Tag Archives: Inca Civilization

Looking Down From Above – Journey In Peru

My last days amongst the people of Ollantaytambo were pressing upon my mind. So conscious was I now of the sun stretching from its rise and peak to its descending point. I could not grasp the measure of how this place had attached itself to me.

I had spent some time in those last two weeks with a younger Peruvian woman who was visiting some relations in the town. She planned to return from Lima back to Ollantaytambo to find employment and eventually start a business. She encouraged me to think about returning also to consider my own venture. It was tempting. I wanted to live every possibility of my life. This was one possibility and I certainly felt at home in this culture.

View Of Fortalezza from Pinku Lluna

View Of Fortalezza from Pinku Lluna

My original quest awaited me in Ireland. A desirous one. I had sought an alternative goal when coming to Peru, appeasing a curiosity. In truth, I was being fearful of failure and disappointment. The Universe had answered loudly. Even Machu Picchu was in cahoots. Go back to Ireland and finish what you started.

Plaza De Armas Ollantaytambo Peru

I had bags that needed packing. I couldn’t face into it. Liz suggested a visit to Pinku Lluna. It is an uphill trail of loose terrain, leading to a number of Inca built structures, such as, a store house, for the purpose of storing grain. Higher still, the face of an Apu jutted from the rocks, keeping protective watch over all below. It was a useful place to visit now and then to gain a perspective on situations.

Ollantaytambo Peru

Looking down from above, the town neatly sprawled into the foothills of the dignified mountains. Beyond, the Fortaleza dramatised the scene fantastically. This was no ordinary town. While Machu Picchu reigned gloriously a short train journey away, this Sacred Valley town rested in the womb of world, served by silvery foaming rivers and guarded by mountains. Ollantaytambo was the location chosen before Machu Picchu as the first private royal residence of Inca Pachacuti in the mid-fourteen hundreds.

Vi ew from Pinku Lluna

Vi ew from Pinku Lluna

Perhaps I was charmed in the same way as those Inca Kings and Queens. Only one year ago, I had spent a night in this town. Whilst wrapped in blankets on the deck of a bar, I thought how lovely it would be to spend longer in this appealing town. I think the Inca’s had something to do with it. There could be no regrets. I had grown in many ways and the ground beneath my feet had become more solid like those towering rocks.

Inca Store House - Pinku Lluna

Inca Store House – Pinku Lluna

Apu - Pinku Lluna

Apu – Pinku Lluna

As I gazed upon the roof tops and scanned the stretch of buildings, I noted the ones in which I had made friendships and had been regarded as family. Some seeds are scattered poorly, deprived of the elements that provide growth. Some are smothered by thicker and more vigorous vegetation and some are trampled upon as they attempt to grow. That same seed could reach its potential given a different set of circumstances. And this is why some of us human beings need to remove ourselves from our original environment. It is the tragedy of life that some humans never realise that there could have been a different, possibly a better, outcome, if they had only dared to move.

One last look around and then back to the heart of the town and the packing.

© Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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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

Machu Picchu Strikes A Blow – Journey In Peru

At 4.15am, Henry, in his sleepy state, unlocked the door and wished me well for my trip. I stepped into the darkness and directed myself towards the train station, hushed in silence, passing other moving bodies along the way.

Train To Machu Picchu

Train To Machu Picchu

Train To Machu Picchu - Journey In Peru

Train To Machu Picchu – Journey In Peru

I found my seat in the allotted carriage and watched some other passengers taking photos of each other. I had my packed lunch from the Coffee Tree and my rain coat. A week of unexpected rain had passed but the skies were not yet completely clear.

At last the train began to glide slowly through the flat floor of the valley, with the Urubamba river alongside on the left and neat, green, peaceful fields on the right. The towering mountains draped the scene and somewhere amongst them was the enshrined city of Machu Picchu or ‘MaPi’ as it was affectionately known by local Peruvians.

Early Morning Aguas Calientes Peru

Early Morning Aguas Calientes Peru

I arrived in Machu Picchu town, (also known as Aguas Calientes) at 6a.m. It was much quieter than I had expected, based on my visit the previous year as part of a holiday tour. The air was slightly warmer than that of Ollantaytambo, perhaps due to the lower altitude and jungle terrain. There was a sweet floral perfume in the air and clumps of mist were visible not far above. The mountain was at its closest. Looking upwards you could not detect its beginnings.

Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes Peru

Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes Peru

Without waiting further I crossed a wooden bridge and found the place to purchase my ticket for the mini-bus that would take me to the entrance of the Inca citadel. An elderly Peruvian woman in modest attire boarded and sat near me at the back of the bus. She was solemn in her silence, she too was taking pilgrimage.

Machu Picchu Entrance

Machu Picchu Entrance

My anticipation heighted as the bus rounded the sharp steep bends delivering me to the top of the mountain. Once my passport was checked I made my entrance. I went without the services of a tour guide this time. I decided to explore the path to the Sun Gate ‘Inti Punku’ instead. I passed the signs hailing the work of Hiram Bingham, the explorer credited with exposing the ‘Lost Inca City’ and found the path to Inti Punku.

Along the Inca Path Machu Picchu Peru

Along the Inca Path Machu Picchu Peru

My rain coat kept out the clinging mist as I took care on the stone path which was wet and slippy. Even at close range the glory of Machu Picchu was at this hour unrevealed. I decided not to look behind until I reached Inti Punku, hoping the skies would clear by then. The walk was longer than I had anticipated, at least an hour. I met very few travellers on the path. I stopped sometimes to observe cute little birds, lamas, beautiful orchids and trees.

Llamas at Machu Picchu

Llamas at Machu Picchu

Llamas at Machu Picchu

Llamas at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Flora

Machu Picchu Flora

Birds at Machu Picchu

Birds at Machu Picchu

Mach Picchu Nature and Hertiage

Mach Picchu Nature and Hertiage

At last, in the distance, was the platform of the Sun Gate, the entrance to Machu Picchu for those arriving from the Inca Trail. The path was steeper there so I stopped briefly for a break and to adjust my attire. What happened next was sudden and shocking. I banged my head off a piece of rock jutting out just before me. I’m baffled as to how I didn’t notice it, being so large, but I suppose I had been watching the stones beneath my feet rather than above and my range of vision had been hampered by the hood of my rain jacket.

Mind The Rock - Machu Picchu

Mind The Rock – Machu Picchu

Winding Road to Inca Citadel as seen from Sun Gate

Winding Road to Inca Citadel as seen from Sun Gate

Misty Morning at Machu Picchu - View from Inti Punku

Misty Morning at Machu Picchu – View from Inti Punku

For some minutes I was dazed. Apart from the physical smart of the impact, the emotional hurt that it triggered went far deeper. Every wrong-doing against my being sprang forth with a vengeance to taunt me. How could a sacred mountain, a world wonder, do this to me? After all the trials and tribulations I had come through, this visit was to be the souls caress, a memory to cherish in times of future trials. The Inca’s were regarded as a genius race. Which genius amongst them had considered the placement of this particular rock, which caused me such pain?

I wiped tears from my eyes and grappled with the shock of it. With weaker steps I climbed to the Sun Gate. A guard was standing there, a Peruvian man whose job is it to ensure that people respect the rules of preservation. I was concerned about the blow to my head in case of concussion later on and being conscious of the long walk I would probably make alone back to the citadel. I debated telling the guard about my accident, fearful that, if I needed medical attention I might be stretchered off the mountain and completely miss out on the day’s adventure.

Approaching Machu Picchu Citadel from Inti Punku

Approaching Machu Picchu Citadel from Inti Punku

He must have sensed my apprehension as he approached me and enquired if I was OK. He spoke to me in Spanish. I attempted to tell him about my accident but I didn’t know all the words to describe accurately what had happened. I relied on actions and words that implied ‘sore head’. He didn’t understand me. I got a little upset and had to walk away until my frustration subsided.

Eventually he came and stood beside me once more, He offered me his biscuits and chatted to me. He talked about the Inca Trail and told me he had spotted a bear in this particular spot earlier that year. He asked me where I was from and about my travels and was curious as to how I came to be travelling alone. And most his most curious question of all ‘why aren’t you married?’!!! I

‘Because I’m an artist!’ I replied more indignantly now, getting tired of this question and assumption that being married is some kind of life aim that guarantees eternal bliss. It was not fair to say that being an artist denies a person of the ability to be married. It was perhaps more true to say ‘because I’m a woman and I’m an artist.’

Maybe I am wrong to assume that my sensitivities as a woman were common to other women. Love, in the romantic sense, was something I regarded to be so precious and rare that if I were to find it, my artistic dreams might suffer and since I had not yet developed a healthy trust for the opposite sex, I was doubly wary of wandering into that realm.

