This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution click to the left or right of an image in blog mode. The images were generated from video to give the best possible view of the journey.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Waiting at the bus station in Lima

From Lima we took a bus south to Nazca en route to Arequipa, exiting Lima through the suburbs and then an almost endless chain of ghetto favelas with desolate little brick shanties.

We then proceeded down the arid Atacama desert shoreline, dusty and desolate, punctuated only by occasional  coastal and fishing towns and occasional green belts of irrigated fields bordering the rivers

Eventually we suffered the fate common to riders in South American buses. The bus sputtered and then slowly ground to a halt, leaving all the passengers stranded in the night with no rescue in sight.

We were all forced to hitch a ride on another bus going in the same direction which became crowded to standing room only, eventually reaching Nazca town much later than expected.

This is but an echo of my previous expereince in 1980 when I took a us from Lima to Pucallpa in 1980 to look for the fabled hallucinogenic drink, ayahuasca or yage. I took a Tepsa bus (one of the larger companies) on the outward journey only to find it overtaken at speed by those of the León de Huánuco livery.

When I came to make the return journey which had to be completed in one 18 hou stretch to Lima then on by bus to Quito and Cali and by two air legs to Guatemala and LA to catch my flight back to NZ, I took a León de Huánuco ticket.  The bus left nearly an hour late and then true to form took off at a breakneck speed on the wild heavily metalled stony Amazonian road.  About an hour into the journey there was a terrible crack and a lurch and the bus bround to a standstill.  The entire back wheels had come of their springs, rolling the differential upside dow and disconnecting the transmission completely.

I resigned myself to missing my strictly dated cheap flight out of LA, but the driver and touts got out with a sledge hammer and fencing wire and jacked and rolled the rear transmission back into place, knocked the pins back into the spring shackles and bound the rig together with fencing wire.

They then proceeded to take over at an even greater speed to make up for lost time lurching up the ever steeper winding hairpins of the three cordilleras black blue and white with the overloaded bus straining around every precipitous bend tied together only with the fencing wire, until I finally in exasperation stood at the front and shouted in broken Spanish that the driver was mad and that were were all going to get killed unless we got the driver to slow down and look after the damaged bus enough to get us to Lima. This did have a barely noticeable effect and we did make it in time for a quick overnight sleepover before heading on on what became a ten day trip back to LA.

We stayed in a funky little pension with a bar and a couple of units tacked on to the back ot the bulding which were quite comfortable. The 'boys' got a bit drunk on spirits and played guitar into the night.

Hangovers in the morning

The little unit Jane and I stayed in

Nazca is a two-horse town on the highway famous for the Nazca lines - pre-Colombian shamanic depictions cut into the still desert landscape by moving stones and making a shallow trench, which are really only clearly visible by air.

A set of the Nazca depictions on pottery and as ground maps in the hotel bar

Two aerial views

Because we were on a tight budget and weren't seeking tourist flights of fancy, we took the blue-collar option and hired a taxi out about ten miles to a viewing platform that does give at lease an idea of one or two of the depictions enough to get the general idea.

Heath, Jane and Adam in the taxi

The desert road was dominated by billboards -free market rules OK?

View of one of the lines from the platform and below depicted on small stones

Back for a quick drink before departing south

From there, we headed on down through the coastal desert again into the night arriving late evening in Arequipa.

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