Tag Archives: Novel

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

Soul Town Woman – Journey In Peru

From here-on-in it was becoming apparent that a town was trying to claim me. Some people are lucky to find a soul mate. I unearthed a soul-town. The folk I had befriended were intent on my remaining amongst them. For the rest of my allotted time in Peru, they tried every angle they could think of to persuade me that my life was intended to be played out amongst them.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

My first suspicion was aroused following the conversation about the car parked outside the door of my hosts hotel. It was the car of the Peruvian gentleman whom I had accompanied to Casa De Anna the evening before. My friend Henry repeated, a number of times, the fact that it was good to have a car. I should take advantage of the man with the car it seemed. You can go far with a car for sure.

Nazca Lines Peru - Wild Star Landing

At first, I could be fooled to thinking that he had my touristic interests at heart. But he was whispering the words to me in such a way, as to convey, that there was a real opportunity to be made here. I began to wonder if the visit to Casa De Anna had in fact been a set up.

The car was much nicer than this one (o'

The car was much nicer than this one (o’

I was out of there on foot without the car. Perhaps I was imagining things but soon their plans for me were less disguised. Henry’s wife was certain that I should meet her brother, a solicitor. They had both already told me several times that I was family, so it would be fitting that I think about this proposal. I was reminded regularly until the day I left them. I had not revealed too much about my heart missions to Cuzco but they knew enough to draw conclusions that I was on the wrong track.

Highway In Peru Wild Star Landing

Highway In Peru Wild Star Landing

I wished there had been heart school instead of college. There was nowhere on this earth I could escape to make my dreadful mistakes without being noticed, particularly by women who had succeeded in earning respect of the men whose hearts they had secured.

Apples from the Garden Of Eden

Apples from the Garden Of Eden

I never knew how to win so I never played the heart game. For too long a time I persisted with this craziness, thinking I was sparing myself of torture. But there comes a time when you have to admit you might be wrong. Realising you are wrong on a grand scale is not a pretty party to attend. The torture was waiting for me, all lined up with its dickey-bow on and I wasn’t drinking cocktails by any means.

I didn’t argue with any ones suggestions even the woman who dared to cross the line to tell me I was asking for a lot of trouble if proceeded with my current quest. I just quietly accepted that she was more knowledgeable, having entered heart school much earlier in life and had succeeded well.

I listened to everyone’s suggestions but I certainly felt no magic for men with cars or ironed creases in their pants. I would hold out for another while and I would listen. Perhaps the wind of this Sacred Valley would provide the education that I sought. Perhaps it too would sail above me. Nonetheless, I would listen.

Journey In Peru Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru Wild Star Landing

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

 

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Temple Of The Moon – Journey In Peru

Upwards the mini-bus spun in steep ascent along the spiralling road. After a thirty minute drive we reached the final stop. In early morning silence we crossed the largely isolated plateau.

A couple wearing traditional Andean costumes walked further ahead with some intent. Only horses in the distance and further away a row of modest houses towards the overhang of the flat terrain, no doubt, with awesome views of the city. Despite this, it didn’t strike me as a place sought after as valuable real estate.

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco Peru

Things didn’t seem to make sense about this area known as Temple Of The Moon. Why was it so quiet up here? A place full of contemplative beauty. A cool sun was blazing strong upon the grasses. Despite the added elevation above the Inca capital, distant mountains boasted a spectacle of higher peaks. A relatively short drive away Cuzco bustled with life but here an uncanny stillness invaded every space.

Entrance To Temple Of The Moon

Perhaps it was too early for a visit to a place of night time rituals. At the entrance of The Temple Of The Moon a woman dressed in council clothing said we should come back later. It seemed she could be persuaded to let us enter but shoes had to be removed as a token of respect.

Snake – Inca Symbol – Cuzco Peru

Puma – Inca Symbol – Cuzco

 

Condor – Inca Symbol – Cuzco

We entered the crevice noting the mouldings of rock that represented the Inca symbols of Puma, Condor and Snake signifying unity of all that is above, below and in between.

It took some moments for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Further in, a shaft of light from above revealed a smooth alter of rock. Hundreds of years ago, spiritual leaders of the Inca tribes had performed sacred rites during full moon worship in this very place but my companion lamented that nowadays the goings on are more scandalous than sacred. Perhaps this is why the place was so deserted. A darker force had invaded the territory.

Temple Of The Moon – Peru

Temple Of The Moon – Cuzco

We collected our shoes and continued walking towards another opening in the rocks. I wandered over to a high alter upon which some dishes containing ashes were laid amongst scattered coca leaves. I reached to pick up one of the dishes to get a closer look. My companion shouted a warning to me not to touch but it was too late. The practice of magic is very much alive in this part of Peru but it is not all well intended I am told. By touching the remnants of this aftermath of ritual a darkness intended for another might accidently divert itself to me. I understood the power of intentions, I had been at the receiving end of both extremes.

Rituals at Temple Of The Moon

Magic Rituals Cuzco Peru

I made a mental effort to protect myself from any harm but already my defences were weak. I felt the weight of sadness taking over. It had been building steadily these last few days. Soon I could walk no further and sank down onto the grass, sobbing uncontrollably. Any attempt to stop just made things worse. My companion sat patiently next to me with little hope to offer. We had sought to transform our lives, to work together, that was the plan, but something had changed. I didn’t understand it. Was it a sick trick on his part or had I been desperately fooling myself for this last year?

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

I couldn’t speak. Deep down I knew this was not the only reason I had come to Peru. I was trying to accept something more difficult than this. A heart being closed to me was not something new. Years spent changing my ways, understanding forgiveness had helped but had not altered this capacity to be overthrown so deeply. I had not realised the true meaning of ‘free will’. It was time to let go. Deciding to travel was a determination to expect something better. At this moment I was not sure what that could ever represent.

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco

Temple Of The Moon Peru

On the brow of a distant slope we spied again the man and woman attired in the traditional clothing. They were busy with garments, following a very old tradition. They had been washing the clothing of ‘The Dead’ in a nearby stream and now they were spreading them upon some rocks to dry. It made sense to me now, being here, in this ethereal place called The Temple Of The Moon, with its dark forces and deserted charm whilst emptying the sadness of my heart. There is a place for everything.

Temple Of The Moon – Rituals Peru

The sun continued to shine strongly and the sky was intent on being blue. Moving forward was the only option. I stood up. We continued in the direction of the road. A bus was conveniently waiting. There was no looking back. My business in Cuzco had come to an end. On my next visit I would be bound for the airport to make my way home to Ireland.

Moon ove Cuzco Peru

Moon ove Cuzco Peru

Moon over Cuzco Peru

Moon over Cuzco Peru

Inca Rituals (Musuem in Cuzco)

Inca Rituals (Musuem in Cuzco)

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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Feeling Cocky Like A Local – Journey In Peru

I suppose I was feeling cocky like a local. I didn’t feel the need to consult trip advisor. Cuzco was becoming familiar to me. By now I had been living almost seven weeks in Peru, my second visit to this spectacular country.

Cuzco

Cuzco

During my previous visit to Cuzco I had spied a premises that looked like a good deal for accommodation purposes. Peruvian people are shrewd when it comes to parting with their money. There was a two-tiered system in place when it came to pricing and I was keen to keep my spending to a minimum, this was no fancy holiday, it was a journey with a purpose.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

It had been agreed that I would return within a week to Cuzco to see what could be salvaged of a disastrous affair. I was slow to realise that I should have been gone with the wind to Machu Picchu, anywhere but here, as I was left to my own devices from the start.

The accommodation was a hell-hole. The room I had bargained for had been given to someone else. I was shunted into a hovel with no window. A makeshift room with walls that were creeping with squalor and close sounds of grunting and hocking. I was freaking with the prospect of staying a night in this room by myself. It just couldn’t happen. I hit the dazzling streets of Cuzco and went from door to door enquiring for vacant rooms and favourable rates.

Many of the hostels were fully occupied. I was being fussy, I wanted a private room. It was not looking good. I almost took a room in a converted convent but it competed with the hovel for the wretched feeling it provoked in me.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Along the way I separately met two male backpackers who were also seeking accommodation. We exchanged details of the premises we had already sussed out. Since I was more familiar to the city, they each asked me to recommend a place to eat that was inexpensive. Later the three of us met at a Peruvian diner that is not normally frequented by travellers. I introduced the two young men to each other, one Canadian, one Dutch and when I was finished my meal I left them to each other’s company.

Sunday In Cuzco Peru

Sunday In Cuzco Peru

It was Sunday. And Sunday’s in Cuzco are eventful. Plaza De Armas was thronged with people celebrating armies and officials. Men in large numbers paraded with medals and pride whilst ordinary people thickly lined the perimeter of the square. Brass bands and lively dancers added their contribution to the spectacle. As a tourist the previous year it had all seemed so grand and formal and intriguing but now I was not so impressed by this dominance of male ego which seemed staged to prevent any contradiction to its force.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

I had pushed through the background of the crowd on my quest to find a room and it was getting tiring. The light was draining from the sky as the sun swiftly descended beneath the mountains. The air was cooling rapidly in this high altitude location, I had to give in to an alternative solution.

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

The moment I entered the door of one particular hotel, I felt welcomed. The young man at the reception asked me where I had learned my Spanish. When I mentioned Ollantaytambo his eyes lit up. He had an affinity with this little town, good memories, although he revealed days later that his reputation at the time had not been good so he asked me not to mention his name there.

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landing

I asked him about the rates at the hotel. It was way beyond what I had been planning on spending but I was running out of time. Without too much haggling he provided me with a very special rate the only condition was that I must take the room immediately. I was moved in within twenty minutes much to his surprise having returned to the hovel to retrieve my backpack and relieving my tongue of the disgust I felt for the place.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

I breathed a sigh of pure relief that night as I slept securely in my room. It was a simple, traditional hotel with a basic luxury but I was being minded by angels as it turned out, for the staff in this hotel were destined to provide a kindness that is uncommon for ordinary folk serving the needs of others. I was truly grateful and when I think of them I send blessings in their direction.

I spent at least five days in Cuzco this time, but I cannot account for all of them. It is probably best that it is so.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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A Silent Battle – Journey In Peru

To a large extent I felt proud of myself. I had travelled alone to a very distant land to a culture that was quite different to my own, grappling with a new language. I had stripped myself of the familiar patterns that hold a person’s character in check. I grew up in a small village and later moved to the city. The cities in Ireland are like small towns compared to other cities of the world. The impetus for positive change is much slower when you are enclosed by tightly held expectations of the status quo.

In later years I traveled further but not like this, not so independently. There was more to it of course. I was here to figure something out, to fix something, to rid myself of a constraint, to know my strength, to challenge an old belief that no longer served me, to realise some part of my dream, any part. After all the effort, all the struggles, all the fears, I finally felt I deserved something better.

Ollantaytambo Peru At Night

Ollantaytambo Peru At Night

But I was beginning to realise that I was in trouble here in this far away place. I wavered between pessimism, optimism and realistic thinking like the exaggerated lines on the heart monitor of one who’s condition has not yet stabilised. I bought Paulo Santo, pieces of wood burned by Peruvians for cleansing negativity. I practiced self healing through reiki meditation, I walked regularly, I huddled at night alone in the darkness of my room with the cold wind sometimes blowing through the crevices of the doorway. I smiled at the beautiful faces that greeted me each day. I kept myself busy.

Ollantaytambo At Night - Peru

Ollantaytambo At Night – Peru

People in Ollantaytambo didn’t ask me too much about my business in Cuzco. I had got them used to the fact that I didn’t feel the need to explain everything, something that previously felt like lying. And I didn’t ask too many questions about their business either.

Thus I never did discover why a glass cake display got smashed to smithereens and angry Quechua speaking women were demanding answers at the door of a particular establishment one morning.

I didn’t ask why a certain person quit his job so suddenly and went to work for someone else when it was obvious there had been a disagreement.

I didn’t talk too much about the break-up of an intercultural marriage and the closing of a business the couple had shared, when I was visiting on the day they officially closed the doors of that business.

The Moon Over Ollantaytambo’s Fortalezza – Peru

And I kept quiet about affairs of the heart that were revealed to me. A young man falling in love for the first time, feeling scared, confiding in me as if I were his older sister and a young woman exhausted from her lengthy work hours suffering from loneliness and longing for romantic love.

I was eyes and ears to the troubles that confronted others around me. I was not so self-absorbed to think I was the only one with troubles and fears but I was intent on dealing with things once and for all.

I had lived in avoidance for so long just because I was a coward with no self-belief, just because I had been born female and found plenty of reasons to tell myself that the world was a dangerous place.

Peruvian Sacred Valley Sky

Peruvian Sacred Valley Sky

This was a silent battle, nobody could see it looming but myself. The Indians of those old western movies were aligning themselves upon a distant hill ready to attack. They might reduce me to a scalped skull by the time this was over but I had committed myself to a war of sorts. I was in for it.

This was a silent battle. I asked no questions and I answered to no-one.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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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)

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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