April 23, 2018 – Lima to Paracas, Peru
We had a fairly late start this morning at 10:30. We met the rest of our group this morning as their flight did not arrive by the time of our briefing last night. We are a group of ten. Donna and Wally are from
Toronto; Rob and Diane are from Oakland, California; Susan and Gerhard are from Vancouver; Coleen and Richard are from Calgary and Martin is from Wales. Our guide is Cheo (pronounced as if it were Jayoh). Wally is a retired principal. Susan was a law librarian for a while. Coleen is a retired librarian. Gerhard worked for an oil company as a patent librarian. It’s strange to have so many librarians in a small group like this.
It is a very congenial group, and we have had fun getting to know each other on our 5 hour bus trip from Lima to Paracas. We stopped at a Wal-Mart type store to buy water just as we left Lima since we need to drink lots of water because of the high elevations.
The country we have passed through was initially pretty barren, but as we got further away from Lima, we began passing through farm country. There were potatoes, corn, cotton and paprika growing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen paprika in any form other than in a bottle so that was interesting. We stopped for lunch along the way. I had grilled sea bass, and it was really good.
One thing we learned. If a house or building is unfinished, there are no taxes on it. So, people build their houses or shops and leave rebar sticking up through the roof as if they plan to add another story to it. Thus, the building/house is unfinished and therefore no taxes.
Along the way, we passed shacks which were scattered over the landscape. The lots the shacks were on were marked by white stones. People were living in the shacks. If the squatters stayed there for 5 years, the land would be theirs, and they would build permanent homes. They were promised that once the land was theirs that utilities would be brought to the area.
At Paracas, the oil cargo ships don’t come into port to load their cargo. There is an oil loading platform in the bay. Oil is pumped to it through undersea pipes. The cargo ships come along the side of the platform, and the oil is transferred to their holds from the platform. Have never seen this before so don’t know if this is routine in other places.
Our guide is going to get altitude sickness pills for us in Nazca. However, Wally and I can’t take them because we are both allergic to sulfa. We will have to rely on the coca leafs and coca tea. We just hope no one decides to do a drug test on us because if they do, we will test positive for cocaine! (You test positive for cocaine for about 2 hours after you’ve drunk the tea or chewed the leafs.)
Donna, Wally’s wife, has a really bad knee – she needs a brace. He has taken it upon himself to help me when I need it. I really appreciate that.
After we got checked into the hotel, I spent time updating this blog. Others went for a walk. Our briefing for tomorrow’s activity was at 6. After that we all walked to the restaurant area. None of us were really hungry so most of us just ordered a pisco sour. The restaurant gave us each a small sample, and then we had our full sized one. Donna, who declared herself a wine drinker only, took one sip, said OH MY, and promptly ordered a full sized one. Coleen and Gerhardt ordered a variation of the pisco sour, and Rob ordered still a different one. Coleen said that hers was sweet, so even though it came with a cute umbrella, I won’t be ordering one of those. I’ll just stick to the original one.
We walked back to the hotel and all of us are making a fairly early night of it.
Did you know that there are over 1,000 chicken farms in Peru? These chickens are even worse off than the ones in the US because their shelter consists of black tarps over a shanty type of construction. They are sheltered from the sun, but there are no fans to draw out the hot air – at least that I could see.
The Paracas National Reserve is located in Ica, Peru and consists of the Paracas Peninsula, coastal areas and tropical desert for a total of 837,800 acres or 1,293 square miles. 537,680 acres or 840 square miles are marine waters. 290,116 acres or 453 square miles are part of the mainland. It includes Bahía de la Independencia (Independence Bay) and miles of coastal waters. Its main purpose is to preserve the marine ecosystem and protect the historical cultural heritage related to ancient indigenous peoples, mostly of the Paracas culture.
The reserve is home to many species of wildlife, particularly birds which are largely concentrated at the water's edge in what is called the largest concentration of birds on earth. It provides a sanctuary to 74 species of plants that grow in this extremely arid area, 216 species of birds, 16 types of mammals, 10 species of reptiles and 193 species of fish. It is considered to be one of the richest and most uncommon ecosystems in the world.
Near the entrance inside the reserve is the Museo Sitio de Julio C. Tello which is named for the archeologist who made major discoveries about the ancient Paracas culture. It features artifacts and interpretation, as well as information about the flora and fauna of this unique region.
Established in 1975, it is the oldest marine reserve in Peru, and it incorporates a variety of marine habitats and tropical desert. In addition to the biological areas, the reserve protects prehistoric sites of the Paracas culture and other ancient civilizations. Near the museum is the Paracas Necropolis (100 BCE - CE 300), comprising the burial sites known as the Cabezas Largas and Cerro Colorado, where Tello found many fine grave goods buried with mummified remains of the Paracas elite.
Also in the reserve is Pampa de Santo Domingo where archeologists have dated finds of human remains to 6500 BC. Found there was a decorated quena (flute), believed to be the first musical instrument of Peru.
One of the main geomorphological attractions along the Paracas coast, La Catedral arch (the Cathedral) was destroyed during the 2007 earthquake. The Bahia Lagunillas is bordered with red sand beaches which are the product of the erosion of porphyry rocks that dominate some of the hills of the Paracas Peninsula. On the Paracas Peninsula is the mysterious geoglyph called the Paracas Candelabro which is believed to date to the Paracas culture about 200 BC. It is 413’ x 236’. Some people believe that it’s a ritualistic symbol of the Paracas or Nazca culture while others contend that it dates only to the 18th or 19th century when it served as a protective symbol and navigational guide for fishermen and sailors.
The Paracas culture flourished from roughly 700 BC-200 AD. It is noted today for its superior textile weaving which is considered perhaps the finest example of pre-Columbian textiles in the Americas. The Paracas peoples were sophisticated enough to dare to practice trepanation, a form of brain surgery that consisted of drilling holes in the skull to cure various ailments and correct cranial deformation.