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Nazca; Peruvian history

Deserts, plane rides, archaeology, those lines!

Saturday 18th August – Paracas to Nazca

The coach trip took us from Paracas, through the paracas (sand dunes) down the Pan- American Highway, through the town of Ica (dusk), across a plain, over some small mountains, across Nazca Plain, over some other smallish mountains for about 3 hours to Nazca, where we arrived in the early evening. Our taxi took our luggage from the coach station (much busier than Paracas) while we walked up the main street. The town reminded us very much of Yangshuo in China. The Casa Andina was a lovely hotel with a glass lobby, a huge open central vestibule with palms and slate maps of the lines all open to the rainless air. Our room was on the second floor, which was based around the central section (which also had a swimming pool). A functional, but pleasant room. It was not very late so we decided to find somewhere to eat a small, simple meal before walking the town. We went right out of the hotel and opposite found a small café / restaurant. We went upstairs to the balcony area and ate their special (noodle soup, beer, pancake and ice-cream pud) for only a few soles. The ice cream was of Lucuma (Gold of the Incas), which is a native fruit well know to Inca and pre-Inca cultures (pottery). It’s yellow flesh tastes a bit like maple.
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When we’d finished we walked back to the hotel, but kept on going, past the night clubs to the Plaza de Armas. A pretty, very blue looking plaza with a central blue-mosaiced fountain and the cathedral/church on the side. We sat for a while here as it was pleasantly warm, before heading back to the hotel for a nightcap.
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Spanish-Peruvian History
1. Pizarro and Almagro
In 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas between Portugal and Spain agreed which parts of the New World each one claimed. After Pizarro had effectively neutralized the Inca Empire he and his fellow conquistador, Diego de Almagro, were granted control of the new lands by the Spanish King Carlos I. After taking Quito, de Almagro felt he had been cheated out of his fair share and fell out with Pizarro (1535). His son El Mozo Diego de Almagro, by his native Panamanian wife, attacked Pizzaro in Lima in 1541, then went after the Inca Sapa Manco II, killing him (see Inca history section). This was pretty much the end of the Inca Empire.
The feud between the Pizarros and Almagros led Carlos (now King of Spain and HRE) to set Peru up as a Viceroyalty
2. Viceroyalty 1543-1824
The first Viceroy to arrive was Blasco Nunez Vela. His title was Viceroy of New Castile (=Peru). He was promptly murdered 1546 by Gonzalo Pizarro, who then claimed the viceroyalty. The second viceroy, Pedro de la Gasca was having none of it and executed Gonzalo after his defeat in the Battle of Jaquijahuana (1548). Gasca was a strong man and the title now became Viceroy of Peru 1547-50, instituting an Audiencia in Lima (an Audiencia basically meant the Viceroy had administrative and judicial powers derogated from the king- a practical measure given the distance but obviously important symbolically).
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Six short lived viceroys (Antonio de Mendoza 1551/2, Melchor Brava de Saravia 1552-6, Andres de Mendoza 1556-61, Diego Lopez de Zuniga 1561-4, Juan de Saarvedra 1564, Garcia de Castro 1564-9) preceded Viceroy Francisco de Toledo (appointed1569, arrived 1572). He established an Inquisition in Peru, executed the Inca Tupac Amaru and destroyed Vilcabamba. A succession of viceroys followed, some more effective than others, and all keen to convert the locals. The Jesuits were especially proactive in this area. Fernando Torres de Portugal (1584-9), Francisco de Borja y Aragon (1615-21), Fernandez de Cordoba (1622-9) and Fernandez de Castro (1667-72) stand out in one way or another. The encomienda system was badly run, leading to lots of abuses. Although it was legally abolished in 1720, it in practise continued well into the 18th century.
The local people were not well treated and revolts were common:-
