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21 April 2024
Nazca Lines, Peru.

Today, we set off early for a long drive down to Arequipa. We passed back through the sun-baked, arid desert plateau we crossed yesterday. 

Nazca to Arequipa.

Travelling through a more mountainous region, we followed a large fissure in the landscape created by a past earthquake in the area, & back to the coast road.

Having returned to the coast road, we then travelled parallel to the Pacific on winding roads with long drops down to the ocean & beaches below. As we drove along the coast road, we passed many small monuments for people who had died in accidents on the road. The number of these monuments is a stark reminder of the danger of travelling these roads, which are not of the same standard as those in the UK & of the long hours many of Peru's working drivers have to work, in unsocial hours on rough unlit routes.

We passed many more shanty towns. Dotted along the coast, we spotted many solitary, semi-permanent buildings, housing workers collecting seaweed or fishing for a living. We stopped in a small fishing village for a rest break & a drink. I took some great pictures of the vultures sitting around a rubbish dump next to the ocean. I thought it was both sad & beautiful. Wonderful birds flying over the blue ocean created a memorable image. If only I could remove the smell & sight of the man-made rubbish dump tumbling into the sea at the same point. It is sad that these shantytowns do not have running water, electricity, sewers or other services we take for granted when they are first set up. What is even worse to me is the way that when they do have these services, the streets & surrounding areas of many of these places become dumping grounds for refuse & are allowed to fester, attracting vultures & other vermin that the vultures feed off of.

We stop at lunchtime in another small village for lunch. The food tasted better than it looked, but I wouldn't hurry back. My fish tasted like fish & smelt like fish, but it looked the same as the flat chicken steak eaten by other people at the table. Stories of Peru's fabulous seafood never started in this restaurant.

As evening falls & the bright sky is replaced by night, we enter Arequipa. The lights around the coach give the impression of a vast city. The people struggling home in their cars, buses & on foot, supervised by traffic police in the middle of dusty roads, suggest it is a bustling city.