Tag Archives: spiritual

For Your Eyes Only – Journey In Peru

My story ‘Journey in Peru’ is coming to an end. If you think the ending was a simple matter of getting a taxi to airport and flying straight to Ireland, well no, the journey’s end had even more adventure to be lived.

Journey In Peru Book Coming Soon

Journey In Peru Book Coming Soon

 

Journey In Peru - Available Soon

Journey In Peru – Available Soon

Soon I will be publishing my story in its entirety, available for purchase through on-line stores and my websites.

This will serve as a forerunner and introductory to my first novel once published, which details the adventures of fictional character Kitty Clinch in Peru, that damsel who lured me to Peru a second time.

Journey In Peru - Mini Novel

Journey In Peru – Mini Novel

Thank you once again for reading and especially those of you who showed appreciation through comments and ‘likes’. I have received the highest praise a writer could wish for, from readers who contacted me in person to say exactly how my story made them feel. This is the ultimate reward for a writer, and especially one who has arrived late in years to this wonderful art form of expression through words.

Machu Picchu - Journey In Peru

Machu Picchu – Journey In Peru

You can sign up for the final posts (installments) of ‘Journey In Peru’ by entering your email address in the space provided either to the right side of this page (if you are using PC) or at the very bottom of the post (if using mobile phone). The ‘follow’ (subscribe) form is also found on the Home page and the ‘About’ section. All set for the ending of ‘Journey In Peru’!

Journey In Peru - Available soon

Journey In Peru – Available soon

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

 

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Waiting – Journey In Peru

The station in Machu Picchu town was over-crowded and stuffy. Groups of people piled together leaving little space for manoeuvre. Around me, the snippets of many languages, Italian, Spanish, French and Hebrew, lots of people with lots to say, most likely about their visit to the ‘Lost City Of The Inca’s’.

Train Station Machu Picchu Town

Train Station Machu Picchu Town

I clambered around the masses looking for signs of an official with information. Eventually I grasped what was happening. A train had malfunctioned. There were also rumours of a minor landslide affecting a part of the tracks. Whatever the story, there were imminent delays of at least two hours.

Machu Picchu Train Station

Machu Picchu Train Station

Because of the uncertainty, it was necessary to stay close to the station. I went outside. The air was cooling rapidly, a feature of being surrounded at close range by towering peaks.

Train Station Machu Picchu

Train Station Machu Picchu

A year ago I was one of those bunches of touring groups, exhilarated by the wonders of Peru, a country mostly known around the world solely for its famous mountain. Those who take the time to visit usually discover Peru is a country of many treasures such as the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines and the ‘Living Inca Museum’ of Ollantaytambo, now my Peruvian home.

Flowers at Machu Picchu Station

Flowers at Machu Picchu Station

I did not feel like a tourist here and I knew I would never quite belong to this country either. It was an in between place. Just like waiting at the station for the right train. I had to wait. In my life, whilst I chose a path less travelled, I also had to wait. When you don’t know when your train is coming, that ‘wait’ can sometimes cause impatience unless you can find something useful to do meanwhile.

Flowers at Machu Picchu Station

Flowers at Machu Picchu Station

This is exactly how my life had been. I had waited, not without doing, for almost 14 years at this point. Sure, there had been huge transformation but still lots of waiting. And that nearly drove me insane.

Machu Picchu Town

Machu Picchu Town

I had to move eventually. I decided that moving far away was better than a stone’s throw. I wasn’t sorry. To be true to myself, outside of my usual reference points and without any other influence, particularly of those who are used to wielding their authority, this was a worthwhile test of self.

Machu Picchu Town

Machu Picchu Town

I was making a very new and exciting discovery. I was stronger than I had realized. I had gained much respect amongst the people I had befriended here and this without doing anything that I would have regarded as amazing. I was simply being myself. I didn’t try to please anyone or seek their approval.

Machu Picchu Town

Machu Picchu Town

I dared the lion in his den with regards to an emotional vulnerability and I lost. In hindsight, it was a brilliant exercise because it taught me to handle grief. It takes a lot of practice, especially if grief is mishandled from an early age.

Inca and Condor Machu Picchu Town

Inca and Condor Machu Picchu Town

There are many roads to freedom, this was mine. There was a prize waiting for me but first I had to take the train back to Ollantaytambo and finish out the remainder of my journey in Peru.

Trains in Peru, to the best of my knowledge, are usually quite efficient! (o;

©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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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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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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Visitation of Beauty – An Irish Womans Journey In Peru

I have been at a loss for words to describe this following encounter I had whilst visiting Santa Teresa in Peru’s cloud forest jungle. I have been conflicted by the beauty of it because I cannot proceed with the remainder of my Peruvian tale until I have attempted to relay this part.

I awoke that first morning in my tree-house style room (Eco Quechua Lodge) with the warm breeze gently swaying the light-filled drapes that hung inside the wooden rails, where fell the jungles feet along the Urubamba (Vilcanota) River.

Humming Bird copyright Johnlric dreamtime.com

Humming Bird copyright Johnlric dreamtime.com

Birds were chirping and most likely there was a nest of them in the highest eaves of my room. I had packed sparingly and since I had chosen a room with the greatest view, forsaking the favour of an en-suite version, I had a little distance to travel to the nearest shower. The towels provided gave scant coverage so I wrapped myself in a sheet and waddled to the nearest cubicle crossing the stepping stone path.

Showering whilst looking out across the tree tops was bliss but nothing like the experience that was yet to come.

Sitting at the breakfast table on the platform overlooking the cloud forest on a balmy sunny morning, sipping papaya juice, I gazed beyond the flowering plants that popped their heads idly along the balcony. I had not yet deciphered the static chirps that hinted at the spectacle that was about to transfix my senses.

Along the Vilcanota / Urubamba River Author

Along the Vilcanota / Urubamba River Author

In nano-seconds my eyes were deceived by objects beyond the flowering plants. They appeared and disappeared so fast I had not time to ascertain what flickered there. And then it did appear. One single of the flickering bodies presented itself swiftly before my eyes.

For this brief moment I held myself on the border of my emotions unsure which was the most appropriate. I wasn’t breathing at this point.

The story of Peter Pan tickles my imagination and something of this creature, fanning its wings so fast they could barely be perceived as wings, beheld the magic of a visitation by Tinkerbell.

A joyous feeling began to overflow my heart at last deciding this was a most special experience a beautiful encounter with a humming bird ‘Colibrí’. It hovered mid-air for those brief moments only two arm lengths from my side and some seconds later flew out into the trees as swiftly as it had appeared.

Tree Top Paradise Peru - Wild Star Landing

Tree Top Paradise Peru – Wild Star Landing

I sat there mesmerised. This smallest of birds with the fastest of beating wings, with versatility of movement in any direction even upside down or backwards, had chosen to present itself before me.

I later discovered that some Peruvians believe it to be a messenger. The ‘Colibrí’ (Humming Bird) was certainly significant to the ancient Nazca civilisation as they featured this creature centrally in their mysterious Nazca lines. The meaning has been lost to present culture however but it wasn’t lost to me.

A humbling grace fell upon me. I felt immense gratitude. This encounter with beauty is held high amongst my most special experiences ever in my life.

That night I slept with my curtains parted so as to entice another visitation of this magical creature in my waking hours.

I was being quite wishful but realised even more that I had been blessed just once and once was more than I could be hopeful for.

Andean Slopes of Peru's Santa Teresa near Machu Picchu

Andean Slopes of Peru’s Santa Teresa near Machu Picchu

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing Blog

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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

The Things You Do When You Get There – Journey In Peru

Traveling 10,000 miles to a far-away land with a very loose plan of action could lead to chaos or cool strategy. I fell somewhere between these two stools. I was heading into my third week in Ollantaytambo town in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, not so far from glorious Machu Picchu. Learning a new language, the forging of new friendships, adjustments to higher altitude and a different society, were coming gradually but with good grounding.

I knew I was getting better at the Spanish when I was hanging out the clothes one morning on the roof top and heard my landlady calling up to me from the quarter below. ‘Did I hear her right?’ I thought at first. ‘Domingo!’ I shouted back letting her know that today was Sunday. So even my new friends were now putting more faith in my understanding of their lingo.

People live in very close quarters in this town and as soon as I went to that highest part of the roof to hang my washed clothing i heard, ‘Hola Carolina!’ from two different directions. My friends from Coffee Tree (Cafe, Restaurant) were living beside and behind me and it seemed to be a day for doing the washing by the looks of it.

Ollantaytambo - Journey In Peru

Ollantaytambo – Journey In Peru

All around the view was breath-taking from that roof top. A ring of tall mountainous rock enclosed the immediate area, with the sacred tears of glacial Veronica at the farthest end of the valley adding a stimulus to the scene. ‘That’s the way to Machu Picchu’, I reminded myself at the time. I had already been there once the year before on a previous trip. This was different. I was on a solo journey now. I anticipated my second visit with much thought of visiting a ‘Greatness’, One all-knowing of how much I would be needing to prepare myself for the privilege of a second visit.

Slowly I would get there. For now I finished hanging out the clothes and backed down the tiny ladder so as not to give the impression I was spying on my neighbours.

Outside of work hours (I had a part-time voluntary job in a cafe) I created an exercise routine of a walk about the area and an evening visit to a Peruvian shop-keeper with whom I had the most interesting language exchanges. The plans were still a little loose and sometimes felt like ‘nothing doing’ but it was all a preparation because the greatest moments were yet to come….if only I could always remember this.

Dear Reader: From time to time I have had a comment from one’s of you who have visited Ollantaytambo and you have let me know that you were also touched by how magical this place is and the friends you made there. Keep posting such comments. I welcome this connection. Muchos gracias amigos! (o;

Copyright Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog

Veronica Apu Mountain Spirit from Ollantaytambo, Peru

Veronica Apu Mountain Spirit from Ollantaytambo, Peru