i) Pedro Bohorquez 1656. Claimed to be Sapa Inca
ii) Jose and Gaspar Salcedo 1665-8. Mine owners
iii) Juan Santos Atahualpa 1742-80. A Cusco Inca who claimed descent from Atahualpa. He took Cusco. Despite his death in 1755 the rebellion continued until 1780.
iv) Tupac Amaru II. Tupac came from the Inca royal family and his Cusco Sierra Uprising of 1780, although ultimately unsuccessful, is regarded as the first freedom fight. His family was killed in front of his eyes, he was then tortured and beheaded. His son was taken to Spain.
3. Wars of Independence 1810-24
In South America there was increasingly a wish for independence and two landowners, Simon Bolivar (from Venezuela, but gave his name to Bolivia) and Jose de San Martin (from Argentina) began the fight. San Martin marched to Chile where he defeated the royal troops at the Battle of Chacabuco before sailing to Paracas in 1819 with the newly free Chilean navy. He took Lima in 1821 and declared Peru free. De facto, Peru was free although further fights -1824 battles Jurin and Ayacucho and Battle of Callao were needed before the Spanish finally formally agreed in 1879.
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4. Republic 1820-80
Simon Bolivar was made Dictator of Peru in 1824 (having already liberated Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia) and Antonio de Sucre given military command. In 1825 at the Congress of Upper Peru the Gran Colombia was formed (mainly Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia). Bolivar attempted some liberal policies, but soon reverted to a centrist approach. Shortly after, his lover, Manuela Saenz attempted to assassinate him. He resigned and left for Europe, but died before sailing. He was followed by competent but uninteresting leaders. The period saw a number of territorial disputes resulting from the liberation and early pan- American coalitions. 1836-9 the Peru-Bolivian Confederation attempt to unite the countries failed with the War of Confederation. The Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941 and brief Cenepa War of 1995 have led to formalised borders.
5. War of the Pacific
In 1879 Chile attacked its northern neighbour, Bolivia, seizing its entire coastline. Bolivia asked for help and Peru joined the war, which was basically won by Chile. By 1884 Peru had lost Tarapaca, Tacna and Arica (Atacama region). In the treaty Chile agreed that Tacna and Arica cities could decide which country to be in, then reneged. The USA waded in and in the Treaty of Lima 1929 Arica was given to Chile and Tacna to Peru. The Peruvians still feel very strongly about this.
6. Aristocratic Republic 1884-1930
So called because most of the presidents during this period came from the elite. The ordinary people became increasingly disenchanted. Socialist and Communist parties were formed at this time.
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7. Modern Politics
President Bustamente y Rivero attempted to form a democratic government by limiting both noble and military power. The final result was a military coup in 1948 by General Manuel Odria. He courted the lower classes, but civil rights were suppressed and corruption grew. He surprised all by allowing elections, but a right-wing series of rulers ensued. Civilian vs military coups became the rule until 1980 when a new constitution was drawn up and civilian rule ensured. In 1985 Alan Garcia tried to manage an economy in trouble, but badly mismanaged it so by 1991 the national reserved were -$900mill. This was the background to the rise of the communist rebel group The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). As their strength grew the administration became increasingly dictatorial with human rights abuses. The people chose a mathematician Alberto Fujimori as president (1990), hopeful that he could help mend the economy. His fight against the Shining Path led to abuses on both sides until its leader Abimael Guzman (aka Gonzalo) was captured in 2000. Fujimori tried to seek a third term (questionable) but stepped down when a bribery scandal broke, followed by human rights, corruption etc charges. The new president, Alejandro Toledo restored democracy and judicial process to Peru. The current President is Ollanta Humala (2011-)

Posted by PetersF 12:46 Archived in Peru Tagged desert history archaeology nazca Comments (0)

Nazca: the famous lines

Sunday 19th August – the Nazca Lines

This was (I’d hoped) going to be one of my dream days as I’d always wanted to see the Nazca lines, so I woke with a hope that it was not too windy to fly. A nice breakfast by the pool, followed by a short morning walk the other way (right) from the hotel to the edge of Nazca where we could see the plateau and hills down each side road, and then we waited for our guide in the lobby by the gift shop.
Nazca Town was founded by the Spanish in 1591 close to the indigenous settlement of Nanasca.
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Another English person (Michael) was there and we struck up talking- it turned out he was doing a very similar route through Peru to us! When the guide collected us she said it looked perfect for the flight and we drove out of Nazca towards the Maria Reichle airport. We were talking about weather and our guide said it had only rained in Nazca twice in her lifetime, which we found amazing. At the airport we got out and went into the waiting section, a low- tech building. We’d paid Nazca Air already, so our guide checked us in. Then they got all our details (again) and insisted on weighing us. Steve & M had to buy an empty seat between them as they were over the weight allowed per seat (100 kilos). I was well under! Then I had to go and pay the airport tax at the kiosk. Then we had to wait (and wait) until we were called for our flight. We looked around and wandered outside but not very interesting. Luckily we didn’t take too long (40 mins) but I’ve heard tales of hours. We were called to go through the security to the small secondary waiting area. Finally we were allowed onto the concrete for our plane- a 7-seater single engine Cessna. Now, this next part is very flattering to me- we were loaded weight order from larger (Steve) to least (me). I was right at the back in the “childs” seat, which was a 1-in-a-row so I had a window both sides. GREAT. Take off- GREAT.
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They told us to put on headphones so we could hear the pilot who explained he would bank both ways (left, then right) so please to not try to move over to each window as everyone would see everything and the plane would remain stable). What followed was an AMAZING experience as we flew away from the thin strip of green (Nazca town) and over the Pampas de Jumana where we saw these brilliant designs. The plane did bank quite a lot but it doesn’t bother me (although the couple in front nearly used their bag and Steve felt mildly queasy). Highlights for me (in order) were The Whale and Ribs, The Astronaut, The Llama and Dog, Monkey, Spider, Condor, Runway, Hands and Tree of Life) but we saw plenty of others too.
whale-and-ribs-nazca-lines_48879626396_o.jpg whale and ribs
astronaut-nazca-lines_48879112498_o.jpg astronaut
dog-nazca-lines_48879598426_o.jpg dog
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2c110db0-7903-11eb-92ba-019ef53729ba.png spider
condor-nazca-lines_48879577461_o.jpg condor
hands-and-tree-nazca-lines_48879562471_o.jpg 48879563516_f03691a2df_o.jpg hands/tree of life
1. whale (eastern) drawn over big rectangle with flower
2. triangle (over a small 3-pointed hill)
3. 2km long trapezoids(other side of triangle hill)
4. astronaut (unique as on hill not in desert)
5. monkey (5 fingers 1 hand, 4 on other)
6. dog
7. llama
8. hummingbird
9. vulture/pelican and flower
10. condor
11. spider (close to hummingbird and condor)
12. runway
13. spiral and iguana
14. flamingo/ alcatraz (300m long with long beak)
15. parrot (230m long)
16. geometric designs
17. over highway
18. Hands (again 5 and 4 finger configuration)
19. Huarango tree (right next to hands)
20. lizard (right next to tree but cut in half by road- faint)
21. straight lines
hummingbird-nazca-lines_48879782807_o.jpg hummingbird
pelican-nazca-lines_48879047748_o.jpg pelican
nos 1,4, 5, 6, 8
geoglyphs-nazca-lines_48879838842_o.jpg geoglyphs
condor-nazca-lines_48879574521_o.jpg 48879577461_2af0fcc6fd_o.jpg condor
nos 9, 10, 11, 13, 15
flamingo-nazca-lines_48879112388_o.jpg flamingo
hands-nazca-lines_48879029353_o.jpg hands
crosshatch-nazca-lines_48879596081_o.jpg crosshatched lines
lizard-nazca-lines_48879035488_o.jpg lizard
scissors-nazca-lines_48879038998_o.jpg scissors
nos 14, 18 & 19, 20, Scissors
The plane went over the Pan-American Highway, town of Palpa, hills and it was over far too soon IMO and we touched down and disembarked. Then we had to wait around because some German couple we were taking got lost.

