Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco – Journey In Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco is a fascinating city with an inherent spontaneity. Parades and celebrations are a normal part of any given day. It is a city built upon a city as the Spanish Conquistadors took advantage of the ingenuity of the Incas. The Inca buildings were designed and engineered to withstand earthquakes so it was best to take advantage of their expert foundations.

Dancers and Parades in Cuzco Peru

Dancers and Parades in Cuzco Peru

Dancers and Parades in Cuzco Peru

Dancers and Parades in Cuzco Peru

Celebrations in Cuzco Peru

Celebrations in Cuzco Peru

Celebrations in Cuzco Peru

Celebrations in Cuzco Peru

The heart of the city boasts decorative Spanish colonial architecture whilst the powerful Inca spirit emanates from the towering walls and boulders of their most impressive remaining structures.

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Original Inca Walls exposed Cuzco Peru

Original Inca Walls exposed Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Near San Pedro Market Cuzco Peru

Near San Pedro Market Cuzco Peru

During my visits to Cuzco I availed of the opportunity to visit some of the most famous Inca heritage sites, starting with the Temple Of The Sun. Here you see examples of the inter-locking system used in Inca buildings. Precise measurements and laser-like cutting of the granite rocks meant that nothing more was required to hold these blocks tightly and securely together.

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

The walls of The Temple Of The Sun are believed to have been covered in gold, of which the Incas were in no short supply. History tells us that all the gold was stripped away by the invaders for their own purposes. The Peruvians tell a very gruesome story of the horrors of this invasion.

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landing

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Sun Cuzco Peru

An American lady living in Peru deduced to me that the Peruvian people are still affected by these emotional scars, she disdained their victim mentality. She took the time to tell me that it was similar for the Irish. Being Irish, I thanked her for her observations. She could be right. It’s always interesting to get an outsiders observation. I indeed had my own scars to attend to, and in doing so, surely I could no longer be cast as a victim of my circumstances.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

In my first trip to Cuzco I behaved like a good tourist honouring the Inca heritage and in addition I offered assistance to a friend in need. Life is difficult at times. When we give consideration to the plight of others we momentarily forget our own turbulent affairs.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

As I travelled back to Ollantaytambo a day later, I noticed a new sensation. Maybe it was a growing up but it felt like an outwards growing. Some months later back in Dublin a friend observed that my aura extended all the way from the top of Parnell Square to the other side of the river Liffey. This must have been the start of that extension.

I felt more whole than ever in my life, more parts of myself interconnecting. I had not yet passed through the darkest hour of this particular chapter of my life but a preparation of sorts was taking place. I felt I was being guided and protected from an unseen source. And so I carried onwards with my plot.

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landng

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landng

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Sillustani - Temple Of The Sun - Peru

A Sense Of Destiny – Journey In Peru

A long whispered message was how it delivered itself to me. My first novel inspired by a my first journey in Peru. I was so curious about the ending as I wrote. But as I wrote those last words I realised there the is no such thing as an ending. Sequels and prequels sprung up all around my heroines messy world.

Fortalezza Heritage Site Ollantaytambo Peru

Fortalezza Heritage Site Ollantaytambo Peru

The sense of purpose during writing was intense, creative and invigorating. It felt like justice was being offered, a voice being given to hidden hearts, female hearts, the kind that were destined to suffer in silence as the world carried on rejoicing in love and nurture.

The fact that the writing was inspired by the land of Pacha Mama in reverence to ‘Mother Earth’ added all the more to the sense of destiny.

Sillustani - Temple Of The Sun - Peru

Sillustani – Temple Of The Sun – Peru

I cannot help but wonder if our experience of an ‘un-balanced’ world is due to an obscured understanding of what it is to love and be loved. When our perception is distorted from the beginning we can be left floundering for a lifetime to restore harmony.

So, when my Kitty Clinch heroine failed once more in her attempt to restore that harmony I wondered what would it really take for such a woman to meet her fears head on?

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

As I returned to journey in Peru a second time, I set myself this challenge on behalf of Kitty and all those other women who keep their lonely tears to themselves. Commitment to another, demonstration of lovingness, kindness all those graceful attributes so desirous in romantic entanglements, they were all on offer to one who professed he was in need of same and ready to offer.

The words ‘I do not love you,’ followed by ‘my heart is closed,’ seemed cruel and incredulous after travelling such a long road of discovery. To women whose hearts are the most sensitive and wounded I can offer some advice. If you risk emotional break-down to finally believe in love, better to place yourself in an exotic location such as Peru, so as when you hear those devastating words as least you can look out the window momentarily and admire the Inca ruins on a gloriously sunny day.