Flora at Machu Picchu

Flora at Machu Picchu

Flora at Machu Picchu

Flora at Machu Picchu

I had already been burnt from what I thought would be a simpler option. It did not matter to me if the one I loved was rich or poor so long as love was a mutual devotion. I had risked for the first time ever to see how strong I was in being true to myself and to see if love indeed could be available to me. But love was with-held and to top it all, a Sacred Mountain decided that I needed to learn some additional heart lesson by inflicting further pain upon me.

Flora at Machu Picchu

Flora at Machu Picchu

I spared the guard of my reasoning. His life was obviously a lot simpler than this, he certainly seemed content. It was best to preserve his condition.

Wild Star Landing - Journey In Peru

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

The forest cloud wafted in snake like fashion above and around the citadel below. I didn’t get a clear photograph after all of that. I was keen to return to the heart of it and continue my exploration of the temples and houses and astronomy sites.

MaPi - Machu Picchu Peru

MaPi – Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

The sun never managed to completely wipe away the mist that day and as the ground was wet, it was necessary to keep moving. I stayed as long as possible soaking up the stillness and awesomeness of the depth of the valley below and the towering peaks that surrounded the citadel at close range.

Author Of Wild Star Landing

Author Of Wild Star Landing

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

We parted company. Despite the blow, I was grateful for the opportunity to return a second time to this spiritual place which I carry within me. And the lesson? Being too careful with my feet caused me not to look up to see the rock that was waiting for me. Or maybe I accredited too much perfection to the Inca race. They were human after all. And I got over it eventually.

Temple Of The Sun - Machu Picchu

Temple Of The Sun – Machu Picchu

Temple Of The Sun - Machu Picchu

Temple Of The Sun – Machu Picchu

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landing

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Best Travel Blog (Personal) 2015 Irish Blog Awards

Best Travel Blog (Personal) 2015 Irish Blog Awards

 

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Sexy Woman – Journey In Peru

In Cuzco there is a tourist ticket that covers a multitude of Inca sites both in the city and in The Sacred Valley, including the ‘Fortalezza’ in Ollantaytambo. It is excellent value to avail of this ticket which saves on individual entry fees at each location.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

You also have the option of taking a tour with a guide on a bus which takes you to all the Cuzco sites listed on this ticket. These tickets and tours are on sale at numerous tourist offices throughout the city centre. The tour bus is very convenient but if you have more time the Sacsayhuaman site is deserving of a longer visit.

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

‘Sexy Woman’ is how the English speaking visitors often refer to this UNESCO heritage site elevated high above the city. The name is derived from the Quechua language the first part meaning ‘full’ or ‘satisfied’ and the second part of the name is thought to refer to a falcon. It is also believed to have been an important site of sun worship in Inca times.

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

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The enormous boulders of rock situated in labyrinth style reaching into the heavenly blue sky creates a striking visual impression. Looking down into the deep bowl of the city you get a glimpse of what convinced the Incas that this was the centre of their world. Mountains graced the surrounding area and created the perfect protective space within for dwellers, at least until the arrival of the infamous Pizarro who came to conquer.

Wild Star Landing - Journey In Peru

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

The city sparkled a shiny miniature of itself, with the sun bouncing its rays from glassy surfaces. The low rise organisation of buildings and parks dotted with leafy trees and fountains all seemed so particular and fun to the tourist eye. Close by, a statue of Catholic Christ stood large with outstretched arms overlooking the city dwellers adding to the sense of sanctuary.

Christ Statue Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Cuzco Peru

Cuzco - Former Inca Capital Peru

Cuzco – Former Inca Capital Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Every city has its darker side and down below despite the busy endeavours of people selling their wares there were stories of anguish that would break a heart to hear them. Hence the amount of volunteer ‘not for profit’ businesses in the area. A salary is not a profit, I didn’t understand this concept originally. In any case thanks to these charity businesses, international volunteers are in no short supply, giving hope to many.

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

I took the city tour in the company of a Romanian traveler whom I befriended on my second, slightly longer visit to Cuzco.

Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Night Time Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Night Time Cuzco Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Her Name Was ‘Smile’ – Journey In Peru

‘Where are you going friend?’. These were the words she spoke to me every single day I crossed the bridge from the ‘arty’ side of town. Her smile was infectious. In my new neighbourhood I realised I should introduce myself. I crouched down beside her, as she sat outside her craft shop, and practiced my Spanish lines, which I had rehearsed for such introductions.

Her Name Was Smile - Journey In Peru

Her Name Was Smile – Journey In Peru

She told me her name. I had to ask her to repeat it. I didn’t’ t like to ask a second time. It was a name I had not heard before. I had a go at saying it. She nodded, but I wasn’t sure I had said it correctly. To me it sounded like the Spanish word for ‘smile’. So I thought to myself, it suited her and in my own mind from then on, that was her name, ‘Smile’ (in Spanish of course).

I had to get used to her asking me that awkward question however, everyday. It’s like that other question, ‘how are you?’ The answer is supposed to be positive. ‘I’m so fxcking alive the world just can’t keep up with me!!’ Isn’t that one answer you might just like to give?

In honesty however, that is not how most folk feel on an everyday basis. And so we lie, against any inclined bone in our body to be honest about things, even with strangers.

‘Where was I going?’ Some days in that Peruvian town, even though for me it was a destination in itself, I just wasn’t sure, as I was about to cross that lob-sided wooden bridge. All I knew was this, ‘I have to move!’ Because if I stop moving for a considerable length of time I get in serious trouble.

Luckily I had some occupation there and I did my best to invent others. I had made some friends and I had plenty to learn about life.

Highway traffic through World UNESCO Town of Ollantaytabmo Peru

Highway traffic through World UNESCO Town of Ollantaytabmo Peru

One day I decided to reverse the questioning. I asked my smiling friend about her circumstance of sitting at the corner of this bridge where, ‘bizarrely’, in this UNESCO Inca heritage town of Ollantaytambo, heavy articulated vehicles and buses barged through on a regular basis. ‘Does it affect your health?’ I asked. She smiled, of course, and just shook her head. It was not a problem.

I figured she had a strong mental attitude to life and I was just a meddler from Ireland who had some stuff to learn. A week later however, I noticed she was not at her post. I enquired from the person minding her shop. My smiling friend was ill and resting. ‘ I tried to resist that gloating thought of ‘perhaps I was right after all’. I will never know.

So I got used to her question most days. ‘Where are you going friend?’ Until one day I had to admit to her that I was going very far away. Back to Ireland. I will never forget that day I said goodbye to those wonderful people in Ollantaytambo. Everyone of them broke my heart completely. Her words to me I will not forget. ‘You must return. And when you return you come here to find me. And if I am no longer in this place, you ask the next person where I am. And you come to say hello.’

I how I wish I could go there now.

Dear reader if indeed you do happen to be Richard Branson reading this little wee article, if you have a seat on a jet, or the galactic vehicle, do get in touch, as I’m sure I could parachute from space, if I had to, and therefore cause the least inconvenience. And P.S. I have dear friend in New Zealand who would love to travel also but I doubt he will parachute as he has bad arthritis in his knees. (o:

Crossing the Bridge in Ollantaytambo Peru

Crossing the Bridge in Ollantaytambo Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author and Creator of the Title ‘Wild Star Landing’

Sacred Valley Festival – Stories from Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen was underway in Rumira, a roadside towns-land a few miles outside Ollantaytambo, Peru’s ‘Living Inca Museum.’ My decision to return after my first visit to Peru, one year earlier, did not disappoint me.

Ollantaytambo stood out as being rather unique, so, I chose to discover what life was like in a small town in this area known as The Sacred Valley.

Fiest del Carmen Peru

Fiest del Carmen Peru

My friendships grew at the rate of my improvement in learning Spanish. I was the director of my own learning and all my life discoveries with help, of course, from those whom I befriended.

In this, my third week I had formed a lovely bond with some passing American tourists. Lis and Nabila agreed to walk with me to Rumira to witness a religious celebration which my Peruvian friend Hoowert had been telling me about.

Fiesta del Carmen Peru

Fiesta del Carmen Peru

Hence, we found ourselves sitting amongst the Andean folk, me pretending to drink beer and managing plates of rice with vegetables and tiny pieces of fatty pork, provided for all the guests.

It was close on 5pm and things were just getting started. I didn’t know if we were at the right house at first but I was reassured when I saw Hoowert coming from the road. I was proud to introduce him to the girls. He treated us like special guests and was so eager for us to understand the essence of the celebration.

