06 November 2012

Nazca day two: the city and Antonini's Museum

I awoke this morning, after a very long sleep, feeling like crap: head spinning, queasy and diarrhoea. Maybe it was something I ate? I postponed the day’s tour and went back to bed and, luckily, felt much better when I woke again at noon.

At about 2pm, I headed out, and walked up and down the streets of the inner city, taking photos of buildings and doorways and the plaza, and checking out restaurants. There were plenty of local places but none looked too clean and I was a little wary so I returned to the place I ate at yesterday, where I had a simple meal of chicken and chips.

Back at the hotel after lunch, I asked the owner for directions to the museum she had mentioned the previous day. “Turn left at the other side of the plaza and walk 5 blocks.” Off I went, slowly in the heat. After a couple of blocks, the buildings got more dilapidated, then the pavement disappeared into dust and I was a little worried I had gone the wrong way. Was I heading into a bad neighbourhood? I asked some schoolgirls where the museum was and, luckily, they confirmed I was on the right road so I continued … and there, one block further on the right was the sign, Museo Antonini.

The exhibits were really interesting – the explanations were all in Spanish, of course, but I could make out most of them. They told the story of the excavations at the nearby pyramids at Cahuachi and other sites in the Nazca area. Maps and pictures showed the geological zones and ecosystems; diagrams explained the cross-sections of the excavations; there were displays of agricultural tools and crops grown; replicas provided visual explanations of the building methods for houses and the pyramids themselves; and the beautiful ceramics illustrated the rich culture of the ancient Nazca peoples. Slightly macabre but extremely interesting was a display of decapitated skulls, which may have been offerings to the gods or perhaps trophies of war. There was also one huge cabinet with an incredibly well-preserved and large piece of cloth – the colours were still rich, the patterns vibrant, even after some 1500 years.

I could hear the calls of peacocks and, when I ventured out the back of the museum, found a delightful garden, complete with a displaying peacock and his hen. His tail was fully extended and he was shaking vigorously in an effort to impress his mate. She was ignoring him, picking at the seed tray. Another tourist, a young German from his accent, was also taking photos of them. We chatted briefly. He was identifying with the male peacock: “Story of my life”, he said. I thought that a very candid remark to make to a stranger! I said I thought the hen was deliberately ignoring her mate to provoke more displays. The German laughed at that. I wondered at the story behind his comment and reaction.

The garden also contained replica tombs, an aqueduct and cave paintings, as well as a miniaturised map of the Nazca lines. With the shady trees, it was a cool and refreshing oasis in the heat and bustle of the city.

I grabbed a few more street photos on the way back to the hotel, some interesting signs and one very bizarre building. I had a quiet evening and was asleep early, as the next day was to be long and busy.

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