In reality I was hurtling headlong into heartache. I could not stop myself. In the coming weeks I did all I could to reject the claims of this confused man. He was in pain, suffering from stress, he needed help. I would put my own desires to one side and help as a loyal friend. The Universe needed to see me doing this. It felt like I had to right a serious wrong, to lift a life-long curse.

And so I made a number of trips to Cuzco. While I hid much of my distress from my Peruvian friends I always kept family and friends (in Ireland and Peru) informed as to my movements.

Driving to Cuzco through the Sacred Valley Peru

Driving to Cuzco through the Sacred Valley Peru

At my new lodging in Ollantaytambo, my friendly host was more serious as I left that first morning for Cuzco. He gave me his mobile number and repeated in both English and Spanish, ‘we are family, remember.’ I nodded to show understanding. It was comforting and I understood his concern but I still had to go and see through the ending of this current saga which I had entertained for almost a year.

And so I left for Cuzco.

The Road to Cuzco from through The Sacred Valley Peru

The Road to Cuzco from through The Sacred Valley Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Summer Solstice Ireland

Ireland’s Summer Solstice – Poem

Moving through Irelands Summer’s Solstice,
We are graced with extraordinary light,
Our Earthly position points us steadily towards our closest star.
This is a time of gratitude,
Long may this feeling last,
I can sit outside my door and breath and glow,
With loose shoulders and a happy heart.

I am absorbing and storing this feeling
As I am not so fond of the damp, cold, darkness of Irish winter
The last sliver of light in the clouded horizon taunts me to accept the extreme,
As I learn to accept the extremes of my own temperament.

Winter will bring the excuse for fires and stories,
For some, the excuse to hold on tighter to the one most loved.
I hold that image of the summer’s night time mountain
This is the reward for a long nights work.

The Solstice Sky reflects an ocean of foreverness
And I am endlessly lost and found in the depths of it.
Divinely connected to the billions
Threading the sphere of our existence,
Long may this feeling last.
Happy is my heart.

© Caroline Cunningham (Author Of Wild Star Landing Blog)

Summer Solstice Ireland

Summer Solstice Ireland

Afuera La Porta

You Never Know – Journey In Peru

You never know what’s outside your door until you open it and venture out into the light of day. This is especially so when you are traveling in a distant land, with everything so new and exciting.

A child-like state automatically takes me over when I am in the surrounds of the beauty of a culture so rich as that of Peru. The only country in the world that would find strong competition in my eyes would be India, which I dearly love.

As a solo female traveler, I preferred to travel to the sanctity of the Sacred Valley of Cuzco’s Ollantaytambo. Perhaps I will one day graduate to solo travel in India, the first country that made me fall in love with every part of it.

Afuera La Porta

Afuera La Porta

On one particular morning in my new lodgings in Ollantaytambo Peru, I opened the door to find two labourers resting with planks of wood. They made such a striking pose as they stood there smiling. I ran to get my camera and asked them if I could photograph them. They nodded their approval, smiling all the while.

 

El Horno - Ollantaytambo Peru

El Horno – Ollantaytambo Peru

Another day I came upon a man at the adjoining bar, busily stomping bare-footed in a pile of wet mud. He did not mind me stopping to watch. ‘What are you making?’ I asked him in Spanish. ‘El horno!’ was his reply. Pizza’s are popular in Peru, more especially with tourists, and where there is business to be made our Peruvian friends are not slow to act. Clay oven’s were particularly popular. And this man was making an addition to the services offered by his funky ‘Quechua Bar’ (the one that plays the Bob Marley Music and the Spanish version of ‘The Streets Have No Name’).

 

 

 
My neighbour grabbed a bucket and began to sprinkle clumps of black strands into the mix of mud. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘Hair!’, his reply. ‘Human hair?’ said I. ‘Si,’ he affirmed, ‘it helps the mud to stick together.’ I enquired if there was any other spiritual belief attached to the practice of using the hair, but no , it was purely a practical solution.

Making an Oven with Human Hair - Peru

Making an Oven with Human Hair – Peru

Making an Oven - Peru

Making an Oven – Peru

Making an Oven - Ollantaytambo Peru

Making an Oven – Ollantaytambo Peru

I delighted in such happenings for my collection of childlike wonders. The fact that I was making these discoveries through learning a new language added to the experience. To learn like a child is such a lesson in life. It is a humbling experience and can be vulnerable too. Fortunately, I was surrounded by kindly souls for the most of my visit. My adventures into the lessons of adulthood however, were to be treacherous in comparison.

Making a Pizza Oven - Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo

Making a Pizza Oven – Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo

Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo Peru

Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo Peru

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

Ed O Connell Completed Portrait by Caroline Cunningham

Pure Thinking Post Office Inspires Carlow – Art of Caroline Cunningham

‘Art feeds the soul’ they say. But this year in Carlow town ‘Art’ aims to connect and inspire its community through the collaboration of a group of artists who came together under the banner of ‘Pure Thinking’ community for a project with a very special theme.

