Sacred Valley Peru

Sitting On My Pjamas – Journey In Peru

It was unusual to have lashing rain in the middle of the dry season, in Peru that is. It was not so unusual for an Irish person to see a downpour, but my Peruvian friends were caught unawares. That first night it rained heavily. I heard a dripping sound towards the end of my bed and by morning a neat patch of dampness had spread outwards upon my blankets.

Sacred Valley Peru

I had a chat with my friend Henry, the owner of this new hotel. He explained that he was arranging with the land-lord to fix the leak. It was not apparent how long this would take however. He took a look at my situation with the bed. The room was so small the bed could not be moved to avoid the leak. The rain was not stopping either.

Fortaleza in the Rain – Ollantaytambo

Henry was convinced the rain was a temporary thing, it being the dry season. He was amused by my questions about weather forecast. I realised that it was it was more an Irish obsession to be fixed on daily weather reports. In this part of the world, the weather was usually consistent with the seasons. The forecast however was not good. A week of rain was imminent. This was doubly not good as my trip to Machu Picchu was only days away.

Henry agreed to allow me to swap to another room. It was a slightly bigger room but the gap under door was wider and more exposed to the driving night time breeze. It was always cold in the night time. I was used to making a cave for myself within the heavy woven blankets. During this damp cold week I resorted to sitting on my pyjamas before changing and wore additional layers to keep warm.

Ollantaytambo Peru

Ollantaytambo Peru

The streets turned rapidly to mud. Mobile networks and internet were cut-off completely for a few days. There was a more isolated feel to it. The surrounding peaks gnarled a stormy greyness and snow fell on higher ground returning tourists swiftly to their base having had to abandon downhill biking trips.

Ollantaytambo Peru

Ollantaytambo Peru

Within a few days, the rain slowed to intermittent showers but a damp coolness remained throughout the week. The year before I had been fortunate to see the parting clouds revealing the Inca City of Machu Picchu in splendour beneath a pure blue radiant sky. How would it manifest itself on this second visit amidst the cold rain?

Outdoor Telephone Peru

Outdoor Telephone Peru

I was sympathetic to these elements having had so much pouring of my heart the previous week in Cuzco. I was living in a minor key and Machu Picchu was beckoning to accompany me within these strains. It was some just desert. I would eat it up and accept that it would be good for me no matter what.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing Blog.

Concert At Misha Wasi - Sacred Valley Peru

Night of The Perseids – Journey In Peru

Another 6a.m. phone call from home, this time to notify me of a global astronomy watch for a meteor shower peaking on this coming night, to be witnessed from cloudless parts of planet Earth. I was smiling to myself. It was suddenly cool to be an astronomer. It was now the stuff of news bulletins, family conversation and social media glitter.

Concert At Misha Wasi - Sacred Valley Peru

Concert At Misha Wasi – Sacred Valley Peru

I had spent some nights trying to reconfigure upside-down constellations as they appeared in the Southern sky of Peru. When I had internet Wi-Fi available I relied on the Google Sky application on my mobile phone.

Misha Wasi - Journey In Peru

Misha Wasi – Journey In Peru

Tonight’s concert at Misha Wasi was perfectly timed. Misha Wasi had started as Bio Museum. It housed a display of Peruvian grains and plants for the purposes of educating tourists to the nutrient rich, diverse crops of Inca legacy. Thanks to a transient eclectic group of foreigners, Misha Wasi also housed art, craft and fashion and posed as a cool out-doors concert venue.

At that time, a group of travellers had come together from different parts to form a resident musical ensemble at Misha Wasi. I found them much too late in my time in Ollantaytambo for I would have loved to have joined them.

Night Of Perseids

Night Of Perseids

‘Fil’ was the only Peruvian member of the group, his instrument was the cello. My friend Henry affectionately referred to him as ‘Phil Collins’, the name stuck in my head from then on. The other group members played guitar, percussion and flute.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

We gathered in darkness of the courtyard amidst a hush. Star-lights dripping from the surrounding trees and shrubs created a fairy-tale scene. I recognised some faces as I purchased my glass of wine.

