My experience of flying over the Nazca Lines, Peru, for the first time.
|I flew over the Nazca Lines. Me. I did. I never thought I would. But I did.
I sat in a little Cesna and lurched and dipped across the sky and looked down on a monkey, a dog, an astronaut, a spider, a parot. I did. I was there, in the middle of the desert. I flew over the Andes. I looked down on the world and saw history carved in the rock. Drawings in the desert, preserved for centuries, just for me, so that I could fly over them on 18 September 2007, and marvel at them.
It was incredible. Exciting. Awesome. Amazing. I felt blessed and honoured to be there. I flew over the Nazca lines. In a little plane that seemed to require very great effort to stay up there. Gravity seemed to tug hard at it. Funny that: four adult people crouched in a little nose-turned-upward, blue-and-white plane. A silent, elderly woman in the front, broadshouldered with tightly curled grey hair, next to the chunky, brushcut pilot; me and Ranj in the back, our knees bunched up to our shoulders. Little laminated notices stuck all over the cockpit announcing, in four languages and not so very subtly, that tipping was most welcome.
Start the engine. Poof. Nothing. Try again. Blech. One more go. Cough ... cough ... splutter, chug, choke ... whirr! Yes!
Career down the runway. Turn around. Career back, the tail swinging from side to side. A funny feeling in the stomach and then ... we're up. L-i-f-t ... L-I-F-T! A bit more (please?). Okay, we're really flying now. Whoops! Nope! A sudden drop. And then there's the river, way down below. Mountains, desert, water trails marking every surface. The ten minutes of rain that falls each year leaves a trail that remains etched, undisturbed, on the surface. The textures, the colours, the slopes - breathtaking. Shades of purple, blue, ochre, dark brown, tan. Bits of green.
And then, there, just at the tip of the wing: a whale. Then the monkey, the dog, the spider, the astronaut. One by one they appear, and the pilot hangs the plane around so that the picture can be seen from the opposite side. Ranj's arms flailing, grabbing for the strap hanging from the roof each time the little plane seems to drop from the sky. That little strap's not going to help you anyway, Ranj! He grins and looks sheepish, dark eyes dancing. He knows he's not sitting on a bus, but the little beige strap provides some sense of security.
We dip and swirl and dance in the sky a little more, drop into air pockets, take a look at the aquaducts, see the Trans-American Highway stretching to the end of the earth, our smiles squeezing water from our eyes, our hearts racing with the excitement of being here, in this ancient place where artists drew pictures in the sand; pictures that they themselves couldn't appreciate, because you need to be flying to do so. Maybe they astro travelled?
And, before we know it, thirty minutes are over, and back we go to Ica. It's over all too soon.
But it's okay. The flight is over, but the magic and mystery have become part of me. Because today I travelled the Trans American Highway (how cool is that?) - at high speed and at the mercy of a Peruvian driver - and I saw the Nazca Lines.
Today was a really good day.