Journey In Peru

Inca Trail – To Do Or Not To Do? – Journey In Peru

Deciding to travel to Peru from Ireland or Europe can be a big deal especially as the price of the flight is often quite staggering and especially so during peak season. The lure of Machu Picchu, now a World Wonder and famous UNESCO heritage site of the lost Inca civilisation, captures the imagination to the extent that travellers often sign up for the Inca Trail that leads there without ever having done this type of thing before.

There are some important factors to consider before signing up to undertake some days of trekking in Peru. Firstly, I will outline, I have been to Peru twice and have even lived quite close to the Inca Trail but have not done the hike itself. I had my own reasons for this.

Two important factors to consider are, your fitness level and your adjustment to being at higher altitude than usual.

If you excersise a lot, have good stamina, are used to hiking, especially for long durations then possibly you will be more equipped for spending a couple of days of hiking the Inca Trail. If you have not experienced the thrill of hiking in hills and mountains why not join a group in your local area, who are skilled in guiding you and see if you enjoy the experience. Your expensive holiday should definitely be one that you fully enjoy.

If you have already lived in high altitude environments then you will know your bodies adjustment and reaction to this. If you have not experienced being at high altitude it is very important to educate yourself on the symptoms and effects that can occur. You really don’t know until you go, how this will effect you. It has no bearing on age or fitness level.

Machu Picchu (2430m asl) is actually at a much lower altitude level than cities such as Cuzco and Puno for example. It is best to acclimatise slowly by spending a few days in high altitude before attempting hiking treks that take you further away from access to medical care.

Always heed the signs of altitude sickness and report to your guide if travelling in a group. Guides should be trained in health and safety. Tour companies usually have these saftey guidelines well out-lined for their clients.

Peru is an amazing country with so much to offer. Machu Picchu may be its crowning glory for tourists but there is so much more to discover such as the Amazon area, Lake Titicaca and its floating reed islands and Uros civilisation, Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, Cuzco City once the capital of the Incas and Arequipa’s volcanoes and architecture.

Floating Reed Islands and Uros People on Lake Titicaca

Floating Reed Islands and Uros People on Lake Titicaca

Many people travel solo and do the back-packer thing which can be less luxurious and less expensive, while many others take advantage of an organised tour which take you much more quickly around the vast circuit of treasures in a shorter space of time.

Arequipa Peru Volcano

Arequipa Peru Volcano

Trekking and hiking can be a lot of fun and brings a sense of achievement and opportunity for bonding with fellow trekkers. Whatever you decide, be safe, be well and choose the option that will make your travel experience the most enjoyable for you.

If you do consider trekking the Inca Trail have some consideration for the ones dedicated to carrying your back-pack. This is a service that is provided for travellers within tour groups. I have spoken with one young man who did this work for a while before he studied for the hospitality industry. His recollection of carrying the heavy back-packs of travellers was not the most joyous. So put yourself in the shoes of others and pack as lightly as possible.

Enjoy your trip. If you have enjoyed my blog and this post and found it particularly useful why not repay me by sharing the post or leaving a comment.

© Caroline Cunningham – Author of Wild Star Landing and Journey In Peru

 

Apple Tree Seeds

Trees for Mother Earths Children

My friend gave me the packet on Wednesday. It had seeds in it, some soil, a small pot, a painting and some instructions. ‘Its a gift’, she said. I accepted but not without realising that this was not just a gift for me. This is a gift for Mother Earths Children.

Paris Agreement 2016

Paris Agreement 2016

Friday 22nd April (today) is the day of the signing of the Paris Agreement and it seems to be making big news as the most ever countries pledge to work together to make our planet enjoyable and fit for living for all of its people. Climate is something we need to consider. Already we have evidence of changes in our climate. Some countries experience the changes in a more dramatic way than others.

Art of Miriam Brennan Ireland

Art of Miriam Brennan Ireland

The sceptics may say its just a cycle or its evolution. I agree with some aspect of this but I also hear a hint of ‘they’re not going to tell me what to do!’ Personally, I think there is a resistance to being told by some higher power ‘you must change your ways’ and with all higher powers there is suspicion as to ‘who is making money on this’. Mother Earth will have the final say.

