Friday, 17 May 2013
WRITTEN BY: Abby Schmidt
Hello all, Abby here just checkin' in all the way from the small village of Macchegaun Nepal. Sorry I haven't been able to update more regularly, the power comes on when it feels like in Nepal!
Last weekend, Kasia, Morgan and I went to a Nepalese wedding. We were dressed in the traditional sari attire with some lippy and eye shadow to top it off. We looked stunning as we were walking down the gravel road on our way to the grooms home, we got many curious stares our way. We made our way gracefully into the home and as we entered we were blessed with a ticka on the top of our foreheads. I felt like a true Nepalese woman. We were no longer the black sheep in the herd. The 2 and half hours spent on the bus were well worth it when we arrived at the brides house. The food was delish, rice, beans, potato, lentils and SPICE!
We left the house with food bellies and just missed the bus back to the grooms house so we had to wait 2 hours until the next bus. Time means nothing here in Nepal! We arrived back at the grooms house 4 hours later! Still in high spirits we joined the women for a solid Nepalese boogie. It's coming to the end of a working week and we're going in to Kathmandu tomorrow for a western meal and some shopping. My family has adopted a little girl, aged 10 who lived in a small remote village. It takes 4 hours to reach a road where the bus comes to get into Kathmandu. It has no school, electricity or transport in and out of the village. She will start grade 3 next week.
PROJECT: Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Kelvin Wicks
Almost half way through our travels here in Buenos Aires and much has indeed changed. Many of our foreign friends have left the roadhouse, the days are becoming cooler and Bronte got a haircut in a club. For this weeks blogs a questionnaire has been compiled and hopefully this will provide an alternate insight into the trip so far.
Favourite food in Argentina?
- Brontë: Dulce de leche (similar to caramel and used in many desserts)
- Kelvin: Choripan (the local sausage)
- Evie: Steak (Argentines have excellent meat)
- Jessie: ice cream
- Tom: fabricas pizza
Highlight of the trip?
- Brontë: Going to Mendoza and wine tasting
- Jessie: Andes
- Kelvin: Andes and ultimate frisbee
Most beautiful sight?
- Andes general consensus
Best cultural experience?
- Kelvin: Ultimate frisbee in the park with the locals
- Jessie, Evie: Markets
- Sheena: La Boca
What have you been most surprised about here?
- Brontë: Amount of western influence in this city
- Evie: Holds a European feel
- Kelvin: The amount of pizza places
- Tom: Lack of indicating by motorists
Have you been disappointed about any aspects of Argentina?
- Brontë: Not as of yet but if I had to say something it would be the exchange rate
- Jessie: The lack of cultural diversity
- Evie: Haven't learnt as much Spanish as initially intended
Thoughts on volunteering?
- Brontë: Volunteering program as a whole holds many important aspects involving a structure for care and support for children living in these poor conditions which I think is great
- Antonia: It's hard to really make a difference due to the structure and the fact it isn't a classroom
- Jessie: Since its an after school care environment many of us feel we're keeping the kids off the street and this makes our work feel important
Most rewarding aspect of volunteering?
- Brontë: Building relationships with kids
- Jessie: Forming a different view of the world
- Antonia: Seeing the kids smile when they see you
What have you found most difficult about volunteering?
- Brontë: Language barrier
- Jessie:,Earning respect from older kids due to language barrier
- Evie: It can be tiring
Thoughts on the roadhouse?
- Brontë: Good place to meet people in such an international environment, meeting people from America, England and other various countries
- Everyone: Meeting new people
What are you looking forward to in the coming weeks?
- General consensus: Iguazu falls
- Brontë: Fur coat from op shop and pope shirt
- Kelvin: Messi top
- Jessie, Evie and Antonia: Market items
- Brontë, Kelvin, Tom, Ed: Not really
- Evie: Missing more people then home
- Jessie: Missing privacy
If you could have one thing fom Australia, what would it be?
- Sheena: My dog
- Brontë: Mothers cooked food
- Kelvin: Weetbix, vegemite and AFL
- Antonia: Healthy food
- Evie: Laptop
- Jessie: Boyfriend
- Tom: Xbox or dog
If you could stay in Argentina longer would you?
- Kelvin, Brontë:Yes, yes
- Evie: Good length of time, definitely return
Have you found it easy to integrate into the culture?
