Mysteries of Nazca Lines

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In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s when commercial air travel was becoming more and more frequent, the world was being treated to another view of itself.  Ariel views of the world continue to captivate us ‘earth-walkers’ today but at that time, it all must have seemed so foreign.  Pilots flying over Peru’s desert region began reporting strange images and markings carved into the rough, wind swept crust.  This region however was quite remote and information traveled slow from this part of the world.

Eventually, scholars of all kinds descended upon the puzzling Nazca Lines to try and figure out what they meant and why they were made, while some tried to figure out how they were made.  Simply walking on the desert floor, one certainly lacks the vantage point that you get from the air or at least, a hill, which adds another element of mystery.  An example here is the Peru portion of the Pan-American Highway was built straight through the middle of a couple of them, and they didn’t even know they were there.  Did the ancient Nazca people have the ability to fly?

These scholars do agree on dating the creation of the Nazca Lines to between the fifth and seventh centuries AD.  Some of the lines are straight, like ‘ruler’ straight, and they go on for hundreds of metres and all seem to point to something, but what?  There are a few conflicting theories and one is that, as this area consists today of dry river beds, they were pointing to water sources, another is something celestial, another even describes them as a landing strip for alien aircraft.  Whatever theory you believe, it is a head-scratcher as how anyone could do something so precise with such primitive tools in such a harsh climate.

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Straight lines you say?  Big deal, so what?  Well it gets better and even more mysterious.  What would you say if you were looking down at this desert, one of the driest on the planet, and see a geoglyph of a giant spider, perfectly preserved, carved into the surface.  Hey? What then?  How about a monkey, a pelican, or a condor over a 130 meters tall?  Or a whale?

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Answer me this, how did someone in say, the fifth century, know what a whale looked like?  And even if he did know (I am assuming he, maybe a she, or an it, who knows?), how and why would he carry that image in his head back to the desert and carve it, from memory, free hand, into the rocky surface to the tune of say 40 meters wide, and what? keep running up to the nearest hill top to check his work?  The alien theory is starting to become the most believable theory isn’t it?

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There are so many baffling images here from flowers and trees, to fish and forest animals but perhaps the freakiest of all is the ‘Owl Man.’  So called because the image looks like a man but with an owl’s head.  It’s possible that the artist intended to draw a human, or, maybe the artist was an alien drawing a self portrait, and the image is quite accurate? Hmmmm, perhaps it’s the other way around, perhaps the humans were communicating to the aliens, drawing pictures of of the different lifeforms we have here on earth.  Makes sense, right?

From the town of Nazca, you can either book a land tour of the the Nazca Lines, or an ariel tour and either one will see you likely gravitate towards one of the many theories, or maybe make your own.  If you are inclined to remain on the ground, you won’t see as many, as the geoglyphs are found in a area of almost 500 square kilometres, but you’ll see some of the main ones.  For tourists, they have built some staircases with a viewing platform on top in some of the more strategic places, and you will be with a knowledgable guide and group.  If you are up for an adventure, you can book a 30-45 minute flyover.  Your pilot will take a very small group of about 4 or 5 people, and circle around for great photo opportunities.  Be warned, this is not a smooth flight and the turns are sharp but if you think you can stomach it, it’s well worth it.

Salsa dancing in a nutshell

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dancers in action isolated on white

Salsa is beloved by people from all over the world. Salsa dancers can’t resist the lively music and hip-swinging movements of salsa dancing, which is part of the reason why “salsa dance nights” can be found in all of North America’s major cities. If you want to get in on the action, you might consider signing up for salsa dance lessons in San Jose . Before you do, it’s a good idea to learn a little about the history of this wonderful dance form.

Early Influences

Salsa music and dancing have a number of influences, including African drum rhythms, Spanish guitar music, and dances from Cuba and Puerto Rico. The dancing and music came together in 1970s New York, when Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants combined the dancing and music of their homelands with the disco craze. No one knows for sure where the term “salsa,” came from, though many speculate that it refers to the dance’s hot and spicy movements. It might also refer to the dance’s mixture of influences, which is reminiscent of salsa’s many ingredients.

Popularity Boom

When some of the progenitors of salsa moved away from New York, they brought salsa dancing with them. Salsa promptly evolved into many other styles, including Cali style, LA style, and Cuban style. Some salsa styles are showier than others, others involve more footwork, but they are all danced with the same passion. Once salsa spread from its New York roots, there was no stopping it—it became a very popular dance in nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and festivals all around the world.

Salsa Today

Salsa continues to evolve as creative people add new spins, dips, lifts, and steps. There are numerous salsa dancing competitions around the world, including the annual World Salsa Championships. Regardless of where you live, you don’t have to go far to find a decent place for salsa dancing. If you live in the San Jose area, you can find dozens of great places to show off your skills. Before you do, however, you might consider honing your moves at a San Jose dance studio

Amazing facts about Inca culture you probably never heard of

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The Inca civilization was amazing in many ways. In little more than 300 years, the Incas created an empire that stretched from present-day Colombia through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia to northern Chile and Argentina. In the 15th Century the Incas ruled over 250 separate peoples, and nine million people! Even more astonishing is that the Incas constructed 30,000 km of roads and all their majestic buildings without using animals, or even basic technology such as pulleys or wheels.

Quite something, I’m sure you’ll agree. And now, 15 more curious facts about the Incas:

Skull deformations

Did you know the Incas considered deformed skulls beautiful? They would wrap bandages tightly  around the heads of their children to purposefully deform their skulls by limiting growth in one direction. The Incas were not alone in this practice: ​​other cultures such as the Mayas, Makrokephaloi, Huns, Alemanni, Thuringians and Burgundians also deformed skulls for aesthetic purposes.