The Gift for Mother Earths Children

The Gift for Mother Earths Children

These are just the impressions I get from hearing negative remarks with regards to folk who have good intentions for our planet and all its people. By developing the mindset of thinking about others and not just ourselves are we not stepping closer to eliminating our conflicts with each other?

#Trees4Earth

#Trees4Earth

Back to the gift. I am planting the seeds of the apple tree which my friend and artist Miriam Brennan asked me to sow. Miriam has created many of these packs as part of her art project and has provided them to her friends for Earth Day today.

#Trees4Earth Miriam Brennan

#Trees4Earth Miriam Brennan Artist

Friday 22nd of April 2016 is Earth Day adn the day the World Leaders sign the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, in New York. The UN Climate Change organisation @UNFCCC are promoting a project #Trees4Earth with the aim of planting 8 billion trees by 2020, one for each person on Earth. Trees remove carbon and therefore clean and cool the atmosphere. The UN are asking people to plant a tree or draw a tree or hug a tree adn post their photos and actions on social media.

#Trees4 Earth #ParisAgreement

I am currently creating an art collection entitled ‘The Sacred Lives Of Trees’ which you are welcome to view here.

Enjoy your trees, they do much more than clean our atmosphere, they are also a source of spiritual essence.

You can follow Miriam Brennans work on Twitter @m_brennanmir

Apple Tree Seeds

Apple Tree Seeds

©Caroline Cunningham Artist and Writer

 

Journey In Peru

One Direction – Journey In Peru

I said goodbye to my companions who had travelled with me from Ollantaytambo. They were heading straight to Lima from Cuzco airport. We kept in touch by text until they stepped aboard their plane.

On my final night I treated myself to a room in what was considered to be a posh hotel in Cuzco. My companions told me it was the chain in which ‘One Direction’ (band) had stayed when touring Lima. The room I was shown however, had a dismal view of an internal concrete chamber. I enquired if there could be another option available. The staff were reassuring and asked if I could wait twenty minutes. I was astounded by the outcome after being escorted to my room. I had been given the Presidential Suite with a view of the entire Plaza De Armas of Cuzco!

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

I was so thrilled I took photos of the room and sent them to my friends saying ‘I think I’m ‘One Direction’!’ As I sat in amazement looking out the window at the stunning view of the Inca capital my brain grappled with the reward it was receiving.

Cuzco City Peru

Cuzco City Peru

I most definitely had been lured by some other-worldly force, to visit this country of Peru. I had written uncontrollably from the moment of my first arrival, the year previous to this, completing my first ever novel. I had subsequently stepped into the pages of my own book, having created a curiosity in terms of a sequel.

Fact and fiction had become inter-twined. I yearned, as much as Kitty Clinch or any other fictional character, for an adventure of my own. What makes a heroine? Is it the things she would do for love, real love? And does anyone on this planet know what that truly is? I can safely say there are a great many people, men as well as women, aching to know the answer to this question. And of the love that lies within, can it ever find you, if you feign defeat against the haunting conflict of your past?

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

The view from my presidential suite pulsed with a sensation of terrific reality. Was I proud of Kitty Clinch or was it that she was proud of me? For four months I had observed her whilst sitting at a tiny desk in my rented bedroom in Dublin, with a hot water bottle on my lap and the cold breeze nipping at my fingers as I typed beside a draughty window.

Cuzco Capital Of The Incas

Cuzco Capital Of The Incas

Incredibly, this character had inspired me to arrive at this grand position of observation. The whole city of Cuzco was spread out before my eyes. Christ stood, with outstretched arms, between the elevated Inca temples of the Sun and the Moon. The memories of my visits to both of these locations were cancelling each other out with the intensity of opposite emotions. I felt like an Inca Chief standing there and I’m proud to be the teller of the tale.

Christ in Cuzco

Christ in Cuzco

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Dear Reader,

I am preparing to publish my blog as a mini-novel and introduction to my original novel inspired by my first Journey In Peru. I am really grateful to the readers who have taken time to ‘like’ my posts and especially those who have contacted me tell me how much they have enjoyed my writing. Your comments are very much appreciated. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of ‘Journey In Peru’ please stay tuned in the coming weeks and all will be revealed.

