Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dancing in the Street! Peru Style

Now at least I can say I have something in common with Mick Jagger and the great David Bowie! Only a week ago I was ‘Dancing in the Street’!! Want to know how that feels? Feckin’ amazing! (;

No other words for it really! I answered the call – Casa Peru Ireland – a group of Peruanos living in Ireland, put a call out via their face book page. Flash mob! Rehearsals in June! All welcome!

Flashmob 2

Flash Mob Casa Peru in Ireland!

How could I resist? As someone who wrote continuously about my Journey in Peru over a period of 30 months on my Wild Star Landing blog, I was eager to strengthen my links with this country by taking part in this fun event.

During my time in Peru, I had observed the many festivals in the plazas and on the streets where dancing is central to the celebration. I had even given it a go myself ‘Dancing around the Coffee Tree’ and ‘Waino Dancing by the River’ but I had not properly learned the steps and sequences.

Flashmob 1

Peru Ireland Connections

So in June 2017 in Dublin city centre, I joined this festive group to partake in a sequence of dances representing the three main regions of Peru, Coast, Mountain and Jungle.

We rehearsed over a period of three weeks. I really enjoyed the gatherings and met people not just from Peru but countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Italy and Romania.

When it came to our street performance, some were understandably nervous and certainly there was much anticipation. None of us had quite done anything like this before.

Dublin was strangely quiet that evening and rain was upon us too. Nonetheless, we followed through with the joyful action and all our steps were carried out.

Flashmob 4

Wild Star Landing – Dancing in the Street

I am proud to say I danced the Peruvian dances. My friends in my Peru can see me in the videos and I know my bonds have been strengthened even though the miles between us are many.

Take a look at our ‘Dancing in the Street ‘Peruvian flash mob style!

Have you been to Peru? What was your favourite spot?

© Caroline Cunningham

Author of Wild Star Landing

Books by Caroline Cunningham – Go Shopping !

Writing letters all of their days – Travel Tale

Up until then they were just two older men meeting for dinner. Then they ordered desert!

I was tempted, as one of the deserts looked particularly elaborate. I had to ask them what it was. That was the start of our conversation.

Beneath the canapé of the restaurant with candle lights dancing in table top lanterns, the waiter presented me with the delicious Hungarian delight. The gentlemen saluted me as I dipped my spoon into the chocolate dreamy folds of cake.

 

2010_0710FirstFugi0468

Budapest

 

Now we were in unison, enjoying treats and absorbing the magic of lapsing twilight into deeper night time sky. I settled back in my seat for a moment, observing the city passersby and raised my eyes to the roof tops of stately buildings. I had found rest after my hours of walking and deciphering of maps and streets, this moment felt like my reward.

‘Is it your first time to Budapest?’ He addressed me in English but German was his first language. His friend smiled at me. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘And you travel alone?’ he enquired. ‘I’m going to a wedding in a Slovakia in a few days,’ I added. They both seemed very pleased with this response and as we had now moved to coffees they saluted me again.

2010_0710FirstFugi0462

The Danube

Our tables were close enough for comfortable communication although, I had to pay close attention because the other gentleman spoke with a French accent and his English was not as coherent as that of his German friend.

2010_0710FirstFugi0517

Budapest

They enquired about my homeland of Ireland, saying that they had visited some years ago and had enjoyed the beautiful landscape. Ireland had been in the news a lot that week, as the American President had paid a stately visit. The German man being, more chatty, made a reference to our famous USA visitor. I told him my tale of how I had seen Barak Obama twice in one day, as his car drove past and he had waved at me both times!

And I couldn’t stop myself from telling the story about his ‘stately tank of a car’ getting stuck in the hollow of the Embassy gates in Dublin and how they had to get a crane to lift it out. As we erupted into laughter, so too did the diners at the next tables. They were American!

Car Budapest

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

I decided it was time to find out more about my new friends. Their story touched my heart. Here we had two men in their seventies who had maintained a friendship since they were schoolboys. One grew up in Germany and the other in France. And how their friendship grew? They were pen-pals!

It was explained to me that this was an initiative instigated between schools after World War 2 with the intention of establishing good relations between future generations of the two countries. What a genius idea! As young boys they had shared their stories with each other, letter by letter, each building a sense of what life was like for the other. I imagined how it must have been so exciting receiving those letters and how their imaginations must have been set alight.

 

2010_0710FirstFugi0033

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

 

There was thoughtfulness between them as they recounted their story in turns. They both had families of their own now, all grown up and there were grandchildren too. Throughout all the other events of life they had maintained this special bond.

In later years, they decided that every year they would meet in a European city and spend a few days together, which is how I found myself sitting next to them on this very night. Such a story warranted an additional salute. We continued our conversations while enjoying a nightcap of red wine.

Car Budapest

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

They wanted to know about my friends who were to be married and my plans for getting to Slovakia. I thanked them for sharing their story which was so inspiring.

