A Travellerspoint blog

OUR BEST SOUVENIR

We have now been in New Zealand for a little more than four months and I cannot believe it - time definitely flies by. The return to New Zealand, home, and a familiar routine was not easy but we have managed to settle down again, come back to our previous schedules and of course to enjoy spending time with our kiwi family and the amazing friends we are blessed to have here.

For the first few weeks we stayed with Simon’s parents, which was wonderful. It gave us the time to organize everything at our house and to restart a few of the normal things. To come back to our everyday lives was a slow process; I returned to my job a week after we arrived back in New Zealand, and we also had to sort out our stuff, organize paper work for our house, sort out finances, call people to mention “we are here, we finally came back and have had an awesome time overseas”, and so on. I have also started biking again to keep fit. One of the things I love about the city where we are located is how flat it is and that because it is quite small everything is close, so I can bike almost everywhere. Although sometimes this can be difficult because of the weather and the overconfident drivers, but in general it is great to bike around.

The garden at home has been a bit of a challenge to deal with along with everything else, but it gives me time to think and it is starting to look like it used to. At home (indoors) things were relatively easy to organize after we returned and we have been able to finally throw away all the things we knew we wouldn't need again.

At work something interesting happened. My old desk was no longer “my desk” but had now become somebody else's. So, I had to cope with this silly situation from the moment I walked in the door. I guess I am a little territorial but the first thought in my head was, where is my desk now and what kind of view will I be getting? After walking the Way to Santiago, it is important to me to be able to appreciate the sky and the landscape. Therefore my first act after locating my new desk was to sit in front of my window and see what I could see. Fortunately I have a pretty nice view of the sky, lots of trees, a few small mountains, some windmills, and the students walking around on campus - I love it. It has definitely helped me coming back to my routine at work.

We were amazed by the great welcome home from our friends, and we have had many catch up dinners, coffees, get togethers, etc. One the highlights of this time was the presentation of our photos and stories. Simon and I organized an evening in June to show off our photos and to share our stories, and with around 70 people making up an audience with us it was magic!!! For us it was a pleasure to put together the photos and very hard to choose the best stories to mention, and we were really glad our family and friends enjoyed it and had a great time. It was a really great experience!!!

Changing the topic, as many of you can imagine, we have already started planning our next adventure. The months we were on the road travelling were fantastic, we loved it, and so during this time in New Zealand I have been working relatively hard on motivation, creation, and inspiration. Sometimes it has not been easy to keep up with daily life, the routine and especially the weather here as we are in the middle of winter has made being motivated very hard work. I have to remember the lessons I learned during our trip and especially on the Way to Santiago. I have decided to do small things such as doing yoga in the mornings, taking different ways coming home and going to work, visiting at least one friend during the week, walking to work once a week, enjoying the amazing view from my desk and celebrating every minute of the World Cup where our team made all us so proud.

Our plans for our next adventure are going really well, like for all the previous times we know we need firstly to get inspired and afterwards things come together. We have visited many interesting, dangerous, boring, pretty, simple places, so this time we are thinking to do something more exciting. However, as many of you know the best souvenir that we were able to come home with is our first baby; meaning that for our future trips they will have to be to countries that are prepared for children, hahaha and things are going to be completely different and we hope the experience will be even better.

Here is a picture of our little one, and we have decided to leave the gender a surprise, so we won't know the sex until he or she is born.

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Things are perfect for us, as always, and we have started closing the chapter of our lives where it was just the two of us and from next year it is going to be the even more adventurous three of us! How exciting it's going to be!!!!

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Posted by erika_simon 19:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

LAST PLACE TO VISIT!!

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We have the opportunity to visit Los Angeles, and Beverly Hill. Although it was only a couple of hours, we had brilliant time over there. To cross the enormous city of LA and see the expensive and luxury stores in the streets of Beverly Hills was special way to close our sabbatical year.

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But the best was coming for us or for me, we had a wonderful stopover in Fiji. I love this place; we arrived early enough to experience the cool weather in the morning, which let us to catch a bus to town and visit Nadi and enjoy the culture, markets and shops.

The buses were great, some of them do not have windows making easy to enjoy the wind. The landscape in most jungle around, and people are really friendly. We had the opportunity to enjoy a welcome ceremony with Kava; it is a native drink for Fijians which is prepared in a wood bowl and to drink it we have to experience a simple and nice ceremony with claps and some kinds of chattis

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The best part for my in our short visit to Fiji was the fruit and vegetable markets. To eat and taste wonderful fruit was so easy and cheap. We could eat yummy papayas, pineapples, bananas, guavas, apples etc. It remained me Colombia, all these delicious and cheap fruits that it is easy to find in every corner

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After our great in Fiji, time to come back to New Zealand. The weather have been mild, a little cold after the heat in Fiji, but it is not too bad. To see our kiwi family and friends have been beautiful. We have enjoyed delicious kiwi food which Simon has missed a lot, ha ha ha

Time to come back to the normal routine, slowly we are getting prepared for a new start. We are sure many great things are coming for us; our bucket list has been growing and growing with many more places that we want to visit, many people that we want to stop by soon and many thighs to be able to be in service and help others. We will try to update this blog with our new life in New Zealand, at least with a month updating all of you with the great news and blessings that we receive each moments of our life. We have learned extensively about life during these ten months, we have experienced incredible things, we have met extraordinary people, etc. It is time to settle down a little bit and start planning our next adventure which we are sure is going to begin soon.

