Tag Archives: Travel

Ireland Celebrates Peru

I’ve been invited to the Mansion House! Dublin’s cities residence of The Lord Mayor is the venue for a special celebration of Peruvian culture in Ireland soon. I have, in recent months, connected with a vibrant group of Peruvians living in Ireland.

In June 2017, I attended dance rehearsals with members of the facebook group ‘Casa Peru in Ireland’. At the end of that month we performed on the streets of Dublin, show-casing the traditional dances of Peru.

This was also a way for me to show my friends back in Peru that my time spent amongst them, as an adventurer and writer, has not been forgotten.

‘Stories are my thing and I seek the positive and beautiful even in the darkest of places.’

In fact, it is my wish to publish my travel memoir from that time. I refer to it as my ‘Journey in Peru’ story. It has been featured on this blog ‘Wild Star Landing’ and has also been listed in Ireland Blog Awards in the last few years running. Take note if indeed you are a publisher or agent, we could be a team! (:

‘I was always writing but I could say I ‘BECAME’  a writer when I landed in Peru.’

Flashmob 2

Peru is the country that propelled me into the world of writing. I was always writing but I could say I ‘BECAME’  a writer when I landed in Peru. I have been twice to that magnificent land as a result of this writng ‘fire-spur’.

I would love to return andI would relish any form of sponsorship that would return me there a while longer. I write lovingly about genuine stuff, people, places and culture. Stories are my thing and I seek the positive and beautiful even in the darkest of places.

Fly me  to Peru? Have a heart (:

Can’t wait to visit the Mansion House for celebrations. Will keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by! Do say hello!

©Caroline Cunningham

Author, Blogger, Artist

For amazing, thoughtful gift ideas for yourself and loved ones visit Carolines bookstore and gallery – go shopping!

Dancing in the Street! Peru Style

Now at least I can say I have something in common with Mick Jagger and the great David Bowie! Only a week ago I was ‘Dancing in the Street’!! Want to know how that feels? Feckin’ amazing! (;

No other words for it really! I answered the call – Casa Peru Ireland – a group of Peruanos living in Ireland, put a call out via their face book page. Flash mob! Rehearsals in June! All welcome!

Flashmob 2

Flash Mob Casa Peru in Ireland!

How could I resist? As someone who wrote continuously about my Journey in Peru over a period of 30 months on my Wild Star Landing blog, I was eager to strengthen my links with this country by taking part in this fun event.

During my time in Peru, I had observed the many festivals in the plazas and on the streets where dancing is central to the celebration. I had even given it a go myself ‘Dancing around the Coffee Tree’ and ‘Waino Dancing by the River’ but I had not properly learned the steps and sequences.

Flashmob 1

Peru Ireland Connections

So in June 2017 in Dublin city centre, I joined this festive group to partake in a sequence of dances representing the three main regions of Peru, Coast, Mountain and Jungle.

We rehearsed over a period of three weeks. I really enjoyed the gatherings and met people not just from Peru but countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Italy and Romania.

When it came to our street performance, some were understandably nervous and certainly there was much anticipation. None of us had quite done anything like this before.

Dublin was strangely quiet that evening and rain was upon us too. Nonetheless, we followed through with the joyful action and all our steps were carried out.

Flashmob 4

Wild Star Landing – Dancing in the Street

I am proud to say I danced the Peruvian dances. My friends in my Peru can see me in the videos and I know my bonds have been strengthened even though the miles between us are many.

Take a look at our ‘Dancing in the Street ‘Peruvian flash mob style!

Have you been to Peru? What was your favourite spot?

© Caroline Cunningham

Author of Wild Star Landing

Books by Caroline Cunningham – Go Shopping !

Writing letters all of their days – Travel Tale

Up until then they were just two older men meeting for dinner. Then they ordered desert!

I was tempted, as one of the deserts looked particularly elaborate. I had to ask them what it was. That was the start of our conversation.

Beneath the canapé of the restaurant with candle lights dancing in table top lanterns, the waiter presented me with the delicious Hungarian delight. The gentlemen saluted me as I dipped my spoon into the chocolate dreamy folds of cake.

 

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Budapest

 

Now we were in unison, enjoying treats and absorbing the magic of lapsing twilight into deeper night time sky. I settled back in my seat for a moment, observing the city passersby and raised my eyes to the roof tops of stately buildings. I had found rest after my hours of walking and deciphering of maps and streets, this moment felt like my reward.

‘Is it your first time to Budapest?’ He addressed me in English but German was his first language. His friend smiled at me. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘And you travel alone?’ he enquired. ‘I’m going to a wedding in a Slovakia in a few days,’ I added. They both seemed very pleased with this response and as we had now moved to coffees they saluted me again.

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The Danube

Our tables were close enough for comfortable communication although, I had to pay close attention because the other gentleman spoke with a French accent and his English was not as coherent as that of his German friend.

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Budapest

They enquired about my homeland of Ireland, saying that they had visited some years ago and had enjoyed the beautiful landscape. Ireland had been in the news a lot that week, as the American President had paid a stately visit. The German man being, more chatty, made a reference to our famous USA visitor. I told him my tale of how I had seen Barak Obama twice in one day, as his car drove past and he had waved at me both times!

And I couldn’t stop myself from telling the story about his ‘stately tank of a car’ getting stuck in the hollow of the Embassy gates in Dublin and how they had to get a crane to lift it out. As we erupted into laughter, so too did the diners at the next tables. They were American!

Car Budapest

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

I decided it was time to find out more about my new friends. Their story touched my heart. Here we had two men in their seventies who had maintained a friendship since they were schoolboys. One grew up in Germany and the other in France. And how their friendship grew? They were pen-pals!

It was explained to me that this was an initiative instigated between schools after World War 2 with the intention of establishing good relations between future generations of the two countries. What a genius idea! As young boys they had shared their stories with each other, letter by letter, each building a sense of what life was like for the other. I imagined how it must have been so exciting receiving those letters and how their imaginations must have been set alight.

 

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Budapest – Wild Star Landing

 

There was thoughtfulness between them as they recounted their story in turns. They both had families of their own now, all grown up and there were grandchildren too. Throughout all the other events of life they had maintained this special bond.

In later years, they decided that every year they would meet in a European city and spend a few days together, which is how I found myself sitting next to them on this very night. Such a story warranted an additional salute. We continued our conversations while enjoying a nightcap of red wine.

Car Budapest

Budapest – Wild Star Landing

They wanted to know about my friends who were to be married and my plans for getting to Slovakia. I thanked them for sharing their story which was so inspiring.

People seldom write letters anymore. My mother writes them to her friends in sympathy when they have lost someone close. I recalled how, as back-packers in Australia in the 90’s, fellow travellers sometimes sent each other letters to say ‘I made it home’ or ‘it was lovely to meet you’, even if the meeting was just for one day. This was before things like email and mobile phones were all the rage. I still have a stash of those letters saved, promising myself I’ll read them when I’m 80 or if I ever get incapacitated.

It was time to say goodnight. We paid our bills and walked together to the train station. We embraced, kissing each other from side to side, then waved goodbye.

And that was my first night in Budapest.

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Budapest – Wild Star Landing

This article is dedicated to a group of twitter pals of mine who instigated a chat around the topic of letter writing. I remembered this story and a few of our group made me promise to share it once I added the story to my blog. I hope you enjoyed the tale.

Do leave a comment to let me know if you still write letters or have some stashed away too. Or maybe you had a special trip to Budapest too?

© Caroline Cunningham

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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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

A Final Blessing – Journey In Peru

Waking up that morning was very different from all the others spent in this Sacred Valley story-book town. Like that first morning, my clothes for the day were arranged close to my bed, not because of the cold morning air, rather to save time for the last of everything.

Henry opened the door to the street and let me out. We spared our words for later. At seven in the morning I took my last walk around the world heritage town of Ollantaytambo. I took in the sounds of the gushing silvery water, racing through the river and the stone cut aqua-ducts. I relished the cobbled stones pressing unevenly through the soles of my shoes. I spied a large bird, possibly the condor, soaring way up high against the jagged peaks that traced the surrounding skyline.

Journey In Peru - A Final Blessing

Journey In Peru – A Final Blessing

The train station was quiet, as the early morning train had already taken its first passengers of the day to Machu Picchu, plus the tourist season was waning a little. Not many auto-taxi’s buzzing around yet and most shops had yet to open, including that of my friend Hoovert who had made me promise to call to say a last goodbye.

Ollantaytambo Peru

Ollantaytambo Peru

I had another area, to complete the tour, amidst the labyrinth of Cancha Inca buildings. A woman dressed in traditional attire, complete with the relevant hat of the area, spied me looking through the door of her courtyard. She gave me a great big smile and waved as if, she not only knew me, but sensed that I was leaving.

Cancha Inca Buildings

Cancha Inca Buildings

The Fortalezza was as stunning in the early morning as at any other time of day. The golden statue of La Ñusta (Inca Princess) urged a more positive spring to my parting steps. The Apu watched over me from Pinku Lluna as I made my way through the granite grid.

I walked on the market side of town passing my first home of Qusiqoller. The memories of those first mornings were strong. The fresh cool air, the hushed murmuring of people gathering their grasses near the entrance to the market and the men with taxi’s lining up for the days trips to Cuzco, Urubamba and other locations.

Ollantaytambo - Wild Star Landing

Ollantaytambo – Wild Star Landing

I stood in the middle of the Plaza De Armas square. I tried not focus on the closed doors of the Coffee Tree, where I had spent many of my days helping out and cementing friendships that would last forever. The ancient tree that was declared to be dying, looked upon its newly planted counterpart positioned close by. During my nine weeks in this town I had witnessed significant change not only in myself but for this little place also. Nothing stands still. We are always moving forward. The longer we stand still, the faster we die.

The Tree's - Plaza De Armas

The Tree’s – Plaza De Armas

Saying GoodBye at Worlds Coffee Cafe

Saying GoodBye at Worlds Coffee Cafe

Apu - Pinku Lluna

Apu – Pinku Lluna

One last vision to install in my memory banks. I took the avenue that gives the greatest view of this town’s most special Apu. She was glorious against the azure sky. I understood why these people, descended from Incas, held Veronica in such special reverence. There was something very inspiring and promising about that glacial mountain.

Veronica - Apu Mountain God

From the very beginning it had intrigued me. It held some secret of a life more extraordinary which lay in waiting of discovery. I had dared to travel beyond her stature by taking that trip to Santa Teresa. I had glimpsed a world to which I could never fully belong, because, my growing up entailed an entirely different set of memories and experience, to those who had furrowed in the midst of Veronica’s domain.

Early Morning Ollantaytambo Peru

Early Morning Ollantaytambo Peru

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landing

A lurking sorrow began to well. Just in time, I received her final blessing. ‘Yes, you do belong here’. I bowed to the glimmering mountain. Taking her message to me I echoed, ‘I do belong!’ I had been embraced by the people of this town. The final days had been the most telling. They were just as sad as I was, to be saying goodbye. I had been told over and over that I was regarded as family, not just of one family but of those whose threshold’s I had crossed. I had allowed their ways to merge slowly and gently with my own, keeping judgement and unnecessary fear in the deeper dungeons of my heart. We had helped each other at every opportunity, to learn, to grow, to understand. I thought I had lost a great big battle that I had set up for myself but here I was realising how much I had won.

Sorrow turned to gratitude, the kind that also makes you cry, so my tears did not go to waste. I was really going to miss this wonderful place, all of its people, every sight and sound. Hoovert was not yet at his shop. At least we had said goodbye the night before.

The Shop On The Corner

The Shop On The Corner

I returned to collect my bags. Now the pangs of departure were setting in. ‘We feel the same,’ Catty consoled me as she saw the evidence of my sadness. Henry allowed me to sob upon his shoulder for some minutes without any words save for, ‘ I feel the same.’ Catty could not let me go without the reminder that I was to return soon. Her last wish for me I cannot share because I have not found it yet but it was for something ‘good.’

Getting ready for the road to Cuzco

Getting ready for the road to Cuzco

Paola and Liz were also taking the trip with me to Cuzco, as they were returning to their home, at that time, in Lima. I was grateful to have their company. As the mini-bus (taxi) pulled away from the area of the train station, I quickly asked Liz to request the driver to slow down and beep his horn as we passed by Hoovert’s shop. He actually stopped outside the door, I could see Hoovert sweeping the dusty floor. He saw me waving and rushed to the mini-bus. Opening the door wide, he stepped inside and gave me the greatest hug and a parting kiss. As the mini-bus pulled away I watched through the rear window. Hoowert stood in the middle of the road, with his hand held in high, in Inca-style salute, until we were out of each others’ sight.
The Plaza De Armas remained quiet at that hour and the Coffee Tree, unusually, was not yet opened for business.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

The mini-bus made two rounds of the square before making for the exit route. Then it was the closing of the book, the one whose pages I had stepped cautiously between in my first days in this ‘Living Inca Museum’. Like the gaps between the cobbled stones I had fitted nicely there.

Veronica Glacier Peru

Veronica Glacier Peru

I took my memories with me, all the gentle sources of love, all the friendship and the final blessing. I made a promise, never to forget a single moment of that special time in my life which allowed for so much transformation. But, there was much weeping all the same, as I watched the Sacred Valley slowly slip away to the enormity of mountains and our descent into the throb of Cuzco city.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

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Water Running Past My Feet – Journey In Peru

There is nothing eloquent about the word ‘goodbye’. People say it pretending they are likely to see you in a month or two. There was nothing certain about my return to this town or country. The only justification would be to live and work here having obtained the relevant visa.

My presence in this place may have given false impression that I was financially well off. I had simply weighed my options to decide to come here a second time. The life choices which presented as satisfactory to many others, had not presented their appeal to me. I had walked a very different path with many cross-roads and confusing signposts. I was simply getting weary of the uphill climb and the amount of dragons I had encountered along the way.