Kind regards,

Kitty Clinch (oops!) Caroline Cunningham

Journey In Peru

Harley’s and Rum – Journey In Peru

I was easily distracted from packing my bags. My friends knew I was going home soon but they only spoke of my return. One female friend insisted that it would be very soon. When I argued that it would take a lot of work and saving for that to happen she said to me ‘OK! I give you two years and then you return.’ Two years seemed like a long time then but it has already passed and I have not yet made the trip. It will happen.

Catty and Liz invited me to join them at the Coffee Tree. It was quiet that evening, early September. The season was settling to a slower pace of visitors. Twilight was setting itself for transition to starlight mode. Alex joined us as we sat outside.

I had a surprise which I revealed from my coat pocket. I had spotted it earlier in the Pacha Mama Shop. A bottle of ‘Abuelo’ Rum. I had been planning on giving it to Henry the owner of Casa Del Abuelo, one of my home’s in Ollantaytambo. I showed it to my friends. They were very impressed with the label and we laughed about my idea of giving it as a gift to Henry, the husband of Catty. ‘I think we will have to try it first,’ I hinted. They were all in agreement. Alex went to get the glasses with some coke and ice. It certainly went down well. ‘Henry will never know,’ Catty giggled as we drained the last drops between us.

Just then some bikers hauled into the Plaza De Armas, parking just across from us. ‘Motor Cycles!’ Catty cried in glee. ‘Harley Davidsons!’ I exclaimed. We crossed the square to take a closer look. The owners of the Harleys had made their way from Chile. They certainly didn’t mind our interest and allowed us to pose for photographs.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

It was my second last night in Ollantaytambo. It contributed a mellow setting for the ending of this story in which I had placed myself. I recalled that first week, as I sat huddling in the square, thanking Venus for its familiarity and despairing at the silent sun’s rapid descent. A drama had unfolded. It had all the highs and lows of any tale that has ever been worthy of expression. But it was I who lived it, I who told it and the imprint is forever with me.

© Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Ollantaytambo Peru

Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Every Day A Celebration – Journey In Peru

Everyday gives cause for celebration and in Peru this is especially so. I witnessed many parades, festivals and demonstrations of the Peruvian culture during my nine weeks there. There is a Catholic Saint dedicated to almost every profession you can think of, along with days of thanksgiving to the natural elements such as the Earth, Water and all that comes from these sources.

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Patron Saint Of Police - Celebration in Peru

Patron Saint Of Police – Celebration in Peru

Parades featured music, dancing, flowers and decorated ornamental dolls held high. Often those parading would be dressed in colourful costumes of various traditions.

Water Day - Peru

Water Day – Peru

In the city of Cuzco, once the Inca capital of the World, these demonstrations were more frequent and colourful but even in this small town of Ollantaytambo they had their ways of putting on a show.

Cuzco Celebrations

Cuzco Celebrations

Independence Day was the most spectacular of all during my stay. Day Of The Water saw little children parading with balloons and banners displaying the importance of clean water for washing teeth and various activities. The water in Peru is often not fit for drinking so it was interesting that little children should be highlighting this.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

The day of the patron saint of transport saw every taxi and minibus parked up with balloons floating above them. The patron saint of the police gave rise to a gathering of police and their families drinking beer outside the station. When locals get married it is customary for the couple to parade around the town accompanied by a brass band playing the same tune I heard in other parts of Peru the previous year.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Passing by the door of the church in the square one Sunday I waited a while to observe the goings on. The paintings on the walls were not the typical ones you’d see in a Catholic church, in fact, they displayed images more in line with the history of the people and their original beliefs, which were more associated with nature. At communion time the music switched to a Salsa rhythm and I learned afterwards that only those who had recently taken confession were eligible to receive.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

I had the privilege of being the onlooker of these eventful days. I concluded that I was living amongst a joyful nation. Each group taking its turn to keep the collective spirit high, perhaps preventing obsessions that rob the heart of its rightful state of sharing and being free.

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Back in Ireland, the closest resemblance of this joyous celebration was the sound of Harry Krishna’s beating their drums, dancing and singing, on their way down Dublin’s South William Street now and then. I always opened the window a little wider to hear them more clearly.

Having returned to live in the Irish countryside, I listen to the birds singing in the trees. They are either Peruvian or of the Harry Krishna faith because they sure know how to greet each new day in celebration.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Long Listed Best Travel Blog in Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Journey In Peru

Peruvian Nights – Journey In Peru

I may have been the most cautious adventurer to visit this Peruvian town but my caution paid direct dividends in the best of friendships. Sure I could have followed other paths to chicha house’s or dens of lucid smoking. In a far away conversation I recalled the mention of Iyahuasca.

