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



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.


New York And the City that never sleeps

New York City

imageOn the way from Canada to New York City we stayed in Utica for one night with, some friends who we met through Pete and Suz. They are called Lindi and Jeff and their kids are Tyler and Eva.

imageUs kids played so well together right from the beginning and it was a shame we only had one night together. Jeff is someone who loves hunting! Jeff offered to teach me some shooting and I got to shoot my first gun! It was amazing! I used a 22 rifle and we leaned on a lawn mower for stability. I had four shots and I got two of the targets and my other shots were just above the targets.

Jeff said that I’m a natural hunter and I should keep practising. I would love to have a gun or even a toy gun to practise with but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to have one ( I’m don’t sure what mum and dad will do if I got given one!) We had such a great time with Jeff and Lindi and Tyler and Eva. Then it was off to New York City……..

New York City is amazing!!! I think the dancers and singers in Central Park were astounding. There was an entertainment stage and the kids singing on stage were the best kids I have ever seen sing. imageThe dancers were wonderful, one of then did a back flip over a boy who was about 1m high!!! There is such a lot to do, I think you’ll have to spend 6 months to see all of New York City!!! I highly recommend it. imageNew York City has the biggest Lego shop in the world, it has the biggest M&M’s shop in the world, it also has a very big Hershey’s shop. There are about 100 to 200 theatres and Cinemas in New York City. Chicago style pizza and New York style pizza are the best pizzas in the world!!!
By Tobes

I’ve always wanted to go to NYC ever since I was 5 yrs old and I’m 11 now. It is so pretty and I really wanted to see the monuments like the Statue of Liberty.

imageI really enjoyed Times Square where there were screens on all the buildings with commercials and little films on them. There were so many screens. We also went to see Cinderella the musical which was very cool. Baba stood in line for a very long time to get 1/2 price tickets and we met him later.

We also went to Central Park and I really really liked that. There was so much singing and magic shows and dancing and busking – which is a way to get money.

imageIn NYC we stayed with some Servas host people who were very nice – actually they lived in New Jersey but it was only 1/2 hour by bus to NYC. The lady’s name is Isa and she’s from Germany and the man’s name is Paul – he makes shapes and features out of balloons. They had such nice food and we ate on the back verandah. I really liked her boiled eggs cause they were perfect and not overcooked.
By Yasi

imageMy favourite thing about NYC was the pretzels and pizza – so so delicious.
By Kiki

At the M&M shop my colour mood was yellow

At the M&M shop my colour mood was yellow

 This is me when we went to see Cinderella - it was excellent.

This is me when we went to see Cinderella – it was excellent.

I made about a thousand balloon things at Paul and Isa’s house. It was so cool.

imageAt the LEGO shop you could see on the screen what the LEGO would look like – it was so cool.
By Moochie

I loved the place of New York. We stayed with Paul and Isa and I loved it cause they were so fun and very kind. They let us have ice cream and we had a balloon party with Paul, making balloons and sculptures. There was even rocket balloons. I saw the Statue of liberty from on a boat. I loved Cinderella the show. It was so funny cause I’ve never seen this type of Cinderella before. The prince was very very kind to Cinderella and the Cinderella was also very kind to the prince.

imageI loved the Lego shop cause Lego is fun and I had $15 pocket money to spend. Kalika and I shared a Lego but we still had a bit more money left. I was very excited about Christmas because I took some photos of the Lego that I want and I’m going to send it to Santa to ask if I can maybe get it for Christmas. I didn’t have enough money to buy the jungle Lego set so Santa maybe might be able to build it or the elves might.
By Zoi