Trembling camp at Badlands

When we drove in to Badlands National Park and were amazed at the incredible rock formations, little did I know I would have the worst campingimage night of my life.
Pretty much for the last 20 months we have been following the warmer weather. We’ve had a couple of nights now and then when it might have been freezing in northern Greece and it was pretty chilly at night last Christmas in southern Spain – But nothing like last night………

We got in to Badlands about 4pm and had enough time to sight-see and have a short wonder before heading to our camp site (I just love a new website that Sandy has found with free campsites in America).

imageSetting up camp was pretty easy as we have that down pat now and the kids generally like setting up the tents while we do the sorting stuff. Hot water was boiling when we saw the descending sun disappearing so ran up the hill to get a view – as the coyotes howled in the background. This was our first camping night with Gigga (Aunty Jenny – my sister) – the coyote sounds and the up close bison weren’t the best way to appease her mind that we were safe.

imageThe temperature during the day was lovely – maybe 20 C but as soon as the sun went down it started getting chilly – we all got our thermals on, some of the kids even used socks as gloves. Dinner of instant noodles was so warming and divine. The Stars were spectacular – not a cloud in the sky – the Milky Way was just amazing and I reminded myself that I hadn’t seen it since outback Australia. Jenny bought some hiking boots especially for our trip but didn’t go as far as a sleeping bag or mat. So Toby donated his mat and slept on a space blanket to keep the rising cold from the ground at bay. I donated my sleeping bag which is meant to be good for temperatures down to -8 C. We had three small tents and I shared with Emilio and Toby and thought if I go in the middle they will keep me a bit warmer. I had Sandy’s shawl as a blanket which in hindsight was terribly inappropriate – I thought I had been asleep for ages and that it was almost morning when I turned and realised I couldn’t feel my feet as they were so cold. I tossed and turned and tried to get back to sleep but I was just so cold. I contemplated trying to squeeze in to one of the sleeping bags of the boys but they just looked so warm and comfortable, I couldn’t do it. Well I thought maybe I’ll try to go to the toilet so I at least move my feet around and that might help. When I unzipped the tent door I had a quick look at the time – I was devastated that it was only 1.09am. Oh my golly how was I going to get through the night. I got back in and lay down and this time kept my hiking boots on in the hope they would keep my feet warmer. It didn’t make much difference.
I lay there for many hours freezing cold and unable to fall back asleep. I instantly had a mountain of empathy with many of my insomniac clients who struggle to sleep at night. Every few minutes I would wobble my legs to help the blood flow to the feet. I went through hours of visualising what would happen to my posture if they had to amputate some of my toes. Would I still be able to jog or run a marathon. It felt like I would never be warm again – as if my feet were permanently frozen. I couldn’t feel them much and it was difficult to wiggle my toes – though I kept trying. I would have loved to know how cold it was. I got up to go to the toilet again and was hopeful that it was close to morning – though it was devastatingly only 4am.

imageEvery time Jenny heard a zip she would yell out to see who it was. Sleeping lightly as she was worried about the bison who seemed to be next to the tent and the coyotes who sounded a lot closer. I wondered if I should get in the car, if I should go driving and turn the heater on – I couldn’t make myself do anything except lie there feeling very very cold.
By this stage I had given up, I didn’t care if my feet wouldn’t work again – I just wanted to get a little bit of sleep – an hour or two emerged and eventually the others started moving. When we stumbled out of the tents it was not surprising that there was a thick film of ice on the tents. It was actually quite validating to see the ice and that I wasn’t just being a wimp.

image Sandy quickly got some tea boiling and despite not being a ‘black tea type of person’ – it felt so good as it was going down my throat, warming everything on the way.

imageWe even had hot toast cooked in a saucepan – she’s an ingenious girl! I started feeling more normal, though it took till at least 10am till my feet didn’t sting with cold and felt ok. Everything seems so much easier and better in the daylight.
The kids had so much fun running around the camp ground with the tent flies so that they dry in the wind. So, this has been possibly my worst camping experience ever – but at least there wasn’t any mosquitoes!

After a short stop to see the presidents of Mt Rushmore we traversed the State of Montana to Billings – where we had set up a Servas stay with a great guy called Carl. He lives in a warehouse apartment in the centre of town that is just so amazing. He had a fantastic style of decorating – that he described ‘junk yard modern’ but it was so quirky and retro.

One of the most interesting places we have visited. He is such a hospitable friendly guy and didn’t bat an eyelid to these eight strangers arriving at 8pm and cooking us a yummy chilli bean dinner on his small stove. The chilli peppers were even from his mother’s place in New Mexico. Delicious dinner, great conversation and fantastic sleep with feeling cold being a distant memory!


Harry Potter, pool antics, great food and fun in Houston

imageHouston has been one of our favourite parts of this trip around the USA – not because it is the oil capital of America or its a sprawling humongous city – but because Cathy C Kathy K (as the kids so lovingly named them – they are wonderful friends I met through being on the board of IIPA – international Iridology Practitioners Association) are just so awesome and took 6 days off work to host us and it was basically quite a relaxing and epic stay.
Not an easy feat having 7 crazy Australians arrive at your door and ask if they can leave their car at your place while being driven to the airport so they can go to Peru. Then arriving back Three weeks later to valet pick up, 6 days of great things planned, being driven everywhere, 16 delightful meals prepared, comfortable beds for us all to sleep in, a pool to keep the kids amused, and also a love of Harry Potter.

imageOur kids have never been into Harry Potter because of their perception that it was scary. We’ve never really pushed it either but Kathy & Cathy are definitely big fans and it was the best way to introduce our kids to Harry. They fell in love with him and we got in five of the movies. imageKathy K was in stitches watching the kids hide behind pillows during the scary scenes. The owl letters that arrived were just gold! Thank you Kathy K and Cathy C – you are such incredible hosts, the Kids new Texan aunties and we can’t wait to see you in Australia hopefully next year. Also it was great fun having an IIPA board meeting with two members in the same room!
I loved Kathy’s Facebook post after we left:

‘So…after 6 days, 5 kids, 4 exhausted adults, 3 scaredy cats, 2 tired dogs, the partridge in the pear tree has flown away.
With a few skinned knees, one slightly sick mom, a couple of coughs and runny noses, a day trip to Aggieland, a fun day at the lake fishing, 5 decorated pumpkins, 16 prepared meals, 5 Harry Potter movies and 2 owl deliveries the Milikings have left Houston.
We all had a great time and Cathy and I will see the Miliankos family in Oz in 2015. Safe travels y’all!’

imageMy favourite thing about staying with Catch C and Kathy K was watching Harry Potter – we watched five movies all together. It was awesome. I was scared of number two and number four because of Valdermort but all of them are a bit scary. I liked Harry Potter cause he’s a cool guy.

imageWe got two owl post mail each from Harry’s owl. I forgot what he said but he said to enjoy Texas. He also said that ‘Emilio before you leave I’m going to put you in the right house’ – he said ‘Emilio since you are naughty, cheeky and sometimes you are very kind so you belong in the house of Slitherin. I got a badge of Slitherin. Slitherin is the house of Valdermort and he’s very bad. He was born bad and he has lots of bodies and gets destroyed lots of times. He has a humongous snake that dies by Harry Potter. It’s a good story and also one of the other scariest things is a three headed dog. Also one of the captains of the magic school called Hagrid has a secret weapon that Is actually not a weapon – it’s an animal – it’s like an ogre. He is an old student and he’s very very big.
Harry Potter got into to the championship called the Tri-Wizard tournament and he had to breathe for one hour under water to get his friends. He used magic potion that made him have flippers and gills. He could breathe and the guy that gave it To him said he killed Harry Potter but he didn’t – the magic potion worked and he lived. He saved Ron and another girl from another school.
imageWhen we finished all of the Harry Potter movies we stopped in number three halfway and we went on Kathy K’s boat fishing, there was tons of fish and we got lots of pulls but we weren’t fast enough. We had hot dogs on the boat – it was like a cafe – so yummy. When we got back To Houston we watched more of Harry Potter and had dinner and we had salmon. It was really really good. After that we watched even more Harry Potter.
Once we lost number five but Toby found it and he even found number six but we didn’t have time to watch it.
imageOnce we got up I was playing around and then we had to get ready to leave. Before we left we got some presents – one of them is a sand maker pendulum. We also got our second owl letter and we had breakfast with the pumpkins that we decorated because it was about to be Halloween. Then we went in the car and said goodbye – I had such a good holiday with Cathy C and Kathy K – it was really fun!
Love from Emilio

Fishing 4/10/14
imageToday we went fishing with our friends Cathy & Kathy. They’ve a pontoon boat, it was an amazing boat. We didn’t catch any fish, but the fish finder showed about 150-200 fish & we had 5 rods in the water! We’re using Minnows & fished for at least 2-3 hours. Well our fishing day comes to an end.

Generous Cathy & Kathy

imageCathy & Kathy made us some of the best meals I’ve ever had, they were lasagna, garlic bread, pizza, salmon, Mexican, & other awesome meals. We watched 5 of the 8 epic Harry Potters, they even gave us some brochures that had stuff that you could buy from Harry Potter. We even got mail which we called ‘‘owl mail’’. Harry Potter gave us wizard & witch coins & gave us badges for a house that we would likely to be if we we’re in Hogwarts. They (Cathy & Kathy) also even had a pool.

George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush library is awesome. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about the Bushes but it seems that most of the stuff is about his son George W. Bush. We got to fill out a form about George H. Bush & here are some of the answers…
imageGeorge H. Bush has three brothers & one sister. Bush flew a 1944 TBM Avenger which he flew after he married his wife Barbra. (He flew the plane in the second world war – they say that he was a war hero because his plane got shoot down & he was the only one out of three to live). When Bush moved into Texas he drove a 1947 Stude breaker. Bush’s favourite water sport at his holiday house in Maine are boating & fishing.
By Toby

At Cathy and Kathy’s place Yasi and I swam in their pool everyday. It was so awesome. I liked fishing on their boat. Their boat is a pontoon fishing boat that is very big. It had a grill so we had hot dogs for lunch which were absolutely delicious. We went out on the lake to fish and the bait that we used was minnows which is like small real fish. After we had gone fishing we had to let all the small minnows go but it was hard to catch them when there was only one or two left. No one caught any fish. We saw lots of fish on the fish scanner but they were too fast.
Cathy C and Kathy K’s house is awesome because they have a pool and two dogs and three cats. I had a really comfy bed – I slept on a double air mattress with Yasi.
I really liked the food we had. We had salmon, burritos, nachos with bean sauce, lasagne, pizza – all their meals were so delicious. I also loved the breakfast – sometimes we would have cereal but other times we had pancakes, eggs, omelettes, pumpkin muffins and lots of other things. Very yummy stuff – they are really good cooks.

We played some mini golf – I got two hole in ones and I was very excited. Kathy K is a really good golfer and has her own golf clubs. It was really hot most of the time in Houston but the pool cooled us down.

We even all got a haircut from Kathy K

We even all got a haircut from Kathy K

I loved staying with them and they will come and have Christmas with us in Australia next year. I can’t wait.
Love from Kalika.




In Texas we have been to Houston and we have had a great time.
We are staying at some friends of my dad – Cathy C and Kathy K.
They live in Houston and we have been here for six days.
imageKathy C and Kathy K have a pool and we have been swimming a lot – every day. We have been to play min golf – Toby and Kathy K won
and l lost by a lot. imageWe also went to a festival to meet Polly and Steve who work at IIPA with my baba and Kathy. We got an ice cream and played and watched the grown ups drink wine for an hour!
imageKathy C and Kathy K took us to have lunch with their best friends and to the George Bush Library.
By Yasmina





I loved cuddling with Cathy C and Kathy K. I also loved their dogs and cats and the pool. I miss them. By Zoi


Chincha House Building Weekend

Can you believe our original plan about 5 years ago was to live in Bolivia for a year? In chatting to the Hildebrand seniors in the King Valley, the idea of visiting their son Harry in neighbouring Peru grew leaves. Then Greece evolved etc. So, plans changed. The summer before we left we had the pleasure of catching up with Harry, Vanessa and son Luka when they visited Australia. They live in Lima in Peru. Harry is the assistant principal of a large Britsh Peruvian school called Markham college, and Vanessa has an NGO working with kids gardens, spaces and permaculture principles on top of being a yoga teacher. Inspiring people doing awesome things in the world to say the least. We kept contact with Harry over our time away and in chatting to him two specific activities/attractions caught our imaginations. Harry and Vanessa are both biologists and Harry has started programs through his school in the Amazon, and building projects in an earthquake affected area south of Lima. Both were on our list. The following are reflections from the kids on how the building adventures played out. Mama Miliking

imageWe went to Chincha with a school and helped them with a project where they build houses for people. This is because in 2007 there was an earthquake there. When we arrived we set up our tent which was like a circus tent.

imageThe tents were in the mayors back yard and nearly all the grass space was used because there was more than 100 people staying there. After everyone set up our tents we went to our building sites. We were group 2 and Yasi and Toby were in Group 1. We had a house with two bedrooms and one living room to build. We built a house for Maria the mum and her two children Lesly and Jhordy. Before that they lived in a house made from bamboo screens with lots of other people. Lesly and Jhordy were really excited to have their own room.

My favourite thing about the building was painting. We had so much to paint like the outside walls and the roof. We put the house Up and the roof On the second day. The first day we painted and got all the boards ready.
For breakfast the second day we had eggs rolls, meat, cheese and other stuff like that. It was all cooked by the mayors wife called Orietta. It was delcious.
imageThe next day we put the house together and painted the inside panels. I really liked painting love hearts in Lesly’s room. Once it was all put up the boys were joking that some brown cement like putty was real chocolate and one of them tried to trick me but it didn’t work. I knew what it was but I didn’t know they used it as putty to cover some holes. Emilio helped them to trick me but they never did. I played with Hannah, Andrea and some girls from the other group. The place were we built was dry and there was lots of dust and it looked liek there was an earthquake.
I not only leant how to build a house but also made lots of new friends.
By Kalika

imageI did so much work helping to build a house. I did lots of painting. I played with Hannah a lot. She is an exchange student from Canada. Shane is my new friend and we played games together and I cuddled him a lot.

imageWhen we were waiting we caught some of the kittens and played with them. They were medium kitten size. I held the cats a lot. I made love hearts on the wall in lesly’s new room that we built. It looked very good. I was so tired the first night and I fell asleep at dinner before I even ate. My baba held me and took me back to the tent to sleep. It was a fun weekend.
By Zoi

This weekend we stayed with some friend from Australia called Harry and his son Luka. We stayed at Harry’s house on Friday night in Lima. On Saturday Harry took us to a house building project that he organises at his school. Harry works at a British school in Peru and the house building project was like a school camp but Harry took us along with him.
Harry put me and Toby in a group together and put my mum, baba, Zoi, Emilio and Kalika in another group all together.
imageI did lots of painting and hammering but I only did some hammering until I hammered my hand so I went back to painting. When there was no more panting to be done, there were some kids from the village that we were building the house for and they wanted me to play with them but they spoke to me in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish so I told them but they didn’t listen to me and it got a bit annoying but I played anyway. I made some wonderful friends Maddie from Australia and Hannah and Jacquie who were on exchange from Canada and another Peruvian girl called Andrea.

The second day we did colourful painting on the walls. By the last half an hour we hadn’t got our roof on yet and it was getting late but eventually we got it done. We were running a bit late cause our house was bigger than the others and there was no power for the whole day In Chincha so we had to wait for the generator that came to our group last. It was really exciting to see the house up cause I looked at it and though ‘we built that house’.
imageOn the way back to Lima it took 2.5 hours and I sat next to Hannah who is 15 Yrs old and on exchange from Canada. It was so nice to talk to her. If I ever go on exchange I would like to go to a French or Spanish speaking country.
By Yasi

On the weekend I met lots of new friends from Markham College in Lima – their names are Jeronimo, Mauricio, Harry and Jose Miguel, and other teachers called Liam and Shane. I played with Shane the most – he is a music teacher and was fun. He said that it was the first time he’s ever banged in a nail. It was, cause he told me and he didn’t have a smile when he told me.

We built a house for Maria who is the mum and her kids Lesly and Jhordy. Their house that they lived in had Lots of other people and was made of some sticks and some bamboo for a roof and walls. I really liked the leaders of our group. One guy was funny when the ice cream van came I yelled out ‘ice cream’ and he said ‘Ice cream? I can’t work without ice cream’ and he ran there. I also went to the ice cream van but it wasn’t a real ice cream van it was just a bike with a box full of ice cream. I got the sandwich ice-cream.

When we built the house I really liked hammering and also painting. I got paint on my face, hair and top and my shorts and shoes. I found some paint on the ground and I picked it up and made myself a little stripe on my nose and cheeks and neck. It was a lot of fun. There was a little girl that lived there and she would come up and was a bit excited and rough sometimes.
After dinner on the first day we went to the centre of the town and went to see Spider-Man but it wasn’t actually him it was just blown up.

He was on top of a ride that was like a roller coaster but it was even more funner and we bounced all the way down and I landed straight and rolled and did a pose. Then we went back to our tent and watched some fireworks.

imageOn the way back home I sat with my new friends Jeronimo and Mauricio. Love from Emilio – goodbye.




imageThis weekend we built some houses for the people who lost their houses in an earthquake in 2007. We went with Harry Hildebrand (his mum is a friend of my grandma and they went to school together – Harry’s mum is now our next door neighbour).
imageThese houses were quite small. There was about 6 houses built from scratch but the wood and everything else was already there. About 90 kids went on the trip & the kids were all aged between 12-17 yrs old. I know the sizes of two houses (the one my group built and the one my mum and baba’s group built). 5m x 5m was the size group 2 built & the size of the ours was 7.5m x 3.75m.


In a year or two we are planning on building a dam at our place. Us kids want to build a sort of clubhouse and have a outdoors sports, water sports and fishing club. It may be built around when the dam is built or in could be built in the early months of next year, so this building trip has given us some ideas on how to build the ‘Clubhouse’. Also we have to build a stable in the first 2-4 months because we’re getting 2 retired ‘Riding for disabled’ horses from the ‘Riding for disabled’ school my aunty Carolyn volunteers for. So this building trip has also given us ideas for the stable too! We’ve also thought as time goes by we’ll want to extend the Clubhouse & maybe we’ll Get more horses that might come to us! So we’ll have to work on the extending, won’t we.
I think that this house building project is a great way to meet new people & learn a bit about their culture. I wish there was this type of thing around where I live because I could say that about half of Cheshunt, Whitfield, Rose valley and the King valley likes to build – so when you add all that up (kids & adults) you’ve got about 300-500 people!!!

This is the order of how we built the house.

Got our tools out
Painted the roof (White)
Varnished the wood
Painted & made the windows (Painted white)
Made the frames
Put the plaster on the frames
Painted the plaster
Put the frames up
Put the windows on the frames
Painted the inside of the frames (white)
Painted the inside of the frames different colours (decorated)
A guy came to fit the doors
Put the roof on
Cleaned up

I always thought if I was going to build something by myself I would get it wrong but I don’t think that anymore. I feel better about building.
By Tobes

This building weekend was definitely the highlight of our Peruvian trip (or maybe equal first with the Amazon and Macchupichu). It was so well organised by Harry and his team of helpers. He works at a great school and the students were really amazing. I have such upmost respect for our leaders in my group – Jeronimo, Mauricio and Paloma. They were inclusive, friendly, respectful and excellent leaders. Thanks so much to all the group.
Everyone in our group bonded well and I originally thought I’d be on the sidelines with Zoi and Emilio but no – we were all involved. it was awesome also meeting another teacher – Shane who like myself seemed out of our comfort zone to begin with, but by the end we were a great team at installing the windows.
imageI loved the experience myself but I really enjoyed seeing our kids in this situation. In awe of their own skills, their own abilities and looking up to these amazing Peruvian students. The best moment was at the end when we took a group photo and got such a wonderful smile and hug from Maria and her kids. It was priceless.
By Christos


Lago Titicaca – world’s highest navigable lake

Homestay on Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca

imageAt the moment we are at a wonderful homestay – we just had one of the best vegetarian lunches I’ve ever had – there was Andean soup with vegetables and reeds and quinoa. There were also other root vegetables like potatoes, (harder than what we’re used to), carrot, tomatoes and some kind of vegetable I’ve never heard of – it was delicious and tasted like a mix of Potato and carrot. There was also some grilled goats cheese or alpaca cheese I think.
imageWe are on an island in lake Titicaca and its called Isla Amantani. To get to this destination we came from Puno city and got on a motor boat.






First we stopped at Uros islands which are floating islands and each island isn’t bigger than about 50metres long. Each island had a president of their own and their own and about 5-7 families living there.

The islands are made up of reeds and there’s the first metre which is reed roots which floats incredibly well even when it’s full of water. Then they top it up by cutting down reeds and putting them flat – a layer in one direction then you change directions. The first layer is about 35cm of layered fresh reeds and then put more dried reeds on top till they’ve put on so many reeds that it’s about 1 metre high. To make a real floating island like that it takes about a year to build it. They last about 20 years and then they need to build a new one. The houses have to be about 30-50cm higher of reeds so that the dampness of the outside reeds doesn’t make them wet when it rains.
image imageOn the second day we got woken up at 6.30am for breakfast which some kind of pancake biscuit sort of thing. Then we met our guide at the port and sailed for an hour until we got to another island called Taquile Island.

We had another hike and our guide taught us about Taquile culture and we stopped a lot to look at plants that cure stomach aches and many other things. He even showed us a plant that he and hIs dad harvested a lot once and made a big bonfire. The next day they collected the ash and used it for gunpowder to make fireworks.
imageAt the square of the town we met a guy from Peterborough in Canada and he knew some Servas people that we knew. Isn’t if funny that we met someone in Peru who knew someone we knew inc and ad – what a small world.
Lunch we went to a small outdoor Restraunt and had soup and omelette and there was grilled fish and all sorts of things. The guy who owned the Restraunt showed us how to make detergent or shampoo out of a plant so that its natural.

imageHe took some dirty sheep wool and washed it in the detergent. Once he took it our it was as white as snow.

imageWe met a lady called Chris From Florida and we talked to her a lot. We told her a lot of jokes and talked to her about some of the funny things that we’ve done. She was awesome to talk to. I hope we see her again one day.
By Tobes




Kiki’s Lake tales…….

We went to a lake named Titicaca by boat and we went to a floating island. The people of the island showed us how to make a floating island. First there’s big chunks of reed roots then you put layers and layers of reeds – pointing in one direction then the other direction and so on. Then you add more on top where the houses are going to go because the houses are aLways higher so they don’t get wet. It took five minutes to build a doll size island but to build a real island it takes about a year and lasts 20years.

imageThen they add the houses which are only one room which all they have is clothing and a bed. In the middle of the floating island there was a hole with a net in the water and they caught fish to eat. It was very noisy walking on the island because all of the dried reeds made a loud sound. Apparently they eat the reeds and put some on their heads if they have a headache. After the small island we went to another island where there was also shops. We got there in a boat that was made out of reeds. It was like two canoes stuck together with a platform on top.

imageOur next stop was the island Amantani that we were going to stay at. The name of our host lady is Ilda. That evening we walked up to 4140m above sea level to see the sunset. It was amazing. In all the photos we took it looked like the clouds were on fire.

The walk was a tiny bit hard because at high altitudes it’s harder to breathe than it is at sea level and down lower. When we got back home we had dinner then we went to a party at 8pm.

We only stayed for 2 or 3 dances cause we were tired and we had to get up early at 6.30am to have breakfast and get back on the boat.
In the morning we had these pancake things which were hard and sugary and also the Titicacan mint tea which we had at every meal.
It was fun staying with the local people and seeing how they lived cause it was just so different to what I’m used to. Ilda grew up on the island and she has only ever gone to Puno but has never travelled anywhere else. Her two sons go to school in Puno. We got back onto our boat and went to a different island called Taquile Island.

imageWe did a walk up a small hill and when we stopped at an archway where the road went flat or downhill until we stopped at the square where we had a rest. We got some mango at the square and it was delicious.
Lunch was really delicious – I had fresh grilled trout with rice, veggies and chips and some lime on top.

imageThen we walked down to our boat and we were talking to with a friend that we made called Chris. It was really fun because I got to talk to her the whole way down about all kinds of stuff. The boat road back to Puno was 3 hours and we didn’t sleep – we talked to Chris and some other Australians who came from Sydney – the whole way back.
By Kiki

Christos, Kiki and Toby went on an overnight tour/homestay. I needed to stopped and do nothing. Yasi, and the little kids joined me. Our first morning was quite gorgeous. The hostel was nothing to write home about- three bunks with about 50 cm around each, and a toilet that was tricky to manoeuvre around to get to the crappy shower, let alone when you stood up from the toilet you hit the wall and almost fell into the loo! Anyway, all that aside, I organised washing while Yasi and the littles played LEGO, dog games and made cubby houses out of the bunk for most of the day. I was prepared to do almost nothing for the time the others were away, but there was a picture of kayaking to the Uros Islands at the hostel counter. The kids got excited. And nature adventure does not tire them as much as tours or buildings…

So off we went. Flat lake, little breeze, Yasi and Emilio in one kayak (When Emilio put his skirt (water protective layer that connects to the kayak) he danced around claiming this was the first time he had worn a tutu!) Zoi and I in the other. We paddled the lanes made by reeds, saw ducks and birds and enjoyed the relative quiet of the lake.

After a while Yasi and Emilio hitched a ride with our support dude, and we made it to the floating islands of Uros.
It was fascinating to say the least.
By Sandy

imageI went kayaking with my mum Sandy and it was so much fun. We went to a little Island and we had some food and me and Yasi was struggling getting out on to the island. We paddled hard and the guys pulled us along for a little bit and we went back to the island and had lunch then my baba and Kalika and Toby came home from their trip. It was so exciting to see them.
By Zoi

My favourite thing about the island was when I picked reeds and started weaving a little nest with dried reeds. When we got to the island we went to a little cafe and got some Picorini, which are like donuts with fruit and honey. Then we didn’t kayak back – we took the boat and also on the way to the floating island we were getting tired and the man helped to pull us along cause it was a long way. Then we took a fast boat back. The island had reeds that were floating and they had more than two thousand reeds on the island. We forgot to get an ice cream on the way back so I played LEGO and excitingly the others came back.
Love from Emilio.


Machu Picchu – the lost city of the Incas

imageMachu Picchu was simply incredible. I always knew it was going to be a place I loved but I wasn’t prepared for how overwhelmingly beautiful and awe inspiring it would be. I would have loved to do the Incan trail though wasn’t sure how the kids would go hiking 100km in five days in over 3000m altitude. Also it is something you need to have planned a long time in advance as they only allow 500 people per day on the trail. As we are the type to plan our travel a few days or a few weeks in advance at best, it wasn’t something that we could do this time.

imageTherefore, we woke up at 5am and made the four kilometre trek up the mountain from Agues Calientes to Machu Piccchu. I felt like we at least needed a little bit of effort and sweat to see this magical place rather than pay $10 each to get a 15 minute long bus! It was the best way to get there. We were at the top about 7am and the light was amazing. I stood in line wishing they didn’t let 2500 people in per day and that it was only us but seriously after you first glimpse the famous view it’s like no one else exists and you’re just there. It’s such a beautiful feeling…….
By Christos

imageThe walk up to Machu Picchu was tiring but when we got there it was amazing because it was so ancient and beautiful. The look of it made me think it was spiritual. I found it quite amazing how the archeologists could find out so much stuff like where the observatory and the planetarium was.

imageIt was so amazing that their were llamas there and I was wondering if they were farmed or wild. Somehow my legs were shaking when we got back to the town. I didn’t make them shake – they shook on their own from being tired. I was exhausted but glad that I had done it.
By Toby

imageI was the first one on the track up to Macchu Picchu and I counted how many steps there were going up – there were 1925 which is just to the gate – much more when you got in. I think it might have been more than three thousand by the time we walked all around Machu Picchu. I thought it was actually quite amazing how it has been there for hundreds of years. We saw a double decker house which I didn’t think they would have but it was pretty cool.
By Kiki

imageWhen we first got to the steps I counted up to 1 step and I was already tired. I listened to my sister Kalika cause she counted all the way up and there was nearly 2000 steps. When we got there I was tired but when I saw the view I almost fainted cause it was so cool. I liked how the grass was so furry and it actually looked like a village. We walked around and took pictures and told stories.


imageI drew a dinosaur and a village with a dragon in it while I was sitting on a rock. People smiled at us cause we were writing and drawing pictures. After we did that we went to a house and it was quite cool without a roof. We saw a double decker house and the second floor was made out of sticks. It was cool and when we went down we weren’t as tired cause we were running and it felt like we were doing tap dancing.

Then when we got back to the road we went to a park on the way back home.
By Moochie.

imageI liked Macchu Picchu because it was fun because we climbed up the mountain but I was very tired. I walked all the way up. I liked the double decker house most of all. When we got back to the town I loved the pizza we had. I was very hungry. In the afternoon we played lots of LEGO.
By Zoi

We caught a train from a place with a long name called Ollantayatambo to the town near Macchu Picchu called Agues Calientes. It was such a nice train with big seats and nice tables and my brothers and sisters and I played LEGO and built forts all the way there.

imageMachu Picchu was a very nice ancient city from the 1500s and the secret city of the Incas. It had been lost for many years and was discovered again in 1911. It wasn’t destroyed by the Spanish because they didn’t find it which was lucky. The view was very beautiful and it is kept very well. Some of the houses had been restored but some had been left and some had the roofs redone.

imageThe houses were made out of stone and roofs out of grass. We stayed there for about 5 or 6 hours because there was so much to see. There were llamas at the ancient city – I’ve no idea if they were wild or farmed but they kept the grass down. When we got to a rocky part we sat down and mum and baba asked all of us to write a passage of what we have learnt about ourselves and what we’ve achieved on this trip.

I wrote:
This trip I have found out lots more about myself and I think I know how I want to be in the world. I have learnt to work with my brothers and sisters but it is hard some times but I always find a way out of the hard times. I have learnt more about the world. Learning a new language wasn’t so hard. It has helped my reading and writing. I once believed I would never learn Greek but I did. All I needed was just a little bit of faith in me.


What we learnt about the Incan history:

imageThe Incan culture survives in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The capital city of the Incan empire was Cusco where we are now. The traditional language is Quechua and it is still spoken by many people today. It’s flag is a rainbow flag.
By Kiki

imageIncan culture is very colourful. A lot of women wear colourful tops with very colourful skirts.
By Yasi






imageThe Incans from Machu Picchu were wiped out by the late 1500s. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous and spiritual sites of the Incas. The Incan houses were made of stone bricks that’s why they are still standing, the rooftops are made from sticks and leaves which is why they are destroyed. I think it’s common for the rooftops in those days to be made out of leaves and grasses.
By Toby

A visit to an organic farm and an alternative school in the Sacred Valley – this visit was set up for us by our friend Harry Hildebrand and is an inspiring school with currently 10 students – what a beautiful setting……. thanks Aima for hosting us and showing us around.

Images of Cusco…….