Except for my family, there are few people with whom I like to travel. Lately, I have done many solo trips, but I’ve found that sharing experiences is much more rewarding.
Last fall, for a trip to Peru, I reconnected with an old friend, Gail Goldman. In high school, we used to do a lot together — including going to modeling school. She learned perfect posture and I fell down the stairs with my diploma. After high school, we drifted apart.
Now we are great pals again. I invite her to join me on a trip to Peru which includes the Plains of Nazca and an Amazon cruise. She quickly accepts, even though she isn’t quite sure where Peru is. Although Gail has traveled, the outdoorsy stuff has eluded her. She asks me to check out her most appropriate clothes for the trip.
“Prada shoes? No. What about Keens?”
She looks at me blankly.
She pulls a trench coat from the pile. Wrong.
On departure day, Gail and her ginormous suitcase meet me at the airport. She marvels at my tiny one. I begin to have doubts. But she is a trooper. Later in the trip she gets sick. That doesn’t stop her.
Lima: Parque de la Reserva
Our first stop is a visit to Parque de la Reserva, a park located in downtown Lima, Peru. Its circus-like atmosphere permeates the park. Vendors hawk cotton candy, popcorn and caramel apples. Giggling, we run through the colorful, arched water tunnel. A multi-hued dancing waters show coordinates spewing water to music. As fountains erupt to heights over 262 feet (80m), laser creations of quintessential Peru images like Machu Picchu float against the waters.
The next day, we fly over the Plains of Nazca in the southern Peruvian desert. Our voices echo in the huge Paracus airport. Twelve departure gates service only 90 passengers per day.
The hour and forty minute flight glides just below the clouds. At first, the figures and shapes are hard to distinguish. Once our eyes attune to them, we are awed. These giant figures — the hummingbird alone is 25-feet (7.6m) wide — were created by the nomadic Nazca people between 2,000 and 1,500 years ago. Nobody knows exactly why. Different theories have them as markers to be seen by sky gods, indicators for water or landing sites for aliens. They are amazing.
So are the Ballestas Islands. One of them, El Candelabro Mountain, has a 595-ft high (181m) geoglyph of a candleholder. The triangle at its midpoint resembles a Masonic symbol. Created about 200 B.C., some think it was used as a guide for sailors.
Sea lions, fur seals and Humboldt penguins waddle on other islands. Bottlenose dolphins frolic around all of them. Birds are everywhere. Guano has turned the island white. Every few months, “guano guys” harvest it for fertilizer.
La Hacienda Bahia
Our digs, La Hacienda Bahia, has a private museum with etchings, textiles, silver, quartz jewelry and metal from about 200 A.D. One of the textiles closely resembles a scarf I bought in Borneo.
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