A note on the Nazca Lines
What? The lines are a World Heritage site (1994) and are found on the high, dry plateau of Pampas de Jumana between Nazca and Palpa towns. The shapes are very varied, from simple lines, spirals and geometric shapes to fauna (mainly trees and flowers) to zoomorphic designs (mainly animals). The largest figure is over 270 metres long. The images were made using simple tools (post holes have been found) to plan the design, then a shallow trench (10-15 cms) would be dug exposing the light coloured layer below the red iron-oxide upper layer. The pale lower layer is made of lime, which over time has hardened with the morning mist into a cement, preventing erosion. The Nazca desert is the driest on earth and has not seen rain for aeons. Add to this the total lack of wind and it is clear why the figures have survived. They were first re-discovered in 1927 by a hiking Peruvian archaeologist Xesspa.
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Why? There is no clear reason for drawing the lines, so people have come up with their own interpretations. IMO they have a religious or symbolic significance. The geometric designs may be related to water rituals, the animals and plants maybe to fertility? Their size and visibility from the mountains suggest they may have been made to please or worship the gods (mountains as or symbolic of gods is a common theme in Andean cultures- certainly water would come from the mountains and water is a high commodity in arid Peru). Reiche (the archaeologist most associated with the lines) suggested an astronomical significance, lines pointing to places celestial bodies rose.
flower--spiral-nazca-lines_48879037403_o.jpg flowers and spiral
Who? The Nazca Culture (400-650AD) is not well known, but seems to have strong links to the Paracas culture slightly north.
We drove back to the hotel and as we had a long coach trip ahead of some 400km we thought a good lunch was essential. We sat by the pool and told the waiter how much time we had and let him make suggestions. He made an excellent choice for us as we had lomo saltado (tenderloin stir fried with chilli and chips) & causa (avocado, potato and egg). Whilst Steve had a pud (picarones- pumpkin fritters, which I didn’t fancy) I went to the gift shop (which I did fancy) and bought a silver Nazca Spider earring set and a Nazca Hummingbird picture in Nazca sand.
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Then the taxi took us to Nazca coach station (no waiting room here, you board the bus directly) to get on our luxury coach (again food, drink, internet provided) to go to Arequipa. Now I was slightly apprehensive of this trip and both of us had been in two minds whether to fly to Arequipa, but I’m so glad we took the coach because the scenery was amazing. We went straight across the Pampas on the Pan- American Highway and down towards the Pacific coast. This is so unlike anything in our part of the world- the sand and road just go straight to the sea where the coast is so long and straight that the rollers just keep coming in long unbroken lines. We spotted the odd factory (of what?) in the sand dunes but absolutely nothing else (too dry and arid for people I suspect) until we got quite a long way down Peru. Then we started to see where thin rivers from the Andes to our left came to the sea. Everywhere a river/ stream came was a thin band of green and around each of these houses and people in small, long and thin, villages down to the shore. Each one had a small fishing fleet, by now moored as it was becoming dusk.
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As it turned from afternoon to early evening our road, which had been mainly level with the sea, headed sharply upwards and the road sat vertiginously high above the sea with little to nothing between us and the Pacific below. Then, as the sun set gloriously over the Pacific, we turned inland into the Andean foothills, many a gorgeous red colour. Night fell as we headed inland and finally to Arequipa where we arrived very late. Our guide had forgotten us and we had to catch a taxi and it turned out our travel company had booked the wrong hotel (!) – actually we’d paid for a 3* and they’d booked a 5* but we didn’t have to pay extra, so I guess it was OK (but less character). Anyhow it was too late to fuss, so we headed to bed (after leaving a message to say there was no guide and please to sort things out).
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Posted by PetersF 12:59 Archived in Peru Tagged desert flight lines archaeology nazca Comments (0)

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