Tag Archives: Dancing

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

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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)

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8Mini Market Friendship

OK, so one of my reasons for coming to this town was to learn and improve my Spanish! But what a wonderful surprise it has been to make friends with a shop-keeper who has an excellent standard of English, here in Ollantaytambo, (The Sacred Valley of Peru). Hoowert and I quickly became very good friends. Because of his ability to converse in English, I have been able to gain a deeper insight into the traditions, beliefs and history of this special town and the country to which its people belong.

Don’t worry, we don’t converse completely in English, we alternate, taking turns to demonstrate our new learning. Sometimes our conversation takes a swift diversion, as Hoowert resorts to his dictionary for a new word or explanation and next we are within a language lesson, discussing the ins and outs of various expressions.

I developed my own idea for improving my conversation skills. Why not interview my Ollantino friends in Spanish? This way I can find out more about their lives and views and at the same time improve in learning the new language. It has been a great benefit to me and in the process friendships have grown deeper.

It turns out that, like many other successful business people in this town, Hoowert trained as a chef. From an early age he set about accumulating years of experience and eventually ran his own restaurant with his partner Pamela. Together they saved constantly until they had enough to rent this shop which is called ‘Mini-Market’ (right next door to Worlds Coffee Café, which you will hear about soon).

Curious as to how he came to have such a good grasp of English compared to others in this trade, Hoowert explained the following to me. ‘It has been difficult! I started learning six years ago when I worked in Lima in a restaurant. My older brother taught me some essential phrases which got me by at first. In school, English was only taught one hour per week and always the same verb ‘To Be’ (Estar) and every year repeated the same. But in 5th year of high school a new opportunity came. It was an American project ‘TAPA’ and we got an English speaking teacher. I made good use of this opportunity. 44 students started with the project but only 3 completed it. Working in a touristic place such as Ollantaytambo, to speak English is very important. I read books in English and used my dictionary to translate.’ It is obvious that Hoowert is still dedicated to improving his ability to understand and speak the language and I find his effort inspiring my own attempt to improve my Spanish.

The first week I arrived in Ollantaytambo, Hoowert invited me to a fiesta in nearby Rumira. He is a traditional dancer tambien. I was fuelled with further questioning. Hoowert’s interest in dancing began when as a child he saw some dancers at a festival. ‘It was beautiful,’ he enthused, ‘full of style and essence. I wanted to do it also. For me it is a strong sentiment! I dance because I believe in Jesus! 50% is faith and 50% is passion for dancing. Throughout the year there are many festivals and for the most important ones I practice with the other dancers sometimes a month beforehand on Saturday and Sunday nights for at least 3 to 4 hours at a time.’

Another of Hoowert’s passions is his love of history and traditions of Peru. ‘The history of my country is beautiful!’ he tells me. Hoowert has fond childhood memories of the Inca culture but he feels that in the last 10 years there have been many changes resulting in the dwindling of the old customs. He is also interested in the politics and has studied the transition of Inca rule to Spanish power and eventual Independence of Peru in 1821. ‘It is important to have your own conclusions,’ he tells me. ‘In recent years our economy has improved. There are better laws and ideas and terrorism is being dealt with. I often ask myself, what is the evolution for Peru? And how can things improve for our people?’ I suggest that such concerns are those of a natural leader of community or perhaps a country. Hoowert blushes momentarily but then confirms my thoughts further as he explains that while in high school he formed a small group of friends in order to discuss the ways in which the problems of the people could be addressed, problems such as education, money and corruption.

This preoccupation has led Hoowert to write a book. ‘I am still developing my ideas,’ he explains, ‘but in the future I hope to complete it and get it published.’ Hoowert also has an interest in engineering and is currently toying with the idea of a professional qualification in either this or perhaps to study law. Engineering is connected with his desire to go to Japan one day (Japanese cars such as Hyundai are very popular in Peru). I encourage him to study law as perhaps this will sit more nicely with his other preoccupation of influencing change for Peru.

Returning to my original curiosity of his love of Peruvian history and culture, I ask what significance Machu Picchu holds for him. Hoowert explains that Machu Picchu represents the magnificence of the Incan Empire. ‘It is also our Peruvian identity,’ he explains as many people outside of Peru know little else about this abundant land. ‘For many people it also means business,’ he continues, ‘ but it is also a mystical place, as to this day there is no proven explanation for the engineering and construction of the stones. It is regarded as an unearthly work of other worlds. For me it is a spiritual place and I am proud to have come from this culture. I love all things of my country!’

I am curious as to what other world heritage site Hoowert would one day like to visit. The answer should be obvious to me. ‘The pyramids!’ he replies. ‘It is a much older culture but perhaps one that is most similar to that of the Inca’s. It is possible that the hieroglyphics can explain more of the past. Many of the links to the Inca past have been destroyed and lost. The Egyptian history would be magnificent to study,’ he concludes.

This is not the end of our discussion. I often visit Hoowert in the evenings to discover more about Peru and Ollantaytambo in particular. I hope to share more of these stories with you in the near future.

Hoowert’s Mini Market is between the Plaza De Armas and the bridge en route to the train station.

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