Hi from Nazca, Peru‏

Welcome to update 4 from South America.  I´m currently lying under a tree
beside a pool trying to recover from the flight over the Nazca lines.

I´d like to tell you that the Nazca lines were amazing, but I was too
focussed on my stomach to give a four XXXX about the lines in the dirt below
me.  It was a 3 seater plane and I´d never been in one that small before.
Within 2 minutes I had broken out in a big sweat – a sweat like a fever.  I
knew I was in trouble when the pilot turned and asked whether I had seen the
first picture, and then reached for some smelling salts and took his hands
of the controls to try and open them.  They didn´t help…  Before long I
had reached for my sick bag and threw up the contents of my stomach, luckily
I hadn´t had breakfast, so all I had in my tummy was water.  I tried to take
an interest in the pictures, and I did take a photo or two, but I then
developed a pain in my guts like I´ve never had before.  So I just closed my
eyes and focussed on getting home.

Once on the ground I had to be assisted from the plane.  They kept trying to
give me smelling salts and I kept saying “bathroom, bathroom”.  It would
have looked all very dramatic to those waiting to take a plane.  I was
hunched over in half in pain and had to be assisted through the turnstiles,
depositing my sick bag in the bin in front of the waiting people.  It didn´t
stop there.  After I got to a bathroom I had to be assisted back to the
hotel and to my hotel room.  The worst thing is that I didn´t tip the poor
pilot and he was so nice.  I think that will be the last time I will get in
a plane so small!

AREQUIPA
We arrived in Nazca early this morning after taking an overnight bus from
Arequipa.  Arequipa is the 2nd largest city in Peru, and far wealthier than
most of the cities we´ve visited.

It is a volcanic area and rich in minerals and exports a lot of cement to
the rest of South America.  It was strange seeing such a moon like landscape
after the green of Cuzco.

Arequipa had 2 of the best museums I´ve visited in South America.  The first
was the Santa Catalina monastry.  Janice you would have loved this!  Wealthy
families used to pay to have their 2nd daughters (ie you) enter the convent.
Good thing you didn´t live in Arequipa back then.  I couldn´t see you in a
convent!  You could however take your maids with you, and Mum & Dad would
have given you 25 gifts, usually beautiful furniture and china, so maybe you
could have survived.  Eventually a strict nun came along and changed their
cushy lifestyle.

The other museum was about the mummies they´ve found on the nearby
mountains.  The most famous of these is Juanita.  She was a child sacrifice
by the Incas, and was only found when a nearby mountain erupted and caused
the ice of the mountains where she was buried to melt.  She´s famous
because her shin, hair and organs are still intact.  Unfortunately I didn´t
get to see her, as once a year she has to go back into deep freeze in a lab
for preservation, but we did see one of the other mummies and it´s pretty
freaky to think that these kids younger than me were sacrificed in the
belief that it would please the mountain Gods.

Another funny note about Arequipa is that I kept hearing this tune.  I can´t
exactly remember what it was now, maybe it was Greensleeves or Fur Elise.
Anyway I was all excited because I thought it was an ice-cream van.  It
ended up being the rubbish trucks.  What a let down – especially for an
ice-cream addict.

COLCA CANON – THE STORY OF MANCHUS
From Arequipa we visited the Cola Canon.  This is the second deepest canon
in the world.  The trip was pretty amazing.  At the start the scenery was
sandy/desert like, then it became rocky, then occasionally you would see a
couple of cactus type plants and then suddenly you came around a bend where
there were fertile crops growing.  This was a tiny area they were farming
because of irrigation.  Makes you realise how rich the land must be.  I
suppose it is similar to the volcanic farmland back home, the difference is
that we have water and they don´t.

We stayed in a valley near the Canon.  It was a little oasis after the moon
like scenery we had passed.  It was a tiny little village and the view
reminded me of Tuscany in Italy.  I don´t think it´s always that fertile,
it´s just that we were seeing it at its best in the rainy season, and the
crops were yet to be harvested.

We sat down to lunch and I decided to try the Alpaca, which they had just
cooked on the BBQ.  I was chomping it down when a beautiful fluffy alpaca
looked in the window and stared into my eyes as if to say how dare you eat
my brother…

The alpaca was called Manchus and was about 9-10 mths old.  After lunch we
went for a walk up a nearby hill and Manchus decided to come along.  He was
so cute trotting along after us and I was feeling so guilty for getting his
kind at lunch.  By the end of the walk I was ready to take the butchers
knife to him.  He decided that just walking was no fun, so he would run up
behind you and bite you on the bum.  Then he decided that jumping up on
people would be even more fun.  It was quite funny until he knocked the gym
manager dude from NZ to the ground.  It was at this point that the rest of
us decided that Manchus was no fun anymore and walking behind him might be
safer.  But I swear he knew what we were doing.  He would stop and wait for
us to pass him before walking again.  I know he was just wanting to play,
but he really took it too far when he bailed me up against a wall and was
biting my legs.  Any vague thoughts I had of becoming vegetarian soon
disappeared.

After our traumatic walk we veged out in the nearby hot springs before
ending the night by playing poker.

At dinner one of the women had told us the story of the ghost she used to
live with.  When we turned out the lights we heard this “OHHHH”.  Both Nat
and I stopped and listened and we heard it again.  We thought the boys were
playing a tick on us until I got up the courage to look out the window.  Our
ghost ended up being a bloody cow mooing right outside the window.  The
night ended with a typical Alison laughing fit…

Finally before I go I have a heap of birthday messages…

– Happy Birthday Mel for the 25th
– Leanne can you please wish Justin Happy Birthday for the 26th
– Happy Birthday Mum for the 29th
– Happy 30th Sarah for the 3rd
– Happy 30th Lucy for the 4th

Thinking of you all.  I hope you all have a lovely birthday.

Lots of love.
Alison

P.S.  Can someone apologise to Larissa if she is not getting these messages.
I keep getting bounce-backs from her address.

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