Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nazca, not NASCAR

Cusco or bust!
Pulling out her sign, Zaya started waving down trucks. It had been years since I hitchhiked anywhere and never with either a Mongolian or a mototaxi.

Sure enough within the hour Fritz pulled over in his huge Volvo 420 truck with a nearly empty flatbed heading all the way to Cusco. Negotiating a price for the ride we would now be in Urubamba by cocktail hour on Friday with enough time to get the taxi running again. Perhaps his name biased me, but Fritz looked for all the world like a 53-year-old Bavarian, short and stocky with a huge stomach and a warm smile.

At first the three of us tried manhandling the mototaxi onto the flat bed. Tying a strap around the front wheel, Fritz tried hauling up while we pushed from below. That proved fruitless and it was clear we needed more manpower. Fritz loaded our bags and after some hand waving we understood that he would tow the mototaxi to wherever we could find enough guys to help out. About five kilometres up the road, with me roped to the back steering the taxi, we pulled over and commandeered five random men to come and help lift the taxi onto the truck. With only a hint of a struggle it was done and once tied down we were on our way.

Our first stop was Nazca, famous for the lines that make long characters in the desert. The origins of the lines are now lost, but speculation includes ancient landing strips for extra-terrestrial beings, massive religious ceremonial sites, and perhaps most plausibly irrigation ditches. The ride up was beautiful in the stark manner of bone-dry desert. There was almost no natural vegetation. The lines run right next to the highway, but by the time we arrived it was dark and all we saw were signs warning drivers of sightseers.

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