Photo. Mummy close up. © Josh Cutler.
The main mummy graveyard was an hour out of the way, but our driver offered to take us to a "mini museum" close by.
The museum ended up being a makeshift hut in a local's back yard...surrounded by a dozen noisy chickens.
The elderly woman must have had 50 skulls, and mummys in the back of her house amongst her drying laundry!
Photo. Ancient Nazcans in Peru. © Josh Cutler.
Unlike a real museum, we were free to hold, touch and experience these ancient Nazcans without a glass barrier.
Some of them still possessed long strands of dried locked hair and skin! Their facial features could almost tell the spectacular tale of 2,000 years ago.
Later in the afternoon, we visited the "real" museum in the coastal town of Ica. There, behind glass, some of the mummys had bizarre conical heads! Through binding and manipulating the growth of their skulls ancient Indians gained social status.
Photo. Child mummy in a backyard museum.
© Josh Cutler.
They appeared inhuman with their elongated pointy skulls...they looked almost "ALIEN".
Llama gone bad
Outside the museum, tied to a tree was one for Peru's many Alpacas (Llamas). I approached the furry beast for a quick photo opportunity. I inched my way closer and closer for the ultimate picture. The alpaca gave me a look like he wasn't happy I was disturbing his lunch time. I crept slightly closer and snapped the picture. At that exact instant the llama flipped out and charged at me full speed... He was PISSED! I ran like a bat out of hell as he galloped at my heels. Finally 30 feet later his leash reached its limit and he jerked back. That was one pissed off alpaca! I know their species are vegetarians...but this guy wanted blood.
The best part of this humorous tale is the picture I took right before the llama flipped. You can literally see the evil look in his eyes. I laugh hysterically every time I look at the picture. It's probably the best souvenir I could ever have...instant comic relief..."When Llamas Attack!"
From desert to shining sea, our next stop on our adventure was an hour boat ride off the Peruvian coast. In the middle of the navy blue Pacific rests Islas Ballestas, the poor man's Galapagos.
Here, penguins, cormorants and pelicans flock together...by the millions, fighting for space on the rocky slopes. The scene can only be described as an infestation of sea birds as far as the eye can see. The local seal population frolic and play around our boat while sea lions sleep lazily along the shore banks.
The birds produce so many poops that the locals harvest the guano yearly for fertilizer. When they collect the excrement they need cranes, bulldozers and LOTS of nose plugs. Our guidebook claimed the islands shrink nearly 100 feet in height after the fertilizer harvest. Don't worry...the birds will undoubtedly make more.
Living la Lima loca
Returning to Peru's urban capital was a culture shock after the quiet serenity of the Nazca Desert...but we were ready to live it up in Lima! The two of us already had an amazing adventure behind us…but nothing could prepare us for the magic waiting around every advancing corner…this country is oozing with culture…
We checked into our extraordinary hotel, The Antigua Miraflores, a converted mansion, hundreds of years old. It was painted intense shades of salmon & yellow. The interior couldn't have been more exquisite! The works of local artists were on display in each hallway…giving the hotel a museum-like feel! Quite a visual feast…
We immediately hailed a cab and headed into the city's core to soak up its colonial urban vibe…The streets were packed with locals dressed in robes of purple and white. We obviously landed smack dab in the middle of a major festival…Any doubts were shed when we heard the cacophony of parade musicians coming our way.
We scrapped our plan for the day and decided to live for the moment. Marna and I abandoned the stagnant taxi and headed for the action. We couldn't believe the colourful costumes dancing around before our eyes. Locals lined the streets by the hundreds of thousands! The immense crowd looked like a sea of violet. This was the Peruvian festival of miracles (Senior de los Milagros). It was mentioned it in the guidebook…but nothing could prepare us for the real thing! The sidewalks were alive with life, energy and the colour purple!
Devout clergy led a procession of people through the square carrying an alter dedicated to the saint. Local artisans decorated the streets with designs made from coloured sand and flower petals…This was our first real taste of Lima…we couldn't have picked a better day to delve into the culture of the ciudad.
After this past week in Peru …I, myself was beginning to believe in miracles…
This article continues in part 3. Read about great experience and watch unique photos.
Josh Cutler, 8 November 2004
© Photo Copyright for all photos in this article: Josh Cutler.
Presentation of the author:
Josh Cutler has been interested in travel as far back as age 5. Growing up, he would spend countless hours reading and rereading the world atlas. While most other children played with Star Wars figures and Big Wheel Bikes, Josh's favourite toy was his globe. His country of origin is the USA (from the Philadelphia area). He currently lives in Ventnor, New Jersey.
His first travels led him to Mexico and Central America. Then, at age 25 he quit his job and spent months exploring Western Europe and North Africa. It was a life altering experience to live out of a back pack for such an extended period of time. As much as he saw...his hunger for travel and exploration seemed to grow larger.
Photo. Josh Cutler is an adventure traveller, photograph and freelance journalist from USA. When Josh grow up his favourite toy was his globe.
Josh's other passion was travel writing. He has had several articles published by Lonely Planet and Globe Trekker."My greatest joy is experiencing different cultures, religions and lifestyles...then being able to convey my visions through words and description to those back home."
Josh has visited over twenty countries including Peru, Morocco, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, Belize, Guatemala and most of Europe. For further information, assignments, articles and photos, Josh Cutler could be contacted on e-mail: NYCutler@aol.com.