Nazca (1/3) – The city where everything is not quite as straight as its lines

Pulling into Nazca’s main terminal we could already see the natives circling our bus. Disembarking we quickly grabbed our bags only to be bombarded with all manner of touts and taxi drivers. This time however we were grateful for the abundance of transport after twenty hours of sitting on buses along the west coast. However, when we spoke of our hostel to one of them he shook his head and pointed in the direction of the setting sun. Irritated and somewhat confused we tried the next car along only to be given the same treatment, this interaction continued down the line of drivers until finally one of them explained our accommodation was just around the corner. Relieved by the news, we were about to go at it alone when an unlikely saviour came to our help.

Of average height but not of weight, he had a slight waddle as he walked, greasy hand smudges dirtied his shirt which did little to hide the fat hanging over the top of his jeans, his face was red and blotchy with an untidy bushy slug for a moustache, in his sausage fingered hands he held a black ratty file folder. Speaking to us like a concerned friend, the fat man asked if he could help, telling him our situation, he then introduced himself as our hostel representative. As he continued to speak in broken English he opened the folder that was sandwiched in his chubby hand, pulling out his credentials he directed us to the hostel.

Although his instructions differed from that of the taxi drivers we had no reason to doubt him. Yet it soon became clear that his route had led us into unfamiliar territory as we stood in front of an unknown hostel. The nearest person was a shopkeeper a couple of blocks down. Her home doubled as a playroom for her toddler with a tiny living area and kitchen for her family, the exterior had thick iron bars preventing the outside from getting in. Through the metal we handed her a piece of paper with our hostel jotted down, she shrugged her shoulders and giving it back to us.

With a slim chance that the hostel had recently changed names we retraced our steps to the unknown accommodation. Stepping inside, the familiar fat man was dealing with two disgruntled guests, he took one look at us and ushered us into a six-bed dorm room. Moments later he waddled back and tried to sell the room to us. Becoming increasingly annoyed with him we slowly explained we had put a deposit down on a double room and showed him our email confirmation. It was then he unapologetically came clean and gave us directions to our actual hostel. Fed up and fuming we stormed off until several blocks later we arrived at our destination.

© John Brownlie 2012


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