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

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 ayahuasca.

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)

Save

Save

Wild Star Landing

Culture On Street Corners – Journey In Peru

My silent quest with regards to my journey in Peru had been torn to shreds. In the end it was for the very best. My remaining weeks in the country were more precious now. It was unlikely I could afford to dream up another wild reason to return.

Conacky - Crafter

Conacky – Crafter

I handed in my notice to Alex in The Coffee Tree Cafe where I had been helping out a few days a week. He made me a coffee and I proceeded to explain to him the concept of a travel blog and introduced myself as a travel writer. He agreed to be interviewed in Spanish the following day.

Art Of Conacky - Ollantaytambo

Art Of Conacky – Ollantaytambo

In this way I opened myself to knowing the people of this town and its culture in a deeper way. One evening, at the corner near my accommodation, Conacky (the craft maker) called me over to introduce me to his parents who were visiting from Lima.

Art in Ollantaytambo Peru

Art in Ollantaytambo Peru

He introduced me as a writer and told me that his father, Louis, is a poet. This was a rare privilege. It is not often I meet a poet, although I suspect there are many secret ones about, especially in Ireland.

Family of Conacky

Family of Conacky

I listened hard to hear Louis’ poetic words. My Spanish was not advanced enough to understand the depth of his words. But I understood the depth of feeling that he conveyed. He was rooted in the nature and spirit of things. I took off promising to return within minutes. In my bedroom I booted up my laptop, took hold of pen and paper and began to translate, with help of internet, a few of my simplest poems. I ran back to the corner waving the paper in my hands.

Author and Conacky - Peru

Author and Conacky – Peru

We stood side by side as I recited my poems in Spanish. He thanked me and indicated that he understood. I agreed to return the following evening with more poetry in hand. We had some quiet conversations on the topic of writing over the coming days, until he and his wife had to return to their home in Lima. We made a parting promise to continue our writing and to share it openly.

Wild Star Landing

Wild Star Landing

Blog Awards Ireland 2015 Best Blog Article

Blog Awards Ireland 2015 Best Blog Article

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Wild Star Landing Blog has been long-listed as ‘Best Travel Blog’ in Irish Blog Awards 2015 and shortlisted in same category in 2016

Best Travel Blog in Irish Blog Awards 2015 - Long List

Best Travel Blog in Irish Blog Awards 2015 – Long List

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