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Thanks for all of you to spend time to read our adventure, it has been wonderful to write and share with all of you our points of views in these ten months, we hope you carry on open this website from time to time and find out a little more about us.

Love

E & S

Posted by erika_simon 23:49 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

OUR WAY TO NEW ZEALAND – AN EXPERIENCE!!!!!

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The time to leave my gorgeous country and say goodbye finally arrived. The time simply flew by - I don’t know where it went. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend quality time with my family (especially with my little niece) and reconnect with many of my friends. We have done a lot of visiting, many new things were discovered, many wonderful things were done, …. We had a marvelous time in Colombia as always. Although this time we did not travel a lot, we spent most of our time with family and friends and meeting new people; we have found many opportunities to make good friends in this country.

Leaving Colombia is really hard for me, but I am completely sure we will come back here soon. It is now time to visit Simon’s brother on our way to New Zealand. However, we never thought our next adventures would start so soon after leaving Colombia. We had a connecting flight to meet in Florida, and because of the amount of people in immigration we missed it, and so had to spend an extra day in the very large airport in Fort Lauderdale, having fun, seeing planes taking off and landing, and sleeping. One of our highlights from this day was because of a small mistake in my application with Immigration that I was nearly deported home; everything was fine fours later but I would have preferred not to have had this experience, ha ha ha.

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Meeting Simon’s family has been wonderful, it was the best medicine for my homesickness. The two nephews of Simon are gorgeous, Austin and Aiden, we have had an awesome time. Also we had the great opportunity to attend a BBQing competition in Tucson and be part of the “The Hog Pit” team.
There were 30 teams and it was a serious competition of the best cookers of BBQ in America; they competed in four categories: chicken, pork, ribs, and brisket (which is some foreign-style cut of meat). The top six teams received a prize of some money and a place in the regional competition in Las Vegas next month. Thank God the team we were part of was able to reach the top five, well done guys!!! The taste of all the different kinds of meat we got to try was absolutely delightful.

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After our tummies were full with all this yummy food, we went for a walk to a natural reserve of cacti and other desert plants. This area of Arizona is famous for the enormous cactus that is commonly seen in the western movies that are filmed in nearby Tucson at the movie studios – which is why you always see this local type of cactus in cowboy movies. They are really tall plants, and the landscape made by them is really gorgeous. This reserve is in the middle of a long mountain range, so the view of these hills, the giant cacti, the blue sky, the dry weather and the strong sun are something unique in our long trip.

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The next day we were taken to a Tombstone, a western town. It was one of the highlights of our trip and a great way to start closing our sabbatical year. Being part of a real western experience, seeing and hearing the loud shooting during a historically accurate gunfight, the intimidating bandoleers on the streets of the town, the prostitutes with their gorgeous and sexy dresses, was all marvelous. To see the Boothill graveyard and read who killed who and sometimes why, and after to see where the actual scenes of the gunfights, robberies, and murders and understand how in 1881 and 1882 the quantity of people killed was incredible for such a small town, which is why it developed such a famous reputation. This was something to remember in our adventures.

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Posted by erika_simon 21:42 Archived in USA Comments (0)

OUR LIFE IN BOGOTA

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We both love this city, my gorgeous home town of Bogota. We have been here for more than one month and the time has been flying by. We have been really busy but have had an amazing time and still been able to rest and get energy to continue our adventures.

We have visited my family, and many friends, attended birthday parties and BBQ’s visited the new apartments and houses of my friends, learned to use a new transit system, gone shopping, and of course enjoying the peculiar things which make Colombia so interesting. For instance, the people who we can meet on the buses, the people selling things on the streets, the talented artists you see everywhere, the creativity of some people to make money, the craziness of the traffic all the time, and the happiness of the Colombian people.

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One of the highlights of the last month was the opportunity to meet with my friends from high school, some of who I have not seen for around fifteen years. It was a happy night together talking about the old times at school.

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Simon has improved his dancing abilities by participating in most of the parties and zumba classes we have been to. He was very surprised to see the chaotic transport system in this city nearly all the time, from early in the morning until really late at night. The time spent travelling around the city is too long, because of the traffic jams and long distances necessary to get anywhere. However, I enjoy this time sometimes, although it sounds funny, but it gives me time to think.

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As our main aim during our trip was to do some charity work and help people where we could, we started working here to see what it would be like. Simon began teaching English three weeks ago, and it has been a lot of fun for him, and surprisingly popular with a lot of students requesting classes with a native English speaker. He realized how bad the traffic was when he had to travel to a class early in the morning to teach three engineers some English. He had to get up at 4.30am to catch a bus at 5.15 and be at his class by 6. He thought the streets would be empty at 5 in the morning and finding a seat on the bus would be easy. He learned that first morning that there is a traffic jam at 5am and he had to stand in the entryway of the bus because the seats and the aisle were packed with more people than would fit.

Simon is the main teacher, but when he does not have time I am teaching too, however my main responsibility is to organize the classes, so I guess I am the logistics person, or as Simon sometimes describes me – his secretary, ha ha ha. I spend a couple of hours per day planning the students and Simon’s schedule. Our students have included people who need to learn English for a new job, a work interview, travel purposes, and others who want to learn for personal reasons. We are simply loving helping a large number of people every day, and for us it had been the best kind of experience: to help and be of service to people and to each other.

In our little spare time, Simon and I have visited a new shopping centre, several museums, parks, and attractions in the city. Also, we have had the opportunity to see several festivals, and a number of wonderful and very colorful parades.

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Colombian people are really passionate about football, and this year we are going to the World Cup in Brazil, so it has been really interesting to see the preparations going on, and the great expectations of the country with our football team (although the best player was hurt last week). We are loving this city and there are so many things to do and more fun to have.

Posted by erika_simon 19:50 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

TIME FOR REST AND WITH FAMILY

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After our nice time in Cuba we finally had our time to visit my family in Colombia. To land in Bogota was a dream for me. To see my gorgeous niece was absolutely a blessing, as she is an angel running everywhere and laughing at such simple things.

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Christmas in Colombia is really special and a big event. We traditionally start celebrating it from the 16th to the 24th of December and each day we meet with family and friends around the Nativity to pray, eat, dance, sing and enjoy the company of friends and family. The Christmas lights around the city are stunning, with a mind-numbing number of streets, shopping centres, parks and squares being thoroughly decorated.

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Every year the biggest cities in Colombia choose a topic or theme for the Christmas decorations. This year in Bogota, the capital, they showed the mix between light, water and sound; it was a combination of art, technology and music.

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We had the opportunity to visit two of the most special places, Monserrate and Timiza’s park. Moserrate is a mountain with a famous church at 2800 meters above sea level and from this point the view of the city is absolutely wonderful, and this year the decorations were spectacular. On the way up using the funicular, the sides of the track are full of lights and big decorations. On the top the Nativity’s figures were enormous and there were lights everywhere. It was a magical night.

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In Timiza’s park, we could appreciate an organised show of light, sound and water. Every hour at night, during December, there was a show with a series of water fountains combined with music. It was really well done and great to see the happiness of the people in the fifteen minutes that the show lasted. The quality of the show made me feel so proud and happy. I love Christmas at home.

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In Colombia, the special day in December is the night of the 24th, Christmas eve. In our family we met with most of the extended family members for a big lunch, and at night the close family meet to wait until midnight, wish everyone a happy Christmas , open presents, eat, laugh and dance. Of course Santa Claus could not miss this opportunity to visit us. This year Santa Claus was a little thin because he had to work hard visiting a number of places and people around the world, ha ha ha.

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For New Years we had a surprise trip to a warm city quite close to the capital that was organised by my mum and my sister. For the people who do not know, the weather in Bogota is not hot and is on average about 16 degrees during the day so for this reason it is common for people to travel to a warmer place during the holidays. Our family went to a town called Chinauta, which is only 2 hours drive from Bogota and where the weather is around 22 degrees and we could view the gorgeous Andes mountains.

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On the 31st of December, Colombian people have a couple of superstitious rituals to undertake to ensure we have good luck in the new year, or in our case to have some fun and laugh a little bit. Some of them are: wear yellow underwear, eat 12 grapes at midnight and ask a wish with each one, receive the new year standing on a chair so the bad energies pass under us, run around the house or street with a piece of luggage to encourage travel next year (I do this one every year and it has worked for me, ha ha ha), etc. We are really crazy people who love having fun.

We had a great time on our holiday in the countryside, a great New Years day, and as I mentioned we ran with Simon around the block with our luggage to bring more trips in 2014.

Although it is late, Simon and I wish all of you our best wishes for this new year,2014, many blessings, and the best energy to make all your dreams come true. We are now so happy sharing time with family, visiting friends and the most important thing for me which is spending most of the time with my niece Anny, who is filling up our time completely.

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Posted by erika_simon 09:20 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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