People seldom write letters anymore. My mother writes them to her friends in sympathy when they have lost someone close. I recalled how, as back-packers in Australia in the 90’s, fellow travellers sometimes sent each other letters to say ‘I made it home’ or ‘it was lovely to meet you’, even if the meeting was just for one day. This was before things like email and mobile phones were all the rage. I still have a stash of those letters saved, promising myself I’ll read them when I’m 80 or if I ever get incapacitated.

It was time to say goodnight. We paid our bills and walked together to the train station. We embraced, kissing each other from side to side, then waved goodbye.

And that was my first night in Budapest.

car-budapest-3.jpg

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

This article is dedicated to a group of twitter pals of mine who instigated a chat around the topic of letter writing. I remembered this story and a few of our group made me promise to share it once I added the story to my blog. I hope you enjoyed the tale.

Do leave a comment to let me know if you still write letters or have some stashed away too. Or maybe you had a special trip to Budapest too?

© Caroline Cunningham

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

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)

Save

To The Mountain And The Jungle – Journey In Peru

I went to Santa Teresa. I planned it myself. Lis and Nabila said it was fabulous. I thought I should go. Just a few days, that’s all I could afford. My big expensive holiday had been the year before, travelling the length and breadth of Peru. This year I had a different plan. I wanted to experience being a part of this culture to know if this was where I could belong. It had already given me a novel. Peru was luring me to discover my greatest joy and my deepest fear and it now pointed me surreptitiously in the direction of Santa Teresa.

Ollantaytambo Peru - Quiet on a Sunday morning

Ollantaytambo Peru – Quiet on a Sunday morning

Bus arriving in Ollantaytambo

Bus arriving in Ollantaytambo

Sunday morning bright and early I waited for the bus. Ollantaytambo had a lazy feel to it unlike other weekdays. When the multi-coloured bus swung into the Plaza De Armas it was already full. Two passengers got off, at least five more waiting to get on. Somehow we fitted. The driver said I could sit up front alongside the second driver and another passenger. We set off, bound for Santa Maria in the blazing sunshine.

Leaving Ollantaytambo in the direction of the Jungle

Leaving Ollantaytambo in the direction of the Jungle

I had not travelled this road previously. It was uphill for the first half of the journey almost two hours, winding and winding around the sharpest bends. I wasn’t so sure if being up front with this greatest view of the road ahead was the best idea. The driver often had to swing wide to take the bends. At least the road was paved. The views were jaw-dropping.

Journey to the mountain and the jungle - Peru

Journey to the mountain and the jungle – Peru

Driving towards Veronica - Apu Mountain Glacier Peru

Driving towards Veronica – Apu Mountain Glacier Peru

 

Veronica Glacier Peru - Wakay Willca

Veronica Glacier Peru – Wakay Willca

Mount Veronica (Wakay Willca) sacred glacier grew mightier as we drove nearer. Its snow-capped peak formed the most dazzling head piece the bravest Inca Warrior could desire. Against the sheer blue of the sky it triumphed. I had observed this mountain in the distance during my walks in Ollantaytambo. It held some kind of promise in its store. It prompted some kind of extra effort to be made to in order to attain a prize. What kind of prize, I could not say.

Now, so close before my very eyes, I felt I could reach out and touch it. The bus kept on moving around the bends which were developing an orientation that would take Veronica from my sight.

Winding Roads leading to the Abra Malaga Pass - Peru

Winding Roads leading to the Abra Malaga Pass – Peru

The air was certainly thinner as the bus climbed towards Abra Malaga. When we reached the highest point (4,350m.a.s.l.) the driver blessed himself a customary tradition that wards off the evil spirits that are thought to hang about in these parts and be the cause of accidents. This driver showed no other spark of personality unlike the one waiting to take his place who smiled happily at my reactions to the views of winding roads miles below.

Approacing Abra Malaga Pass - Peru

Approacing Abra Malaga Pass – Peru

The bus stopped a little lower down the other side of the mountain pass. I raced across the road to be the first to use the toilet housed in the little wooden shack. Another wooden shack provided a small eating room and a shop. The bus got a complimentary hose down and the drivers got fed.

Taking a break along the road to Santa Maria - Peru

Taking a break along the road to Santa Maria – Peru

Roadside Diner - Peru

Roadside Diner – Peru

The rest of the journey was downhill with the other driver at the wheel. He had some negotiating to do as there was evidence of minor landslides along the way and also some streams had overflowed their gutters and made their way across the road. I saw a family with a truck pulled up at a roadside waterfall. They were washing their cloths.
The air became warmer and sweeter. Banana Trees lined the road. Happiness melted my previously cool body and warmed my lungs with wider molecules of air. I had the holiday feeling now and was more in line with the constant jingle of the waino music which the Peruvians seemed so addicted to.

Hanging On For Dear Life - Road to Santa Maria Peru

Hanging On For Dear Life – Road to Santa Maria Peru

Santa Maria was not far. This bus was heading to Quillabamba further into the jungle. When the bus stopped in Santa Maria I got off and made my way towards the waiting cars. I had already travelled three and a half hours from Ollantaytambo. Santa Teresa was another hour away.

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing blog

Save