25th – 27th February
We docked at General San Martin on Friday 25th February. Our destination comprised a loading quay for minerals and little else. We had a trip booked for the Nazca Lines and set off at 8.00 a.m. through about five miles of barren desert on the way to Pisco and the small airport.
We were to take the flight on a 12 passenger single propeller but modern plane. Initially we travelled over largely desert land but with square plots of greenery which we presumed to be some sort of vegetable crop. The first sight of the markings was that of many abstract straight lines. We were then told to look for the Whale which we found difficult to spot although we have manage to capture in our photographs.
The designs are large, being up to 300 metres in length. They are made by removing the dark stones from the desert surface and exposing the lighter colour sand beneath. The removed stones are piled at the side of the image to mark its edge.
The next marking was “The Astronaut”. This is on the hillside and was a little clearer. Nevertheless, it was difficult to get good photos of the various pictures because our plane was both moving forwards and dipping to give us the best views that our pilot could provide. Over the next three quarters of an hour we saw many of the markings, which are always said to be unnoticeable except from the air. It was certainly a remarkable experience.
On our return to the ship, we passed a lake with flamingoes and pelicans before stopping at an array of small market stalls set up in front of Discovery. Adie bought a dark grey alpaca jumper for $49 U.S. and we also found another of the nativity scenes created within a decorated gourd that we had previously bought in Venezuela at Margarita Island.
Saturday 26th February
On a very warm morning, we visited Huaca Huallamarca, a adobe pyramid temple built in several phases from 700 A.D. In its small museum was a mummy from around 5000 BC. This, we were told, was of a young girl – with inordinately long brown hair. Her eyes were reminiscent of those of the Chinese and our guide maintained that this proved that the Peruvian people had originally hailed from Asia.
The pyramid seemed somewhat out of place amidst the blocks of flats and prosperous buildings of the Miraflores area of Lima.
We moved on to Huaca Pucllana. This dated from 200 – 700 AD and had been constructed from adobe bricks stood on end. There were gaps between the bricks to allow movement in the event of earthquakes. The site had not been uncovered or preserved in any way until the 1970s since archaeology in Peru only began with the Europeans in the early 20th century such as Hiram Bingham who discovered Machu Picchu.
Our final stop was at the Oracle Centre. This was housed in a building around two courtyards. It embraced the various pre-hispanic cultures and also had an exhibition of their gold working.
In the evening we went again to the Yacht Club, having only booked at lunchtime. There were just some 200 passengers left on board due to the major trips to Machu Picchu so it was relatively easy to secure a last minute booking.
Sunday 27th February
Our trip today was limited to one museum, the Herrera, and to the Indian Market. The museum houses a collection of 45,000 objects held privately. It was amazing to see, in their store, many racks of complete ceramic decorative items. These had been used mainly for offerings.
The Indian Market was quite quiet – although we suspect that it livens up as the day progresses since many stalls were only just opening whilst we were there. We purchased another little jacket for Zac and for Ava and an alpaca scarf for Zoë. We returned to the ship in fog – which is typical of this area.