Inca Window in Fortaleza, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Traversing Doorways – Journey In Peru

Ever wonder what life is like when you step out of the loop? Ever wonder who you really are without the weight of expectation of a society, a religion, without the shadow of a past that surfaces its sorrow as a result of your own lingering mal-habits and the reminders in the behaviours of others who are locked into this past by way of their neglected emotions? Beyond the loop I had a better perspective and I certainly was eager to find the answer.

It would have been a big enough step to have travelled alone to an English speaking country with a similar culture to my own but somehow I felt a ‘different’ culture would offer me a better opportunity to free myself. The fact that I had to busy myself learning a new language was ideal as a new-found confidence came with it.

I was mindful however of the fact that home was so very far away. I wasn’t exactly planning to run away forever. Instinctively I felt I belonged to a much wider world and here it was at my feet as visitors from almost every country visited this unique town of Ollantaytambo, a living Inca Museum in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

My four weeks at Qusiqoller Hospedaje were coming to an end and I was preparing to move to a small hotel at the other side of town for at least another month. I looked around the room and remembered my first few days settling in and grappling with everything so new and different. I had adapted well. I had taken my time getting to know the place, the people, whilst earnestly employing ways of learning and practicing my use of Spanish language.

Qusiqoller Hospedaje - Ollantaytambo Peru

Qusiqoller Hospedaje – Ollantaytambo Peru

Qusiqoller Host at Ollantaytambo 2013 photo by Caroline Cunningham

Qusiqoller Host at Ollantaytambo 2013 photo by Caroline Cunningham

I smiled as I remembered how my youngest sister had stuffed a massive box of chocolates into my suitcase the night before I left home in Ireland. I protested that I would surely be stopped in customs for carrying food stuff. She insisted. I was so glad she did. They lasted at least three weeks. I shared them of course, but as long as I still had a few left in the box, I had her good intentions and love right there in the room with me. It was a huge comfort, for this room had seen the extent of my joy, my sorrow and my path to freedom as I prepared to accept that which I could not change and resolved to have the courage to move forward. I was traversing door ways. I closed the door behind me and walked out into the Peruvian sunshine and prepared to be greeted at a new doorway on the other side of this historical Inca town.

Author of Wild Star Landing (The Origin of That Name!)

Author of Wild Star Landing (The Origin of That Name!)

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog

Irish Womans Journey in Peru

The Move – Journey In Peru

My new host questioned me regularly as to why I changed my accommodation in this Inca town in Peru’s Sacred Valley. There was more than one reason. The most immediate was that the tourist season was getting busier.

Ollantaytambo, a source of attraction for international and Peruvian visitors en route to Machu Picchu, was in the midst of high season by the end of July. The hospedaje, where I had been renting a room, was more frequently filling up with families and groups of children. Hospedajes are possibly the lowest budget style of accommodation in Peru. It is wise to get a recommendation if planning to stay in one, depending of course on your expectation levels.

For four weeks I was content to stay at Qusiqoller. It had a rustic style which translates to coarse wooden creaky floor boards, a single bed with woollen weighty blankets and little or no extra furniture. Insulation was not a feature of many of the buildings I frequented in Peru and in light of the frosty mountain nights it was reason for going to bed early to escape the cold. It was the way of life here. I shared a toilet and shower with the other guests, it required going outdoors for a few seconds and you wouldn’t wish to be hanging about.

I wasn’t passing through like all the other visitors, hence I was fortunate to be treated very kindly by my hosts, a mother and son. I was sometimes invited to join them for meals or to meet their family and friends. Naturally I found ways to repay their kindness.

Some evenings we sat at the doorway and watched the sun going down or watched that crazy reality TV show at night (which most local folk seemed to watch), while sipping a hot drink with our coats on to keep warm. Qeta also showed me the traditional way of cleaning the Quinoa grain which was scooped from a sack at the local market. I imagined she had also schooled her children in the same way and I appreciated that she also thought it useful to teach me. Qeta and her son helped me in my learning of the Spanish language as they patiently entertained my efforts to communicate. They also gave me books which allowed me to learn more about the local area.

But the time was coming for me to leave. My room, which I had grown used to, had no view. It served a purpose as I needed some introspection. For about an hour each morning the room filled up with a golden light as the sun hailed its rays through the amber-glassed window on one side. The other side had a window which was partly covered with white paint. It faced onto a roof top platform upon which a few extra rooms were built.

Irish Womans Journey in Peru

Irish Womans Journey in Peru

My room was between floors and the very top part of that window had a sliver of a view to the platform above. A few lines of clothes usually hung along there and it was not usual for folk to come right up to the window, until one night when a group of young boys came to stay in the room next to mine. They were boisterous, giddy and busy hovering at my window and door (which also had glass). I had no peace. I took out pages of a magazine and busied myself taping up the glass in the door and windows. I regretted to complain to Qeta and while I know she did put in a request on my behalf it appeared there was little she could actually do. For two nights this was the way.

On the third day, deprived of sleep, I went to visit La Casa Del Abuelo, the new hotel on the other side of town, where I had made acquaintances only the week before. I asked for help with finding a more suitable accommodation amongst their friends or family for an agreeable rate for possibly four or five weeks.

Henry agreed to think about it and showed me some single rooms at his new hotel as one option. It was a tempting upgrade as the rooms here had en suite toilet and shower and WiFi was available and there was even a room with a view of the Fortaleza (Inca Temple and Fort).

