Ouma Katie

26 April 2017

Shortly after our morning run, we received a call from South Africa. Jarik’s grandma passed away unexpectedly. Our first response was immense gratitude, because just two days ago we phoned her (we share a birthday) and all six of us had a nice long chat with her. She cried as we started to sing and she cried some more when we said goodbye. She was well and happy and telling us about a family wedding they attended last weekend.

Life is precious and short and can end so abruptly. In this case, however, our beloved Ouma Katie lived a long, full life. In her final moments well loved and busy with her normal everyday things. We are sad that she is gone and we shall miss her, but we are eternally grateful and rich to have loved her.

– Mariza –


My Ouma Katie      24 April 1928 – 26 April 2017

Author: Kali


Haar hande sag en klein,

Sonstrale laat haar hare skyn,

Soos die pêrels om haar ou nek,

En die netjiese pakkie wat haar lyfie bedek.


My hart geskeur en in pyn,

En die trane loop,

Vir my oumatjie so fyn en mooi,

En net so soet soos stroop.


Ek ruik haar nog in my klere,

Van ons oulaas soen en druk.

Oral dryf haar geure,

Wat aan my hart snare ruk.


As ek geweet het dis oulaas,

Het ek langer vasgehou.

Sonder die onnodige haas,

En erg oor almal wat aanskou.


Altyd met ‘n hondjie aan haar sy,

Soos ‘n kind wat alles kry.

In die kombuis voor die stoof,

Staan my oumatjie ewe vrolik,

En al ‘n klein bietjie doof.


So verimpeld soos ‘n rosyntjie,

So sag soos sy,

Dis my ou oumatjie,

Sy staan en glimlag vir my.


Wanneer sy met my praat,

Is my oë stip,

Op daai ‘tamatie pit’ op haar onder lip.


Sien ek as ek terug kyk:

Haar lewe was lank en ryk.

Die liewe Here haar gespaar,

Maar nou begeer Hy haar.


Al is my hart in skerwe,

Is ek so verlig en bly.

My Ouma by die Here,

Met al die Turkish delight wat ‘n mens kan kry.


Lief my Ouma Katie,

Ek sien jou eendag weer.

Met nog ‘n soen en druk,

Dis wat my hart begeer!


Met arms vol liefde en verlange,

Kali xx




Author: Kali

It was the late afternoon of the 24th of April and we were having a walk, slowly making our way home after a long, satisfyingly run. All the way we ran along the sharp, high cliffs that cut down to the icy blue ocean water. It was beautiful!
As we were rounding a curve on the long and windy sea-view road, I felt a bit of a shake, like when a heavy truck roars across the bridge you are standing on. Only, this time I was on solid ground! I also saw a bunch of rocks and sand falling. Strange…
I asked around if any of the others had felt anything, but surprisingly, they did’t! As a matter of fact, mum did’t even seem to believe me. This left me wondering until…
Suddenly all hell broke loose. All the deafening emergency sirens went off in the city, and a large, black cloud of smoke was rising from somewhere within the city centre. An official was running towards us, yelling a few urgent sentences in Spanish, of which we could not understand a single word. Seeing the confused and bewildered looks on our faces, he stopped to explain some more. Eventually we could make out that there was a tsunami heading towards the coast, and we were to head for the hills in evacuation.
Busses, cars, local trams and any other sort of vehicle rushed up towards the narrow streets heading up the steep hills. Many people were rushing up along the cobble stone sidewalks, chattering excitedly of the happenings. All tv’s in the houses, hostels, and apartments were blaring with the most recent news, and many people were holding out either their cellphones or radios to get an update of the events just down below. It was mayhem!
Many questions followed, considering our belongings, our apartment, where we should be heading, and any further news or updates about the tsunami. Our apartment was in the city centre itself, and around 30m from the shore of the harbour, on the 3rd floor.
It was now getting late, and we were starting to freeze in our short running cloths at this hour of the night, and so decided to head for home. Surprisingly, after no real action, the chaos started to calm down, and we were now able to access our apartment.
As soon as we got home, we found our whole patio wet. The firemen must’ve sprayed it too! We immediately switched on the tv so we could find out what exactly we’ve been through, or not.
Soon we discovered that in the heart of the city, at 6:30pm local time there was an earthquake at a scale of 6.9! This explained the shaking I had felt earlier. We saw footage of the items in a grocery store being thrown off the shelves, the top level of a building burning in flames with fireman doing their duties, and a large rock fall and smash a parked car. Luckily, there was minor destruction, and no people were injured.
But as we were sitting at the table, having dinner, we all felt a small, yet clear tremor, and looked at each other with wide eyes. At least we are all safe, and soon after snuggled under our warm covers after a long day of celebrating
Mum’s birthday, and of course, evacuation and all the drama that had gone with it. What an adventure, and hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 😉

Until next time,
– Kali  –

(The fire and smoke rising from the building in the photograph above was at the centre of the chaos during the tsunami evacuation alert. Our apartment was about two blocks from that building. We took this picture from high up in the hills!) 

