little shepherds and hot guinea pigs

Have just got back from a fabulous trip to Urubamba, a small town in the Sacred Valley, where we spent Tims birthday. It was awesome to be out of a tourist centre. To glimpse genuine Andean life and not be treated as a money machine... The Quechans seem to be such a warm, genorous and loving people. Yesterday we hired mountain bikes and bustled around the valley. We made it up to these amazing "salinas" or Salt Pans, terraces that have been exploited for salt since Inca times. They were still working at them, with chisel and hammer. We wanted to go further up the mountain, to a place called Moray where there is an old Inca site, but it got insanely steep and sheer. A couple of shephard boys caught site of us and we swapped- mountain bike for shephards crook. They half carried, half rode the bikes along as we tended the (pretty manky but still kind of cute) lambs and mules. The locals farm so high up the mountains... a whole community up there in this remote, snowy place.
Dusk was setting in as we whipped down the 2 hour ascent in 20 minutes. Bit scary.
Other delights included tasting the cactus fruit from a local womens garden (so weird this sweet, lucious thing coming from such a gnarly spikey plant) and seeing the guinea pigs on a spit which is part of the old staple for these guys! (Blugh)


Mucho hat plaits

Have arrived in Cusco after a most trecherous journey over the Andes, a good solid 13 hours of winding and bumping around unimaginable heights! So mad to pass through a town tucked away into the top of an incredibley high mountain after hours of climbing in the bus, only, 40 minutes later, to look down and see it miles below as a tiny speck of glitter.
Cusco is such a beautiful city, a harmonious mix of Inca ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. There are hat plaits everywhere you look (You know, the wooly ones) as well as Llamas lolling around on the streets.
We are hoping to go exploring around the Sacred Valley over the weekend- Tims birthday tommorrow- and then to begin the Inca Trail on Monday. But, you see, Tim is a bit of a crook one... please pray that he gets well soon, so that not only does he feel better but so we can get on with the intrepidness. Gracias, amigos.
Also, sorry no pictures, our camera has truly died a death so we are on to the old skool disposables!!!


grace and wonder

I am reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, and there is this rad bit in it that talks abut wonder. About how easily we lose our wonder over the big and little beautiful things around us, and about this wise old Rabbi who on his death bed praised the Lord that he was able to retain his sense of wonder throughout his life.
When you are on holiday your wonder sensors perk up a bit ay? How can you not have your breath taken away at the sight of the sun setting over majestic miles of sand dunes?! Or at the Hola exclaiming parrots who want to be your mate!
There are a few nonwonderous moments too, like when your camera gets irrepairabley wasted by the iron in the sanddunes and you can´t post the pictures people want to see! Or like having the runs when your bus gets stuck in traffic for 3 hours in the middle of a desert. (Last nights bus trip was due to take 2 and half hours, it lasted 7! Tonights bus trip to Cusco is due to take 20 hours....!!!)
i guess, I want to have my sense of wonder nurtured on this trip to the point of no return. So that even in mundanity I can glimpse the grace and beauty of God in the big and the little.


Thirsty work

Had a lovely day. Walked for miles and went surfing in the worlds dirtiest water! The colour of tea. Its funny we are being so seriouspants about typhoid- cleaning our teeth with bottled water etc- and then today I pretty much swallowed 3 stomachfulls of portaloo juice.
Bus to Pisco tommorrow.


ahhh, amigos!

We are sitting in a lovely hostel in Lima. We have been in the skies for 23 hours and in transit lounges for 20 hours more. We are feeling a bit rough! Up untill now I have been dropping off to nodland 3 or 4 times an hour, whenever I shut my eyes really... but now that I have a bed I am wide awake! Rats, why does that always happen?! But other than that Peru is so far friendly, hot and fascinating. We will probably only be here in the city for another day or so then we will traverse down the coastline, up to Machu Piccu and then down to Bolivia via Lake Titicaca.
At the supermarket I saw a giant corn on the cob, with kernels the size of my thumb. (This one was yellow but they had purple ones too) So, sweetcorn being my most favourite thing ever, I snapped it up and bought it back and cooked it up. It totally tasted like broad beans! Blughh. Not sweet corn at all... perhaps the first of many culinary surprises.
I am busting out with spanish all over the place, I think I am embarressing Tim. Every time I say something, I give him a proud nudge but I dont think he is down with it as much as I am.
Okedokio, Adios and Hasta Luego.
(By the way, to answer Glyns question... we are on our way to London to spend a few years there, via a bit of the Americas!)


phew. I'm human.

