On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me: weird lines drawn in the ground.
We left Arequipa on a night bus to head to Nazca and the famous Nazca lines where we had booked onto a 30 minute flight to see them.
The Nazca lines were created between 200BC and 700AD by the Nazca population. They first came to international light through the work of Maria Reiche in the late 1940s and it is thanks to her work that the lines are preserved. The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the ubiquitous reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish ground beneath. The area encompassing the lines is nearly 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi), and the largest figures can span nearly 270 metres (890 ft). Why the Nazcas created the lines remains a mystery, although ideas range from aliens to them being religious symbols to entice the gods to bring water. It is only due to the environment with its extremely dry, windless and constant climate that has preserved them for so long.
We drove out to the tiny airport that is the base for all flights. Tiny planes littered the runway. After a short wait we were taken out in small groups to our plane. There were 7 of us in our plane, 8 including the pilot. It was tiny. Soon the front propeller was turning and we set off jerkily down the runway. With a burst of speed we were off into what was the bumpiest journey I have ever taken! The air currents meant that the plane kept dropping slightly before rising, like being on a mini roller coaster.
The view though was stunning. A dry, arid place that stretched flatly across the plain until mountains broke the sight. The pilot started talking to us through headsets as we began to to fly over the lines. At first they were hard to pick out as vehicles had driven over the area creating many other lines. The pilot banked first to the right then flew back banking on the left so each side of the plane got a good view. Slowly the lines became clear and it was a remarkable sight. My favourite was definitely the astronaut and the monkey. They looked so fun! Some shapes were definitely easier to see than others.
The banking of the plane and the constant slight dropping of the plane started to effect people in my group, to the point where some were airsick. Whilst I felt sorry for them I loved the flight and for me it was fun!! The flight was only 30 minutes in total and so it was not long before we saw the runaway coming back into view. It was short but a magical experience, totally perplexing and something I will always remember.
We spent the rest of the time in Nazca relaxing - well, after such a journey nothing else could top it!