Valparaiso Magic

Author: Mariza

I am in love. Colourful, vibrant Valparaiso. Steep and narrow little alleyways everywhere. Street art, beautiful old buildings, some brightly painted, others neglected and run down. Interesting people. Sophistication and poverty, all intertwined in this magical city clinging to the side of a mountain, overlooking the pacific ocean.

We arrived here at night after a long bus journey. The place alive with merchants and residents embracing the start of the weekend. The streets bright and noisy and buzzing. An abundance of bars and restaurants and little corner stores, stocking everything from toilet paper to wine.

We weaved our way through the bodies and little alleys until we found ourselves in the heart of the old city of Valparaiso. Here we stood and stared and drank in the fun and excitement and beauty of a place shaped by wealth and neglect, earthquakes and tragedies, the arts, rebellion and those seeking significance and meaningful endeavours.

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As we meandered our way up and down brightly painted staircases, up and around and over an array of buildings and walls, all connected, we were hardly aware of our heavy backpacks. So consumed were we by all the sights, that we didn’t realise how far and how long we’ve been walking for. It was very late by the time we found our hostel. Not exactly a family home, but very, very interesting. The people too! All sorts. Mainly young and single.

We were thrilled to bed down in our rustic quarters. By the time we discovered the bedding was rather dirty and the place very noisy, we’ve already convinced ourselves that this was paradise. We didn’t get much sleep with a bottle shop directly below us and open all night and the alley “highway” of Valparaiso being our very street. But it was worth it. We felt a connectedness with the place and the people and we’ve had some significant conversations with those around us.

Valparaiso attracts all different types of people. There are the real artists who actually make art, there are the wanna be weirdos with strange hairstyles, most wonderful clothes and crazy piercings and then there are the ultra conservatives who gulp and look at all of this in amazement and secretly wish they were a little more adventurous.

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The best thing to do in this city is simply to get lost in the little streets and to walk into every open door. There are the most incredible surprises in the most obscure little buildings. Food is another great adventure if you’re willing to simply go with what the locals recommend. Wine is cheap and mostly good. Craft beer in ginormous glasses and fancy surroundings versus cheap local bottled beer in sometimes drab and sometimes super bright, not so fancy, little rooms.

We walked many a mile in this gorgeous place and still I haven’t had enough of it. We ran every day too. Sometimes far out along the ocean shores and sometimes up and down the steep hills and through the busy markets. We always attracted lots of stares and friendly “Hola!”s. Our hearts are so full of happy memories. Valparaiso is simply wonderful!

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– Mariza –

… the darker side of traveling…

Traveling is always an adventure and very seldom does everything go according to  plan. One way to avoid this disappointment is by not planning. We have now tried both approaches…

Number 999 (Punta Arenas)

Author: Jarik

We arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile at about 8pm after a long bus ride from El Calafate, Argentina and an amazing time in EL Chalten. Our reservation was for a family room in a hostal at 999 Mejicana Street. Loaded with our backpacks and following the GPS arrow we started our 15 minute walk to out accommodation. After about 45 minutes, we found Mejicana Street, but number 999 evaded us. We went up and down the street twice, three times – over a rail crossing – through back alleys – but for some reason there was no number 999. Finally, after another 30 minutes of searching in the clearly dodgy neighbourhood we saw the triangular building on the road-rail corner that had only a door-width presence on Calle Mejicana. This was number 999. This was not looking good.

We knocked a couple of times, and finally a man opened the door about two inches, peering at us with a frown, but not getting up from his chair. He just shook his head with a stern “no”. We showed him our AirBnB booking confirmation email, but that seemed to irritate him even more than our late-night door knocking. He just shooed us away telling us in Spanish that his house was full, and that AirBnB was not the owner. We were shocked – how could he do that? Leaving us literally out in the cold. But we were also pretty relieved! What we saw through the crack in the door and the thought of having to go in and spend a night there made us all cringe.

So we resumed our hunt for six beds at around 10pm, on foot and still carrying heavy backpacks. We walked a few blocks further and found a lovely hostel (very close to where we got off the bus!). We all squished into a small room with three beds, but for one night that was heaven.  At least we had a safe, clean place to spend the night and best of all, it included breakfast.

