Early Morning on the Arty Side of Town

Be That Kid – Journey In Peru

Walking to the Coffee Tree Cafe from the direction of the Fortalezza had a different feel. It was early and quiet. A torrent of visitors had already moved in the darkened morn towards the train station, with only Machu Picchu on their minds. Shop keepers were removing the shutters from their windows and throwing buckets of water onto the dusty cobbled stones. I was passing through the ‘arty’ side of town. I had yet to make all the acquaintances.

Ollantaytambo Peru - Bridge over the Patacancha River

Ollantaytambo Peru – Bridge over the Patacancha River

I crossed the wooden lob-sided bridge over the Patacancha River. The auto-taxi’s were not so busy at this particular time of morning close to 8am. It was always necessary to know their whereabouts as ‘rules of the road’ did not appear to be something of importance to these drivers.

My friends at the Coffee Tree were curious about my move to new lodgings. They were beginning to expect more from me by way of conversation in Spanish. So the question was asked about why I had moved. I tried to explain as best I could but it appeared my meaning was not so coherent. ‘You don’t like children?’ one of the younger women exclaimed. She followed with questions about motherhood and my intentions in that area.

I struggled as I sat there. My most private personal thoughts on the subject fought for justification of themselves. Until now the Spanish language was not the only barrier to their airing. The question hung stagnant in the air like withered onions. ‘When you decide to be an artist, it is necessary to make sacrifices!’ I couldn’t believe I had said this in Spanish.

The subject was changed. But the answer was only a decoy. It was true that my artistic drive, which only came in later years, was of great importance to me and possibly saved my life. But my art was an invisible one because it had to remain private until the time came that I understood its workings fully. I could deem myself to be a writer and a painter but I was only relatively new to using these talents. I did not know how to make my way in the world by being an artist of any kind. I only knew then and still that ‘I mustn’t give up!’

Ollantaytambo Peru with Fortalezza Inca Architecture

Ollantaytambo Peru with Fortalezza Inca Architecture

Parents nowadays want so much more for their children. They go to extremes to make sure the child has musical tuition, sports involvement and artistic development, all in the hope that they will have the best opportunity to succeed doing something they truly love.

In my generation the main concern was ‘get a job, any job and stick to it’. I certainly did not come from an arts or musical background and sport was great and fully applauded if you were a boy. When I stumbled upon my artistic path with the right teacher before me, it was like finding a life line. I decided then to be that kid. The one whose parents secretly wished he or she would follow their dream and use their talent fully.

Early Morning on the Arty Side of Town

Early Morning on the Arty Side of Town

Nature was set to conflict limits on my ovaries and time could be running out for having children of my own. But why give up? There were reasons other than fertility why motherhood might not be for me. So why give up just so that some unborn child has the chance to go forward in the world of dreams? Why not see the journey through to the end, whatever that particular end might be?
We sat silent in the cool of the cafe drinking our coffee and finishing the last of our bread rolls gazing out at the sunshine as it flooded the plaza. A busy day lay ahead of us.

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Fortelezza, Temple Of The Sun, Ollantaytambo, Peru

A Bright New Day – Journey In Peru

My eyes sprung open with the brightness of my first morning at La Casa Del Abuelo, my new home in Ollantaytambo, Peru. I had moved from the market side of town where the bustle of trade was evident. Men rushed along laden with the back-packs of Inca-trailing tourists and drivers called to fill their buses with those travelling to nearby towns and the city of Cuzco. Women sold their bundles of grass for the fattening of animals that ended up next door chopped up on tables ready for the cooking of dinners, providing strength for the workers in fields and offices and the raising of families.

Temple Of The Sun - Fortaleza Ollantaytambo Peru

Temple Of The Sun – Fortaleza Ollantaytambo Peru

The first ‘new thing’ I remembered, I had my own shower and I was given a vital tip by my host that it was best to use it at 6a.m. so as to ensure an adequate supply of hot water. This was a luxury after four weeks of sharing a shower that involved going outdoors. When I sat up in my new bed I remembered the second new thing. I had a window with a view and the view was going to be spectacular. I peeked out through a sliver of the curtain. Spectacular!

Fortelezza, Temple Of The Sun, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Fortelezza, Temple Of The Sun, Ollantaytambo, Peru

The sun sparkled its rays across the theatrical terraces of Ollantaytambo’s finest display of Inca heritage. The ‘Fortaleza’ as it’s called, warranted this town its UNESCO status along with its ‘living’ Inca culture too. And my favourite part of it was directly across from my window ‘The Temple Of The Sun’. I had a particular affinity with this part of the Fortaleza as it had inspired my writing of a novel of more than 60,000 words in the previous year. I don’t care if it is still unedited, unpublished and mostly private, I had the satisfaction of writing it entirely and when the remainder of these adventures are culminated I will sit still once more and meddle with it to my heart’s content with every effort to make it even more fictitious and fantastic than the first time round.

For now I was too busy living my way into the seams of a sequel. For, the best way to write any novel fictitious or not, is to go to source of your inspiration, put your nose right against the rolling stone of curiosity and watch carefully for the clearing that comes after all the dust has settled. The only trick I had to observe, not to spoil the ending of any of my unwritten stories by revealing too much in this travel oddity.

Chakana Inca Cross at Temple Of The Sun - Ollantaytambo Peru

Chakana Inca Cross at Temple Of The Sun – Ollantaytambo Peru

The third ‘new thing’? I also had WiFi included in my lodging. I could now talk more privately to my folks back home who were five hours ahead of me. On this bright new day, I dressed myself more spritely and made my way to ‘The Coffee Tree’, where I helped out with the catering from time to time. I’m smiling as I look back on it now. This was a good move.

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Peru Rail...train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo Peru

4.30am Train To Machu Picchu

It woke me close to 4.30a.m. I’d never heard it from my enclosed bedroom on the other side of town. Outside in the darkness, folk were already making their way to the train station. The whistle blew one more time. The train for Machu Picchu was about to depart the Sacred Valley station of Ollantaytambo. My body was warm beneath the heavy woollen blankets while the cold crisp air stirred beneath my nostrils. I huddled deeper into my mould.

Train to Machu Picchu - Train Station Ollantaytambo Peru

Train to Machu Picchu – Train Station Ollantaytambo Peru

I closed my eyes and recalled the magic of the regal mountain. I pictured its drenched vegetation and misty atmosphere, the hushed voices of nations trailing through the genius of a five hundred year old civilisation, borne out in rocks. That was a year ago. I imagined that in all that time it continued to be glorious in its majesty and sacredness.

Peru Rail...train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo Peru

Peru Rail…train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo Peru

It was only a relatively short train journey away from me, yet I did not have a ticket to return. This was the high season. I was led to believe that tickets were more limited, yet I trusted it would all work out. I decided to wait. A wonder of the world deserves to be reserved for the most special of occasions, surely. My first night in La Casa Del Abuelo had passed peacefully. ©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

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)