Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Returning home

Our epic honeymoon is drawing to a close and so it seems fitting to cast down a few insightful pearls of wisdom (cough cough) I've gleaned over the course of our travels.

1. Never put on a brave front when offered a mountain bike with a hard narrow seat designed for a man, it's just not worth it.

2. Be wary of any doctor who tells you to wear a moonboot for a month, especially when they don't express any concern that you can't move two of your toes.

3. Your Spanish teacher is incorrect when she warns "you will die" if you continue to enjoy the odd Hiram Walker gin and tonic.

4. La Ley y El Orden or Law and Order is pure television gold..."chung-chung"

5. Don't touch the shower head when it's connected to a 30amp current as you will have a dead arm for at least half an hour.

6. The Settlers of Catan is an addictive boardgame if you play it with the best people.

7. You will always meet friendly, generous and inspiring people no matter where you travel in the world.

8. Beware any foods that look like tofu - appearances are deceiving and reconstituted fish remains make not for an enjoyable soy substitute.

9. Aotearoa is beautiful and I feel lucky to call it home.

It has been a pleasure writing this blog.

Until the next journey, with love,

Mrs R

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

7 haikus for 7 days and 280kms

Vancouver to Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

Bus, skytrain, ferry
Bike, ferry and bike some more
Icecream in the sun!

Cowichan Bay to Lake Cowichan

Box of granola
Fresh coffee, harbourside ride
Bumpy railway path

Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew

Lonely logging road
Skinny dip in Lizard Lake
Albacore tuna

Port Renfrew to Point-No-Point

Meaty uphill grind
Sunset dining with vino
Utter luxury

Point-No-Point to Sooke

A meagre breakfast
Red log bridge to Point-No-Point
Love that buttertart

Sooke to Victoria

Galloping Goose Trail
Tea and toast with Colina
Peach and apple wines

Victoria to Vancouver

Easy riding now
Hearty luncheon at Roost farm
Missed the bloody boat

The Rs

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vancouver Island - bring it on!!

We have been living in Vancouver for 9 weeks! Packing up our small furnished apartment has been a little sad but also revealing... check out all the coffee and tea we have been through!
Tomorrow we head over to Vancouver Island where we have 7 days of cycling to look forward to. Travelling by bicycle seemed like a cost effective and fun way to explore. Having said that, I suspect we have some (enjoyably!?) challenging days ahead of us given that we decided not to hire panniers and are instead opting to ride with a small backpack each. Kiwi-ingenuity and a certain sense of oneness with each other and each others sweat and possibly increasingly smelly cycle gear will have to dominate!

The basic check-list looks good though:
- decent weather report
- wet weather gear, down-jackets, gloves etc in the bags just in case the weather turns sour on us
- spare tubes and associated repair kit sorted
- accommodation booked - showers/baths/even a spa pool on one night - so we can go to sleep smelling of roses even if there isn't always the opportunity to wash our cycle gears!
- coffee - bound to get headaches if we go without
- almond and peanut butter plus plenty of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate!

Ben is currently attempting to consume as much cereal as he can based on his motto ... you never know when you're next going to get a meal. If I'm anxious about the cycling he is beyond anxious about getting hungry!!!

See you on the flipside

Mrs R

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Timbits and the Double Double

The Double Double is a Canadian classic. We knew it had to be done and done well... as for Timbits, we were like kids in a candy store.

Ah yes the double double... It all began in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario. That's when the Tim Hortons chain was founded. Apparently Tim was a legend in the National Hockey League back in his hey-day.

The first stores served coffee and donuts, simple and successful. Timbits came a little later in 1976.

Ever wonder why the need for the hole in the middle of a donut? Well if there wasn't a hole there wouldn't be a genius marketing ploy to sell bite-sized donuts at Tim Hortons!

This is us at Tim Hortons with our Double Double (coffee) and an assortment of Timbits!

Post Tim Hortons I can tell you the Double Double consists of filter coffee with double cream and double sugar. It doesn't really taste like coffee - not when you normally take it black or with light milk - BUT it does taste good! Lets face it, fat and sugar mixed together pretty much always tastes good!

As for Timbits, I liked the chocolate and the old fashioned......but if I had a choice I'd rather eat another Canadian classic, a decadent cinnamon roll!

And if I keep up my log rolling I reckon I can enjoy a few more before we head home!

Mrs R

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poolside chats...

