To get to Nazca we had to take an overnight bus from Arequipa. Bus travel in South America can be a bit tricky with respect to comfort and safety but, having been in a car driven by Deb P, it takes a lot to get us overly worried. The bus we were on was actually pretty good but the security process was airport-like, and just before we were going to leave, a security guard with a camera came on board and started videotaping all of the passengers while reading the seat numbers out. I suppose this makes it easier to identify the bodies but it did strike us as a bit ominous and a touch pessimistic.
Hands up anyone who remembers a TV documentary from back in the disco era called Chariots Of The Gods. The premise was that early man could not possibly have built/designed/maintained a number of famous ancient sites without help from sophisticated extraterrestrials. This included the pyramids, Stonehenge, and even the Moai we had just seen on Easter Island. One of the more critical pieces in this somewhat pseudo-scientific theory was the site at Nazca, Peru. Nazca hosts what is purportedly a key piece of evidence of regular Klingon visits in the form of a landing strip (among other things) for spaceships. Some of the Nazca Lines are indeed rectangular or trapezoidal so you might envision the Enterprise coming in for a landing, but these lines could be just about anything else as well. The Lines also form shapes like spiders, birds, monkeys, trees, etc , but in order to see these shapes, and presumably guide the design, one must be hovering well above the ground because on the ground you can't make out anything (and for years the Lines went undiscovered, and roads were actually built right over many of them). Since ancient man had no means of hovering this became clear evidence of help from superior beings (or so saith the documentary dudes).
The Nazca desert is one of the driest on Earth and maintains a temperature around 25 °C all year round. The lack of wind has helped keep the lines uncovered and visible to the present day. The only real danger to them is human incursion (which, unfortunately, is happening).
We didn’t have access to the Star Ship Enterprise so our hovering was going to be done in a small, hot, & stuffy 5 seat Peruvian prop plane. I knew we were going to be in trouble when the pilots explained that they would be circling all of the important Nazca Line shapes while dramatically tipping the plane from side-to-side to ensure that everyone got a face-down view of the Lines. DH can get car-sick from reading a map in a moving vehicle (which is her justification for renting a GPS everywhere we go) so I knew that rocking her back and forth in a spinning (did I mention (hot & stuffy?) plane wasn’t going to end well. Some of the line shapes were difficult to see, and even when spotted, it was hard to envision these relatively simple shapes as the end result of an alien invasion, but by the time we landed DH was rocking the look of a pale green Martian.
In the years since the documentary aired most of the assumptions have been successfully debunked and there’s been a couple a less outer-space oriented explanations using scale models, simple surveying equipment, and digging a shallow trench. Determining how they were made has been easier than determining why they were made. The geometric ones could indicate the flow of water or be connected to rituals to summon water. The spiders, birds, and plants could be fertility symbols. Other possible explanations include irrigation schemes or giant astronomical calendars or, given that they were only discovered in 1940’s, perhaps they’re the brainchild of Peruvian Tourism Director trying to fill the gap between Arequipa and Lima??
We had seen and explored Machu Picchu, Lima, and Cusco on a previous trip to Peru & Ecuador so it was time to find an airport to catch a ride to Columbia.