A Travellerspoint blog

Nazca

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The next town we were staying in was Nazca. However on the way we stopped of at a few other places. Firstly a tour of a Pisco distillery, then we stopped at an oasis in the middle of a load of sand dunes for driving around like idiots in dune buggies and sandboarding down big dunes.

Nazca is home of the famous Nazca Lines, a series of massive lines in the Nazca Desert, created by the pre-Inca Nazca people between 200 B.C. and 700 A.D. The remarkable thing about the lines is that many of them form pictures of animals and creatures far too large to be seen from the ground. You can only see the images if you fly overhead in a plane, which is exactly what we did:

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No-one knows exactly why the Nazca people chose to create the lines; they never developed reading and writing so we've never discovered a scroll with the writing "we created the Nazca Lines because..." You get the usual calendar, astronomical and alien theories though. (The top figure above, the 'astronaut', really gives the alien theorists some ammo)

Personally I just think they were trying to fuck with the heads of future archeologists. Which they've succeeded in doing wonderfully.

Next we stopped at the nearby Chauchilla Cemetery, the burial site for a pre-Inca people. This site contains many ancient skeletons and artifacts displayed in their original tombs. Sadly a lot of the remains and artifacts have been looted over the years; you can see lots of craters around the site where grave robbers have started digging.

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Lastly we went to see a ceramic workshop where they still make pottery as the Nazca people would have done all those years ago.

Our evening meal was quite different too... We ate at a pachamanca restaurant. Basically the food was a mixture of meat and vegetables; it's the method of cooking that is unusual. Rocks are heated up on a fire and then warpped amongst the food in various leaves and clothes before being buried under the ground and left for a few hours. After a quick ceremony (dropping coca leaves on the ground, blessing the food, that sort of thing) it's dug up and eaten. Quite nice it was too, although it seemed far too much effort for me...

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We then jumped on the night bus to head to our next stop, the city of Arequipa...

Posted by MrKWatkins 29/03/2008 14:21 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Paracas

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First stop on our tour was the seaside town of Paracas, just south of Pisco on the west coast of Peru. We arrived in time for dinner and had a fantastic meal on the seafront. I had one of the local fishes, charela. The seafood is amazing on the coast of Peru, and very cheap too; I had a big meal and a beer for approximately £4...

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The next day started with a boat tour. First we went to see El Candelabro, a giant figure carved into the coast of Paracas:

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As seems usual with these huge carvings there are lots of theories as to why the thing was carved, but no-one knows for sure. Some of the theories include a calendar, a warning by pirates, various religious ideas and of course the obligatory 'built by aliens' explanation. Whatever the explanation, it's pretty impressive.

Then the boat swung over to Islas Ballestas, a nearby island covered with lots of birds sea lions;

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There are various constructions on the island as the guano (i.e. bird crap) is valuable and therefore people collect it up for sale. There are loads of different breeds of bird on the island, ranging from turns to penguins and pelicans. On the down side it does stink of bird crap.

Sea lions also hang around the islands, lounging around on the rocks or making lots of noise on the beach. The sound of several hundred sea lions lying on a beach roaring their lungs out is certainly an experience!

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Posted by MrKWatkins 26/03/2008 14:34 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lima

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My first stop in Peru was it's capital city, Lima. I didn't spend that much time exploring it though so don't expect any words of wisdom yet... I have a few guided tours of the city later on my trip so you can expect some more info then... My time so far in Lima has been spent on drinking and eating mainly... Although I did find time to take a few pictures:

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I can recommend the Pisco Sours, a Peruvian cocktail comprising of Pisco, (a Peruvian brandy) lemon juice, egg whites, ice and a dash of bitters. It's rather nice, although I have found the sourness varies somewhat depending on which bar/restaurant you're in...

As for food, well the lomo saltado is very good. Lumps of beef steak with strips of red onion and tomato, served with chips, rice and corn. Very tasty.

The one annoying thing here is internet access. Although the connections are usually pretty fast the computers are usually pretty shite, making it a pain to do anything. Therefore don't expect me to be updating this blog that often! (Having said that I never did when I was in America and had great internet access...)

Posted by MrKWatkins 26/03/2008 14:07 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Overheard Phrases #3


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I'll be leaving America tomorrow to head over to sunny Peru. So here are a few more phrases I've overheard; I imagine the number of phrases I overhear and understand will soon decrease as I can't speak Spanish...

  • "Dude it looks like that evil slime from Ghostbusters!"
  • "Awww, I really like my tight little hole."
  • "What sex is Scooby Doo?"
    "Male."
    "And Scrappy Doo?"
    "Male."
    "But surely they're both androgenous?"
    "Yeah, but they're not gonna draw a large pink cartoon schlong on them are they?"

Posted by MrKWatkins 18/03/2008 12:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back To Dayton

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My last tour with the N.C.C. was a four day jaunt back to Dayton State Park for more trail work. We were finishing the trails off that we'd started before and then tidied up a whole new set of trails over the road at an abandoned mill.

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The work was a lot harder this time as most of it involved carting huge rocks around and digging/chiseling holes to put the huge rocks in. It did look damn good when finished though, if I do say so myself. Pity my camera battery ran out before I got a photo...

We invented a new term: "denascarifying". That is the act of removing a banked curve (a NASCAR turn if you will) from the trail by digging up the earth from the banked side and moving it over to the other side until the turn is level...

Posted by MrKWatkins 18/03/2008 12:30 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Memphis

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Whilst I am in the US I thought I should visit Memphis. Two main reasons:

  • Graceland, home of Elvis. I'm a big Elvis fan so I needed to do this pilgrimage at least once in my life...
  • Sun Studio, birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Again, big rock 'n' roll fan so I had to visit Sun...

I started on the first day with a trip to Graceland. I was half expecting a load of tacky stalls and exhibits pissing all over the life of The King, but happily that wasn't the case. The mansion itself has been kept pretty much as it was when He lived there. It is kind of sad walking around though; you get the feeling that the place is just missing so much without Elvis alive in it.

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There are several exhibits over the road too, such as trips around Elvis' private jets and car collections.

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You can also get a tour of the various suits he wore over the years and various other memoribilia, such as the hundreds of gold and platinum discs he won.

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After Graceland my next stop was Beale Street, sort of the heart of downtown Memphis. I first stopped in Coyote Ugly for a few beers. Whilst a fun place it was pretty dead on a Wednesday... I think the weekend in Memphis would be a lot more fun! I then proceeded to B.B. King's Blues Bar for more beers and some live music. Memphis is very good for live bands; there seem to be loads playing every night you're there.

The next day was Sun Studio. There is a very good tour around the studio, despite there being very little to actually see there! The studio is still in use today; tours stop at 6PM and they let bands in to record there. I'll have to save up some cash and bring my guitar next time...

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I then managed to get stuck in Memphis for an extra night; snow at Dallas had stopped all flights through there and American Airlines couldn't get me out until the next day. Which means I had to pay out for a hotel (admittedly at a reduced rate) for the night. I have come to the conclusion that American Airlines are pretty bad; they repeatedly messed up getting me a new flight and other airlines would have covered the full hotel cost. (e.g. British Airways who covered a hotel for me when the airport I was due to fly from went on strike...)

Posted by MrKWatkins 18/03/2008 12:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Night Of One Hundred Ladies

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One of my English compatriots came up with this idea. Basically the challenge was to get ourselves photographed with one hundred different ladies over the course of an evening. The idea being that this would also get us talking to lots of ladies. Nice. There were six of us in all, three English and three American. The overall target was 100, with a mini-competition for a round of beers as to which national team could get the most. Obviously we had to have some ground rules:

  • Don't approach single women, only groups; we didn't want to scare the hell out of people.
  • Don't approach women with men; we didn't want to get our heads kicked in.
  • No team blocking; the overall goal is the 100, the team with the most is the second goal. Therefore one team couldn't stop another from getting photos.

There was talk of a points system too (e.g. twice points for women kissing you in the photos) but we never bothered to agree on a set of rules for that...

We decided to start at the south end of the strip and work our way north to the hotel, hitting as many casinos on the way as possible. Team America got an early start on us by getting several photos on the bus on the way down there...

First place we spent a decent length of time was the MGM Grand which got us quite a few photos.

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We then managed to weave our way between the casinos, cleverly getting more and more drunk whilst chanting football songs. We lost people in the group, we got flashed by ropey prostitutes, we played beer pong, we gambled, we generally behaved as one should in Las Vegas...

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Sadly the beer affected our efforts later on in the evening and we collapsed back in our hotel sometime after 5AM.

Final count of ladies for the evening: well I'm not quite sure. Still collating all the photos... However I know we got photos with at least 70 different women. Which is pretty damn good if you ask me.

Posted by MrKWatkins 18/03/2008 11:40 Archived in USA Tagged women Comments (0)

Vegas Baby!

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In our six days off we decided to head over to Las Vegas for a few days of vice in Sin City. Team England hopped on a plane and arrived in Vegas about lunchtime. We headed over to our hotel to check in and try and catch the second half of a Champion's League game.

We were staying in The Stratosphere, a hotel and casino located at the far north of the Las Vegas strip. It has a large tower as part of the complex, which is the tallest free-standing structure in Nevada. It certainly gives you a good view of the town.

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There are even rides on top of the tower...

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Anyways we settled in for a few drinks whilst waiting for our American road tripping friends to arrive so we could begin The Night Of One Hundred Ladies...

Posted by MrKWatkins 23/02/2008 15:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Ash Meadows Day #6

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The last day. More fence destruction in the wild. Luckily we managed to get hold of some machetes.

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I got the path clearing job. That was fun; hacking the hell out of wildlife with two machetes in the name of conservation. It's only a pity the machetes were as a sharp as a wooden spoon. Whilst they worked fine on the old, dead trees the reeds were having none of it. Many of them fought back, smacking me around the face with carefree abandon.

We ended the day clearing out the remnants of a previous team's fence destruction, i.e. lugging large coils of fence wire around the place. Fence wire that had clearly been sitting there for several years given that plants and shrubs had decided to grow through most of the discarded piles of wire. This job is never simple...

Posted by MrKWatkins 23/02/2008 15:10 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Ash Meadows Day #5

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No more wading today; the other half of the crew got the remaining rubbish cleared out. But there were still plenty of fences to rip up and rubbish to cart around. Lucky us!

However our new fences were quite near our campsite, which wasn't too bad. The only problem was they were in the middle of a large number of trees, reeds, mesquite and various other spiky plants. Nature is sure good at hurting your average conservationist.

Posted by MrKWatkins 23/02/2008 14:32 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

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