We're enjoying some glorious sunshine this weekend, perfect weather for swimming and sunbathing. The Kitsilano Pool closes for the season today so we have made sure we've spent some time there. Here's what we overheard yesterday....

A young girl (5 years old) was with her Dad (his native language was probably German).

Girl "Can I come to the pool by myself Daddy?"
Dad "Not yet, you're too young. But when you're 8 then you'll be able to come. How old are you now? 5?"
They count out her age on their fingers, confirming that she is indeed five.
Dad "In three years when you're 8 then you can come on your own. You will be able to drive the bicycle yourself."
Girl "But I want to come with you Daddy."
Dad "Oh I know, and I will still come when I can, but it just means you will be able to go when I can't"
Girl "But what if I don't know the way?"
Dad "Ahhh but when you're eight years, you will know the way!"


Moments later we observed a young child, tottering around in the shallows, his sagging nappy soaked with the crotch hanging dangerously low between his chubby knees. His mother was nearby, as was a friendly albeit concerned lifeguard.

Lifeguard "Excuse me, we don't normally allow children in the pool without swimwear. I don't have to tell you, that diaper looks like it could just explode."
Mother "Oh, can you buy waterproof ones here?"
Lifeguard "Yes I think they sell them at the front office. Because you know, if it explodes then we've got a BIG problem."


A collective sigh of relief was heard poolside when the mother returned with a blue waterproof diaper. Public health crisis averted.

Mr and Mrs R

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vancouver Triathlon

I have had my head and body buried in training for most of the last 6 weeks, so it was with excitement at the opportunity to actually compete, though also a certain sense of foreboding, that I entered myself in this morning's Vancouver Triathlon.

This is basically the reason I entered:

I am particularly taken by First Nations art, especially depictions of wild animals, the Orca being top of my list of favourites. The prospect of receiving a competition T-Shirt with the above image printed on it meant my entry was certain, regardless of the timing of the race in the lead up to my slightly more important, if less likely to be represented by ANY KIND OF INDIGENOUS CULTURE WHATSOEVER, race in Perth on October 25th.

I gleefully scaled back my training routine over the last couple of days, whilst unfortunately suffering insomnia as a result. There will no chance of that tonight. I enjoyed the lengthy process of gear-checklist-ticking which could be considered the fifth sport of triathlon, after the 3 usual suspects and general self-aggrandising. I managed to pick up a pair of aerobars for a lazy fiver from the local bike shop, a place so busy and popular they offered me the sidewalk to fit the bars myself! For that price, I was happy to call the pavement my workshop.

With everything tucked into my bursting backpack, and a hearty breakfast of homemade Bircher, stewed nectarines, 2 spoons of exquisite Olympic yoghurt and a cinnamon raisin bagel with real peanut butter (I wrote that out in full so as to experience again a little of the delight I tasted as I ate it) I set off along the wet roads of autumnal Vancouver, in pitch dark, for Stanley Park and the shore of Second Beach.

I racked my bike beside marvels of bicycle technology that surely could never have been envisaged by the original inventor of the humble velocipede.

Wooden Velocipede 1866 image courtesy of The Velocipede Museum, Delaware. Someone needs to update Wayne's World - "Delaware, home of the Velocipede...schwing"

My wooden bike had gained weight in the rain, and I wondered how it would hold up on the killer descents. But seriously, the ocean temperature was a chilly 16 degrees, making me glad I had brought an extra swimcap for a less vicelike icecream headache. We assembled on the beach, and I was thankful to find that the brilliant organisers had chosen bright orange "bu-eys" for the course, easily visible through goggles left constantly fogged by the vast temperature difference between my skin and the Pacific's 49th parallel. Not everyone found the bu-eys so easy to see however, and I experienced an unusual variety of schadenfreude as I caught 2 swimmers who were zig-zagging their way to shore. I clambered onto my bike some considerable amount of time after the leaders.

For an inner city course, you actually couldn't design a more picturesque venue than Stanley Park. Nor is there a better way to celebrate the foresight of the founders of Vancouver than to hold a manly test of endurance within the place dedicated by Lord Stanley "to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all colours, creeds, and customs, for all time". The 9.6k cycle loop skirts the perimeter of the park, past stands of Kwakwaka'wakw totem poles...

...alongside pounamu-green waters, and the inspirational bronze sculpture of Harry Jerome...

...before taking in a steady winding climb above the elegant Lions Gate Bridge, and a cracking descent back to second beach.