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Worn once, then burnt

Once upon a time the Sapa Inca, the king of the Incas, was traveling in a sedan chair through his kingdom. All those who appeared before him had to be barefoot; even the highest dignitaries had to bring symbolic gifts, to show deference. The Sapa Inca showed his indifference by sitting behind a barrier and refusing to address his audience directly. He only ever wore the same clothing once: After wearing, the used garments would be burned in a ceremony.

Guinea pig – an Inca speciality

Did you know that in addition to llamas, alpacas and ducks, guinea pigs were also kept as pets, and eaten too? This traditional dish has survived to this day: Cuy, grilled guinea pig, is still a popular dish in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

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Skull surgery

In 15th Century Europe, kills were often quick and clean. Death by the hand of an archer was often so swift, the victims never felt a thing. Likewise, a powerful blow with a sword could lead to a quick demise, assuming the swordsman knew his craft. In South America, however, the forging of iron was still unknown: Death came mostly via clubs or slingshots. Often a dispute between Inca warriors ended not with death but severe head trauma, leading to prolonged agony. For this reason, the Incas developed the practice of opening skulls of the living to heal wounds.

Interesting fact: A study examining Inca skulls revealed that every sixth skull had a hole! It seems that most patients survived this surgery without major complications, thanks to the Incas’ remarkable skill in this unique type of treatment.

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The Inca bone

Another interesting bit of trivia: Did you know that there is a bone in the human body that not everyone has? It’s called the Inca bone.

Loyalty through education

In order to retain the loyalty of subjugated tribes, the Incas implemented a similar policy to the Romans: Children of the conquered tribes’ leaders were moved to the capital, Cusco, where they were educated in elite Inca boarding schools.

Skulls as drinking vessels.

Did you know that the skulls of defeated chiefs were used as drinking vessels? The best known victim of this practice is Atahualpa, who after a long and violent power struggle against his brother Huascar in 1532, had his skull transformed into a drinking jar.

Earlobes to the shoulders

Did you know that Incas stretched their earlobes so much, they hung down to their shoulders? Interestingly, the Spanish name for the Incas at the time was Orejones, which means “big ears”.

Polytheism

The Incas were polytheists, which meant they had several gods. The most important was Inti, the Sun God. His wife, the Moon Goddess, took over his duties by night.

Inca Whispers

Did you know that the Incas developed a sophisticated postal system? They used chains of runners to relay messages. These fast-footed news couriers were stationed in pairs, one sleeping while the other awaiting news, so somebody was always on duty. Since the Incas had no writing system, the runners had to learn the messages by heart, like a story being passed on from one person to the other. You might call it an early form of Chinese Whispers!

Good Nutrition

Did you know that one study found no sign of deficiency or malnutrition in Inca corpses?

Quipu

You may have heard that the Incas developed a form of communication called Quipu, which was woven into textiles. But did you know that it’s still unknown whether it was used to convey information in writing, numbers or both?

No Taxes

Did you know that the Incas and no money and therefore no taxes? Instead, they developed a system to distribute all their resources, and allocated value instead to the hours they worked.

Polgamy

Did you know that while Inca nobles were allowed many wives, farmers had to be monogamous?

Qeswachaka- the 1500-year-old suspension bridge

Did you know the Inca-built suspension bridge, Qeswachaka, is rebuilt every year? All local communities help out, as they did in Inca times – the women weaving the grass ropes, the men using the ropes to construct the bridge. While the bridge is built, women are not allowed nearby, as this is considered bad luck!

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All you need to know about Pisco Sour, excellent Peruvian drink

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Pisco Sour is a clear spirit, distilled from grapes, widely consumed and produced in both Chile and Peru. Historically, Pisco has been the matter of heated dispute between the two countries, both of them claiming Pisco is theirs.

To better understand it you need to know these simple facts:

– Cultivation and production of the Pisco started in Peru.

– Pisco is a port in Peru from where the drink was first exported.

– Organisation of Intellectual Property Rights in Geneva recently ruled that Pisco is a Peruvian product.

– Chile produces, exports and drinks almost 15 times more Pisco than does Peru.

But the debate doesn’t stop here… the Pisco Sour was invented by an English sailor in Iquique, a Chilean City which used to be Peruvian until the Pacific War when Chile took it. However, the recipe was greatly improved in Lima (Peru), many years later…And so it goes on.

If you want to keep friends in South America, when a Peruvian asks you who makes the best pisco sour, you say “Peru!”. When a Chilean asks you, you say, “Chile!”. If you are in a room with both Peruvians and Chileans then we can’t help but we’d love to hear your experiences!

So now that you know the history, here is the recipe:

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Ingredients

  • Pure Quebranta Pisco
  • Icing (powdered) sugar
  • Lime (ideally key lime or similarly potent) juice
  • Egg white
  • Ice cubes
  • Angostura Bitters

Preparation

  • In a cocktail shaker mix Pisco and fresh lime juice in a ratio of anywhere between 3:1 and 3:2.
  • Add sugar, usually about a tablespoon.
  • Now add the egg white, lots of ice and shake vigorously.
  • Adjust sweet/sour to suit.
  • Serve in short, stubby glasses with three drops of Angostura Bitters.

The drink should be a delicate green with a slight white foamy head on it… Enjoy in moderation! Pisco sour is traditionally an aperitif. Those in the know, know that whilst easy to drink these little chaps, if you have more than two before dinner you risk not being able to distinguish your knife from your fork.