- Kelvin: Language wise with the local slang it definitely has been but seeing that Argentina has had quite a European influence it has otherwise felt quite easy
COUNTRY: Southern Africa (Swaziland, Mozambique & South Africa)
PROJECT: Teaching & Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Danielle Edwards
Here we are; a week and a half into our placement already. It feels like the time has flown but at the same time like we have known (not only) each other for ages, but the people that we have met from the other countries who are staying and working with the four of us. There are people from England, Holland, Sweden and Australia (of course) who have travelled to Swaziland to do the same placement as us although, the majority of them are only here for anywhere between 4-8 weeks.
When we arrived at Lidwala lodge (the place where we will be staying whilst in Swaziland), the environment felt pretty comfortable after we had unpacked and got settled in. The afternoon was spent just meeting all of the other volunteers arriving and getting to know who we were going to be spending our time with in not only Swaziland, but in Kruger and Mozambique also.
Tuesday was orientation day, where we got to meet all of the other volunteers that will be helping us with our journeys during the placement and we also got informed about Swaziland culture, history, statistics and lifestyle. We also had a briefing about the operations while we will be in Kruger Park as we were leaving the next morning. The afternoon of Orientation day was spent on a tour of the Swaziland museum, where we learned in more detail about the Swazi culture and the variety of festivals that they hold each year.
Following the museum was a lengthy stroll to a village where our staff member ‘Beggy’ lived. He showed us around the village and we got too properly for the first time the condition in which the majority of local people in Swaziland live. Seeing huts made from sticks, mud, bricks, twigs, dirt, cow poo and concrete (if they were more fortunate), was the first really obvious point of the culture contrast between here and back at home.
While we were walking through we received stares from some and warm greetings from others. There were groups of children who would run in packs to us and jump, hug, touch and play with us volunteers while we walked through. This was our first interaction with the children, so to see them so happy to see was really made us feel special. They were acting as if we were huge celebrities, and a lot of them were calling us ‘Teacher’, because the only white people that they interact with are volunteers who work in the schools and NCP’s (Neighbourhood Care Point’s). We had a meal prepared for us by some of the local villages for dinner and it was really good to try some traditional Swazi food.
Wednesday morning is when we left for Kruger National Park for our 5 day safari! We went in two separate vans with our tour guides, Bob and Psychology. As soon as we drove into Kruger Park we started seeing animals. Impala’s were the most common (which are animals that look like deer’s), therefore we kept referring to them as Bambi’s. It was only like 10 minutes into the drive when we started seeing less common animals such as giraffes and white rhino’s. Seeing these animals on the side of the road is when it started to sink in that we were in a Wildlife Game Reserve and that we were about to spend the next 5 days seeing so many amazing animals in person.
All of the drives that we took whilst in Kruger were so much fun. We were all trying to spot animals before each other and it was our mission to see not only the ‘Big 5’ but also the ‘Super Seven’. During the stay we went on a night safari drive with a Park ranger in an open safari truck which was awesome but also freezing cold! We used spotlights to see the animals after the sun had set. Along the drive we managed to find ourselves in the middle of a huge herd of buffalo’s; waiting for a herd of elephants to cross the road in front of us and also we saw our first lion only 5 meters from the side of the road! Another part of Kruger was an early morning bush walk, where we would walk through a certain area of Kruger Park with armed rangers leading the way.
We learned about so many different animals and also learnt a lot about each other during our time in Kruger Park. On Sunday morning we travelled back to the lodge in Swaziland and got all of our things
sorted out after the adventurous week that we had just encountered. By Sunday night, all the volunteers at the lodge were all getting along superbly; it felt like we had all known each other for much longer than one week.
Tomorrow is our first day of Project work where we go to our allocated NCP’s and start interacting and teaching the children. There are mixed expectations of what this experience is going to be like, but we can tell that it is going to be a life changing experience!
Thursday, 16 May 2013
PROJECT: Teaching & Building
WRITTEN BY: Tricia Martin
People accounted for: 9
Brownies consumed: 32ish
Llama jumpers bought: lots
Who would of thought that travelling half way around the world would result in us fitting so many job descriptions... We are teachers , students, plasters, tradesmen, travellers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters,gringos/ targets and "ooo you are Australians? In that case 35 soles for the bag ..no less". With nearly 6 weeks under our belt it feels like Cusco and our town of San Jeronimo is gradually morphing into home. Creature comforts are slowly being uncovered such as heavenly vanilla milkshakes, hot showers, movie nights, alpaca slippers and the movie napoleon dynamite ... In Spanish.
We have begun a new teaching timetable in the past two weeks which have allowed more time for art and regrettably for the unfit (yours truly) PE . The kids have loved making crafts from colourful masks, caterpillars to Mother's Day cards! PE is a different story however.... Three Laps of the small soccer field and Leia, Nathan and I are lying on the floor gasping for air while the kids jump around happily shouting " football football football". Another successful lesson involved high jump which resulted in hoola hooping and pulling the kids as they layed on mattresses!
Construction was interesting when attempting plastering which pretty
much involved throwing white liquid at the roof( hoping for the best) only for it to fall back in our faces!
We have also fitted in some paintballing while we have been here just on the outskirts of Cusco! It was a nice break with highlights being Cat's army rolling and Alex's macho moves... Catching his army uniform on a nail and being flung backwards gun and all.
The most exciting event over the past two weeks has been out first travel adventure to Huacachina near Ica. Regrettably however we had to leave Marianna who was diagnosed with pretty everything under the sun... Doctor victor thought it was best that she rest up.
Some of us nearly ended up in the clinic after the bus ride from Cusco to Nazca which was interesting.... The only thing I could compare it to was the London bus off Harry potter 3 (minus the weird voodo head) twisting and swerving around every corner. At one point I swore we were going to tip over.
When we arrived in Nazca Alex once again demonstrated his skills as a human GPS indicating to the driver to go straight .... Even though there was only one long road ahead for about 5 km.
The oasis that we finally arrived at was beautiful! Surrounded by steep and endless dunes and some hot weather! The Saturday involved a sandduning tour where we swerved and boarded down the dunes. Both Nick and Nathan decided to risk the extreme option, sand boarding down the dunes. Although Nathan initially rolled down the slopes towards the end he swerved down them like extreme sports was his life purpose. Liz also participated in extreme 'duning' but in her own style, falling off
her board and executing 6 rolls perfectly - a 10/10 score in my books. As part of the tour we got to see the sun set over the desert where we seized the opportunity and made a remake of the Lion king which, for your pleasure, will be released in late 2013.
Sunday was cruise day which we were all keen for. We hopped on a bus wearing shorts and singlets arriving to cloudy skies, grey seas and cold weather ( lucky Freya had her sun hat to protect her from rain ). The cruise ( sitting in a speedboat) was improved by our friendly tour guide whose English was indistinguishable from Spanish. He took a liking to Alex however who was hanging his head over the boat, sea sick repeatedly asking him to pay attention and look
at the extraordinary bird with the "red beak !!"
Another fun fact that we learnt from the tour guide ( via an Irish guy who could speak Irish sounding Spanish) was that sea lions have Syphilis... Who knew?
After our cruise we were so cold that we undertook a search and destroy mission for hot chocolate which was a massive success for all involved. We were then loaded onto a bus travelling to the Reserva nacional de paracas....A spectacular expanse of red desert that met the coast (sort of the equivalent landscape to the 1970s version of planet of the apes. )Here we explored fossils ( Freya taking a liking to an otters skull that for some reason she still has), skipped stones on the beach and had lunch at a small fishing town.
As we missed two days of work from our trip we were keen to get back into construction and teaching. The highlight of the week however was the Mother's Day fete at the school with the madres of the students welcomed in with confetti and cheers .As part of the festivities we got
To watch the children dance, recite poetry and give hand made craft to their mums. We even got to do a performance which involved the nutbush, the lion sleeps tonight ( Alex and a little kindy who we have named " Dennis the menice" acting as sleeping lions) and finally the bush dance ( to a wiggles song) , the latter a major fail as we kept on bumping into each other and spinning the wrong way!
The day was made even more sweet with chocolate cake and traditionally cooked potatoes complete with grub insects that nico said enhanced the texture :S
On that note I would like to wish all our mothers a lovely and relaxed Mother's Day. We miss you a lot including your home cooking ( Liz's mum apparently makes the best Oreo cheesecake), laughs, hugs and kisses.
So there you have it we are alive, happy, and are officially Aussie cusquenians!!
