Destination = Nazca Lines, Nazca Desert, Peru
The Reader’s Digest Book of Amazing Facts gave me my first pictures of the Nazca lines. Mysterious lines and figures drawn on huge scale in the desert. Outlines of animals that could only be seen from the air.
Erich von Daniken had a field day with them in ‘Chariots of the Gods’, claiming they were put there for the viewing pleasure of space aliens, and that strange straight lines were actually runways and guidance for incoming UFO’s.
At age 10, I set my mind to seeing them. At age 45, The Excellent Husband, who was then The Maybe Boyfriend (TMB), having brought me to Hawaii for a dirty week, asked me ‘where might we go next?’ When I stopped reeling from ‘next’, I said: “Well….you know…. my Ex, when I could get him to talk about any future for us at all, talked about going to Peru to see the Nazca lines, and Macchu Pichu. This is totally ignoble, but the mean part of me would like to get there first and send him postcards.”
Done. We went to Peru.
On the tour bus, heading to the town of Nazca where we’d spend two nights, we passed through the tail of the lizard. The Nazca figures include a lizard, and before the Peruvian government realised the tourist dollar would come to see the lines, they build a highway that cut into the tail of the lizard.
We parked nearby, and were directed to climb a wooden tower. TMB is not good with heights. I am so-so. I tell him to go ahead of me on the ladder, so I can keep encouraging him.
“I’ll catch you if you fall,” I say. He is 6’3”. I am 5’2”. He weighs 92kg, at that time I weighed 55. The things I’ll say to get him up a ladder.
It is near sunset. We are looking down on the spread of the lizard. Stones piled up into shapes to form the toes of the foot, and within the stones, a flat pale surface. I think on the Woman Who Swept the Desert. Years before the Peruvians re-valued and sanctified the lines, a white woman knew their importance. She moved to Nazca and spent her time repairing the damage wind, time, and dirt bikes had done. She reformed the lines of stones that made the shapes, and swept the shapes clear of rubble.
I stand on the wooden platform of the tower and look down on history. It is chilling quickly as the sun sets. The outline of the lizard is deepening into shadows which stretch long across the desert floor. I have my head on TMB’s shoulder. Someone takes our photo. I am wrapped in his arms, and I know. I know suddenly that this is the man I will marry. He doesn’t know that. He’s not even sure he’s boyfriend material. He’s a confirmed bachelor living on a different continent, fairly content with his solitary life: work, friends, books, travel, internet, gaming, church.
One of the sacred meanings of lizard is ego versus heart: peeling back the layers to get at what truth your heart is telling you.
I stand on the wooden platform, letting TMB and night embrace me, and I know. I know. I know. This man, this skittish, stubborn, doubting man, is my husband.
The gift of Lizard.
We are herded down the tower again, back onto the bus, and taken into Nazca. Get a good night’s sleep, we are told, for tomorrow you see the lines.
In the morning, we are driven to the airfield. One five seater plane is kept busying flying tourists over the desert. We are told our pilot speaks excellent English. He doesn’t. He’s a chubby, bored man who has only the titles of each of the figures in English. He drinks from a big bottle of milk as we fly.
We zoom into the sky and are soon over La Astronauta, a huge human figure that appears helmeted. The plane tilts to one side so that those on the right hand side of the plane get a good view for pictures. Round La Astronauta twice. Then abruptly tilt to the left and round La Astronauta clockwise twice. Then off to the next figure.
I hadn’t banked on the tilting. I’m generally okay on planes, but this is a small stuffy plane that smells of milk. There’s tilting and circling.
La Lizard. Round and round. I see the highway and the tower. Poor lizard with his tail in two. I watch a tour bus drive through Lizard.
“Monkey.” Round twice. “Monkey.” Round the other way. Could the pilot be any less enthusiastic?
Huge runway-type rectangles and lines run nowhere across the desert. I think fondly of Erich von Daniken. It’s 2009 and there are still no definite answers as to why all this is here. Lately, shamans have claimed sacred purpose to them, that they are signs that direct tribes to water, that they tell teaching stories. But still, no one knows. I like that.
Here is my Reader’s Digest of Amazing Facts come to life. Here, Child Helen, here is your dream. Here is proof that you have the dream, you set the goal, you set it free in the universe, and it comes to you. It might take 35 years, but it does come. Thus, ambitious Capricorn Helen, so might other dreams you have. Set those dreams free into the world and be patient. Let Lizard remind you of what your truly, and what you truly want.
I look down on the Hummingbird, and the Eagle. I can take flight like them.
We tilt and circle, tilt and circle. I am turning slowly green. There are vomit bags provided. I have one in my lap. I don’t use it, but I come close.
We land and I stagger from the plane, needful of the toilet and the air conditioning of the airport, such as it is.
Afterwards, I sit in the biting sunshine, and try to get it into my head: you, girl, have seen the Nazca lines.
Photo: Lizard Learning - Nazca Desert, Peru _ Helen Patrice