 

 

 

Fiesta del Carmen Peru

Fiesta del Carmen Peru

He described everything beautifully. It was poetry to him. ‘We celebrate The Jesus and The Mary,’ he explained, ‘and also the traditions and stories from our past.’

Whilst the Spanish conquistadors imposed the Catholic belief upon their Inca captors these tenacious people and their descendants never lost sight of their original beliefs and traditions. Hence the ceremonies are a fusion of two belief systems ending up with very colourful and joyful celebrations.

Dancers Costumes Peru Fiesta

Dancers Costumes Peru Fiesta

Dancers Costumes Peru

Dancers Costumes Peru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancers Costumes Peru

Dancers Costumes Peru

For this festival is it the custom that a patron provides food and drink for the occasion. It is considered an honour to do so. All are welcome to the feast no-one is ever refused.

Hoowert brought us into a tiny hut that had an open fire with pots and pans. The fire was lighting and some meat was hanging from the rafter for curing purposes.

Hoowert had a good grasp of the English language, which is not usual for his kin. He owned his own mini-market where he worked long hours and in his spare time he performed as a traditional dancer at ceremonies such as these.

Dancers Costumes Peru

Dancers Costumes Peru

The way he described the importance of the dancing and what it meant to him was inspiring. Until recent years I had encountered very few people who would unashamedly display their hearts passion openly as he did. His love for his culture exuded in every word, every demonstration of his body behaviour and from his light-filled eyes.

Dancers Costumes Peru

Dancers Costumes Peru

 

Giving Thanks To Pacha Mama - Peru

Giving Thanks To Pacha Mama – Peru

After educating us about the celebrations he urged us to walk further along the road in the direction of the church.

Throughout the remainder of the evening groups of dancers would be arriving there to perform their ritual dances. Each group represented the houses of the hosts of the fiesta. Costumes and masks are part of the dance and every item including the colours is significant.

Hoowert explained, ‘the dance tells a story of my country.’ One of the masks was yellow in colour representing a tragic episode in history where many people in

Fiesta Del Carmen In Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen In Peru

that area died of Yellow Fever. Also some costumes were ragged and torn to represent extreme poverty that had been endured. He told us to watch out for the man with the whip, this too signified the history of oppression following the invasion by the Spanish in 1500’s.

 

 

Dancers make their way to Church - Peru

Dancers make their way to Church – Peru

 

Dancing Groups arriving at the Church - Peru

Dancing Groups arriving at the Church – Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

We had some fun as the young men displayed their costumes to us. After taking photo’s we followed instructions and made our way to the church. It was getting much cooler as it does in this part of the high Andes during winter.

The church was a small modest building decorated inside with fruit above the altar, as thanksgiving to Pacha Mama, Mother Earth. The statues were decorated like dolls with pretty dresses all a glitter. Outside a group of dancers arrived in a procession towards the church.

A large costumed gorilla led the way. There was a particular foot work sequence which I noticed through-out the dances, a quick shuffle of steps from side to side accompanied by swaying bodies and outstretched arms.

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

 

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

As the sky darkened, country-folk gathered around the courtyard of the church. One after the other, groups of dancers arrived with bright colourful costumes and outrageous masks. Each group had a different theme and different story to tell in their performance.

We saw the whipping man, yes, and he appeared to be genuine in his whipping intentions as he lashed at those who stepped out of line. After each group completed their performance in front of the church, they then proceeded into the church itself. A new group took their place to perform the next sequence.

 

 

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen - Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen – Peru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed as long as our bodies could withstand the cold. We bought coca tea with spices from a nearby stall and skewered barbequed meat to sustain ourselves. A few hours had passed. It was truly special to be here but also to have friends to share the experience with and to see my friend Hoowert dancing.

Fiest del Carmen Rumira

Fiest del Carmen Rumira

There seemed to be no end to the dances but it was evident that a return to the houses for more food and drinks was part of the plan. We had received an invitation to return to the house we had started out from.

Getting home could have been tricky for there were no lights along the road back to Ollantaytambo and we had only dark clothing. For luck there was an auto-taxi. Nabila did the deal as her Spanish language was more fluent. Three of us huddled in the darkness of the covered motorbike giggling at the driver’s choice of music which was loud and surreal to my senses. This dimly lit motor-taxi dropped us safely back to Ollantaytambo.