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru

I found a bench and soon the music began. Slow, soft melodic, instrumental, transcendental, hypnotic, gentle rhythms infused our collective souls. Having finished my wine, I lay across the bench facing towards the sky, waiting for the shooting stars otherwise known as meteors. They were faint but frequent until I saw one that blazed a bright silent trail of fantastic light. Then I was so happy.

Misha Wasi Concert - Peru

Misha Wasi Concert – Peru

The music found a deeper path into my being at that very moment. I was connected to every element, thankful to be in this perfect place at this perfect time with eyes and ears to witness the sensuality of this finest night. The night of the Perseids at Misha Wasi and all around planet Earth.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing Blog

Journey In Peru

Cocaine – Journey In Peru

Early one morning I got a call from a family member in Ireland. ‘Don’t accept any packages from strangers!’ Alarm bells had been set off by the antics of two teenage girls (one Irish, one Scottish) who’d been arrested the day before in Lima airport whilst in possession of a hefty amount of cocaine. ‘Surely, I have more credibility than this’, I thought to myself.

Later, a text from another family member, ‘mind you don’t take any packages off strangers!’ It was big news back home so I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of news it made, if any, in my Peruvian town of Ollantaytambo.

 

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

I went first of all to The Coffee Tree, Alex usually had a daily paper, maybe it had some mention of these girls. He turned every page, nada, nothing.

I went on down to Hoovert’s mini-market, he had a TV. Explaining in Spanish that an Irish chica and her friend were going prison for smuggling drugs got my friend really intrigued. ‘Are they your relations?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I replied. With that he took to roaring laughing nearly falling off his stool. I saw the funny side. Ireland is so small compared to a country the size of Peru, any incident involving one of own citizens and we behave like it happened to our neighbour down the road.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

The real news in Peru that day was that two major terrorist leaders had been shot by the Peruvian army and many of my Peruvian pals were extremely happy about this. I reassured my family there would be no unusual packages in my possession as I had the best of company here in Peru and a fair amount of sense to start with.

A day or so later, I was on my way to the market. A pair of shoes needed mending. Crossing the Plaza De Armas I was drawn to a display stand which had a chart closely resembling the mappings of reflexology. I went to take a closer look. A woman approached me. I relayed my story in Spanish language about my training and interest in reflexology, a holistic therapy.

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The woman introduced herself and her colleagues and we exchanged notes regarding their therapy. They had a device. It resembled the game with the wire and hook where there is an electric signal that ignites when the metal parts touch each other.

I was asked to give my hand and a wand instrument was waved along the edge of my palm, the area which I know to reflect the spinal reflexes. At a particular point, I felt the light zapping of electricity. This was the diagnostic element of their therapy called Prosana which is of Korean origin.

Journey In Peru

Another part of their therapy involved use of a bell. They asked my permission to perform the healing ritual. I agreed. Just then, two of my pals, Henry and Felipe happened to be passing and stopped to investigate the goings on. I could see them chuckling to themselves as one of the men clanged the bell around me and above me.

Then he brought me into the shelter itself. Here he produced a substantial red package (A4 size) with lots of Spanish writing on the outside. I couldn’t be sure what he was telling me to do with it but afterwards having read the details, it appeared to be a tea of many herbal ingredients to be used for the purpose of detoxification. My friends were teasing me about it.

My Prosana friends remembered I had told them about the pair of shoes that needed mending in the market and they insisted on accompanying me so as to ensure I got a good price.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

I arrived back in my lodgings with the package under my arm and began to scrutinize the ingredients which were too numerous and incomprehensible to me. ‘I wouldn’t touch that stuff,’ Henry offered. His wife was also shaking her head and sniggering. ‘Give it to Alex,’ they said, laughing at the idea of it.

I wrote home that night. ‘I have the package. I think there’s cocaine in it!’ I certainly didn’t bring it to the airport. I gave it to Alex as my parting gift.

Friends - Journey In Peru

Amigos – Journey In Peru

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Journey In Peru

Soul Town Woman – Journey In Peru

From here-on-in it was becoming apparent that a town was trying to claim me. Some people are lucky to find a soul mate. I unearthed a soul-town. The folk I had befriended were intent on my remaining amongst them. For the rest of my allotted time in Peru, they tried every angle they could think of to persuade me that my life was intended to be played out amongst them.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

My first suspicion was aroused following the conversation about the car parked outside the door of my hosts hotel. It was the car of the Peruvian gentleman whom I had accompanied to Casa De Anna the evening before. My friend Henry repeated, a number of times, the fact that it was good to have a car. I should take advantage of the man with the car it seemed. You can go far with a car for sure.

Nazca Lines Peru - Wild Star Landing

At first, I could be fooled to thinking that he had my touristic interests at heart. But he was whispering the words to me in such a way, as to convey, that there was a real opportunity to be made here. I began to wonder if the visit to Casa De Anna had in fact been a set up.

The car was much nicer than this one (o'

The car was much nicer than this one (o’

I was out of there on foot without the car. Perhaps I was imagining things but soon their plans for me were less disguised. Henry’s wife was certain that I should meet her brother, a solicitor. They had both already told me several times that I was family, so it would be fitting that I think about this proposal. I was reminded regularly until the day I left them. I had not revealed too much about my heart missions to Cuzco but they knew enough to draw conclusions that I was on the wrong track.

Highway In Peru Wild Star Landing

Highway In Peru Wild Star Landing

I wished there had been heart school instead of college. There was nowhere on this earth I could escape to make my dreadful mistakes without being noticed, particularly by women who had succeeded in earning respect of the men whose hearts they had secured.

Apples from the Garden Of Eden

Apples from the Garden Of Eden

I never knew how to win so I never played the heart game. For too long a time I persisted with this craziness, thinking I was sparing myself of torture. But there comes a time when you have to admit you might be wrong. Realising you are wrong on a grand scale is not a pretty party to attend. The torture was waiting for me, all lined up with its dickey-bow on and I wasn’t drinking cocktails by any means.

I didn’t argue with any ones suggestions even the woman who dared to cross the line to tell me I was asking for a lot of trouble if proceeded with my current quest. I just quietly accepted that she was more knowledgeable, having entered heart school much earlier in life and had succeeded well.

I listened to everyone’s suggestions but I certainly felt no magic for men with cars or ironed creases in their pants. I would hold out for another while and I would listen. Perhaps the wind of this Sacred Valley would provide the education that I sought. Perhaps it too would sail above me. Nonetheless, I would listen.

Journey In Peru Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru Wild Star Landing

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

 

Through The Sacred Valley Cuzco Peru

Going Home – Journey In Peru

As the mini-bus (taxi) commenced its journey through the Sacred Valley the spirits of the mountains were wrapping their reassuring arms around me. I was going home to my little story book town of Ollantaytambo. I belonged there.

I looked forward to seeing those smiling faces that greeted me all those days of the last seven weeks or so. I was glad to be leaving the city of Cuzco. I had battled there, lost, just like the Incas to the Spanish, torn apart, quartered and reassembled in a more simplified version of myself. But I had a ticket to Machu Picchu, something real to look forward to. And friends were eager to see me.

Journey In Peru - Through The Sacred Valley

Journey In Peru – Through The Sacred Valley

Through The Sacred Valley Cuzco Peru

Through The Sacred Valley Cuzco Peru

As soon as I set foot inside the door of my lodgings I was introduced to a newcomer to the town. A Peruvian gentleman who had recently moved to the area and had already become acquainted with my pals. He was on his way to Casa De Anna. I was encouraged to go along. It was only two minutes walk away.

When we arrived at Casa De Anna a science experiment was already underway. The Peruvian gentleman, an educated fellow by University degrees, explained to me what was happening here. Anna, the lady of the house provided science classes for some primary school children after school. Travelling visitors to the area were welcome to volunteer their knowledge to engage the children in fun and challenging ways to encourage creative scientific thinking. I recognised some of the visitors as they were not only skilled in other fields of education but also talented musicians who sometimes provided concerts at Misha Wasi.

Science Experiment In The Sacred Valley Peru

Science Experiment In The Sacred Valley Peru

I quickly got an idea and ran back to my hotel room to get my laptop. A few years previous I had been a presenter for Astronomy Ireland had developed a programme for introducing young children to the planets of our Solar System, the history of Astronomy and life on the International Space Station. Apart from English language I had only ever attempted to present the course in my own native Irish language on a few occasions and never expected to have the opportunity to present it in Spanish. Using my laptop presentation, I did my best to explain to the musician guys in Spanish, as this was their first language, being from various other parts of South America. They seemed to grasp my meaning and I realised that I was in fact teaching them some things they were learning for the first time.

Volunteer Science Class - - Journey In Peru

Volunteer Science Class – – Journey In Peru

My mind was so distracted by this activity it was the perfect remedy for me. I also recalled an experiment which had been imparted to me by a N.A.S.A. engineer who I had met in the Coffee Tree Cafe. It was designed to explain to children, the basis for verifying the shape and existence of quarks (sub-atomic particles). It involved the use of ball-bearings, a board and some cut out blocks of various shapes such as circle, square and triangle. The board sits above the shape so as to hide which one is underneath. By rolling the ball bearings under the board and observing the angle of their rebound it could eventually be determined which shaped block was underneath the board. This was a simplified version of a more sophisticated experiment used by nuclear scientists, so I was told by the man from NASA.

Soon the lessons were over and the children were leaving for their homes. Anna produced a bottle of red wine and everyone was invited to stay a while. I was conscious however of the smoky atmosphere as cigarettes were lighting up. I had cultivated a respect for an art of mine that required a clean instrument so I declined the offer in favour of an early night.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

I had discovered what lay behind yet another door in this magical town. There was so much more to be discovered but I was running out of time. Now I needed to make the most of it. Absolutely!

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Carefree By Degrees – Journey In Peru

Oh to live this life completely carefree. That would be a joy. In this world however, caution is required and my experience as a woman has taught me to be especially cautious. But I am always curious as to what I am missing out on and so there are times when it is necessary to dare to discover the extra spaces that are available for my adventurous soul.

Oh To Be Completely Carefree As A Woman

Oh To Be Completely Carefree As A Woman

That first evening in Ollantaytambo, as the son of my host accommodation accompanied me to a local shop to buy batteries for my torch, I heard a whistle as I passed. My young friend explained to me, ‘that’s what the men here do when they see a beautiful woman’. I uttered not a word at that time. I was concentrating on the wide cobbles of stones beneath my feet as we crossed the square of Plaza De Armas in that Sacred Valley town of Peru.

Night Fall in Ollantaytambo Peru

Night Fall in Ollantaytambo Peru

I don’t think it was the normal behaviour however, I’d say the whistle was more intended to alert my new friend that he had been spotted with ‘stranger’.

It only happened one other time. I had spent almost six weeks in the town at this point. I was once again crossing the square. It was early afternoon with the sun blazing. That ‘wolfish’ whistle was loud and obvious. I was not being presumptuous it was clearly aimed at me.

Journey In Peru - Ollantaytambo

Journey In Peru – Ollantaytambo

I had passed three men at the corner of the square and whilst I didn’t look their way it seemed to me that I was being spied upon. The hair upon my neck stood erect and my footing was halted mid-air. I was momentarily displaced but quickly alerted my senses. I was not going to let this pass!

I stopped in my tracks. I felt like Clint Eastwood in one of those old westerns as I slowly and deliberately turned to face the culprits. There they stood, two dodging my eyes and their companion peering out between them. I recognised this one. He saluted me slowly in military style with a sheepish smile. I responded with a slight tilt of my brow, eyeing him all the while.

Ollantaytambo's Inca Heritage - Peru

Ollantaytambo’s Inca Heritage – Peru

We had met within my first few days in this story book place. I was grappling with the newness of everything at the time and he almost cajoled me into meeting him in the moonlight at the Fortalezza. He didn’t understand much English and I hadn’t learned yet how to politely decline in Spanish so I had alluded him into thinking I would go. But I had stood him up and later tried to figure out a way to explain. For a while thereafter I avoided his quarter out of embarrassment.

Whist I operated mostly with caution amongst strangers there was only one other time when I almost got sucked in by a fascinating man. There are people out there who are capable of captivating you in an eye blink. When you are travelling in an adventure you attract the most intriguing characters. Thus, there was one other stranger who spoke of The Universe, Love, and a Quest to save everyone. I cringe now when I think how I gave him my contact details so easily but I do believe his intentions to share his ideas were not malevolent.

