Tag Archives: Adventure

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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

The Best Thing About Santa Teresa – Journey in Peru

It will never be said about Santa Teresa that ‘the best thing about it is the road out of it’. This is a figure of speech used in Ireland when poking fun at a rival towns-land. It was time to leave the cloud forest jungle and this tree-house style room in which I had spent two airy Peruvian nights.

The unpaved dusty wriggly road, high upon the canyon’s ledge lay waiting for me to chance it one more time, except this time the car travelled on the side closest to the edge. There was no getting used to it, especially when the driver met another vehicle at a particularly narrow bend and had to reverse to make way for it to pass. I just thought ‘if I die now at least I can say I have dared to live life to the maximum’. If I had died then I would have died blissfully ignorant of the truth I had neglected to heed.

I had brought with me to Santa Teresa a curiosity that needed to be satisfied. A woman of my imaginative creation desired to finally put her past to rest and move her life forward once and for all. I had written a story around her and it intrigued me as to how it really would pan out for her if she were indeed to settle in this country and live a traditional modest married life. She would come to an exotic place such as Santa Teresa to play out her romantic quest in a daring manner like never before.

Cloud Forest Jungle Peru www.wildstarlanding.com

Cloud Forest Jungle Peru
http://www.wildstarlanding.com

I pondered the sequel to this story as the canyon glided beneath the car window.A happily ever after ending would never do the trick. She deserved to be happy that was certain. But for how many years should she be allowed to retain that happiness? I thought I could reasonably allow her 15 years or so. A tragic accident would widow her and she would be faced with the decision to return to her home country or remain amongst her new family in Peru. There would be a twist too. All the ingredients of a good story or so I thought. Can you have too much tragedy in a story? If there is tragedy at the beginning is it over the top to subject the heroine to further misery towards the end?

All in all, perhaps my idea of tragedy was over-imagined. But to live a whole life without the knowledge of self that only comes from attempting to fully know another, would that not then be a tragedy? I wanted to divert my heroine temporarily from her tragic route.

Eco Quechua Lodge Santa Teresa Peru

Eco Quechua Lodge Santa Teresa Peru

Eco Quechua Lodge Santa Teresa Peru

Eco Quechua Lodge Santa Teresa Peru

From Santa Maria to Ollantaytambo Peru

From Santa Maria to Ollantaytambo Peru

By now I had transferred to the bus that took me from Santa Maria back to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. This time there were absolutely no seats remaining and I had to stand in the aisle. The air was still hot from the jungle. A nauseous unease welled inside me accompanied by a faintish daze. I must have looked like I was going to collapse on the seated passengers. Someone pointed to the rear of the bus and bodies made way. I squeezed into a corner of the back of the bus on the side that faced deep into the floor of the mountains footholds with all the windings of roads yet to be travelled set out like threads below. I stood in a leaning position as there were no seats in this part of the bus but at least I was secure enough not to collapse.

It occurred to me that my Ollantaytambo friends would be curious about my trip. I realised then how much that humming bird had come to my rescue. Without doubt, seeing this wondrous bird before my very eyes was the best thing about my visit to Santa Teresa. It was a blessing then as I diverted their further questioning and it was a blessing later when the dreams I had dared to realise fell to shambles.

I too had a story. I didn’t want anyone to know the truth of it. I did not want to be seen floundering with the eyes of the world upon me. For those days in Santa Teresa I fooled myself, thinking love was on its way. It was in fact withheld once again. I misinterpreted every word, every in-action.

As I stepped from the bus onto the cobbled stones of Ollantaytambo, I turned to wave goodbye. It was the start of a slow series of goodbyes but also the beginning of something new for I never felt about myself the freedom as I had then. I was living an adventure and my arms were wide open to the highs and lows that were to yet to come.

An Irish Woman’s Journey in Peru Live your life as if it is a movie and you are in the leading role

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing