RSS

Tag Archives: Easter

Reflections of a Year Abroad…Part 1

2011 was an epic year in so many ways, good and bad. I still can’t believe that I visited 8 countries (9 if I can count Malaysian Borneo separately, I did have to go through immigration) in under 12months.

Ready to Go…

Here are a few flashbacks and memories. The titles are all linked to the first blog entry of that country with a few others scattered around. Hope you enjoy…

Peru

When plans to volunteer in Botswana fell through I felt I needed somewhere else to replace those months before heading to Australia and New Zealand. It’s not like any tickets were bought or anything, it was just something my mind had decided on, there had to be a country or two before. I was at a loss of where until a friend said “don’t you know someone in Peru?”. Why yes I did, a co worker from the Seattle Woodland Park Zoo. Fernando was our imported penguin expert for the new exhibit and all of us summer employees got on really well.

So I contacted him and it was on, Peru was destination 1. I honestly had no idea what to expert, I had never been to South America and the only Spanish I knew was hola. But ever the one to shrug off obvious adversities I booked my ticket the day after my 33rd birthday. Now only 4months and 5 days till I would leave.

Peru was amazing, and I loved every minute of it. Cusco is now one of my favorite cities, although next time I am definitely pre-dosing on the altitude tabs… Man that hit me hard.

Fernando and Me

Machu Picchu was at first unimpressive, just a ruined city in the rain… the the clouds parted and it all became clear why it was so revered as a must see, that and the thought of “what bloody crazy idiot would make his people lug thousands of stones up a mountain side that scares the living daylights out of on the bus ride…and down??”. Seriously, it was breathtaking.

Good Friends: Cathleen and Me at Macchu Picchu

Lake Titicaca, just giggle everytime I say that, was awe inspiring and I would love to go back. However, the port city of Puno was a real dump and I was glad for fellow traveler advice to avoid it as much as possible.

Lake Titicaca Local Kids

The worst thing to come from Peru : The altitude sickness that actually had me bed ridden for a day.

The best thing to come from Peru : A great new friend named Cathleen!

A reason to go back : I haven’t tried roasted guinea pig yet 🙂

Ecuador

I was almost to the point of buying tickets when my mom held out a newspaper article about volunteer travel. It had a 2 sentence blurp about Amazoonico Wildlife Refuge in Ecuador. The part that caught my eye was the minimal cost of $120/month for food and accomodation. Bonus! I dropped them a line and soon had that on the map. Or actually I couldn’t even find the town of Tena on the map, but Ecuador was right about Peru so how hard could it be.

42hours later my bus (with the locked bathroom) pulled into Quito. Have you ever experienced the need to pee so bad that you can’t… Let’s just say when I could finally see through the wall of water in my eyes, I was in love with the loos of Ecuador. At least the one in the daughter’s home of a lady I had met in Spanish class and who was kindly putting me up for a few days.

My two months at the refuge came with high highs and low lows. The first month was tough as I was the only new volunteer, all the others were girls averaging 21 and had Spanish as a common language. By now I think I could almost say my name and ask where the bathroom was. In short it soon became apparent I was back in highschool and … I still wasn’t popular. My amazing volunteer co ordinator, Sarah, took me aside and said “you can leave, or you can stay and it will change your life”. Who am I to argue with authority, I stayed and in that first month got through a good number of books and enjoyed my alone time since group time was in Spanish, which I was picking up quite well.

“Walking” a Monk Saki Monkey

The second month was much better, we had a new cycle of fresh blood, English became the common language, I was a senior volunteer (and ok I admit I love being the one who needs to teach others), and I discovered my gift for making cookies… That pretty much made me popular in high school! It was very hard to leave.

Beata Relaxing at Sunset

At the end of my time in the jungle I went to the ocean and saw blue footed boobies… again another thing that just makes me want to giggle.

The worst thing to come from Ecuador : Struggling with the volunteer dynamics that first month.

The best thing to come from Ecuador : Blue Footed Boobies!! Oh and discovering an inner strength.

A reason to return : Perhaps a chance to see the Galapogos.

Surprise Easter Visit

It turned out cheaper to fly back to the states and then to Australia rather than from Peru to Aus. So I found myself with 8days in the states. I decided to surprise my parents for Easter. Officially the best surprise I have ever pulled off. The first time they were ever speechless.

Australia

Australia and New Zealand were always on my list, part of the reason for this trip was to find a place I might want to live and since they were on the “most likely” list.

My first impression of Australia, especially after 3 months in South America, was “Oh shite!!! I can barely afford a coffee”. I was shocked at the prices and the Aussie dollar was stronger, of course that changed a few weeks after I left… I quickly worked out plans to mooch… I mean visit any friends and family I had, along with sorting work trade with hostels.

Yes my finger is down its throat


Forcefeeding Kookaburra at Currumbin Wildlife Center

Australia ended up being a country of many new experiences:
I attempted work trade at a farm that has now become known as the Looney Farm by all of us who were there.
I saw Koalas, Kangaroos, Platypus and many other strange and wonderful critters.
I saw friends I hadn’t seen in over 10yrs.
I shaved my head for charity.
I swam with manta rays.
I force fed Kookaburras.
I swam in a freezing lake.
It might have been expensive, but I have some amazing memories that are worth every penny.

Carolin and me!!


Carolin and Me on the Day I Shaved my Head for Charity

The worst thing to come from Australia: The cost.

The best thing to come from Australia: Shaving my head for charity.

A reason to come back: Friends and a little town called Coral Bay.

Tonga

I discovered this amazing organisation that spent a month on the island of Tonga every 3months running a vet clinic. I contacted them months before arriving and was super excited. Accommodation was included and there was no fee to volunteer. A great way to experience island life and do something good for the community.

This was a month of extremes, as it turned out there had been a misunderstanding and I went from being a vet nurse to designated pee/poop cleaner and coffee maker. But I had committed to a month and so I pushed through proving my skills on more than one occasion when they needed me to monitor during surgeries when no one else was available. I think one of the biggest problems was that I was there in the middle of a year long trip and to volunteer while reserving my finances, the others were there as a vacation and had money to spend.

My Favorite Puppy

At the same time I met some amazing people, locals and expats (including 4 South Africans, what are the odds) and got the chance to visit one of the outlying islands.

No Matter What, It Sure Was Pretty!

The worst thing to come from Tonga: My treatment by the other volunteers and the organisation.

The best thing to come from Tonga: Fulfilling my commitment and discovering an amazing culture.

A reason to go back: maybe for a vacation and not to volunteer.

I must admit I had a hard time finishing this post for some reason. So many things that go through my mind and writing this entry makes the journey complete. Luckily there are still many more to come.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Australia, Germany, RTW, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

San Fran/Eugene/LA – Day 105-112 – Easter Surprises!

April 21st – 28th 2011

San Fran
My friend, Rachel, had to work during the day so I decided to unpack, do laundry, download photos and work on my blog. I also had the chance to go for brunch with a friend I had met in Spain. It’s always great catching up with folks you meet on your travels.

Around lunch time I decided to pop out for some food and opted for something from Safeways. I got about 5 steps in and then froze… artificial lighting, elevator music and so much food and choice… my brain could not fathom the choices. I finally decided on cheesy bread, salami and cheese. The deli lady was from El Salvadore and we chatted a bit in Spanish. Am really missing that aspect of traveling in a non-English speaking country, I truly love the challenge of communication.

The rest of the day was spent trying to sort out the nuclear bomb that appeared to have hit my bag and figure out how to get everything into one bag so that I could get it all to Eugene the next day. After some sorting and deciding and tossing out I finally managed it.
You know you are a backpacker when you can fit a closet into a bag!

Surprise!!!
I had decided to surprise my parents for easter and had managed to find some reasonably priced tickets. Keeping secrets from my mom has always been nigh impossible for me (my brother and father stopped telling me what gifts they bought her when I was 5 as I kept giving it away). But somehow I managed to keep this one under my belt and it was so worth it. My friend Sarah, picked me up from the airport, we stopped in at a store and picked up some blue bunny ears and a bunch of flowers and headed to the folks. The story was that Sarah was going to stop by and drop off something I had left in her drawer at work, this way ensuring at least one of the folks would be home.

Sarah walked up while I hid behind a hedge. Dad opened the door and the conversation went like this:
Dad: hey Sarah, how are you?
Mom: hi there Sarah
Sarah: I am good, this is what I found in my drawer
Kathy: Surprise!!
Mom: What are you doing here?
Kathy: Surprise!
Dad: yes, but what are you doing here? You are supposed to be in SF or somewhere!
Kathy: oh for pete’s sake folks don’t I get a hug!

Got to love leaving your folks essentially speechless and shell shocked! Of course that didn’t mean they would run out to get me the steak I had been craving, mainly because they had just had some for lunch.

Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday I made a store run to pick up candy and plastic easter eggs. Today my best mate, Darcie, was bringing her 2 and a half (one still incubating) kids for lunch and an easter egg hunt. Dad and I stuffed the eggs, he decided some of them should be stuffed with Bob the squirrel’s peanuts (and people wonder why I have a warped sense of life with a father like that).

Side note ~ we have a wild squirrel, dubbed Bob by my mum, who comes and literally knocks at the glass sliding door until we give him a peanut, recently he demands 2.

It was a great day with 2 beautiful girls running around trying to find the eggs and then being very good and making sure each one had the same number and not eating the candy until after lent. Then we had a fantastic steak lunch (mmmmm steak), but all good visits come to an end and it was soon time for them to head home. Its crazy to think the next time I see them there will be 3 little ones.

On the Road Again
After Easter Sunday brunch at friends, repacking and sorting my bag again, it was time to head out again. So often when you are on the road all you want is a weekend at home to recoup but it never seems possible. It was great being able to make that wish a reality, especially as it could be over 7months before Iget to see the folks again.

Living it Large in LA
My next stop was a few days with a friend in LA. I had worked with Alex at the Woodland Park Zoo and when a cheap ticket to Sydney popped up on my radar it was the perfect opportunity to catch up. Since Alex had to teach a bio lab the first day I sat in a local coffee shop and worked on blog entries. Then we went and explored some of the area around Cloverfield (the suburb she lived in). Day 2 we met up with a good friend of hers deep in the LA jungle, went for a pedicure and then headed along the coast.

A stop for some amazing seafood and then a quick break on the beach. The water was beautiful, the beach was stunning… Except for the highway behind us and the freezing temps of the ocean, it was perfect.

My last day in LA was spent relaxing, we went for a long walk to the store and then had nap time and finally finished packing. The flight to Sydney left at midnight, I hate midnight flights as I always have trouble sleeping on planes, and little did I know what this trip was going to entail.

Stay tuned for another full day of travel, this time by plane…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: