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Wednesday, May 24, 2023: Pachamanca

We started the day with a hearty breakfast. We always find something interesting to try.

Something new. I had never heard of older jam. I tried it and it tasted like elderberry jam. Oh. Now I get it.

This morning we are going to ride in a small plane to view the Nasca Lines from the air. I am excited but a little nervous since I get really motion sick.

I was ready as I had my special wristbands and ginger gum. It worked somewhat. I did not throw up, but I had all the symptoms such as sweating, my ribs hurt like they wanted to vomit, and dizzy. I put the air on my face. I was popping that chewing gum every few minutes. However, after about thirty minutes back on the ground I was back to normal.

Here are some of the lines that we saw:

If you are dizzy looking at some of these photos, remember that we were, too, as we dipped our wings from one side to the other. Nasca Lines are geoglyphs made 2,000 years ago. Many people have heard of petroglyphs which are etched in stone.

For lunch, we were treated to a special meal called Pachamanca. This feast is cooked in the ground and mostly made for special occasions and harvest or planting which is February and August. This “earth meal” which is what pacha manca means gives thanks to Pachamama, or mother earth.

There is a threefold blessing that is illustrated with three leaves of the coca plant. One breathes on it three times symbolizing heaven, earth, and underworld. Then the godparents drink chicha only after raising the drink to the gods, and pouring it on the ground … or something like that.

This meal could be considered a Thanksgiving type of meal. We had eaten to our fill. Then a local guide got in the car and started talking about pre-Columbian cultures. I was trying to stay awake but couldn’t.

Chauchilla Nasca Desert Cemetery

We arrived at the Chauchilla Cemetery. On the way, our local guide kept pointing out the burrowing owls. I was not able to see them and she admonished us.

Do YOU see the burrowing owl?
Our local guide drew on her “boardblack” in the dirt about the many cultures who were there long before the Incas and overlapped.

In this area there were 400 to 500 tombs in an area of 2 kilometers by 250 meters. They were rediscovered 25 years ago. Eighty years ago grave robbers came here to loot the graves looking for jewelry. They just threw the mummies on the ground.

There are around 28 civilizations in Perú. Here is just a peak at the cultures in this area.

South (Oldest)

  • 1. Paracas 700BC-300AD . They were the best surgeons, and even changed the shape of the head when baby was born due to the soft fontanel. They traded with far civilizations based on the pottery that was found.
  • 2. Nasca comes from Nanasca meaning “suffering” 300BC to 800 AD. They built an aqueduct and were the best at hydraulics. They made light, colorful pottery. There was a natural catastrophe possibly caused by an El Niño. The belief system was challenged as sacrifice did not work. This was traumatic.
  • 3. Tiawanaku


  • 1. Moché – richest in Peru. In their tombs the entire family surrounded the king when he died. Everybody was sacrificed. Best human depictions in sculpture. They made erotic pottery.
  • 2. Wari. Joined with others, conquered other lands. Nasca people were leaving due to drought, etc.  Must be close to shamans.

In these graves they did not take out the organs. They cut the arms and legs off soon after death to drain the blood. Then they covered the body with salt. They made more jewelry and wove cotton around the bodies. This was soft and absorbent. They tied seven layers around the dead often braided cotton which started as a basket mat and used lots of leaves as a moth repellent. The body was fresh in the tomb. Body fluids were expelled eventually and today they are petrified.

An interesting ending to our long day. While eating pizza at a Spanish speaking restaurant an Argentinian man named Maximilian played his ukelele and sang for us!! We never know what we will see. What an adventure!

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