Journey to Peru—Day Five
Flying over the Nazca Lines
Today our agenda is simple: Get to the Nazca airport, charter a plane, and fly over the Nazca lines to see some of the wonders that people of centuries ago left for us to observe. By 10 am, our hour-long flight was ready to depart and we cranked up the engine of what I believe was a Cessna 182 single engine seven-passenger airplane. Our pilot and co-pilot quickly rattled off their checklists to each other in Spanish and a few moments later, we were taxiing down the runway getting ready for take-off. I thought to myself, I wonder if these lines are going to be as amazing as people say? Within minutes, we were at full throttle making a squiggly line down the runway as the pilot tried to keep the plane going in the right direction. As we lifted off, I could tell that this was going to be a rough flight! The pilot described the flight pattern to us and showed us on paper the formations that we were going to see. We would start by flying over the “whale”; first we would bank on the right side, then the bank on the left side. Following that, we would fly over to the next figure; first banking on the right, then banking on the left. Now I have to be honest here, I was not too impressed with our first sighting of the whale. I thought to myself, what’s the big deal? I could have done that one. From there, we went to see what the literature called an “astronaut,” but after talking to Denis Swift about it, he said if you look closely you will see that he has big eyes, and is throwing something. It is depicting a fisherman. Much of this culture depended on the fishing to be able to survive and even trade so the idea of them depicting a fisherman is much more likely than an astronaut. We went by this figure banking on the right, then banking on the left.
By the time we got to the “monkey,” I did not want to hear the pilot say, “banking right then banking left” again as I was starting to feel a little queasy. I took off my headphones and began focusing on keeping my body in check and my food in my stomach. We went by each image, banking first on the right, then banking on the left. The figures did continue to get more impressive and I was literally saying to myself, this is amazing. Some of the lines go for a mile and are laser straight.
We asked the pilot if there were any Nazca lines of dinosaurs, and he said that he would take us to see one at the end. I was kind of blown away at his response, thinking that he would just laugh and say no, there are no dinosaurs. As we passed the “parrot,” I could smell the sweet scent of peppermint coming from behind me. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to smell that as my stomach was ready to hurl at any moment! Mrs. Cathy sitting next to me could not handle it and had already begun using the plastic bag to deposit her breakfast into. The smell of peppermint calmed my stomach to a point that I could continue observing the footage of the lines that we had come to study. Just before we began the flight back to the airport, the pilot said, “Now we will see dinosaur.” We flew for a few minutes and then the pilot said, “There it is.” As I looked out the left side of the plane, I could not believe my eyes. Now I have to say that I am not sure about this, but the image certainly looked like a dinosaur to me. I mean, come on, how much training does it take to spot the figure of a dinosaur? This one appeared to be a styracosaurus, and if it was not, then I am going to need some help figuring out what this figure resembled. I am sure that the people reading this blog won’t mind using their imagination to help me see something different!
As we headed back to the airport, I reflected on the amazing opportunity it was to see these lines in person. Now, I still don’t know if these people had the ability to fly, or were able to make these lines using some other form, but either way, they are amazing! Time to drive back to Lima now. Tomorrow we head to Cuzco.
The Lines are one of archaeology’s most baffling enigmas. We have seen giant geoglyphs carved in the sand and laser-straight lines. How did they make them? What kind of technology did they have to see a spider’s anatomy when today only a high-powered microscope can view it? In the Nazca Palpa Lines, there is a geoglyph of a styracosaurus dinosaur, how did they know about it?
All of this reminded me of a section of Dr. Swift’s book that covers all the amazing things we are seeing on this trip. In Chapter 12 of Secrets of the Ica Stones and Nazca Lines, Dennis Swift writes:
One of earth’s last mysteries are the Nazca Lines in Southern Peru. An air of secrecy hovers over the lines. Certainly, the Nazca Desert is the world’s largest sketchpad. The Nazcans used the earth’s crust as a colossal canvas of art. The desert doodling pad is of dramatic dimensions: thirty-seven miles long and fifteen miles wide spanning more than five hundred twenty square kilometers of the Pampa Colorado (red plain). This giant artwork forms a geometrical melange of triangles, trapezoids, spirals, zigzags, straight lines, and strange tracings in the desert. Included among the drawings are more than seventy animals, plants, and anthropomorphic figures of mega proportions: the Spider is forty-six meters long, the Lizard—one hundred eighty meters, the Monkey—one hundred meters, the Hummingbird—ninety-six meters, the Killer Whale—sixty-five meters, the Condor—one hundred thirty-six meters, the Parrot—two hundred meters, and the Pelican with an elongated zigzag neck—almost nine hundred feet long. … The lines are ruler straight and stretch across the desert in a laser line with arrow accuracy. The longest line is twenty-five miles in length, and the base of the largest trapezoid is two thousand five hundred feet wide with a line shooting like a laser beam all the way across the pampa. Another curious feature of the lines is that, when they come to a hill or mountain, they stop, and then proceed on the other side in precisely the same linear path. There is no greater baffling archaeological enigma than the Nazca Lines.
- Secrets of the Ica Stones and Nazca Lines by Dr. Dennis Swift