Leaving the Cordillera Blanca’s was bittersweet, we did not get to experience them to the fullest however we needed to get moving south. We decided that it would be best to get as far as we could to the north of Lima and then get through Lima as quick as possible. We were not interested in seeing Lima as we feel we have been in many cities and they are starting to look the same now. Yes, we might be selling ourselves short but skipping one major city is not the end of the world. When we got off the road that took us from the mountains back to the sea we noticed that there was a archaeological site just 5 kilometers north of us and we decided after driving the windy mountain road that it would be good to stop and see the Chimu Ruinas (Ruins) while it was not overly impressive we were able to stretch our legs and take a few pictures, the attendant that took our money was worth the visit really he was so interested in us, where we were from, where we were going and so on. He was one of the nicest people we have met on the journey so far. After we spoke with him for a bit we jumped back in the rig and headed towards our stop for the night. The area from Barranca to Lima on the PanAmerican highway is not that safe and there are not many camp grounds so we found a hotel on iOverlander that looked like it would do for a night. We are not fond of sleeping in hotels so we hoped that we could just park in the lot (secure lot) and sleep in the rig. When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the most cheerful people we have ever met. She opened the gate and welcomed us with open arms, she showed us to the room and our truck could barley fit in the “driveway” but we made due. We told her that we were going to pop up the top and cook in the rig. She said no problem but we should sleep in the room because the bed was SO comfortable. We nodded and she went on her way, we mumbled there was no way we were going to be sleeping in the room as we discovered that this was not your ordinary American hotel it is your typical Latin American Love Hotel were locals rent rooms by the hour. These hotels are better known buy Overlanders as Sex Hotels or Love Hotels. Some are not dark and dingy places, they are hotels in which people go to have a few hours of fun and then go on their way. It’s not weird in the Latin American culture as they typically live with more than just their spouse, they live with Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa and kids and aunts and uncles, so when they want to have alone time they will rent a room in a love hotel to get “away” from family. Enough about that, so we ended up arriving at the hotel in the early afternoon and about an hour into our stay the people started showing up. We did not see any one but the music was playing very loud from every direction and by 5 PM the entire parking lot was empty. We ended up sleeping in the rig and waking in the early morning to embark on our drive through Lima.
Peruvian drivers are the WORST drivers in the world, at least the part of the world that we have driven. They like to honk their horns. There’s the honk, there’s a short tap honk and then there is the honk honk and then there’s hoooooonnnnnkkkk. There is a honking code in this country that we have not quite learned to interpret yet and honestly I don’t think we ever will. For American’s the horn is smoothing you press when you are pissed off or if you are in a situation where someone is backing up almost into you. Here is it a way of life on the road. After the obnoxious honking, there is the slide into the next lane without looking, they just don’t use their mirrors and then don’t understand why we are HONKING like a pissed off American or gringo. We were given advice from one of our fellow overlanders who has traveled down from Colombia to Argentina and back up three times now that the only way to go through Lima is to arrive around 9:30/10:00 and to get behind an 18-wheeler and follow close. He also said that it would take about 2 hours to fully get through Lima, the rush hours consist of morning, the two-hour lunch hour and evening commutes. So, we took his advice and left the Love Hotel at 8:00 AM and arrived to the outskirts of Lima at 9:30 AM. We took a deep breath and then game on… We stayed in the far left lane and found a 18 wheeler to follow, this 18 wheeler was not easy to anticipate, the road ahead with the quick stomping of the breaks so we passed a few and then we found the perfect 18 wheeler that had a flat bed and ended up staying behind him. It was much easier to anticipate when we needed to slow down, when we could speed up and when the damn speed bumps were coming. With all that we ended up breezing through Lima in 1 and 20 minutes. There were some close calls, some swerving and some evil looks but all in all it was a smooth ride. That evening we ended up at Paracas National Reserve and camped next to the ocean all alone. It was one of the most gorgeous wild camping locations we have found yet on the journey. It was only us, the ocean and a sky full of stars.
The next day we drove through the desert and found ourselves back in civilization. While we had a great night away from the world our next destination was the oasis in the desert, a place called Huacachina. Lindsey had seen photos of this place many, many years ago and thought it was located in the middle east not in Peru. When she realized that it was in fact just outside of the National Reserve there wasn’t a chance that we would miss it. We stayed for three nights and soaked up the sun, sand dunes and sunsets. It was a little mini vacation from the road and also the last time we would be in warm weather for a while our next destination was Cusco.
On our way to Cusco we stopped and checked out the Nazca Lines, this is an area that Doug has always wanted to visit. The Nazca Lines are a series of large ancient geoglyphs. Scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs of animals, such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguars, and monkeys, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes, such as trees and flowers. The designs are shallow lines made in the ground. Because of its isolation and the dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been preserved naturally.
Not only were the lines interesting to see there is so much history around the area which we were unaware of. We saw a cemetery on the map and decided to give it a try and it ended up being one of our favorite sites in the area, it is called Cementario Arquelogico Chauchilla (the mummy cemetery). It is an Archaeological site that contains pre-Hispanic mummified human remains and archaeological artifacts. The cemetery was discovered in the 1920’s, but had not been used since the 9th century AD. There are burials over a period of 600 to 700 years. The cemetery has been extensively plundered over the years by grave robbers who have left human bones and pottery scattered around the area. What was most interesting was the preservation of the bodies, the bodies are so remarkably preserved due mainly to the dry climate in the Peruvian Desert but also the funeral rites were also a contributing factor. The bodies were clothed in embroidered cotton and then painted with a resin and kept in purpose-built tombs made from mud bricks. The resin is thought to have kept out insects and slowed bacteria trying to feed on the bodies.
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