Nasca, Peru


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Summer to Winter and a Swollen Foot (con't)
Mon Dec 23, 2002 11:51 am

We did not take a plane to see the lines, as many people do. Instead, we took a tour that led us up a tower to see some of the lines. Patty and I ended up with our own private tour in a taxi with a guide.

We learned that there are MANY MANY lines in the area, created by the Nasca civilization around 2000 years ago. The lines we saw were made simply by removing the darker layer of topsoil, which contains ferrous oxide, to reveal the lighter layer beneath. These lines are not deep -- a couple of centimeters at most. So how were they preserved all these years, even though the area is quite windy? Thank mother nature for their excellent state of preservation.

Why the lines are so well preserved: 1. They are in a desert, and there is practically no rain to wash them away. 2. They are made from pebbly soil, which does not shift in the wind, like sand. 3. During the night, the lines get covered by dew, which makes the soil stick together. During the day, the sun vaporizes the dew, and it forms a protective layer over the ground, keeping the wind from touching it. 4. The sun bakes the topsoil, turing it blackish over time. So why does the exposed white not turn dark? The dirt that forms the lines is finer than that of the surrounding land, and is picked up by the dust devils that constantly swirl over the lines. The dust devils carry away the darker soil in the lines, cleaning them and dumping the dust onto the surrounding sand dunes.

Now, although the lines are well preserved, flash flooding does wreck some of them occasionally when it rains in the surrounding area and the water rushes across the plain. Also, the PanAmerican highway cuts through a number of the lines, including a lizzard, and one geometrical shape was once used as a parking lot by construction workers. So, the lines are not PERFECTLY preserved. :)

More about Nasca

We had such a good tour guide, we agreed to do another tour with the same guide the next day. Unfortunately, we got the old "bait and switch" and ended up with a different tour guide with a bunch of people we did not know. That was the end of tours for us. We were toured out. Sooooooooooo......

(Continued in Huacachina . . .)
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