In time for the opening ceremonies of 2015 Carlow Arts Festival on May 29th, Carlow Post Office building will feature portraits of inspirational Carlow people.

Deighton Hall Pure Thinking Community Group

Deighton Hall Pure Thinking Community Group

Connie Byrne, founder and creative director of Pure Thinking is the initiator of this latest community project which brought together an eclectic mix of Carlow based artists.

A total of four workshops were facilitated by the talented artist Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly and took place in Deighton Hall. Twenty-eight artists took part in the project each creating a portrait in up-scaled version (80x80cm) of their chosen inspirational person.

 

 

 

Artist Caroline Cunningham - Pure Thinking 2015

Artist Caroline Cunningham – Pure Thinking 2015

The portraits of the group reflect a vibrant Carlow community with a special olympian, actor, artist, historical figures, loved one’s who passed away perhaps through illness or kindred spirit’s showing others how to enjoy life to the full.

I chose a local artist and neighbour who according to himself is now an ‘octo-geranium’ (pun intended). Ed O’Connell retired from a teaching career in Carlow Regional College (now Carlow IT) having taught and introduced the course on ‘Industrial Instrumentation’. He is a light-hearted individual who enjoys singing, playing music, fishing, gardening and painting despite the difficulties of arthritis of the hands and feet upon other ailments. He continues to enjoy life and has many friends in his community.

 

Artist and Teacher Iwona O'Reilly and her proud student.

Artist and Teacher Iwona O’Reilly and her proud student.

Personally, this project has opened doors for me. It gave me the opportunity to go beyond limits to create my best portrait to date thanks to Iwona’s encouragement and demonstration.

The atmosphere in Deighton Hall during the project was industrious and refreshing. I made wonderful new friends and have found new opportunities to display my talents alongside these fantastic Carlow artists.

Local photographer Michael Spudie Murphy was on hand to document our work and capture us in both in deep concentration and having fun. The finished portraits have been prepared for the panels of the Post Office building.

 

 

‘Pure Thinking’ was founded in 2007 by local hairdresser Connie Byrne. “I have always been fascinated by people, teams and artistic projects”, says Connie, “a successful common goal is only achieved through team work and allowing all talents to shine through. ‘Pure Thinking’ works on grass roots level to celebrate and create awareness of the different groups of people that live in our community.” Ed O Connell Completed Portrait by Caroline Cunningham

All portraits with details of each artists’ chosen inspirational person will be on display in Deighton Hall throughout the Carlow Arts Festival 2015 with an opening ceremony there on Friday 29th May at 8.30pm. All are welcome.

©Caroline Cunningham http://www.carolinecunningham.com

Artists Caroline Cunningham and Ed O'Connell

Artists Caroline Cunningham and Ed O’Connell

Inca Window in Fortaleza, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Whiskey On A Sunday – Journey In Peru

He stood in the doorway of the cafe with all all the magnificence of his Inca descent and the radiance of Machu Picchu in his heart. His spirit was overflowing with a joyousness that was instantly infectious.

‘Hola Charlie!’ This was the welcome greeting my friend Alex reserved for certain Peruvian men who visited his cafe. It had taken me a while to realise that it was an on-going joke with him to call certain of his pals this name. This particular Charlie hugged the younger man in the most hearty manner and I was introduced to him as a member of the family.

Alex and I had just part-taken of our evening meal after a days work. It was a quieter evening than usual, one of those days when folk most likely go fishing and just chill out.

Evening in Ollantaytambo's Plaza De Armas

Charlie sat with us. This man was a private tour guide who spoke several languages including English, French and Japanese. Like a child amidst visiting relatives I was put forward to show off my ‘Quechua’, the Inca language that is alive and well in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. It was always a source of amusement for my friends that I could repeat the phrases they had taught me. It also garnered respect amongst them that I took an interest in their heritage.

Charlie indicated to Alex that a few glasses would be necessary along with some ice. He dipped his hand inside this jacket pocket and from it withdrew a small bottle of whiskey, what we in Ireland refer to as ‘a naggin’. It was apparent I was being included in share. He poured the whiskey and we saluted the air and clinked our glasses to start the round of tales. It was still bright outside the sun had not yet dipped behind the curtain of the mountains. The first few sips were amidst a waiting silence.

The spirit was making its way to the heart of memories. Our new friend recounted some of his recent travels with tourists. This was easy company. He sometimes spoke in English for my benefit and sometimes in Spanish but always in a manner that both Alex and I could understand.

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

I wish I could remember all those stories which he told but perhaps that’s the doing of the whiskey, it seals the lips of those who’s ears were opened during the part-taking. But I do remember one tale.

