Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Line Upon Line

I really wanted to see four things while I was here in South America (I say South America rather than Peru because my next side trip will actually take me out of the country). This weekend I got to see the first of them: the Nazca Lines. The Evil One had told me about her visit to Nazca while I was still in Shanghai, and that she wasn't actually allowed to fly over the lines from Nazca, due to the fact that her employer is the American government and they like to impose restrictions on their employees when it comes to dangerous things (such as flying one of three companies which apparently have been shut down repeatedly due to crashes). I, on the other hand, am an educational mercenary and a good old-fashioned PYP risk-taker, so I paid my $100 to fly over the lines. But not until I'd seen them up close and personal.
This is the somewhat rickety looking tower that Evil was allowed to climb to look at the lines. It's not that tall, but you can see two different figures - the hands and the tree. Here's a picture of the hands as seen from the mirador:
This, on the other hand, is what they look like from the sky:
Now, lest you think that flying over the Nazca lines is as easy as showing up and paying some money, let me tell you a thing or two. We stopped into a travel agency the night we got into town, filled out a form, and paid the money. The agent said she'd pick me up from the hotel at 9 the following morning, and if the weather was okay, we'd take off around 9:30. And up until we got to the aerodromo, everything went well. But the sky was definitely overcast and the mist was snagged on the mountains. Also, the guys at the desk at the aerodromo tried telling me that I was overweight and I'd need to pay an extra 50%. Well, one of the questions on the form I filled out dealt with weight and the weight I put down on the form and the weight they weighed me in at the desk were both over the weight that they said was the cut off, and I wasn't told ANYTHING about it the night before - I understand that more gas would be needed, it could impact safety, whatever, but it was totally a situation where they were trying to screw over tourists. In the end, I griped about it long and loudly enough that they didn't charge me more, but in case you end up at the aerodromo in Nazca looking to do a flyover, watch out for these guys - they're totally sketch.
Even after I'd paid (before he could change his mind again), my ordeal was far from over. I got to the airfield just after nine, but it was 11:50 before the skies had cleared enough to make the flight worthwhile. I checked out the booths of tourist schlock in the first hour, and soon after found myself wishing I'd brought my book, after all. However, soon enough I'd paid my "departure tax," gone through security and went out to board this tiny little airplane.
I mean, SUPER tiny - my family's owned cars that seated more people than that! But in the end, it was all worth it when you got to see cool stuff like this - the astronaut.

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