I made a determined decision during my time in Peru to take advantage of this fresh start. No people pleasing habits (of any kind) to be entertained! I preferred reliable, natural company and took my time getting to know this new culture and language so as to be respectful to those who were here to help me on my way.

Night Of The Perseids Peru

Night Of The Perseids Peru

NIght Of The Perseids

NIght Of The Perseids

I had watched, listened and learned and when the time was right, I was ready for lots of fun. The musicians from the night of the Perseids at Misha Wasi were about to perform at a local hotel. Henry and I went along to part-take of red wine and listen to the sublime instrumentals of this group, who have since disbanded to continue their wanderings of the Earth. They had an audience of tourists from around the world along with some familiar faces of local folk and non-Peruvians, like myself.

Journey in Peru

Journey in Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Afterwards, I had agreed to go dancing at the ‘Inka Disco’ with my friends from the Coffee Tree. It was a tiny venue in one of the Inca built dwellings, so typified with large granite boulders evident in the internal walls. Seeing the coloured disco lights swirling across them was a surreal and cave-like experience. The music was not my favourite, hip-hop not being of my teen-age generation but I hopped and swayed around the small disco floor as lively as the rest of them. Half way through the night, the music switched to a traditional style. It was beautiful, as I had the opportunity to experience the bachata style with my good friend Alex.

Inka Disco Peru

Inka Disco Peru

We danced all night until eventually, there were no more people in the room, except the four of us. The music showed no signs of stopping as long as we were there. I was the weakest link. At two a.m. I was wondering when it might be time to go home.

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

Late night Peru

Late night Peru

As I entered my room on the rooftop of my lodgings, I gazed in the direction of the Fortalezza and shuddered a little in the cool breeze. In less than a week I would no longer have this splendid view, the mountains that hugged me closely here would be replaced by distant lower lying ones and the stars would be up-side down once more in their arrangements.

I gripped the moment to my heart knowing the exact measure of it could never be maintained just glimpsed through memories and their transposition to these meagre words. These were my Peruvian nights which I so cherished.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

At The Hands Of Bloggers - Wild Star Landing

Three Times Blog Awards Finalist From Carlow County

Congratulations to fellow bloggers who made it to the Finals of Ireland Blog Awards . It certainly was a night of fun and frolics, weighted with the anticipation of the long-awaited results of each award category.

The build up to the event was fiercely filled with media attention as I made the news in two local papers that same week. On the morning of the Blog Awards itself I got called to KCLR Radio (Kilkenny Studio) for a live interview with regards to Blog Awards, Reflexology and Mind Body Spirit festival, a three day holistic event in which I was taking part, following the Blog Awards.

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

The  October holiday weekend was off to an amazing start. My bags were packed for Dublin but first a visit to my local makeup artist to achieve the ‘Burlesque’ look required for the themed occasion of the night. ‘Blonde, pink, beeds, heels and daring’ that was my tweet reply when Blog Awards Ireland enquired as to what us bloggers would be wearing on the night.

Make Over at Lilac Hair & Beauty Rathvilly Co. Carlow

Make Over at Lilac Hair & Beauty Rathvilly Co. Carlow

Carole Mc Grath created the perfect look with browns and shimmers and a secret special curling brush for my sensitive lashes. My bushy eyebrows caused concern for this professional makeup artist, so I promised to state that ‘they are entirely my own’ and I’ve promised to return soon to sort them out.

Gangsters at Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Gangsters at Ireland Blog Awards 2015

I was lucky to have some friendly gangsters accompanying me to cheer me on and we picked up a fellow blogger in the queue Melissa Doran of ‘Go Radiate’. Style and lots of it created the setting for a razzle-dazzle experience of street-style food and Burlesque dancing entertainment.

Burlesque Divas at Blog Awards in Tivoli Theatre

Burlesque Divas at Blog Awards in Tivoli Theatre

Our sponsors treated us to goodies and surprises. There certainly was an excellent choice of food, specially sourced from the locality and with high approval of many bloggers present. I was amused at the lamentation of two ladies who having chosen the very healthy Eathos option, stood eyeing the spit and sizzle of Indian style barbeque from Kinara Kitchen.

