I’m not lost, I’m taking a selfie with a llama

DSCN0382On my return from a mother-daughter volunteer trip to Cusco, Peru, I was scrolling through the hundreds of pictures trying to find ‘the one’. It’s a challenge I set myself following a family trip to distract me from the fact I have taken far too many pictures, again! The only rule is that it has to capture the spirit of the adventure.

selfie MPThis is it. It’s my 10 year old daughter, Sadie lost on Machu Picchu, one of the world’s best known archaeological sites which is also the home to a herd of llamas. We were visiting during our time-off from working in a conservation zoo.

While I was taking the obligatory been-there-done-that picture with the stunning Machu Picchu background, Sadie asked if she could go up to the watchman’s hut a few metres above us on the next level. I apparently mumbled “yes”. A few minutes later she was out of sight. After a short but traumatic hunt around the area, that included a compact panic attack and random screeching at strangers, I found her near the hut, relaxed and smiling with camera in-hand.

It wasn’t until I was going through her memory card that I came across these photographs and realised what she was doing while she was “lost”. Says it all really.

 

5 tips: when travelling as a family

suitcases pic

We are a well-travelled family with quite a bit of experience between us. So you’d think we would have everything planned and organised down to the last toothpick for our recent trip to Sri Lanka, oh no. For some strange reason, before this particular trip my husband and I were overcome with an unusual laid-back almost zen-like approach to catching our flight. I have to admit I’m generally the drill master in this situation but not this time. This was different. We (I mean ‘he’) agreed on the set time we would leave the house without allowing for the holiday mayhem that was about to unfold.

We arrived at the airport with just over an hour to boarding to be told to join the crowd after giving our meager reasons for being ‘a bit late’. After a few minutes a lady with a clipboard meekly called  for any remaining Colombo passengers. We made our way, chest-first through the bulging queue, to the desk to be told boarding had closed. After a few heated arguments, we finally listened to the helpful chap behind the desk  who explained that we must simply convert our big case into two newly-bought all cases (this seemed impossible at the time), if we want to get on the flight. We had gone from a relatively normal 2.2 family to a rampaged group of savages scurrying around on the airport floor flinging knickers around. The madness continued to the gate with my husband and I sprinting off through duty free like it was every man for themselves leaving the two kids to struggle with their luggage. We finally made it on board huffing and puffing, head down in shame, only to be sitting on the tarmac waiting for late passengers to arrive from shopping. Tut, tut.

Coincidentally, I’ve decided to review our family travel rules and here are 5 of the more important ones:

1. Leave 2 hours earlier than usual especially when it is school holiday time – it may seem obvious but no one wants to start their trip with the slow painful shuffle in the misleading queue from hell.

2. Use hand-luggage sized suitcases only – when they’re old enough, give each child a bit of responsibility by allocating them their own piece of luggage.

3. Check and double check the kids packing – my daughter felt that having two swimsuits and pj’s were far more important than any underwear or clothes!

4. Discuss the travel plans more than once – and not on the day of the flight so you avoid pre-holiday airhead mode

5. Appoint a person in charge– this not only gives someone responsibility i.e. they think about the finer details, it also gives you the chance to blame the other person if that person isn’t you!

As expected, we arrived in Sri Lanka four or so hours later, $70 lighter (visa cost) where we were greeted by our smiley driver ‘Udaya’ with a perfectly incorrect sign ‘Mr Z Looper’.  

What the volunteers say

volunteer video

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a volunteer? In June, my daughter Sadie and I are heading off for two weeks of volunteer work in Cusco conservation zoo, Peru. Here’s a short volunteer expectations video from people who have been there and done exactly that.

Hear what they think about their experience, advice on how to make the most of your time and dealing with culture shocks as well as what you can expect to gain personally.