I’ll start this post with a warning. It’s going to get weird. I’ll attempt to explain how I ended up teaching English as a foreign language in a graveyard – surrounded by mummies – while interspersing it with disturbing shots of mummified humans from the Nazca civilisation!
I thought I’d struck a good deal when my hostel Inti Wasi put together a package for me that included a night’s accommodation, breakfast, a flight over the Nazca lines, and a guided tour of the Chauchilla cemetery and a couple of museums.
As I explained in my Nazca lines post, things started off somewhat rocky the night before when we were warned about a car rally that would be taking place in the city that might slow traffic. This had resulted in a request to be ready and waiting in the hostel reception by 6:30 am.
It wasn’t until 7:45 that I was finally picked up to be driven to the airport. Because of the early start, I hadn’t received that free breakfast, but this girl’s made of stronger stuff than to let that get her down.
A short drive later, I arrived at the airport, but still had to wait until 11:30 for my flight. They promised a ‘present’ as an apology, but it never materialised. The hostel staff had also neglected to mention the additional airport tax of S25.
After a wobbly flight over the lines, I was ferried back to the hostel, where I vacated my room and waited until 3:30 for my cemetery tour to begin. 3:30 came and went and I had a strong sense of deja vu.
Finally, at 5, my guide, Ricardo, turned up – nickname: condor, because he’s very small (irony) and has a nose like a beak (no kidding!).
I realised I was the only one in the ‘tour group’ as I clambered into the car beside him. His English wasn’t bad, but it took him a while to get his words out. We got over the formalities and he explained that he was trying to improve, so it would be best if we stuck to my language – fine by me!
Except that as we drove and I nattered away, he kept asking me to write down phrases in his notebook. I saw I wasn’t the first foreigner to fall victim to his sneaky scheme of taking free language lessons. Normally this wouldn’t bother me – I enjoy helping others learn – but the ‘tour’ was lacking somewhat in the information department.
When we reached the cemetery, I was asked to pay S8 as an entry fee. Surely the S50 I’d paid for the afternoon trip to the cemetery should include entry to said cemetery? Or am I crazy?
Night fell as we walked around tombs containing freakish mummified humans. There was no one else around and the site was surrounded for miles by arid land. It’s a good thing I don’t spook too easily!
Back in the car, Ricardo told me we should check out a nearby aqueduct (it was too late for the museums). Apparently, if I drank the water from the aqueduct, I would never leave Nazca and I would be filled with a desire to marry him.
Tempting though the prospect of this was, alongside the likely chance of contracting a stomach bug, I declined. At least we had the English lessons to fall back on.
I can’t help feeling like describing this experience as a ‘tour’ was a touch misleading. The only service I received for my S50 was a taxi ride (which I’m sure would have been significantly cheaper in a real cab), and, given all my handy tips on speaking English, I came away feeling like, if anything, I should have had more money in my uber-hip traveller’s pouch than I started with.
To be totally fair to the guys at Inti Wasi, they’ve just purchased the hostel and it may take a while for them to get on their feet. And the car rally thing was a one-off, unavoidable blip. I really enjoyed my stay – especially a cocktail-making lesson from the owner, Micky, and his insistence on driving me into town so I could pick up a takeaway.