Hasta la vista and llama love
< • ) ( )-- II II
Monday, 13 May 2013
PROJECT: Teaching & Orphanage work
WRITTEN BY: Caleb Pickering
Ma Ha (Good Afternoon) Friends and family,
This is the 2013 Antipodeans Ghana blog. There is little doubt in my mind that you will enjoy hearing our tales of fortune (and misfortune) in Ghana.
Event #1: Driving to the hostel was vastly different to the typical Australian drive home. We were surprised by a platitude of small huts selling everything from dried fish to phone credit. As well as a plethora of people walking through still traffic selling bags of water, clothes, belts, food and even ice-cream.
Event #2: At the hostel we met Tina, a lovely Ghanain woman who seemed just as much a new mum as an in-country partner. Expanding our little family was Ama our guide on orientation and the best sister anyone could ask for. The hostel seemed a little like a house in a Tim Burton film, orange walls, oddly slanted stairs and a myriad of mishaped architecture. Aside from that it was kitted out with lovely bucket showers delicious food and toilets with a 'manual' flushing mechanism.
Interesting Fact #1: There is a constant noise in Ghana, whether it be a radip, african drums, or the incessant hooting/beeping from the cars and taxis.
Misfortune #1: We were told off a few times for not wearing shoes out on the street and one of the girls even had someone threaten to call the police because they were smoking on the street.
Interesting Person #1: Ayo! The child of someone who worked at the hostel and a very cute kid who some of us will definitely never forget, particularly the way he demanded that every time he take a photo we "Close our eyes and open our mouths".
Event #3: After the multiple lessons on culture, safety, lifestyle and language we were treated to a tour of Accra. In which we visited the markets, tried the Ghanain food Fufu, which some of us enjoyed, whilst other were not so fond. The definitive highlight of the day would have been the drumming and dancing lessons, taught by two local men, which acted as a prelude to the breathtaking performance of a group of young locals the following night.
Misfortune #2: At the beach, after our drumming and dancing lesson, things took a turn for the worst, when we were nearly crushed by a home bound fishing boat.
Interesting Person #2: Astrid, accompanied us on our orientation as her placement is also in Swedru, working at a local hospital, due to those few days, she is one of the group now.
Event #4: Arriving in Swedru, after a gruelling 1.5 hour car ride, Caleb and Jesse met their new family, whilst the girls continued to Abussan where they were met by many new young faces.
Interesting Fact #2: The seemingly non existent transport system in Ghana is substituted by taxis, but most importantly, 'trotros', Vans which are on a guided route, that technically can fit 9-10 people but more often than not will contain more people than you can poke a stick out. Essentially a big brown clown car.
Much more has happened since then, but we have neither the time or the energy to continue, it being 9:35 and all. So until next time!!!
Interesting Fact #3: Twee is the first language we have come across that does not have a definitive word for goodbye, sooo, adios.
Friday, 10 May 2013
PROJECT: Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Kelvin Wicks & Bronte Coleman
Volunteering, trips to Mendoza and growing accustomed to life in Argentina, we have finally begun to view BA as our new home. The volunteer work only seems to enforce our pleasurable stay and understand how lucky we truly are. I've also gained a greater understanding of the football passion which the Argentines have, especially with Lionel Messi. His face and name is plastered all over the city on oversized billboards and cardboard size cut outs of his figurine whilst the kids wearing the famous 10. The city is always bustling, there is always something to see and do, whether that be the Sunday street market, going to La Boca or watching football on tv. BA seems to be the correct choice for all of us.
As the volunteer work commenced, the purpose of our stay gained greater purpose, opposed to the tourists we felt we were in the first week. Volunteering most days in the slums or "Villas", our role has been plain and simple, provide an after school care for kids and let them be kids. For kids here are often left to their own devices after school and can get into all sorts of mischief and trouble. Personal possessions don't really exist, stealing is common and kids seem to be street hardened by as early as 12. There have been some worrying instances already with their behaviour and personal hygiene, no kid seems to have ever brushed their teeth and the boys find amusment in pegging rocks and bricks as hard as they can at each other. Which is why L.I.F.E, the volunteer organisation, hopes that by allowing these kids to skip, draw and play football, they will be able to enjoy their childhood and vicariously through us volunteers seek to do more with their lives in regards to the bigger picture.
Volunteering aside, the city has had much to offer. A day in the colourful area of La Boca has been a highlight. It's packed with colour, culture and masses of tourist pariphinalia. Eddie, Tom, Bronte and I enjoyed a nice lunch soaking in the general ambience. The Antique Markets in Palermo was another stop on the list of things to do being famous world wide. The long cobbled stone roads on which the market is placed was an afternoons worth of meandering and temptations for all, I couldn't withstand buying a Boca top, Bronte wanted all sorts of clothing and Edward just loved finding old photos that he couldn't resist purchasing. With drum players on the side and having had beautiful weather for many days now, BA had stood up to its hype. But the rest of Argentina was equally tempting.
For most of us, it was time to see what else Argentina had to offer. So venturing off into the foothills of the Andes we aboarded a bus for a 15hour trek across the flattest land Bronte had ever seen.
Here we enjoyed half a day of wine and olive oil tasting (yes it sounds weird but it was the most delicious pieces of bread and Oil Eddie had ever tasted). Possibly the perfect mix? The weather again held up to its sunny best and the mountainous backdrop to the vineyards was postcard worthy. Wine and bread with oil later that night on the terrace was a perfect way to relax and unwind. The following day took a trip into the Andes as we drove for a soild 2hours straight none of us could comprehend the sheer mass and height of the surrounding mountains. It was stunning and both daunting to have felt so small. Topping off these magnificent views was an hour and a half trek to the base of Aconcagua. It was the highlight of the day with the stillness of the place mesmerising and too many good photos to take back with us. We returned later that day after having been up since 7am and having travelled more than 400 km on the bus. We were exhausted.
Everyone's spanish is improving and we're feeling like less like tourists now. Some of us are intending to travel up to Iguazu soon, as well as a few football matches perhaps.
WRITTEN BY: Phoebe Ingram
Namaste from Nepal!
Last Wednesday, five incredibly excited gap breakers arrived at a chaotic Tribhuvan International Airport, ready for our three month adventure! Our first few days were a crazy mixture of acclimatising to Nepali time and life, and also learning about our placement. We met our in country agent Kabita, and all her other affiliates, who were incredibly friendly and welcoming. For the first few days, from 10 - 3, we were given orientation classes about education, tourism and our families in Nepal. It was a fast paced, active few lessons that made us all eager for the challenges ahead!
We were even lucky enough to be taken for a welcome dinner with our new KEEP friends. This was filled with many photos and cries of 'Morgan, you want a beer?', 'Morgan?', 'Morgan, look here!'.
In the afternoons we roamed the streets of Thamel. Chaos doesn't even begin to sum up these streets. People and cars are everywhere, with a road system that just doesn't exist, they drive where they want. This leads to a cacophony of car horns and shouting people that, is incredible. However, amidst this, bundling through the streets you encounter new delicious smells, shops bustling with jewellery, Nepali clothing and some of the worlds nicest people. It just makes the place so much more impressive and exciting, and one can't forget the cows and goats walking the streets alongside us.
Saturday, we bundled into a van, Nepali time of course, and explored the truly beautiful sights and colours of the country from the monkey temple to the Kumari in Durbar Square.
Finally the next day, we made the trek down to our village, Macchegaun, where we were warmly greeted by our lovely host families. Though most of them speak little English, we make do, particularly enjoying our daily Daal Baht and tea. All of us have been given Nepali names, so homes are filled with cries of 'Dipa?'(Meg) and 'Hajur?' (What?). And we adore sitting outside on the grass and roof top admiring the view of the mountains that put shame to our 'mountains' in Australia - or as our host brother says, 'rocks'. It's funny to realise how much we already feel at home here with our families.
School is a whole new world of excitement. Kasha and Abby venture out to a small primary school on a hill, where we hope to achieve some goals with our fundraising money as they lack many resources. Meanwhile, Morgan, Meg and I teach at a slightly bigger secondary school fifteen minutes away. We're all enjoying getting to know the children and the teachers, and whilst it's a challenge in many different ways trying to teach, it's rewarding to be helping these adorable children.
Perhaps a very important part of homestay, is our daily action packed nights of UNO with our host families, which has become quite famous. I think we've taught almost everyone how to play. It's hilarious.
It's impossible not to love with this unique country. Despite most of us being hit with a small bout of sickness, the relaxed pace of life 'Nepali time', children and people keep the smile on your face. Not to mention the deliciously sugary tea, which I think most of us have had one too many cups of!
Looking forward to what's to come!