 

 

It was our last night together. The girls were bound for Santa Teresa in the morning. Our time together was short but definitely memorable.

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing

Auto Taxi Peru

Auto Taxi Peru

Walking on Cobbled Stones – Life in a Peruvian Town

The mini-bus slowed a little as it neared the end of the tarmacked road. Taking the sharp bend to the right, that’s when I knew the significance of the sign which (in Spanish) reads ‘You are now entering Ollantaytambo’.

I swayed from side to side with halts and bounds of the wheels rolling across the uneven and broadly rounded cobbled stones paving the way into this Sacred Valley town.

Ollantaytambo's Cobbled Stones - Peruvian tales from Author Caroline Cunningham of Wild Star Landing.

Ollantaytambo’s Cobbled Stones – Peruvian tales from Author Caroline Cunningham of Wild Star Landing.

The driver was well familiar with this road, avoiding other vehicles, negotiating spaces alongside stone-carved water ducts, walls and random trees.

The bus swung another sharp bend this time to the left. As we turned I viewed the valley through an Inca doorway, the entrance to a walking trail.  

Moving forward with added excitement the road narrowed as walls of outer courtyards became homes and shops, with doorways facing out onto this even more narrowing cobbled track.

Then the opening appeared and as if through the eye of a needle, we emerged into the expansive square of Ollantaytambo.

Hurtling around the square and to a kerb-side space the driver pulled over and I set my feet upon the cobbled stones. From there on my walk was not the same but I had not much time to think about it then as there was accommodation to be arranged and introductions to various people who might assist me with an occupation.

I was lost and found all at once. This was to be my home for the next nine weeks and these cobbles stones would be a reminder every-day of the importance of adaptation.

Ollantaytambo Peru Travel Stories of  Life in a Peruvian Town by Irish Travel Writer Caroline Cunningham

Ollantaytambo Peru Travel Stories of Life in a Peruvian Town by Irish Travel Writer Caroline Cunningham

Every foot step was different and most awkward in the first few days, not unlike my efforts at communicating in a new language.

Depending on your footwear you could find yourself sliding from the rounded bumpy parts with toes dipping towards the channels in between. I preferred to use my runners for getting about more easily. With my ‘ballerina’ shoes I got about in a tip-toeing manner as if crossing the stepping stones of a trickling stream.

Ollantaytambo's Cobbled Stones - walking a different walk in a Peruvian Town - Caroline Cunningham author of Wild Star Landing tells the tale.

Ollantaytambo’s Cobbled Stones – walking a different walk in a Peruvian Town – Caroline Cunningham author of Wild Star Landing tells the tale.

On two occasions I observed the amusing sight of a Peruvian lady bent on getting around in high-heeled dainty shoes. This was the only evidence I saw of a dedication to ‘modern’ fashions during my stay in Ollantaytambo, a ‘Living Inca Museum.’

I soon got the hang of it. My walk became less stern, more flexible and willing to adjust to the uneven surface. Knees bent, hips lowered, feet forward touching the ground in a softer fashion, for what ill did the earth ever do to me?

On my return home to Ireland, that’s when I really noticed that my walk had changed and the thing that had changed it was 10,000 miles behind me. I carried on my with my new walk thinking it suited me better anyway.

One early morning I made my way towards Trinity College (Dublin) grounds in order to take a city centre walk closer to the trees. On my way through I came upon a courtyard much further in from the main entrance. Ahead of me lay an arrangement of rounded cobbled stones, smaller than those in my Peruvian town but with a similar design.

I closed my eyes as I took the first few steps. I was transported in these moments and my walking style gained a fresher step.

I imagined the mountains looking down on me, the dusty air blowing from the rocks and the sound of water running through the aqua-ducts. A little pocket of paradise is how I remember it and I have the ‘walk’ as it’s constant reminder.

©Caroline Cunningham Author & Photographer of Wild Star Landing Blog

An Irish Womans Journey in Peru's Sacred Valley - Walking on Cobbled Stones - Visit Wild Star Landing Blog to read more...

An Irish Womans Journey in Peru’s Sacred Valley – Walking on Cobbled Stones – Visit Wild Star Landing Blog to read more…

Walking on Cobbled Stones - Life in a Peruvian Town - and the stones gave me lessons in adaptation

Walking on Cobbled Stones – Life in a Peruvian Town – and the stones gave me lessons in adaptation