Tag Archives: Quest

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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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