3 times round, I approached this circuit with vigour. I was passed only by a couple of bigger riders, and felt confident they would succumb to the pursuit of my eager feet on the run. What I didn't really recognise was how cold my hands were getting on each long descent. Straightening out of the corner onto the final lap, and passing the thickest mob of spectators on the course, I went over a bump in the road which caused my frigid fingers to bounce up off the hoods. As the front wheel twisted sideways beneath me the tire exploded with the report of a Colt, and I slid, mercifully, along the slick wet road, rolling from front, to left hip and onto my back, coming to rest in the gutter.

I stood up to a collective wince from the onlookers and expected that that was the end of the race for me. But along came the only two St Johns' first-aiders on the course, who cleaned and dressed my wounds while Good Samaritan Brian (to whom I dedicate the race), set about repairing my flat! Tube and body thoroughly patched, I received a wonderful ovation from the crowd who had seen my spectacular double twisting back. I completed the final lap conservatively, happy to be in one piece and still in the event.

The run was another lovely scenic loop, this time along the shore of Lost Lagoon and through towering forests of cedar and fir. I felt surprisingly good, unhindered by my extensive road rash. After the first lap in 19mins I decided to have go at posting a decent run time and quickened my step to record 36:57 for the 10k and 2:24:05 for the roughly olympic distance event, including the 12mins I spent "recovering" during the bike leg!

The post-race highlight, other than a kiss from Mrs R, was the delicious feast of athlete-favoured foods! What an insightful bunch the Multisports Canada organisers are: they had fruit and muffins, all conveniently pre-sliced, and then the piece de resistance: a line up of bagels beside enormous jars of nutella, peanut butter, and jams including Saskatoon Berry - more Canadian than even Maple Syrup! I was in heaven.

Lessons learnt for Perth: go hard, so as to best enjoy the tucker on offer when you finish; but unless you've got Spidey reactions and a Fairy Princess to grant you 3 wishes

you better respect the conditions or you might get a reminder of today that you'd rather never repeat!

Mr R...ashy

Friday, September 4, 2009

No no after you...please I insist

This is our house. Wouldn't that be wonderful if it were true! Actually this is where we are living. Houses in Kitsilano tend to be big. Grand in fact. We live in a small apartment in the front section of the house. Four apartments make up the whole house and there is another stand alone apartment at the end of the drive. We share a beautiful garden. It's all very convivial.

Canadians are friendly folk. A couple from Toronto just moved in across the road from us. The first time they saw us they introduced themselves, we chatted on the street, and when we went our separate ways it felt good. We felt like we were part of the neighbourhood. That's one of the nice things about staying in a place for more than a few days, you start to blend in, I could even go so far as to say belong... but maybe I'm just wishful!

This is our street. Lovely and green isn't it. It's also a source of possible acquisitions as it is commonplace to see little piles of stuff (books, cutlery, furniture, clothing) left on the curbside outside peoples houses. And it's not junk (well, not necessarily!). We've picked up an excellent drink bottle and Ben has acquired two extra pairs of shorts, rather marvellous with all the training he is doing.

People stop their car to let you cross the street. No zebra crossings needed. It's terribly polite. Occasionally this has caused us to feel very confused, standing on the street at an intersection...four cars stopped...waiting...waiting... and THEN we realise all the drivers are looking at us to go first!

This is the glorious garden.

And that is all for today,

Mrs R

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Most banal conversation I've overheard at Kits Pool

"You want to get some wine?"
"How bout a bottle of sherry, we'll get a bottle of sherry."
"You like red wine? I'll tell her to get some red wine too"
further grunt
"Have you had Bollinger? We got a bottle. It was $450."

"Oh you buy it?"
"Yeah we bought it, man I was pissed."
"That Bollinger's good s*&t. Real bubbly."

This conversation went on in exactly the same fashion for the entire seven minutes I lasted lying next to them in the glorious sunshine. At one point I discretely cocked one eye to ascertain who the culprit - obnoxiously disturbing my much anticipated post-swim sunbathe - was.

Not too many surprises - approximate age 45, tanned to within an inch of his life, and clearly not overestimating his alcohol consumption. I couldn't see the grunter as Mr Bollinger was pool-side in his very own deck chair.

Resisting the urge to declare the voice in my head shouting, "Get a life!", I picked up my towel and left.

On the way home I guzzled some old fashioned H2O. My mother would have been proud.

Mrs R

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Galapagos musings...

I find myself confined to indoor-activities on account of my foot still troubling me. Fortunately the rain continues to pour steadily and so I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Besides this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our 8 day cruise around the Galapagos Islands. Things began rather unexpectedly...

After our first lunch onboard Yate Fragata I was feeling both relieved and optimistic about avoiding seasickness (unfortunately this would later prove to be misguided optimism). We were moving at quite a clip, and the boat was easily cutting through the calm water.

Having decided to venture out to the stern for some fresh air and sunshine we were immediately captivated by a gory scene.

Below us were two young men we hadn't been introduced to. They were butchering a goat. It was clear this was an action they had performed many times as they moved with the assuredness and ease of the practiced. Though carrying some extra flesh themselves, they were strong and I believed them when they described the difficulty of the hunt due to rough terrain.

As they hacked away at the goat there was often a moment of pause when they would look to see whether one of the many black frigate birds swarming above had been able to catch one of the bloody bones which they lobbed out over the water.

Alas, for the birds there was no feast as they were unable to do little more than create a dramatic silhouette against the brilliantly blue sky. I wondered at the daring of these birds which lacking the ability to swim, nevertheless attempted to snatch the heavy bones in their hooked bills. To time it wrongly and dip their wings in the water would have meant certain death.

Instead the bones and blood dropped into our wake.

It's interesting that despite being an UNESCO world heritage site, introduced animals such as feral goats continue to be allowed to represent a threat to native animals and species. The locals were able to convince the National Park Board not to undertake pest eradication programmes on some of the populated islands in order to preserve stocks of introduced wild animals for food.

But of course one of the main threats to the Galapagos must be the impact of tourism as described in recent news articles (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/12/wildlife-conservation for example).

Sir David Attenborough's view that tourists are a "necessary evil", providing income to the islanders and funding for conservation efforts makes me feel a little better about being a contributor to this human impact. As does the knowledge that this was (and rightly so), a once in a lifetime trip.

So guilt subsiding at least for the moment, here are a few favourite photos. I hope you enjoy them.

Mrs R

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Promotional Blog

Straight up we love Vancouver. I'm thinking I should get a job as a tourism rep. It is an easy place to sell. Here's why:

Right now I'm at the Vancouver Public Library (Kitsilano branch). It's air-conditioned (word to the Napier Library air conditioning is essential). I'm on the internet, the connection is fast, and more importantly I get 60 minutes for free. Magazines, DVDs, CDs and books are ALL free to loan. This place is a haven for time-rich cash-poor tourists!!!

The 137m Kitsilano Pool (seriously, almost 3x the length of an Olympic distance pool) is a swimmers dream, especially if you're training for a long distance triathlon. At first we were skeptical about the lack of lane ropes and apparent lack of any lanes. There are two black lines on the bottom of the pool about two metres apart. You swim up on the right (there are arrows) and people pass on the inside. It works. A month pass is Canadian $40.

Check it. That same monthly pool pass also gets you entry into the community gym. Great equipment (both cardio and weights).

Cherries. Blueberries. We have been having a cup of blueberries EACH with our breakfast cereal. Discovering the 99c fresh produce bargain bin at our local green grocers is possibly the best thing that has happened to us since arriving. Generally there is an abundance of healthful foods. It's like the Hawke's Bay on heat. Wellington's Dixon Street Deli on speed.

I mentioned the BC heatwave a post ago. It has been over 25 degrees all week. No rain. And currently there is just the lightest breeze outside keeping you happily chilled.

One aspect of Vancouver that has concerned me is the frequency with which we see people walking the streets clutching an over-sized beverage. Typically branded Starbucks. The basketballish looking teenagers I can understand, they're probably hungry 99% of the day. It's the teeny tiny folk that throw me. I've seen women clasping onto a cup that is the length of their forearm. Having observed such feats closely my preliminary conclusion is that the over-sized beverage is actually a fashion accessory and arm strengthening device rolled into one.

Another phenomenon is the "celebrity-like" condition of the mothers at the pool. Imagine a world where everyone has flat rock-hard abs, sculptured arms and legs and a general glow... oh and wearing a string bikini. That is Kits Pool. I mentioned this to a local and my source informs me that Kits Beach is the 3rd sexiest beach in the world. Fact.

The beach is right next door to the pool so it stands to reason there is a fair bit of local hottie currency between the two. And it's not just the ladies, we've noted a fair amount of buff male bods too.

Hmmm... on that note I'm thinking a pre-lunch gym visit is in order,

Mrs R

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Once in a lifetime heatwave"

We arrived in Vancouver yesterday. It is sizzling.

The air is so charged with heat there is a possibility we may be able to fry an egg on the stovetop tomorrow morning without turning the element on. The pancakes will likely require the normal cooking method to be employed.

A7 of the Vancouver Sun has a quote from Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones. He says: "Five consecutive days with temperatures over 32 C .... We're going to do that this week. That's only happened three times since 1880".

This is the kind of humidity that means you can focus on nothing bar the fact that you are sweaty (possibly smelly) and require cooling agents... incessantly. Round the clock vigilance.

So far we have employed the usual methods such as swimming (Kitsilano has a 137m pool!), eating spicy food (specifically wasabi), drinking cold and hot beverages (the theory being that if we drink hot tea it will make us sweat more and dissapate the heat).

We are enjoying the sunshine, however looking for rental accommodation and finding it both pricey and inconveniently "just taken" is starting to wear a little thin.

Mustn't grumble though, better just to sweat this one out, as I see from the metservice and frixo websites that tonight in Wellington it will be 7 degrees, and tomorrow in Slough it will (actually) be drizzly. Incidentally today's high for Slough is listed as N/A. Perhaps that just means no one cares, seeing as everyone's probably in Swindon on 'oliday.

Mrs R

Monday, July 13, 2009


We met 3 Australian girls at our language school in Cuzco a couple of weeks ago. They became friends when working for Outward Bound in Canberra, so needless to say they are top sheilas!

We were very interested when they told us about a local yoga class they had been to led by an American guy who takes his troop up into the hills to perform their asanas out in the open. On Saturday we made our way to Plazoleta San Blas along with Erin Turner, a friend from med school, and about 17 others, to get a taste of this experience for ourselves.

Al took us up a long pathway winding out of the city and into the tranquility of the bush beneath the dazzling highland sunshine. The bush was tranquil but I was breathing like a racehorse when we emerged in a shady glade of eucalypts at 3500m up in the sky! The location was wonderful, a flat piece of land at the foot of The Temple of the Moon, an Inca ruin carved into the local boulders. We had walked past typical ramshackle housing and sweet barefoot Peruvian children on the way, firmly placing us in the Andes, but sitting down on the grass under the trees and idly tossing away the gumnuts which prodded my bottom like peas through a mattress, we were transported to Australia and the land of Snugglepot, Cuddlepie and the Banksia Men. As I closed my eyes to begin the breathing relaxation at the start of the class, the scent of the bush was invigorating.

Al is a mild mannered and gregarious fellow, whose teaching voice and lilting Californian accent is ideal for yoga - gentle, clear and specific. His spanish instructions rapidly endeared him to the new members of the class as he sought assistance with remembering difficult terms and took time to relate a few simple tales about friends from home and their yogic feats of strength and determination.

He took us through a hatha yoga sequence, focusing on balance and stretching, rather than the cardiovascular blitzkrieg of asthanga yoga that I´m used to from years of attending the fantastic Gaura Yoga loft in Wellington. I quickly reminded myself of the importance of taking everything at the recommended pace, as I was barely in ¨la plancha¨ (the plank) for 5 seconds when I realised that the thin air was not going to make this a fun day for my muscles if I tried to recreate a sea-level class! Al spent time telling us about his friend´s website worldplank.com which entreats visitors to improve their lives by taking 1 minute a day to hold the famously dificult position. He joked that he had a watch with him, and we would all do a 60 second plank today, before giving a wee chuckle and letting us down from our ever more shaky poses!

As I stood in trikonasana gazing up at my top thumb, the sunlight twinkling through the waving eucalyptus leaves and the birds chirping merrily amongst them, I felt pleasure at the realisation that life for everyday Peruvians, which is normally so hard, could be this peaceful. During the class a number of local residents passed by on their way to town, walking along the tracks that have been byways for centuries. We are forunate to have a series of fantastic tracks cut through the New Zealand bush for walking and running, but people of countries like Peru and Guatemala have similarly beautiful routes as their daily thoroughfares, without the need to seek them out for the purpose of getting out from amidst the noise and haste.

Always the most enjoyable part of any yoga class for me, we ended the 90min session in shavasan, the corpse pose, which involves lying on your back and trying not to think of anything while you also try desperately not to fall asleep! The ability not to think of anything is deemed an important skill for the yogi, though I have decided after years of trying that for me the latter is enough, and that whatever thoughts stroll into my head during such a enjoyable time should be allowed to develop and then flutter away! I need higher expectations. A higher taste perhaps.

