Nazca, Peru: population: about 30,000, but if you include its immediate neighboring town of Vista Alegre the population is around 50,000.
The history of Nazca is complicated by the fact that there are two - one starts with the founding in October 1548 and the other in the year 1591. The first was ordered by Pedro de la Gasca and carried out by Don Alonso de Mendoza. The second history says Viceroy García Hurtado de Mendoza founded the town, then the Marquis of Cañete. Nazca (also spelled with the more recently added s - Nasca) was famous for cultivating the grapes used in grape brandy and consumed by the slaves. The pisco whiskey was for the higher class, those who owned the slaves. The valley was originally called Caxamarca, and the original documents of the town refer to Nazca as the town of Caxamarca de la Nazca.
Of course, if you visit Nazca it is probably for one purpose - to see the Nazca Lines. I flew over them in a small airplane, there were 6 passengers and two pilots. It is possible to see some of the geoglyphs from viewpoints along certain roads, but it is only a few and the view isn't great. To really appreciate them you have to do the airplane tour, and I found it to be much less expensive than expected, as in, less than $100. Another site to see is Cahuachi, a former city and ceremonial area with truncated pyramids. There is also the Chauchilla Cemetery where you can find pre-Inca time-period mummies. The Cantalloc Aquaducs are interesting. They are wells dug in spirals down to the water below the surface. There are more than 40 of them located in several sites, and one right in the city where they turned the sidewalk around the well and are now building a shelter over it. The aqueducts and wells still have water running through them. If you visit the site which is about 4 kilometers from downtown Nazca you will find that they are all open and visitors can walk the spirals down to the water in almost every one of them. There are a couple where the water is too far down from the lowest spiral for a person to reach it. Also, you'll find the largest/highest sand dune in Peru outside Nazca, and you can do sandboarding and paragliding, and more with tours of the dune. The city has a couple of museums as well, see the pics in my photo album for the geoglyphs, aqueducts, and one of the museums.
Nazca has a very dry desert climate, it is hot, dry, and sunny all through the year. The average daytime high is 29° C (85° F), and the night average low is 14° C (57° F). The city's elevation is 406 meters (1332 feet). Nazca averages 9.5 mm (.37 inch) of rain per year. Interesting note: two afternoons during my 4 days here there was a very light sprinkle of rain, really more like 100% humidity in droplets, though the second time it occurred it was enough to actually make the pavement look wet. Both of these instances of brief and light wetness lasted no more than 10 minutes, and I'm sure were not even close to a measurable amount of 'rain'.
So, my impressions: I like this town, and it's going on my Top 10 list. There is only one negative point - the lack of a real supermarket/grocery store. There are a few minimarkets and a couple of miscellaneous/grocery stores, though. I like this town because of its size, the climate, and it's clean, as in very little litter in the streets. The town is working on the river banks, building them up and strengthening them against future floods, and there is a malecon (boardwalk) that is mostly finished. And they have a couple of new bridges, as in so new they're not even open yet, over one of the rivers to the neighboring town. There are nice parks and the central plaza is larger than what you commonly find in any town in South America. Most towns have a central plaza that is a full city block in size, there the central park is 2 blocks by 1 block.
This is my goal: to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70, that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but, getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least, here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the seven towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
At this point in my journey I have six towns on my Top 10 list - Nazca, Ica, Tingo Maria, Moyobamba, Peru, and Catamayo and Puyo, Ecuador. In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 31 towns/cities. At this point in my journey through Peru, I have visited 21 towns/cities.
Next up: Atico, Peru.