He was on the mountain, camping one particular night when he first saw the light. An unusual light. It came very quickly from the distance and brightened with intensity as it approached. As he told the tale his speech slowed and his eyes were fixed on the ‘in between’. He became more serious and cautious while recalled how this mysterious light hovered momentarily before speeding away into the vanishing distance. He took another swig of the whiskey and we followed in his instruction. ‘What was it?’ I asked, urging him to continue with his story. ‘Aliens!’ he replied. He blessed himself. It was apparent the incident had had quite an effect on him. Some gentle teasing arose and I enquired about the whiskey on that particular night. ‘After that night I started going to church,’ he added as he shook his head and took another swig of spirit.

Nazca Lines Peru - Wild Star Landing

I had one more alien story to add to my collection. Aliens are quite common in Peru, many believe that the Nazca lines were instructed by these visitors from space and perhaps the Incas availed from their intelligence as of yet their engineering ingenuity is regarded as an enigma to modern engineers. I recalled a saying I heard many times in Peru. ‘In Peru everything is possible.’

Inca Window in Fortaleza, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Inca Window in Fortaleza, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Eventually the stories came to an end coinciding with an empty ‘naggin’. It was time to say farewell. It was an evening well spent in good company and the whiskey did its usual trick of coming good with interesting tales.

Author of Wild Star Landing

Author of Wild Star Landing

©Caroline Cunningham Author (and Owner of the Title) Wild Star Landing

Her Name Was Smile - Journey In Peru

Her Name Was ‘Smile’ – Journey In Peru

‘Where are you going friend?’. These were the words she spoke to me every single day I crossed the bridge from the ‘arty’ side of town. Her smile was infectious. In my new neighbourhood I realised I should introduce myself. I crouched down beside her, as she sat outside her craft shop, and practiced my Spanish lines, which I had rehearsed for such introductions.

Her Name Was Smile - Journey In Peru

Her Name Was Smile – Journey In Peru

She told me her name. I had to ask her to repeat it. I didn’t’ t like to ask a second time. It was a name I had not heard before. I had a go at saying it. She nodded, but I wasn’t sure I had said it correctly. To me it sounded like the Spanish word for ‘smile’. So I thought to myself, it suited her and in my own mind from then on, that was her name, ‘Smile’ (in Spanish of course).

I had to get used to her asking me that awkward question however, everyday. It’s like that other question, ‘how are you?’ The answer is supposed to be positive. ‘I’m so fxcking alive the world just can’t keep up with me!!’ Isn’t that one answer you might just like to give?

In honesty however, that is not how most folk feel on an everyday basis. And so we lie, against any inclined bone in our body to be honest about things, even with strangers.

‘Where was I going?’ Some days in that Peruvian town, even though for me it was a destination in itself, I just wasn’t sure, as I was about to cross that lob-sided wooden bridge. All I knew was this, ‘I have to move!’ Because if I stop moving for a considerable length of time I get in serious trouble.

Luckily I had some occupation there and I did my best to invent others. I had made some friends and I had plenty to learn about life.

Highway traffic through World UNESCO Town of Ollantaytabmo Peru

Highway traffic through World UNESCO Town of Ollantaytabmo Peru

One day I decided to reverse the questioning. I asked my smiling friend about her circumstance of sitting at the corner of this bridge where, ‘bizarrely’, in this UNESCO Inca heritage town of Ollantaytambo, heavy articulated vehicles and buses barged through on a regular basis. ‘Does it affect your health?’ I asked. She smiled, of course, and just shook her head. It was not a problem.

I figured she had a strong mental attitude to life and I was just a meddler from Ireland who had some stuff to learn. A week later however, I noticed she was not at her post. I enquired from the person minding her shop. My smiling friend was ill and resting. ‘ I tried to resist that gloating thought of ‘perhaps I was right after all’. I will never know.

So I got used to her question most days. ‘Where are you going friend?’ Until one day I had to admit to her that I was going very far away. Back to Ireland. I will never forget that day I said goodbye to those wonderful people in Ollantaytambo. Everyone of them broke my heart completely. Her words to me I will not forget. ‘You must return. And when you return you come here to find me. And if I am no longer in this place, you ask the next person where I am. And you come to say hello.’

I how I wish I could go there now.

Dear reader if indeed you do happen to be Richard Branson reading this little wee article, if you have a seat on a jet, or the galactic vehicle, do get in touch, as I’m sure I could parachute from space, if I had to, and therefore cause the least inconvenience. And P.S. I have dear friend in New Zealand who would love to travel also but I doubt he will parachute as he has bad arthritis in his knees. (o:

Crossing the Bridge in Ollantaytambo Peru

Crossing the Bridge in Ollantaytambo Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author and Creator of the Title ‘Wild Star Landing’