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Business class travel? – Great Peruvian buses

Overnight buses are my pet ‘hate’. Sorry to use the ‘h’ word dad, but I cannot find another word to describe the emotions I feel when an overnight bus trip is looming. We have had a pretty good run and Christos knowing this strong distaste of mine has avoided them where possible. We have done two so far on our trip. One was okay, I got some sleep ( Bulgaria to Greece), the other was horrific although it was all over at 2 am (Toronto to Chicago- pre Chev Lightening). Air con broke down in middle of summer, 2 hours longer than expected and an alarmist hyped up bus driver as our introduction to America!
imageToday marks the third. My world is changing. I sit at the moment on an air conditioned bus from Puerto Maldonado nearish to the Peruvian, Bolivian, Brasilia border (having just spent 3 nights in the Amazon, teasing tarantulas out of their holes- a whole other blog) to Cusco, a kick off point for Macchupicchu. 11 hr bus ride ahead, we’ve filled in 9 hrs in town in 30 plus degree heat with high humidity, itching huge amounts of bites aggravated by the unrelenting heat. Tired and so very very hot and cold cold drinks are impossible to find. And I’m so excited I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep! The bus is a normal size coach- they usually seat 46… This sleeps 35! Recliner chairs.

Snacks of biscuits and a juice, blanket and cushion, and then along comes a waiter in black pants and a white shirt with tea or coffee.
We could have chosen a $60 bus ride that took 5 hours, or flown for about $90, but given finances we chose the $27, 11 hour overnight bus to save money and also take place of needing to pay for accommodation… We scored! My itching is even reducing as my body cools down! Most kids are sleeping. Wifi even works on the bus so Christos is responding to all those work emails, or booking the next stage of our unfolding adventure, and you can charge devices at your seat. It’s unheard of! Only thing to ignore is the ‘oh so loud’ movie they are showing, and the fact that we will wake up above 3000 metres so need to watch out for altitude sickness… Fortunately we are going to overnight below the magical 3000m mark in the sacred valley near Harry and Vanessa Hildebrands plot of land. But for now, I want to recline my seat and rest my eyes in a 80% horizontal position… It’s as good as business class I’m sure!

imagePs. Mad mosquito bites, full on turning bus almost rolling us out of seats and a serious crack of the dizzy, sick altitude mixed with car sickness I’ve never felt before meant my optimism was not quite fulfilled. However, apart from our light sleeper Yas and I, all the others slept like logs!

by Mama Miliking

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Amazonas Jungle

AMAZON JUNGLE

imageOur excitement was palpable that we got to visit the Amazon jungle during this trip. So appreciative to Harry Hilderbrand who helped us organise the trip through his biology teacher contacts. The whole jungle area is so alive and full of intricate, strange, amazing and superb biodiversity. It’s like nature on steroids! Seeing the Amazon has been a dream forever though also a bit scary for me cause I have watched too many of those nature shows about piranhas etc. Never in my imagination would I actually be swimming in piranha full waters! I’ll let the kids describe the experience…….
By Christos

Day 1
imageToday we travelled to the Amazon Jungle from Lima to Puerto Maldonado. We had to catch a taxi, then 2 planes, a bus then a boat to our lodge. It looked like the plane landed in the middle of nowhere.

 

imageThe first landing was in Cusco and it was like in a valley surrounded by mountains that looked like a desert. The second landing was in a small town called Puerto Maldonado and it is close to the jungle. We saw the rivers from high in the sky and it looked like small and completely brown water.

imageIt’s actually a really wide river but it looked small from the sky and it was so curvy. Now we are in the lodge and it is almost 8pm which is dinner time. There is only electricity in the kitchen and the bar area from 6pm – 10pm and then all the other areas we have to use candles or torches.

imageThere is only cold water from 5am – 10pm to wash in. It comes from the river and they have to purify it, then you can have a cold shower. The drinking water though is purified water and very clean. At 6pm our guide took us for a night walk in the rainforest and it was alive with insects, frogs and spiders. There were owls hooting in the distance and the biggest rat in the world was making it’s sounds – it’s called the bamboo rat.

imageOur guide showed us a huge tarantula – he led it out of its nest with a small stick and it was really cool. We had to stay still because if we move it feels the movement and it is actually blind. It was very big – the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. And hairy!
When we were getting here by boat we saw some red macaws and they were beautiful. I really want to see the blue and yellow winged macaw because I think they are so beautiful. I cannot wait to see some monkeys – they come out in the daytime and it’s guaranteed that you’ll see them if you go out in the jungle. There are little monkeys and large monkeys.

imageI would also love to see some big tree frogs and some beautiful butterflies. On the boat we did get to see some green butterflies and the guide Joel said they were circling around the mud to get the sulphur out of it. It doesn’t make much sense to me. It would also be cool to see the big bamboo rat but it’s not so common in the day time.
Dinners coming soon so hasta luego (that means see you later in Spanish). By Yasmina

Day 2
Today we had a very interesting day with our guide Paul – he took us around the Amazon Jungle. Of course not all of it because it is so so big. I bet if you came here for five years, six even – you couldn’t see all of it.
Anyway, this morning he took us piranha fishing. To get to the lake we caught a boat down the Tambopata river and then walked for about 25 minutes to get to the piranha lake.


When we were walking we saw some cappuccino monkeys and they like to go together with some other monkeys called squirrel monkeys. So that they look after them. The cappuccino monkeys are the size of a big book and the squirrel monkeys are smaller. We saw a bird that is like an owl called a potoo. It had a baby with it. We also saw some red macaws when we were close to the lake. They’re very beautiful.
imageThe boat we went on the lake with was two canoes attached together and then some wood over the canoes. It was pretty nice and called a catamaran. I didn’t catch a piranha but I caught a few sardines. Mum caught the only one because it was starting to get too late in the day and they get hot. Others caught some dog fish which Paul was very excited because he hadn’t seen that many of them.

imageWe were the first group of the year to catch dog fish. He didn’t let us touch them because they can bite off your fingers. The dog fish were grey with a yellow stripe in the middle of their bellies. They can last out of the water for 2 and a 1/2 minutes. When it was later in the day we went swimming – at first we were scared of the piranhas and Paul said there weren’t piranhas in the middle of the lake because they like to stay close to the shore.

imageSo we ended up all going swimming and I just couldn’t help myself – it was so hot and humid today that I couldn’t even take photos with my iPod cause it got disabled from the heat. The swimming was so cooling – I just jumped in with my clothes because we didn’t bring our bathers. I didn’t exactly jump in – Toby pushed me in! The water was really warm on the surface but cooler about 1/2 a metre down. The lake was much cleaner than the big river which is completely brown.
If you put your hand in the Tambopata river about three inches you can’t even see your hand.
We were back at the lodge by 1.30pm and that’s lunch time. We had a nice lunch of rice, chicken, Peruvian baked beans and salad. Then we had about two hours to rest because it was the hottest part of the day. I went to our room and read my book and rested. At 3.45pm Paul took us out again but this time not on the rivers but into the jungle. He showed us how in the olden days the indigenous people hunted birds. They got a piece of hollow bamboo and got some big thorns from bushes and put venom on the end of the thorn. Then they waited for the birds to come closer and they blowed the thorn through the hollow piece of bamboo which went flying through the air and hit the bird. He put a leaf against some trees and we all had a go at trying to hit the leaf with our thorn, but ours didn’t have any venom of course.

 

imageHe also showed us some fruit trees. There’s a fruit called a star fruit. It’s almost like a mango shape but it has some wedges which made it look like a star shape. Paul cut it up with his big knife and he gave us some to try. I didn’t really like it because it was a bit bitter but I ate it. When they make it into juice at the lodge I like it a lot better.
imagePaul made some indigenous clothes out of big leaves. It was really cool. He made a crown and a skirt but they didn’t really wear any tops but of course we were wearing tops.

 

We walked further down the trail and he made some claws that looked like witch claws made out of flowers. He was so amazing. We were in the jungle for about 2 hours then the sun was going down so we went back to the lodge. Now we are waiting for our dinner by candlelight cause there’s not much electricity. The food has been very traditional but very nice. See ya later.
By Yas

Day 3
Today was an absolutely awesome day. We went back into the amazon jungle and our guide Paul made us some jungle whistles out of hollow pieces of bamboo. They made a high pitched sound and the longer ones make a recorder type of sound. We also went to a swamp we were going to look for animal footprints but it had been raining which made the footprints disappear. Instead some of us made wax prints of our hands. First we had to put our hands deep in the clay and mud and then pour hot wax into the shape. Paul was very well organised.

imageWhile we were waiting for the wax to dry we went to a massive massive tree with a tree house at the top. We tried to climb on the vines but they were wet so we got up as high as we could and it was still lots of fun.
He also taught us how to weave grass and we made bracelets. He knows lots about the jungle. He can answer every question we ask him within 2 seconds. For example we asked him what kind of bird makes that sound and he knows the answers within a second or two. There are sounds all the time in the jungle. It takes a while for you to get used to them.

For lunch we had lots of yummy food but one thing that was strange and interesting was bush potatoes. They were almost between a potato and a banana.
Just before we were going for our afternoon walk we saw some squirrel monkeys and cappuccino monkeys. The squirrel monkeys are so small and adorable. The cappuccino monkeys are a bit bigger. They were looking for bananas.
imageIn the afternoon we planted three trees that are rare and good for the environment. The tree is called an Aidon tree, and it’s getting more rare because farmers cut it down to make charcoal. Something else that was really interesting is a leaf that he showed us that people used to use for dying. You put the leaf in your hands with a drop of water and rubbed into your palm. The colour that comes out is a dark purple. Paul used it to do face painting on us.
At the end of our afternoon we went to the beach at the river and it was all muddy. The banks were very muddy and we got soooooo dirty and made mud balls and threw them at each other. There were lots of water hog prints in the mud so we stayed away from them and made some wax prints of them. Kalika got on her hands and knees and started crawling and she called her prints the ‘Kneeosaurus’ prints. Emilio was the muddiest hands down. Toby slipped as soon as we got to the muddy banks and he thought it was my fault and started chasing me but I got away. Zoi started out with purple shorts that turned into brown shorts.

At the end Kalika says ‘Yasmina, I’ve never known you to get your clothes so dirty’. Until she said that I didn’t realise that my clothes were so dirty. So I had some fun washing my clothes in the cold shower. However it is so hard to dry anything in this humidity.
The walk back to the lodge always feels much shorter. It was good to get clean again.
By Yasmina
imagePaul took us to the jungle and he made an amazing skirt for me. He also made us some finger nails out of some flowers – it was so cool. He also made a nose and some ears. We saw some monkeys in the morning and we went on a boat and I went fishing and caught a piraña together with my mum.

 

 

It had small teeth but very sharp and they can bite off your skin. I also caught some butterflies and had lots of them on my skirt and my hands. I liked the king jungle hat that Paul made for Toby. Walking in the jungle was so exciting and seeing the monkeys. At the lodge they have some biscuits and I love them. Paul let the piranha eat some of Yasi’s biscuit to show how sharp their teeth are. We went swimming in the lake and had a very very nice day because we saw lots of exciting stuff. I really loved the skirt Paul made for me but seeing the jungle was my favourite thing.
By Zoi

Day 4
Today we woke up at 5.00am to go bird watching with Paul. We went on a short boat ride to the other side of the river where there was a bird watching hut set up. The best time to see birds is at sunrise in this area.

We saw green parrots, blue winged macaws and parakeets. They were eating the clay to get the salt, vitamins and nutrients they need. The place they go to is called a ‘Clay lick’. Most of these birds are endangered because of their predators and poachers which means that people catch them to sell to people who want to keep birds in cages. Another reason is because each bird normally has one baby per year so it takes a long time to get the numbers up by breeding.
When we got back to the lodge we only had a little bit of time to pack and then have breakfast and a short relax on the hammocks before we had to get back on the boat for the 1.5 hour trip to where the minivan picked us up to take us back to Puerto Maldonado. We had quite a few hours to wait in Puerto Maldonado before our overnight bus to Cusco. Therefore, we got to go to the local market which was very cheap so I got some new runners – my old ones were small because I had been wearing them for a year. I also got new thongs cause my old ones were falling apart. I even bought some gel for my hear – I was so pleased with my purchases – I think everything was very cheap.
imageOur Amazon jungle trip was really interesting because we got to see and learn so many different things. The nature there was wonderful. I would really like to go again one day.
By Toby

 

imageI really enjoyed seeing some of what the jungle has to offer. I knew there would be layers and layers of biology, flora and fauna… I never realised the layers of kids activities……. Enormous credit to Paul our guide. He pitched our time with him with perfectly. Reading the kids blog pieces really portrays that too. One thing that they haven’t mentioned though is the big machete he walked around with; helpful for clearing the path, and of course making swings… He made a great swing for Tarzan like swinging…


I hope the photos help to tell the tale…
By Mama MiliKing

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Enroute to Lima and the start of our Peruvian adventures…….

On the way to Lima we stopped by Houston to visit our friends – Cathy C and Kathy K. We call them that because they’re imageboth named Cathy but different spellings. They are going to look after our car for 3 weeks and even drove us to the airport. They have three very cute cats and two dogs, one is very playful and loves people. However the bigger one for some reason is afraid and every time we go close to him he backs away. They have a pool and we played happily there for ages because it was so so hot. There were fun mats and a dive board. We had an extremely good Pizza for dinner and they let us stay up late watching a movie. It was about how Mary Poppins was made into a movie. When we get back to Houston we are probably going to watch at least five Harry Potter movies because Cathy C and Kathy K are very big fans of Harry Potter. I bet by the time we leave Houston we will be big fans as well. We haven’t read them so far or watched them because we heard they sounded scary. Kathy K said that at least the first two aren’t scary but maybe after the first two they get a little bit more scary. I’m actually looking forward to them now.
We had a short flight to Miami first and then we got on our way to Lima. Miami to Lima was an amazing flight because there was entertainment screens and we even had our own remotes and even had games. Three of the games that I loved was battleships, chess and golf. We haven’t been on many planes that have movies and stuff like that.
We got to Lima at 10.30pm. Harry Hildebrand who’s parents are our neighbours in the King Valley (and grandma went to school with his mum) picked us up. We weren’t expecting to see him so it was an amazing surprise and always good to see a familiar face.

imageHe took us to our Servas hosts where we were staying. We arrived after 11.30pm so we were all dropping off like flies. There were five people in the family all living there and it was a 4 bedroom medium sized two storey house. Most of us kids slept on mattresses or couches in the living room and mum and baba got to share a single bed but at least it was a bed.

The family were lovely. There was the mother Margarita and her adult daughters Jessica and Melissa.

image Jessica was married to Dik and they had a 6 month old daughter called Alyssa. Her christening was the day we left so we helped them makes some chocolates and stuff for the party.
By Tobes

 

 

 

 

 

imageIn Lima I loved the park at the zoo most of all and playing with my Lego.
By Zoi

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was so touched by staying with Margarita and her wonderful family. It was awesome to fly in to Lima and go straight to a wonderful Peruvian family. They were so welcoming and friendly. We arrived late in the evening and pretty much went straight to bed but we connected well straight away. I love SERVAS for these great opportunities which are a great and cheap way to travel but most importantly SERVAS is a group to promote worldwide peace, friendship and understanding between all people.
imageThe next day our good friend from Australia – Harry came over with his son Luca to take us out for the afternoon. We had our introduction to one of the most delicious foods ever – ceviche – an amazing raw-ish fish dish that is actually cooked or poached in lemon juice and other spices. OMG – my mouth is watering and I have a new favourite food. Then we ventured down to the Lima zoo where the kids had a lovely run around together and we tried yet another Peruvian delicacy – picarones – a sweet potato donut cooked right in front of us – awesome.
The next morning the long journey to the Amazon jungle began…….
By Christos

 

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Visiting two important families in Arkansas

imageBill Clinton was the president of the USA for 8 years back in 1992.
Bill Clinton was a very good president and changed a lot of things. When he was the governor of Arkansas there was an argument between a school and black people and he set a rule so black people could go to that school with the whites. Bill Clinton also said to every one in America that the black Americans could work together with whites and it worked.
imageHe seemed like a good person and tried to do lots of good things and help black people live the lives they deserved. We visited his museum in Arkansas and watched a short video by him.
By Yasmina

imageIn Arkansas we stayed with our friends Oliver and Amy. Amy is from Arkansas and Oliver is from England. They were visiting Amy’s parents Debbie and Steve so we joined them for a couple of days. We’ve seen Oliver and Amy now in England, Greece, America and Australia. Debbie and Steve have a humongous house and they have a cinema with a humongous screen. The outside yard is really big too but we didn’t go on the grass without shoes because there’s this type of bug on it that burns your feet. They also have a beaver that visits the lawn but we missed seeing it. We did hear coyotes at night though because their house backs onto a forest.
imageWe went into the town of Fayetteville and had lunch in a nice cafe then went to the park to play. We were going to have a picnic at the park but it was so so hot and humid. We also visited Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first marital house. There was her wedding dress there and there was a garden of all the favourite flowers of all the First Ladies ever since America was free from England.

 


We played soccer at the park and the ball went in the creek but I went down to get it even thought the water was muddy.
When Steve got home from work he put a movie on for us in his cinema room – we watched ‘How to train your dragon’. It was great movie cause the boy proved everyone wrong – I like movies like that. After we finished the movie we made pizzas on the BBQ. It was so cool – we were given a base that was a little bit cooked then we got to do our own toppings and then grilled it on the BBQ. It was a strange way to do it but was very very tasty.


Next time we see Oliver and Amy they will have had a baby and will come to Australia to visit us.

Toby’s Bill Clinton story…….
imageBill Clinton is an amazing man and one of my favourite presidents I have heard of. I admire the things he did like to reduce poverty in American and to raise the economy. In his 8 years of being president he made 20 million new jobs. I learnt all this from visiting the Bill Clinton library in Little Rock, Arkansas. There was A video that they played for us about his life and how he changed the face of America.
His dad died three months before he was born and his mother went off to New Orleans to study being a nurse so that Bill Clinton was healthier and had a good life.
When he was about 10 he was very inspired by Martin Luther King Jnr and his speech ‘I have a dream’. Apparently Bill Clinton said that remains his favourite speech of all kind. When we were in Fayetteville we visited his first marital house and it has been turned into a museum.
By Toby

PS – I agree with Toby that Bill Clinton was a great president. Also I found it so interesting visiting his library with the kids because they were in awe watching the 20 minute video but obviously it was written from his and his supporters’ perspectives. It was obviously going to be positive. There wasn’t any mention of possible impeachment (didn’t know how I was going to explain that to the kids). Anyway it was a fabulous museum and great learning for the kids of the events that happened in his term. First presidential library that I had visited and it wetted my appetite to visit more of them. We almost stopped in at the George W Bush Museum in Dallas but it was $17 to get in and $11 for kids over 3 so far too expensive for us. Almost triple what the Bill Clinton library was. I was very interesting to hear George W’s speel on his term – he got in through disputed votes in the Supreme Court rather than a landslide like Bill Clinton and during his term the world changed in so many ways that I didn’t know how he would make a positive from it. Anyway – it’s an intriguing visit for another day. I think we will get to his dad’s library (museum) which is near Houston.
By Christos

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Road trip to Nashville, Tennessee

imageNashville – there’s something about them country boots that calls to me.

We left Stephanie’s in Delaware for one of our biggest drives of the trip, through the widths of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and arriving in the far reaches of Tennessee. We started at 4am armed with rollups and sandwiches and water and fruit and biscuits. The only stops being for petrol and drinks!
We were to arrive at a Nashville house of a SERVAS couple Trine and Jerry. In all its beauty SERVAS has been an experience of trust and hospitality. Trine and Gerry rent the top floor of a house fairly close to downtown. One bedroom, small but homely space. These guys had responded to Christos’ SERVAS request with a ‘good news and bad news’ reply… The bad news was they wouldn’t be home, the good news was it meant there would be space for us all.
imageSo we rocked up in their driveway and were greeted by such a lovely couple; so gentle, loving, adventurous and outdoorsy. These two had met while working at REI a great big outdoor adventure store in America. Independently they had both completed the Appalachan Mountain Way walk, one of them had taken 5 months, the other 7 months. No small undertaking. If we had more time and slightly older kids these guys would have blown our minds with their stories and knowledge on how to access various outdoor adventures; rock climbing, rivers, hiking. But as we are, and our time constraint goes, it was not to be.
Trine was incredible and I was so moved by the comfort I felt in her kitchen. They had come to greet us and hand over keys before returning to house and animal sitting duties while Jerry’s sister was overseas. Within half an hour I had her pasta and freshly made sauce on the stove as she showed me the meringue cookies she had made, the snacks for the kids on offer and all the bedding possibilities. I fed the kids as we chatted, amazed as I say, the warmth and generosity was palpable.
All this time everywhere we looked were inspiring photos of their ice hiking adventures, wilderness photography and words of love and appreciation. It truly was a nurturing space to settle for two nights.
And as I am wishing I had more time to be with Trine (she was off rock climbing the next day) then back to work as a nurse, Toby and Christos had tapped into the incredible knowledge of Jerry on the GoPro. This is a camera device that can be strapped on your head, made waterproof etc. Christos had bought one before we left Melbourne much to my raised eyebrows. It had been under-utilised to say the least especially given all we have done this past 18 months… Toby had recently taken it on as his thing to remember to bring it with us, or charge it as necessary, but a distinct lack of confidence still prevailed when it came to ‘how to use it’ . Within minutes Jerry had the Toby inspired, understanding and experimenting with our GoPro. Awesome.
imageSo, we are in Nashville, home of country music. My sister Pam and partner Craig come to mind, not in the traditional country sense, but in the modern Nu Country cool sense that I really like but don’t really have or play as often as I would like.
Ideally we would have got some country music running in the car, Memphis was a drive by and would have benefited from some Elvis exploration… But you can’t do everything.


We spent the afternoon in Nashville Downtown looking for Nicole Kidman to have a shrimp on the BBQ with as we were sure her email invite got lost in spam… But alas we settled for a wander, a cruise of boot stores, a little shopping by Christos for Father’s Day from the Boot Barn (sadly no boots), a replacing of quality rain jackets lost by Iceland Air in Emilio’s lost backpack with cheapo slickers that will get us by in Peru, and a beer watching fledgling country singers in a corner bar singing for tips. I truly thought of my big sister lots, texted and wished we had a few days shopping together with a night cruising upcoming stars on stage. I’ll have to pursue that with her at the Oakleigh Bowls Club when I get home.
Sandy

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Steph’s amazing place in Delaware

imageThe hustle and bustle of NYC is mega exciting but also draining so it was perfect that our next stop was rural Delaware. Oh what a gorgeous place – so incredibly green and pretty – with rolling hills, horses in paddocks and quaint country roads. It was reminiscent of English countryside. Our week at Steph’s place was just what we needed – time to stop, reflect and meet some fabulous people. Steph is such a hospitable and inspiring woman who we have met back in Australia, as she part owns a farm near us that good friends manage, in the Rose Valley. The kids were so so excited that they actually all got their own rooms and beds to sleep in.

imageSome of the big kids lay in bed reading in the mornings which they haven’t been able to do for ages without being interrupted or stood on or rudely woken up.
It was warm in Delaware and

 

Steph lives in a close knit well resourced community. Just 5 mins drive away there is VicMead Hunt Club, an old Fox hunting venue turned pool, gym, tennis courts and restaurant.

We went almost every day for hours in the pool, as did all the locals and Steph’s relatives… The kids made friends with nieces, nephews and grandchildren – they’ve exchanged emails to keep the instant connection growing. We often ate at this incredible venue, Steph’s generosity once again unstoppable.

Hugh McDonald and his lovely mum Janet also came to visit from Australia - it was a very musical time

Hugh McDonald and his lovely mum Janet also came to visit from Australia – it was a very musical time

Steph has got so many wonderful family and friends and most evenings there would be at least four others sharing dinner with us. She is an incredible cook and it wasn’t really a drama cooking for even twelve others that were invited for dinner. Always very interesting company and good laughs.
The first night we arrived late (driving from New Jersey through all the turnpikes and endless toll roads) and arrived during the end of a dinner where we met Steph’s good friend Billy. Billy is an amazing man who knew a good mechanic and arranged a service for our car. Incredibly he also refused to let us pay for it. His generosity was incredible. We met his daughter and partner up from Florida and he took Sandy and the kids to the amazing Long wood gardens in Pennsylvania.


We all felt so relaxed at Steph’s house and so very rejuvenated to continue our road trip across the States. We were meant to leave a day earlier than we did so as not to rush to Houston but we simply couldn’t miss Regis 40th party which was amazing. We met Regis and Tenley who are neighbours and they were so kind to invite us to the party – a great way to finish our Delaware week before we got up at 4am for our 13hr drive to Nashville.

This is all of us on the couch with Janet as well who came from Australia.

This is all of us on the couch with Janet as well who came from Australia.

Thank you so so much Steph and all your family and friends for your amazing generous hospitality and friendship. You’re amazing!
By Christos and Sandy

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At the moment we are staying at our friend Steph’s house. We know her because she stays at my friend Charlotte’s house every year. When I go over to Charlotte’s house I see Steph there. She lives in America so we came to visit her. It was been so fun staying with her – she has three dogs which are German shepherds. I love helping Steph with the cooking. I loved making the burgers. She has some friends over for dinner pretty much every night. We went to visit her uncle who is 95 yrs old. He has an organ which is like a double or triple piano and is a whole room.

The stuff that makes the sound is in a whole entire basement. It plays really awesome music – we got to press some buttons and make some really awesome sounds.

Billy took us to some gardens which were really really cool with tree houses and lots of gardens. I better go cause I have a party to go to. It’s Regis – the next door neighbours 40th. There will be loads of kids and there’ll be even four babysitters to look after everyone.
By Kiki

Steph has beautiful dogs. There are three dogs called Breaker, Duke and Storm. She has such a beautiful house and amazing curtains. She has very good friends and is a good card player – she taught me to play Spit. You don’t have to really spit but it’s a game called Spit.

I loved visiting the horses and I loved the bunny rabbits at her niece’s house.

imageSteph took us to a pool and I had to do a test to see if I could go off the diving board and go in the big water. For my test I had to swim all the way to the other end and then I had to do water treading for 1 minute then I was allowed to go to the deep water and dive off the jumping board. I loved Steph and I loved playing Spit with her and I loved going out with her and I loved having dinner with her. She’s a very good cook.
By Zoi

imageWe had lots of dinners with Steph and her friends and relatives. Everyone has been very nice. She has a big green property with lots of trees and gardens and three German shepherds. We also went to a community pool with Steph four times and it’s been really good – we’ve met lots of her grand kids and played lots of water games. Like sharks and fishes, but in the water.

imageOne of Steph’s good friends Billy, his daughter Meredith and her boyfriend Martin took us to a gardens with cubby houses, rivers and fountains. It was so pretty.
By YASI

 

 

 

imageAt Steph’s place I liked the dogs – Duke, Storm and Breaker. The one who is Storm likes storms but not thunderstorms. I like playing cards with Steph – she has Spit and we bought a packet of cards so we can play. Spit is a kind of card game – you have to spit the cards but it has some different rules not like real spitting. I love the pool nearby. I love this place because it has fun stuff and there’s a bunch of toys and kids to play with. Good bye
Love from Moochie

imageSteph has been amazing to us and we have done lots and seen lots of stuff in Delaware. Most days we go to VicMead which has a pool and and basketball court and really great food. Steph introduced us to lots of people and now we have lots of friends around this area. There are lots of young kids around and I liked talking to lots of her friends. There’s a party tonight for her neighbour’s 40th birthday party and we are all invited. There will be over 80 kids so I’m really excited.
By Toby

After the Party…….

The day before we left Steph’s place in Delaware, we were invited to Steph’s neighbours Regis 40th birthday party. It was amazing. There was about 200 people at the party!!! Including 89 kids!!! There were so many things to do like get tattoos, play with water guns and play all the three carnival games they had on offer.

Dinner was very very good, there were lobsters, potatoes, pasta and salads. After everyone was playing together well they set off fire works and man I haven’t seen fire works in two years, but this was the biggest and best fire works I’ve ever seen!!! They set off so many and they still had another full box!!! We danced and danced – it was great fun.
See ya – from Tobes

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Amish country, pretzels, chocolate and lovely Joani & Ty…….

imageWe have just met some awesome people name Ty and Joani. Ty and Joani live in Pennsylvania and are Bob’s (Ron’s) cousins from Chicago. My baba met them for the first time in 1993.

 

imageOn Friday, Ty and Joani took us out of lunch and the food was very yummy. It was foods from other countries like India and South Africa. Ty and Joani took us to Hershey’s. If you don’t already know it is a Chocolate factory and we went on are train that showed us were they make the chocolate. It was awesome and at the end of the train ride we brought some of the chocolate and Joani gave us some money to spend at the gift shop. I brought a bracelet – it was very pretty. Ty and Joani were so very very very nice.
Then they took us to a hotel to get an ice cream because it was a very hot day.
Then it was time to go back to Stephanie’s house in Delaware. We have been staying at her house for a while. It has been very nice at Stephanie’s home and she is so very nice.
By Yasmina

The first time we met Joani and Ty we went to an American diner for breakfast and we had eggs, bacon, sausages and home fries which is like a hash brown or a potato pancake – and there was even pancakes. I loved the breakfast – I made a sandwich because there was also some toast. I liked speaking with them cause it was just fun.

imageAfter breakfast we went to an Amish village. They don’t believe in electricity and they travel in horse carts and their stove is a box made of something that won’t burn and they put wood inside – that’s how they cook. They even hand wash.

imageThey do all their farming by hand ploughs and also use horses. We saw a few famers ploughing. It was such a really really fun day.

 

imageWe went to the oldest pretzel factory in America and also the first hard pretzel factory in the world. We learnt how to make pretzels and even learnt how to shape them. Pretzels were treats for the children when they had learnt their prayers in the olden days. The kids crossed their arms when praying and that’s why the pretzel is shaped that way. The soft pretzels that they had were delicious. The man who first made hard pretzels accidentally left them in the oven overnight and he tasted them. He thought they were very good and told his boss but he wouldn’t listen so after 10 yrs of working for him he opened his own pretzel factory and he lived upstairs with his wife and their 14 children who all helped making pretzels. The pretzel ovens were shaped like pizza ovens.


imageAfter that Joani was so nice to want to buy us all a present and I bought a little note book and a key ring making kit. They are so sweet and we said that they are like our American grandparents from Pennsylvania. I really want them to visit us in Australia.
By Kiki

imageJoani and Ty are some amazing people who took us to a Restraunt run by a person who employed refugees. There was a lot of foods from India and Africa and it was great. I liked the Iraqi lemonade but it was a bit strong. After the Restraunt they took us to the Hershey’s chocolate factory. imageThere Joani and Ty bought us some chocolates and a souvenir – my souvenirs was Hershey’s and Reese’s soccer ball. After that we went to a hotel run by Hershey’s and it had some amazing ice cream – it was just so good.

imageThey were very kind people and it’s more than likely they will visit us in Australia. I’d like to take them to Somers to meet my grandma and pa and play on the beach. A few days before we went to a diner with them.
By Toby

imageWe saw Joani and Ty (Joani is Bob’s cousin from Chicago) two times while we were staying with Steph. We went out one day and saw Joani and Ty and Joani let us choose something to buy for us – it was so kind. She even let us have an ice cream at the Hershey hotel.

imageThe hotel was so big. We didn’t stay in the hotel just visited it. We had a tour of the chocolate factory and then we could buy some chocolate up to $3. Us girls shared our money. Joani and Ty are going to come and visit us in Australia and might have a picnic with them in front of our house.
By Zoi

imageJoani and Ty gave us money to buy something at the chocolate store and I got a Hershey’s Lego car. and she brought us to this cafe and got us the most delicious ice-cream ever.
By Emilio