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Episode 3: The Peruvian Times
@ Where`s Cherie?     Aug 05 2002 - 16:04 PST
cherie writes: January 1999

We just visited some local islands off of the Peruvian coast called Paracas, or to the locals 'The Galapagos Islands for the Poor'. There was a myriad of strange and wonderful sealife, my favorite... the Peruvian Penguins. We were not able to swim because jellyfish littered the water like lillypads in a lagoon.

Next we traveled to Ica, which is a little city tucked within mountains of sand. It is a true oasis there, with a magical lagoon in the center that has supposed 'curative' properties. The lagoon nestled against a giant backdrop of sand dunes invited me to learn a new sport...SandSkiing, which is basically like snowboarding on sand. The only drawback is that there are no camels to bring you up the giant sand dunes, so you have to drudge your own body up there.Last night, I generously donated a pint of blood to the mosquitoes of Peru. And how nice to wake up to those little bites forming a miniature relief map on my leg. As soon as my friend saw the bites, he started spraying me with insect repellent like he was possessed. Too little, too late.I am in a town called Nazca now. Here there are mystical geometric designs in the dessert visible only from the air. There are spiders, lizards, monkeys...birds, all made by the Nazca culture about 900 years before Christ. The great mystery is that you can not see them from the ground, only from aircraft, so they were not discovered until the 1920's. So how did this ancient culture create these geometrically perfect figures 2800 years ago? After taking the plane flight over the drawings I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I looked like a reincarnated nightmare from 1982. My hair is wind blown from the airplane ride, so its got that 80´s puff to it. My pants are tucked into my socks because I prefer to look stupid, rather than get bit by mosquitoes again, and I am wearing these huge bird earrings I bought from a local lady. Add a rainbow shirt, a Member´s Only jacket, and a few Duran Duran buttons and zap me back to 1982. Next we went to an old cemetery where bones, skulls and mummies lie strewn across the dessert. Grave robbers had dug up these ancient cultures to steal the relics buried within the tombs. Scavengers had turned a once holy place into a graveyard of smashed ceramics and scattered bones. I picked up something long and white, it was a human spine, its joins fused together and bleached white by the sun. I looked at Kristi and she was holding parts of a broken vase, an artifact from the past, lasting thousands of years beyond the ancient culture itself. Then we visited ruins of the Inca's and an old aqueduct made by the Nazca people that was made over 2000 years ago, and is still in use today. Somehow I was voted to crawl through the aqueduct, which was wet, long, and scarey--a tiny zig zag cave, where there was no light to guide me...only the feel of stones. Near the ruins was a sign scribbled in child´s writing `"Mummies Inside". A local family living in a thatched shack had dug up the remains of ancient indians and placed them in their home for tourists to see. For 30 cents you could view a mummy. I tried to assess in my mind if there were a sum someone could give me that would cause me to put a 2000 year old dead person in my living room. I´ll leave that question to debate on a long drive. Speaking of long drives, my mode of transportation has been the bus. Last night was an 8 hour ride where Kristi begged to exchange her seat companion (Stinky snoring man) with mine (the two in one combo of crying baby and mom with annoying squeaky toy that appeased neither the child nor I.) We are looking into the prices for flights now. The people here are so friendly, devoted to their families, friends and God. They greet us with warm smiles and cold showers. Peru is the home of the most ornate cathedrals I have ever seen. Outside the people pray for food, inside the church is lined with gold. Rosaries hang from rear-view mirrors the same way artificially scented felt trees hang back home. I still don't feel like a local yet though, I just can't get used to drinking milk out of a can. Take Care, Cherie

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