06.10.2014 - 10.10.2014 28 °C
I always loved mysteries.
In fact, I can still remember the thrill of reading books on the subject of mysteries when I was a kid, and how they captured my imagination. In one of them, titled "Mysterious world" by Arthur Clarke, there was a chapter about Nazca lines, mysterious drawings made by Nazca indians in the desert in south Peru, sometime between 400-650 AD. Another book I was reading at that time, "Wonders of the world" had a chapter about Macchu Picchu, a mysterious residence of the Incas.
While preparing for this trip back in Zagreb, I tracked down those books, remember them?
Ever since, I wanted to visit those places. And the wish just came true.
After landing in Lima and spending the night at the airport, I took a taxi to the bus station, which took about 45 minues. One thing I have to say about that experience is that I got sooo many flashbacks from the time I spent in Lahore, Pakistan back in 2007: it was practically the same thing. Oh my...it's hard to describe...the dirt, the chaos, the poverty, the anarchy. And the traffic, the madness of it all...it was all coming back to me, and instead of feeling happy for finally reaching Peru, I was stricken by the sights around me and was borderline depressed.
So I got on the bus to Ica, one of the towns in south Peru from which small airplanes fly over Nazca desert. Actually I stayed in Huacachina, a village built around a desert oasis very close to Ica. Huacachina is a popular tourist destination, well known for its nightlife, sandboarding and riding dune buggys. Full of hostels and backpackers, you cannot but meet people and hear some interesting stories. I joined a group of travelers there having a dinner, and the most memorable person was a girl from Norway whose travels "will take a total of a year and a half, with 6 months still left". Another one from United States was travelling for "only" 6 months in total. And they are all travelling by themselves.
The next morning I got to a small local airport and boarded a Cessna plane for a flyby of the Nazca lines (you cannot really see them from the ground). It felt great for finally making that old wish come true, but overall the flyby was very short (13 drawings in about 10 minutes, and it wasn't a pleasant experience at all, as I got air sick badly - so I'm definitely not boarding a small aircraft again, unless I absolutely have to!
In the afternoon I spent some time on the sand dunes, watching people sandboard (they actually use real snowboards for that) and ride dune buggys, again met some people (from England this time) and witnessed an amazing sunset. Very relaxing.
Unlike the next day, which was pretty stressful: I had to get all the way to Aguas Calientes, a small place at the bottom of Macchu Picchu. The idea was to sleep there, get out really early in the morning to catch a bus to Macchu Picchu as early as possible, to be able to get up there at sunrise, before it gets very crowded. But it's not that easy to get to Aguas Calientes from Ica: Peru is a big country and lots of mountains get in the way. I think the bus ride only to Cusco is 18 hours long, which was out of the question. To make the long story short, this was my day:
- taxi to bus station in Ica (6:30 in the morning)
- bus to Lima
- taxi to Lima airport
- fly to Cusco
- taxi to bus station
- bus to Ollantaytambo
- train to Aguas Calientes (arrived in 11 PM).
Pretty crazy day, but one interesting thing happened in Ollantaytambo: while waiting for the train I was looking for a place to get something to eat, when I met someone with the same predicament: Geno, a creative director in a fashion company from Hollywood. We settled for a pizza place nearby, exchanged the stories and overall had a really nice time there. Believe me, for someone with zero proficiency in Spanish, it's always great to meet someone who speaks English in Peru. Geno will travel to Easter Island after Peru, which was also one of my dream destinations (but there was no way to fit it in this trip).
Here's a selfie Geno took there
So after a long, long day I crashed for the night in Aguas Calientes, just beneath Macchu Picchu ruins. Better to say half a night, as I got up at 4:30 to get ready for the 5:30 bus. Joined a group of 10 people there for a guided tour, and again, it was a mixture of different interesting people (one guy was from Seattle, one couple from London, a guy from France...).
And thus the day had finally come: a visit to the legendary mountain settlement of the Incas...and a beautiful day it was. And I think I will let pictures speak those thousands of words, as it is becoming quite late here...