We walked around the ruins of the Temple after the class, and listened to descriptions of the Inca carvings of puma, condor, snake, llama and monkey, by a representative from the Instituto de Cultura who´s job it is to wait on the sunny outcrops for wandering tourists to come by and be enlightened by him. What a life!!

After a leisurely stroll back down the hill we complemented the sustained exertion with a delicious and simple meal at the hare krishna vegetarian cafe near the plaza where we began. The spices, textures and the accompanying tea all put me in mind of the Gaura Yoga loft in Vivian Street, and the rejuvenation that comes from eating good food after vigorous exercise, in the company of good people.
Mr R

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wonder this.

There are seven "official" wonders of the world. What you maybe didn´t realise was that there is another man-made creation possibly of less classical antiquity but nevertheless wonderous and that is the thermal baths of Aguas Calientes.

According to www.rediscovermachupicchu.com the baths have "water 42 ºC warm, which has curative effects, good for people who have problems with bones and joints, muscle pain, very good for those who suffer of kidney-related affections. The water is sulphurous and comes from deep underground. Like Japan, Hungary and New Zealand are famous for their hot springs, so is this little Peruvian town!"

The curative nature of the baths is a selling point BUT what they should be saying is that this is your one opportunity to enjoy (?!?) a huge warm bath in chicken broth... with strangers! Seriously this is the only way I can describe the experience. It was as if they used Maggi Chicken stock instead of chlorine to disinfect the water. Add to this a dozen Germans, two and a half dozen Peruvians, two young French students and two New Zealanders and you have yourself a well seasoned soup!

Bon appétit!

Mrs R

¡Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu is deservedly one of the seven wonders of the world. It is hard to capture the wow factor with a camera but we tried anyway...

Mrs R

Saturday, July 4, 2009


On Sunday afternoon we sat in the Plaza de Armas and spent a couple of hours observing tourists (eating icecream, reading their travel guides and taking photos) and watching families. Mothers and fathers sat on the sidelines whilst their young children took centre stage, racing each other and feeding rice to the fat pigeons.

There was a small boy, no more than seven years old sitting about half a metre to my left. Every so often he raised his eyes to watch two slightly younger boys run up to the steps where we were sitting and then back to the bench where their family was.

Resolutely he dropped his head and continued with his task. From a tatty jean backpack he took a small handful of rice. In his free hand he held a long and narrow plastic bag which he had opened by blowing into the top. Carefully funnelling rice into the bag, holding it up to check progress and sometimes to compare the portion of rice with a completed bag, he worked patiently.

Judging there to be sufficient rice he tied a neat knot at the top of each bag and delicately placed the completed parcel over his thigh. Quite proudly he smoothed his hand over his growing pile of thin rice filled bags, now numbering six.

After a time he zipped up his bag, tossed it over his back and got to his feet hoisting his grubby blue pants up as he did so. The bottoms were brown with dirt and torn.

Eyes on the younger boys he gingerly started towards them, the rice parcels swinging from his hands. Half way he stopped. The boys had started a new game which involved balancing with two hands and one foot on the ground, trying to get their free leg higher in the air than the other could. The boy with the rice watched for a bit, made to walk towards the boys´ parents, hesitated and then dropped to the ground to have a try himself.

For the briefest moment he was playing in the sunshine, smiling, looking for recognition at his aerobics.

Focused again he began making his way around the Plaza, offering his rice and exchanging a bag for 50c. Children younger than him tore into the plastic, dumping the rice on the concrete and staring dumbstruck as the pigeons feasted.

Watching this young child go about his business with precision and concentration belying his young age pulled at my heart. What broke it was seeing the expression on his small face moments after his face alit with a smile, one leg cocked in the air.

I saw a look of wistful reflection combined with a simple shoulder shrug, an outward acknowledgement that work could not wait, not really, not even for a chance moment of play.

Mrs R

Thursday, June 25, 2009


We are staying with una familia Cusqueño. Above is a photo of the shower, needless to say it is hit and miss whether or not you get hot water or indeed any water at all! Below is the view from our room.

After school there is typically a throng of school kids at the dairy across the road from our house....they tend to go for the icecreams!

We hadn't planned it, but we were lucky enough to arrive in Cusco a few days before the big Inti Raymi festival. It is quite the tourist affair but because there is a public holiday the streets were absolutely heaving with Peruvians and tourists alike. This is us catching some sun god action...

I love that Ben looks so excited, like a cat with cream!

Hasta luego, Mrs R