ½ hours away is only a ½ hour – until a month ago, one had to drive to the airport in Ica ?? to catch a plane to view Nazca. Now, there is a shiny new airport right here.
Ok, shiny may be a bit optimistic, but the terminal itself is brand new and practically sparkles.
It is a bit odd, however, to step out of that brand new terminal onto a vast field of dirt.
While this terminal is new, it appears that the air field itself is not – I suspect it served military planes before becoming the commercial airport, but that is only a guess.
We (Mike, that is) have booked our flight on a touring plane that should provide us all with good views.
Once we get off the ground, that is. The fact that the guy guiding us out on to the runway carried a fire extinguisher with him does give me pause. . . it’s at these sorts of moments when I realize that leaving home does carry a few risks.
And then we are in the air.
It is actually quite a long flight to the Nazca plain and the flight is smooth almost until we reach it. At that point I supplement my almost too-old patch with Dramamine (which I tend to react to very quickly) just in case.
We hit a pocket of turbulence and then we are there.
At the first of the notable sets of lines, the pilot banks STEEPLY to the right. From across the aisle I can look straight past Mike and Lee Ann and see the figures directly below their window.
I am amazed at how the figures jump out at me (I expected them to be hard to pick out) at the same time I want nothing more than to throw up.
Then the pilot comes around and swoops down on the left until the figure is directly below the tip of the wing.
We do this repeatedly, twice for every one of the major figures worked into the soil at Nazca. Often some instrument begins to beep while we are tipped nearly sideways to take in the view. I suspect that is a sign that we are doing something we shouldn’t and that my sense of balance would prefer we didn’t. (It isn’t until the next day that Mike tells me that is the stall alarm going off.) Meanwhile, I cough futilely into a plastic bag, looking up only to see the next formation carved into the plain.
It is an oddly beautiful place, a flat dry plain surrounded by reddish mountains. Even while I am too miserable to do so, I wish I could find the energy to take more pictures.