Kinara Kitchen At Blog Awards Final

Kinara Kitchen At Blog Awards Final

Kinara Kitchen At Blog Awards Final

Kinara Kitchen At Blog Awards Final

Home Fries Little Blue Caravan

Home Fries Little Blue Caravan

Eathos - Healthy Option Food

Eathos – Healthy Option Food

Shish ...Its Indian

Shish …Its Indian

Entertainment was in full swing inside the Tivoli theatre. Our dancers, teased and spun and wiggled in ways that saw more than a few jaws dropping. The audience shushed as we listened for our nominations being announced by the presenters and awaited the final results. It was the first time I ever heard my blog name ‘Wild Star Landing’ being announced in a public arena. ‘The Silent Sun – Peru’s Sacred Valley Story Book Town’ didn’t win the ‘Best Personal Blog Article’ category on this occasion. The accolade went to Anne-Marie O’Connor’s ‘All We Need Is Love’.

Burlesque Dancer Santana Spitfire

Burlesque Dancer Shir Madness

Burlesque Dancer Shir Madness

Dancer Foxy P Cox

Dancer Foxy P Cox

Bloggers at the Tivoli Theatre Dublin

Bloggers at the Tivoli Theatre Dublin

More dancing, sipping and indulgence, this time thanks to Glenisk’s specially prepared treats.  Great Gatsby Gateau left me gasping. The top creamy layer had me licking my lips and the cherry sponge middle provided much intrigue but when I hit the bottom my eyes did somersaults as I shrieked ‘Help! I’m being poisoned!’ My friends had great fun teasing me about how much I was getting into the drama of my ‘roaring twenties’ character, ‘you sound like Maggie Smith on Downtown Abbey,’ they jested. The surprising element was ‘Cherry Liqueur’ and I went for seconds.

Glenisk's Great Gatsby Gateaux

Glenisk’s Great Gatsby Gateaux

Go Radiate Melissa Doran Spoiled for Choice

Go Radiate Melissa Doran Spoiled for Choice

Another round of award winning announcements and this time I was listening out for my two remaining nominations, ‘5 Steps To Being A Robot – Is This Happening To You?’ in Best Company Blog Article category and ‘Authentic Reflexology’ for the ‘Best Health And Well Being’ Company Blog. Those two awards went to Ferrig Carrig Hotel and Alpha Birth respectively.

Burlesque Dancer Shir Madness

Burlesque Dancer Shir Madness

Entertainment at Ireland Blog Awards

Entertainment at Ireland Blog Awards

Gangster Friends at Ireland Blog Awards

Gangster Friends at Ireland Blog Awards

I cheered for every blogger who I ever met in person or encountered on twitter in the weeks leading up to the awards but there was an even bigger cheer when one of our gangster friends was awarded a prize for the ‘Best Smile’ on the night. She now has a year’s supply of toothpaste and a nice bottle of champagne to encourage even brighter smiles.

Bite The Biscuit & Wild Star Landing Bloggers

Bite The Biscuit & Wild Star Landing Bloggers

Artist Trish Donohoe Winner of The Best Smile

Artist Trish Donohoe Winner of The Best Smile

Celebrating At Ireland Blog Awards

Celebrating At Ireland Blog Awards

And so my first ever blog awards celebrations came to a happy end. Once again I am most grateful for all who voted for my two blogs ‘Wild Star Landing’ and ‘Authentic Reflexology’, during the public vote stage. There were 4000 nominations shortened to approximately 270 finalists on the night.

At The Hands Of Bloggers - Wild Star Landing

At The Hands Of Bloggers – Wild Star Landing

Congratulations to all the winners. Thank you to all the sponsors, particularly Glenisk and Tradesmen.ie who sponsored my own categories. Thank you to the organisers of Ireland Blog Awards and all the judges who had an unenviable task.

 

For make-up and hair for every occasion be sure to avail of the professional and friendly services of Carole and Katie at Lilac Hair and Beauty in Rathvilly, Co. Carlow (The Village Where I ‘m From).

Wild Star Landing & Authentic Reflexology Blogger Caroline Cunningham

Wild Star Landing & Authentic Reflexology Blogger Caroline Cunningham

Blogger On The Radio KCLR Fm – Click To Listen

Bloggers On The Radio Arty Facts – Click To Listen

© Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)