I have really not been feeling too sad about leaving Aotearoa. A childhood of roaming about regularly has seemed to make me a bit callous hearted about moving on; "Friends are friends for ever, family too. So, you know.... See Ya!!" styles.
Finally, yesterday I got sad. Hurray!
Having our last church service at Mt Albert Salvation Army really sucked. It is truly the most inclusive and embracing community I have ever been a part of. As a church goes, it is so hitting the nail on the head- being utterly genunine, incarnate in the community, to the marginalised. Can a space like that - the values and ideas, the theology and outworking of that-be recreated ever? I will miss Mt Albert with all its curiosities and frame breaks very much.
And then last night we had one ginourmous Farewell Sundaes on Sundays. We didn't know how many friends to expect, I had in mind about 20, but in all about 90 loved ones showed up to eat ice cream and hug good bye. Such amazing people, that I am sad not to get to hang out with more and more.
Our corps officers (pastors) sent us out from Mt Albert as missionaries, to go and build community where we go. I so hope we can be faithful to the this, and the other things God has done in our minds and hearts over this year (thoughts shaped and values confirmed) - through church and other friendships- wherever we end up.


ooh, eek, ouch, argh

That's a sound effect for each immunisation we just had! (PLUS blood tests yesterday) 536 dollars of pain! Yellow fever, tetanus, hep a and polio. wowza, ain't nothing gonna get in now. (apart from maybe typhoid and malaria)
Passports finally both arrived this morning safe and sound, with a visa for Tim. A big wondrous sigh of relief, for they are a rather fabulous and helpful thing when you go travelling...
Not long to go now!!!
I have packed my bags! Even my toilet bag! Still 5 sleeps to go for goodness sake- this is the first trip ever I have not packed the night before. I am simply so giggleingly amped....



So... the Whanganui River canoeing was incredible! The most amazing scenery and company. It was pretty gruelling work but worth every bit. The amazing gorges, waterfalls, rapids and um... nasty rodents. One night I woke up to find this fat greedy guts possum tucking into our friend's snacks!

After the canoeing we made our way to Taranaki, we stopped off at Jerusalem- A mission station up the river where Sister Aubet worked with tangata whenua on establishing a religious community and home for orphans. It is also where my favourite kiwi, J.K Baxter, spent much of his time. It was a beautiful pilgrimage....

We also got a preview of London (Aotearoa styles!!)Parihaka Peace Festival was just the most relaxing and fascinating time. I have never seen so many dreadlocks, genuine hongi (Maori nose press greeting) and face moko (Maori tatoos) in my life! An amazing mix of people committed to Maori and Pakeha healing history, environmentalists and musos. Challanging speakers on justice, peace and biculturalism, beautiful weather, the raddest music- Katachafire, Kora and Dave Dobbyn rocked my world. This is a bit of Dave's gig-

Our hitch home was a pure God hook up.. all the way to Auckland, with awesome talk, she and Tim are from the same iwi, Te Atiawa and were able to talk about Parihaka and the regions history. Phew. Fabulous times. Now on to prep and the countdown for leaving in one week. ARGH! Hope you are all well! Peace....


'Appy New yearrr

What a fabulous restful week it has been! A quick update.... Spent Christmas down in Rotorua with the extended Aitken Whanau, which was really fab.
Today we are off to canoe down the Whanganui river for 4 days, 13 of us. It is going to be wonderful, so beautiful down there. We will mostly all be sleeping under a tarp, except for one night I think when we'll be on a marae.

Then Tim, me and one of my best pals, Jenna, are going to Taranaki for the Parihaka Festival for Peace and Justice. Bands, speakers, Te Reo Maori etc, (its not too late to join us! text tim if you want to come- 0274798111)

Then we are hitching back to Auckland to get ready for the big leaving day on the 17th of January! Wahoo! Spending 6 weeks in Peru and Bolivia, 2 in Canada to arrive in London on 15th March.... ARGH canny wait.

Well- Happy New Year everyone. A weird kind of party time, eh? As half the time we dont know what we are celebrating! But today I am celebrating hope in God for:

new adventures that God can infuse in each year, a rejuvenated passion for justice and mission, a recommitment to following Jesus so closely (even into the darkest, weirdest, grottiest places) and more courage to actually do this...
Yup, thats me prayer.