Coming to Peru presented the opportunity to slay another of those fire-breathing beasts. This dragon had two heads. I understood initially that I had lost that fight but in hindsight it was the best outcome with an unexpected treasure attached to it.

SHop On The Corner - Journey In Peru

SHop On The Corner – Journey In Peru

It took some time, amidst many tears, to place my belongings into my luggage. When, eventually, I opened the door of my room, there was my friend Henry, standing with his sweeping brush. ‘Maybe’ he said. I smiled. This was his favourite English word to pronounce. This one word I used to tease him about, I will always associate with him.

Journey In Peru - Wild Star Landing

Journey In Peru – Wild Star Landing

Saying GoodBye - Journey In Peru

Saying GoodBye – Journey In Peru

It was time to say goodbye to the people of this town. As bravely as I could, I set off, calling into shops and homes. I will never forget it. I had gifts for each of them and they in turn gifted me something of theirs. I gave my oil pastels to little Nancy, the child I had sketched during my first week in Ollantaytambo. And I gave the ‘cocaine’ to Alex. It was, of course, only a detoxification tea. I also bought gifts for my family and friends back home.

Pacha Mama Ollantaytambo Peru

Pacha Mama Ollantaytambo Peru

By The Urubamba River

By The Urubamba River

When I returned to my lodgings to store the items in my bags, I was invited to lunch with my Casa Del Abuelo family. Henry had cooked a special meal of cow’s tongue. I tried my best not to disappoint my hosts but I could not get used to the texture of the meat. Eventually I had to admit defeat. When asked for seconds I opted instead for the sauce which was delicious. ‘What’s it made of?’ I asked. ‘Cows tongue!’ Catty replied. We all laughed at this.

Inca Bridge - Ollantaytambo Peru

Inca Bridge – Ollantaytambo Peru

Henry had the perfect plan for our last evening together. We went fishing down by the Inca bridge, four of us. On the way, Henry was curious about Irish tales he’d heard of. So as best I could, in Spanish language, I told him the story of Cū Cualainn and ‘The Salmon Of Knowledge’. He also amused me as he tried to understand the correct pronunciation of the word ‘beach’. ‘And a female dog?’ he asked next. He had me laughing. To him, both words sounded the same. ‘Bitch!’ I replied.

Fishing - Ollantaytambo Peru

Fishing – Ollantaytambo Peru

We didn’t catch any fish but it was good to be by the river. It reminded me a little of my trip to Santa Teresa. Throughout that journey, the Urubamba river flowed all along the canyon floor. During that trip I had been impacted by the immensity of this country and the extent of difference of this culture from that of my own background. So much I would never understand or know. Yet here I was with the water running past my feet, waiting for fish to bite. Right then, I felt like a tiny bit of me belonged to that river, like I had earned its respect or something.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Afterwards, I called to my first home in Quisiqoller. The family had gathered and Carlos was in the process of having an avocado facial treatment. I spoke to them only in Spanish. Carlos commended me on my improvement. I had lived with them for the first four weeks of my time here and had very limited conversation in the beginning.

Avocado Facial - Journey In Peru

Avocado Facial – Journey In Peru

Art Of Calle - Journey In Peru

Art Of Calle – Journey In Peru

Next I called to the Coffee Tree. This I was dreading. It was quiet that night. Only Alex and Roxanna there. Alex was busy with his computer while Roxanna studied her mobile phone. Alex made me a hot chocolate. We spoke very little which was not the way we usually were. ‘You are family,’ this Alex reminded me over and over in the final days.

Finally I got up to go. I hugged Roxanna and then turned to Alex. I saw him wipe a tear from his eye as he told me how he would miss me. I hugged him and headed as quickly as I could for the door. I rounded the corner in the direction of the Fortaleza and then the flood began. I was heartbroken.

Some of my friends met me as I arrived at Hooverts shop. They teased me, seeing my inability to control my emotions. Hoovert, was his usual upbeat self but he made no deception that he too was going to miss my presence. He presented me with a thoughtful gift. A book about Machu Picchu and a DVD with the cultural dances of Ollantaytambo, in which he also featured as a dancer. He made me promise to call in the morning to say a final goodbye as he would be opening his shop early at 7am.

By now it was dark and cold. Back in La Casa Del Abuelo some friends gathered to pass the time drinking a hot drink, which had a more than a drop of Pisco in it. Nobody spoke of my departure the next day.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Urubamba River Ollantaytambo Peru

Urubamba River Ollantaytambo Peru

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Three Times Finalist In Ireland Blog Awards 2015

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