November 27, 2004 - Nazca 175k, 106m***

I went from rock-solid sound asleep to as awake as I have ever been in .08 seconds this morning. Something was climbing on me, on my bed. Of course I didn’t move. It took me another 1.18 seconds to determine that they were light footprints of a four-legged thing. Another 1.4 seconds later, when it stepped off my body, I flung the covers off and leapt across the room. My friend.

Steve, still not in his game, decided not to ride today. When qw left Puerto Inka. I headed north into the hills while Eduardo and Steve headed south to a pharmacia. This would be the first day of RASAM2004 that I would ride alone.

The first 20k/12m were on hills, through smaller canyons and much of it on the worst road surface I have ridden on this trip. Then it was down more hills and switchbacks to the Pacific coast.

Heading down this hill, I couldn’t see where the Pan American Highway was headed in the distance. A bit later I found out why. The beach sand was trying to reclaim it.

I had to walk through parts of this, and tuck and close my eyes and mouth when trucks drove by to avoid being sandblasted. The Peruvians did have a bulldozer on the job, trying to keep the road passable.

After some kilometers of this, the road headed way back inland and uphill about 1,100 feet (altitude) to regular desert road. After a first break 37k/34m into the day I passed a sign on the side of the road advertising a museo 2k off to the side. I walkie-talkied Eduardo and Steve and asked them to check it out. There was a small building there, and many skeletons of whales and sea life embedded into the desert floor.

They paid a pittance to get in, and the lady that opened the building offered her thanks saying that now she could eat today. After all the poverty we have seen, we take those comments seriously. A few rolling hill climbs later I enjoyed a nice desent into a valley of trees.

These are the first trees we have seen in over 1,000 miles – since the other side of the Andes at Purmamarca, and they are all olive trees. The trees did not seem to produce noticeably more prosperity than other crops. On the other side of the valley before the climb out there was though, a small town of a few buildings featuring a few dozen large barrels of olives with street sellers hawking them for pennies a bag. Steve and Eduardo bought some. I kept riding to Nazca.

64k/40m from town we cut the umbilical cord. Lisa was coming on a bus from Lima to meet us in Nazca. Eduardo and Steve drove ahead to find a nice hotel and meet her at the bus station. It was an afternoon of fast riding for me. They got rooms at the Nazca Lines Hotel, which is very nice, and after some delay, Lisa showed up.

Nazca is famous for the huge patterns (geoglyphs) and animals (bioglyphs) carved into the Pampa Colorado desert floor over hundreds of square kilometers. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that supports the entire economy of the region, they were not discovered until 1939, after the Pan American Highway was carved right through them, when American scientist Paul Kosok finally looked down while flying over. Here is a bit of what he, and we, saw.

The pilot that took us up took off after “closing time” and raced around from steeply banked turn to steeply banked turn screaming out a bunch of stuff in Spanish over the roaring din of the seemingly unmuffled engine. He didn’t seem to be paying attention to flying the plane, much less our evident terror.

Why and how (managed the design) the Nazca culture made these patterns in the desert between 900 BC and 600 AD (before the Incas came and wiped out their leaders) is unknown. The first picture above is of a humming bird, the second just of the lines.

After this we found what was said to be a good local restaurant for dinner. When we sat down we didn’t realize it was next to a stage, and were right next to a music and dancing show put on for a busload or two of French folks who showed up. It was OK for us, but this little girl was mesmerized.

We now have four people and three bikes. Eduardo and Lisa will both get a chance to ride tomorrow.

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