Cuzco At Night - Journey In Peru

Cuzco At Night – Journey In Peru

And now I was sitting in the travel office of an agent in Cuzco’s Avenido Del Sol. It had taken half an hour already to secure booking for my trip to Machu Picchu. I had been led to believe that availability at this time of year can be slim due to it being high season. The tricky part can be the alignment of the train tickets with the entry date.

I sat patiently in the luxury of being in no hurry. I was recovering from the shell-shock of rejection and contemplating redemption in the sight of the Inca sanctuary. Eventually the agent conversed with me in Spanish. There was a problem. The tickets which he had procured from his computer booking, required an additional authorisation from a regional office. I had already paid for everything so now I had a choice, to accompany him to the regional office or wait here in Avenido Del Sol until his return.

Temple Of The Sun - Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun – Cuzco Peru

It was safe. I had observed his company for quite a while, his interactions with his colleague, he was a good sort. We took a taxi, a five minute drive. It took no length to set things straight and we returned on foot to the centre of the city of Cuzco. It cheered me up to think that I was learning something brilliant. To be carefree, requires an element of risk but with risk comes information and knowledge that widens the capacity for reassurance and more freedom.

I had my tickets. Soon I would leave this proud Inca country to return to my home in Ireland but first I would journey to Machu Picchu.

Entrance To Machu Picchu - Journey In Peru

Entrance To Machu Picchu – Journey In Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Flowers at Machu Picchu

VSP – Journey In Peru

“Has nobody ever told you that you are a very special person?” His words seized my attention. This was not the man who had sought me as a cure for his lonely heart only to turn me away after travelling half way across the world to meet him.

Cuzco - Former Inca Capital Peru

Cuzco – Former Inca Capital Peru

I wasn’t expecting the knock on my bedroom door. I had tried to pass through the hotel reception unnoticed without the usual pleasantries. I’m useless at deception. I was breaking down and there was no way to disguise it. I just wanted to hide in my room until this torment passed.

Journey In Peru - Temple Of The Sun Cuzco

Journey In Peru – Temple Of The Sun Cuzco

He had asked if I was OK and seeing the obvious he stepped into my room and closed the door. His words at first caused me to be alarmed. What was he thinking? But he just stood there with this beautiful smile that he had and kindness beaming from his dark eyes.

This was an earth angel standing before me. They are rare but I have been fortunate to have met a few already in my lifetime.

Christ Statue - Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue – Cuzco Peru

From the moment I set foot inside the door of this hotel he had that same smile and the warmest welcome. We had chatted as I came and went and one night I brought him dinner when his colleague was late to relieve him from his duty. He didn’t like to ask but I was delighted to be able to assist, plus the takeaway was a good spot for tasty food.

He offered to make me tea. I agreed I would sit with him in the lobby in a while when he was free.

Journey In Peru - A flower Aguas Calientes

Journey In Peru – A flower Aguas Calientes

This gave me time to pull myself together. I phoned a special friend someone who I knew to be strong enough to hear my cry so far away from home. She had just the right words. In fact she ran to her bathroom to make sure as they were hanging in a frame on the wall. “He who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing.” She assured me I had taken the greatest risk. It would take time for the words to resonate fully but I accepted her encouragement with gratitude.

Glimpsing Machu Picchu

Glimpsing Machu Picchu

Glimpsing Machu Picchu

Glimpsing Machu Picchu

I needed a new plan. I thought about Kitty Clinch in her ‘Temples Of The Sun’, my first and only novel. My attempt to expose a woman unwise to the game of love, trying to understand, catch up, repent, to do whatever it took to put things right, this was definitely her sister and certainly not much wiser. Kitty never wanted to go to Machu Picchu without her soul mate and neither did I but that is how the story ended. I had waited long enough. It was time to plan my trip to the heavenly mountain.

Machu Picchu - Mapi Peru

Machu Picchu – Mapi Peru

Windy Road To Machu Picchu

Windy Road To Machu Picchu

Flowers at Machu Picchu

Flowers at Machu Picchu

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog).