Back to Bali – and more friends and festivities …

We fly back to Bali from Singapore because we loved it so much a month ago and decided it was worth looping back for Christmas and New Year and seeing more of the friends we enjoyed our time with on the last trip! We have a relaxed 3 weeks in the most glorious villa we’ve rented near Ubud. 

The beautiful villa and beautiful Balinese friends - Angel explains to Erika the offerings shes going to place  around our home, Lara helps Kadek clean the pond and Kadek helps Ben figure out how to design and build a kite:)

The beautiful villa and beautiful Balinese friends who look after it, and us.  Here is Angel explaining to Erika the offerings she’s placing around our home, Lara helps Kadek clean the pond with Angel’s little boy and Kadek helps Ben figure out how to design and build a kite:)

Tucked away down a small ‘gang’ or alley in the midst of rice paddies, in the village of Penestanan, with three wonderful staff looking after us – Angel, our housekeeper, Kadek our gardener and Wayan our security guy who is around the premises all night every night.

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Ben 10 in Buenos Aires

I had my 10th birthday in Buenos Aires. My family thought it was very funny to call me Ben 10 and give me Ben 10 gifts. My little sister Lara gave me a Ben 10 toothbrush!

Luckily I persuaded them to buy me a finger skateboard and not the cuddly Ben 10!

Luckily I persuaded them to buy me a finger skateboard and not the cuddly Ben 10 at this toy shop in Buenos Aires!

Before my birthday, I wrote a To Do list that looked like this:- More

Iguazu Falls – where Argentina meets Brazil and Paraguay

Iguazu Falls panorama. Showing just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 indivdual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguazu Falls  – just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 individual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguassu (or Iguazu, or Iguacu Falls) is so incredible it deserves its 3 spellings, or more, if you include versions with or without accents. Then there’s Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and Foz do Iguacu just across the border in Brazil, the towns and airports in the midst of the rainforest, stopping off points for the Falls.

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

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Speeding south through La Serena to Santiago

Chile. 11 February 2013.
Seven months today since we flew to South America to begin our family gap year and we arrive in La Serena, Chile, our first taste of coastal Chile, on a rather uncomfortable, but bearable 16 hour overnight bus south from Calama, dropping down 2400m from the heights of the Atacama desert. We’ve finally escaped San Pedro and the floods having missed all the amazing trips we’d hoped to do and having to head back through Calama, seeing evidence of where the road was washed right away as the bus queues to get around the missing carriageway.

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

Plan A had been to take a bus from San Pedro to Salta – we’d even bought our tickets but got a refund when we knew the pass was going to be closed at least a week due to snow. Plan B is to try our luck with the pass from La Serena to Mendoza.

We had ‘semi-cama’ seats (meaning half-bed). Not exactly what I’d call a half bed but they do recline quite well – and are smart by the standards we’re used to. The kids and Martin (sleep anywhere) slept happy enough –  Erika and I found it a bit tough and feel stiff and sleep deprived! ‘Cama’ is a bigger, better recliner, often in the downstairs with semi-cama upstairs. We’re looking forward to trying cama! Maybe next time!

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Food and Friends in Cusco

Cusco is a cool place to be for kids! We spent Christmas there and then nearly two weeks more in January. The best thing for me was meeting people and making friends. It’s great making friends everywhere on our gap year but Cusco was especially amazing!

Friends in Cusco

Friends in Cusco

The second best thing about Cusco was food! We ate at some amazing restaurants and the food and friends kind of blended together!

First there was More

Cusco with kids

January  2013. We already had a week in Cusco over Christmas, then New Year in Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Then we spend another 10 days in Cusco. Partly to wait for a parcel to arrive from the UK but really because we are loving Cusco.

Aspects of Cusco

Aspects of Cusco

There’s plenty more to explore and it’s a great place to get to know and feel settled, for Martin to do some work, the kids catch up on little schoolwork and especially make some more friends…Not to mention having a few more super times dining at some of the best restaurants we’ve found in South America!

First we have the privilege of meeting and hanging out with 13 yr old Miro and Mum Lainie, who are three years into a slow travelling life of adventure, learning and volunteering. Their lives and journeys are inspirational and well documented in their blog and podcast at RaisingMiro.com. It’s great to make friends and share experiences with other travelling families!

With the lovely Lainie and  Miro.

With the lovely Lainie and Miro.

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A Gap Year Christmas in Cusco

Feliz Navidad from Cusco, Peru…. no, too late for that! In fact two days ago, 11th January 2013, was exactly 6 months since we started our Family Gap year adventure…even Feliz Ano Nuevo is belated!  At least this blog post will bring us to the end of 2012 and to the New Year!

We arrived in Cusco on a flight from Lima on 19th December 2012 and settled in for a few days at the Amaru ll guest house, ready to celebrate Lara’s 5th birthday and enjoy the buzz of Christmas in Cusco.  Here’s our Christmas Cusco diary……

Our Cusco Christmas 2012

Our Cusco Christmas 2012

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My Chocolatey 5th Birthday in South America!

An interview with Lara….. Lara’s birthday is on 21st December – we started celebrating her birthday a couple of weeks early as having a party was an all important part of her travel plans for our family gap year so we decided to hold it in San Cristobal in the Galápagos where she’d made friends. When packing, the only significant thing on her list was party bags. Here’s how she recalls it when I attempt an interview for her birthday blog…..

At our hostel the Amaru ll on Lara's birthday

At our hostel the Amaru ll on Lara’s birthday

Mum:  Lara, when was your birthday?

Lara:  No idea!        Mum:  Really?            Lara :   Mum, don’t write that!! More

Halloween and El Dia de Los Difuntos in Quito

With apologies to those enjoying our blog in date order, I’m fast forwarding to say an almost timely Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Ecuador!

Halloween is certainly recognised in Ecuador. It’s the eve of All Saints Day after all and this is a Catholic country. But without much of the Halloween hype we’ve come to know back home.

Much more important is this Friday, November 2nd – the Day of the Dead, or more respectfully El Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Departed) which, together with All Saints Day today, is a National holiday and a special time of year when families gather together and pay respect to their elders and those loved ones who’ve passed away, visiting and tending to family graves together, socialising with other families around them, young children playing at the gravesides.

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Me Gusto Mucho Papas Fritas! (or ‘Chippies vs Chillies’)

Being four and three quarters and the one child in the family who inherited her Mum’s fussy streak instead of her Dad’s more adventurous, gluttonous one, it was interesting to get her thinking about her favourite foods in our first three months and four countries in South America!

Mo’s cousin Val is a head teacher and the children at her school have been hearing about our adventures in their assemblies. They sent us some questions and Lara’s was about her favourite foods, so we decided to do a Lara interview to try to answer this one!

Mum : So Lara, what’s been your favourite food on our journey so far?

Lara : Fizzy Orange! You can’t get fizzy drinks in England can you?

Mum : of course you can but we don’t have them very often and you’ve had a lot more whilst we’ve been travelling !!

Lara : Yep – I’ve had coke and fizzy orange (that’s my favourite) and Inca Cola in Peru which was bright yellow and Guarana in Brazil.

And I learned how to ask for a straw in Portuguese  – it’s a ‘Canudo’ – and now I have to ask for it in Spanish and its a ‘Popote’

Happiness is drinking through a canudo!

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