Within a day or two, when I returned for a further update on a new place to stay, I realised that Henry was making me an offer I could not refuse. I took the room with the view of the Fortaleza and made myself a useful guest throughout my stay helping with laundry, comforting the baby while my hosts cleaned the hotel and sharing language exchange of English and Spanish, as my new hosts Henry and Catty were as eager to learn to communicate as I was.

Telling Qeta that I was planning to leave at the end of the week was not what I enjoyed but she completely understood and wished me well. The room I was leaving would easily accommodate an extra two people or possibly an extra five if they didn’t mind sharing single beds so my move would bring more benefit to her by way of rent. I promised to visit and prepared to leave within the next few days.

Qusiqoller Hospedaje - Ollantaytambo Peru

Qusiqoller Hospedaje – Ollantaytambo Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog

80's Era Teenage Valentine

Irish 80’s Teenage Valentine

80's Era Teenage Valentine

80’s Era Teenage Valentine

From what I can remember of a little ditty composed in the 1980’s. I had a younger sister who was more intent than I was, on actually delivering her valentines cards to the apple’s of her eyes. We made up endless rhymes. In my divine teenage innocence at that time I composed this one. I have a feeling that I have mis-remembered a few words and omitted a chunk. I believe I am ready at this time in history, to share it with you in its pieced together state.

Happy Valentines everyone……if you are reading this…you are the one’s I love as I pour my words upon this fine frequency of internet that binds us together.

And if you care to delve I have more poems of the devious heart amongst my travel stories and art tales.

(P.S. by now most should know that Irish ‘craic’ is not a drug….its a bit of mad fun).

Heart Moves The Body More

Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

The Heart Of Me

Wild Star Landing:

From a few years ago….a love poem.

Originally posted on Wild Star Landing:

When your eyes read into the heart of me,

A story that is about to unfold,

A rhyme that has no reason

Except to be true to the tandem beating of your soul,

The taking of a share of breath,

The gentle pressing of lips not altogether mine,

Then it is up to me

Not to look away and pretend I didn’t see,

But to turn to meet the rushing tide

Of never-ending sea,

And wholly so.

Then I hear the trees are whispering to me

Not to let you go.

In your eyes I am further drenched and ceased

In my souls night-time quest for thee.


© Caroline Cunningham 2012


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Crashed In Peru – A Sacred Valley Journey

It was less than a year since the completion of my fictional novel based on the character of Kitty Clinch and her epiphany in Peru. Since my return to the Inca Warrior Land it appeared I had tripped over a heap of unimagined paragraphs and haphazardly landed my whole self into un-written chapters of a sequel.

Peru -

I was rooted to the spot of Plaza De Armas as I stood looking at that wreckage of a car being hauled slowly towards the police station. On a glorious sunny day the bashed up article and the carnage it represented screamed at odds with this otherwise idyllic scene.

Side Of The Road Peru

One dead, three injured. Did they not say their prayers? All I could think of was those unpaved cliff-edge roads that had shocked my wits only a few days before on my way to Santa Teresa’s cloud forest. I saw at least one driver say his prayers, that’s what they do to keep their mind in the positive. Crashed! Dead! And here I was still living.

Olantaytambo Peru

I’d had an email this same morning from a dear pal who continually writes me from a faraway land updating me on news of Peru’s tragic road accidents. He doesn’t mention any of the road accidents in his own country or much about the fact that there had recently been an earth quake there. His fascination lay in the fact that, a year before, we had travelled some of those same roads together. We had seen the crosses adorned with rosary beads and trinkets commemorating lives lost at numerous posts along the Pan American Sur Highway. We noted the long distances between towns and cities mostly traveled by trucks and buses and the eagerness of some to over-take in the most heart-stopping situations with on-coming traffic or along bendy parts of lofty roads.

Nazca Lines Peru - Wild Star Landing

Perhaps driving styles are unique to different countries and their cultures. I couldn’t help but notice in Lima that the cars drove so closely together, leaving hardly any gaps between junctions and lanes, that I likened it to a style of salsa dancing for cars.

Highway In Peru Wild Star Landing

There and then I remembered, I hadn’t informed my friend that I had returned to Peru. It was time to break the news. He would fall off his chair as I kept him in the suspense of my whereabouts. I intended to have some fun with this. Poor man, indeed he nearly did fall off his chair and has since made me promise that the next time I go to Peru, we go together. Somehow though, we seem to be dependent on a number of lottery balls all rolling out in a convenient order. This hasn’t happened yet.


So dear reader, if you happen to be Richard Branson or an equally magnificent soul with a jet for two adventurers could you please make our dream come true and transport us to Machu Picchu, or to the little town of Ollantaytambo, where we can at least take the train.

Whilst writing this article I got curious about the road death statistics around the world. I gleaned information from websites listed below and created a table comparing road death statistics between Ireland and Peru. This is yours to interpret, how does your own country compare In this regard. Be safe on the roads and thank you for reading my story.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing Blog

ROAD SAFETY STATISTICS                              IRELAND                            PERU
Population 2013                                                   4.595 million                       30.38 million
Registered Vehicles 2010                                        2.4 million                           3.1 million
No. of Deaths per 100k inhabitants                         3.5 (2012)                         15.9 (2010)
No of people killed (road users)                             162 (2012)                        4622 (2010)
No of deaths per 100k vehicles                              6.7 (2012)                        146.5 (2010)

World Health Organisation

WHO Interactive Map