Easter Weekend accommodation (Puerto Varas)

It is impossible to find a place to stay for six people on short notice over a long weekend in Puerto Varas (or probably in any other place in the world). Even in a region with hundreds of cabins, when we wanted to extend our stay, we could not find a place available and within our budget. Our alternative? Get on the next available bus to any town that seems remotely interesting and that has accommodation. We landed in Pucon after purchasing six bus tickets minutes before the five our trip started.

A miscommunication in Pucon

Author: Eulain

We clambered off the bus after 10 PM!!! We were so tired. Some of us fell asleep on the bus (including me). Dad took a few minutes to figure out where we were. Just then the wind started howling. Whoosh!!!!! Dust and sand flew into our faces, and bodies, dust in our eyes. It was horrible. When Dad tried to call the lady of our accommodation, we found she could not speak, nor understand a word of English. We tried our best Spanish. All we could make out was “opposite a grocery store”. We walked and walked until our legs ached, on and on. The street name we were walking on was Variante International. The lady finally called her brother that could speak and understand a little bit of English. He told us that he would come to pick us up and take us to the house we would stay in. He said the car is a white Suzuki. We squinted our eyes. Suddenly we started to wave our arms, because we spotted the white Suzuki. There was a man and a woman. The man told us that the kids and Mum should ride in the car, while Dad and he walked. The whole time we were on the wrong road!!! We were on Variante International and our house was on Camino International. We entered a community of black and white homes. There were more than one hundred!!! We were in house number thirty-one. It was the boys’ turn to choose their room. They chose the big room with two single beds, so Kali and I was to sleep in the small room. In this room there was only one bed. Luckily it was a trundle bed. There was a little gap just big  enough for half a mattress. I slept on the floor for four nights. It was very, very dirty and they left a toothbrush in the bathroom.

– Eulain –




Lazy at Llanquihue – Chile

Author: Jarik

15 April

We spent a magical couple of days 24.780km outside of Puerto Varas along the shore of Lago Llanquihue (“yan-key-way”), the largest lake in Chile. We know the exact distance, as this is what you let the bus driver know when you take the local bus from Puerto Varas to Ensenada, the next closest town down the 280km of lake shoreline. Magical, because of the beautiful surroundings. Timber shingle homes, apple trees bountiful with the last fruits of summer, raspberries and murta berries, green pastures with sheep, cattle and alpacas, a lake where every rock and boulder is visible through the clear water and the ever present Osorno volcano – keeping guard over it all. The area is a favourite domestic vacation destination and the lake shore and hills are dotted with lodges, cabanas and fishing cabins.  There is a strong German heritage in the area, reflected in the architecture and the names of buildings and shops in the very pretty town centre.

Spending an afternoon with the people I love, sitting on large boulders along the water’s edge, kids exploring the coves with paddleboards, I cannot help reflecting on what we value and how we choose to shape our lives around that. I am sure that there is room for an additional couple of cabanas in the area, or perhaps an apple cider micro-brewery?

– Jarik –

Puerto Varas – Chile

Author: Mariza

11 April

Puerto Varas – Chile Lake District

We have arrived in paradise. 24km out of Puerto Varas on a farm in a gorgeous old cottage is where we will be spending our next four days. Well, not exactly IN the cottage the whole time, even though I would not mind that.

We took a local bus from Puerto Varas, a very beautiful, charming town, to our destination. You can simply ask to be dropped anywhere along the road between two towns and then pay for the distance traveled before disembarking. Cheerful Spanish music and lovely scenery make for a very pleasant trip.

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We met our host and her two eldest daughters walking up their driveway – us from the bus and they from the little local school down the road. We were welcomed by their two almost identical, huge, Pyrenees puppies. In our charming timber kitchen waited freshly baked bread rolls and apples from the orchard. Yummo!!

The farm is on Lake Llanquihue, with Volcano Osorno, snow capped and majestic in the background. The kids had a swim in the lake, while Jarik and I enjoyed a glass of wine (compliments of our wonderful hosts), sitting on a log-bench. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

– Mariza –

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Author: Kali

During our walk on the trails of the Glaziers Park, I lost my wet bag that contained my eating utensils, beanie, headphones and gloves. When I went back to get it, it wasn’t there, neither in the lost property. I was so unhappy. I knew there were some serious consequences waiting for me, not only in my bowl of soup, but on the tip of Mount Fitzroy.

How do you eat soup with a fork? Really, I’ve tried it: it’s hard! And when other guests at the hostel enter the kitchen area and see you scooping up your soup, or porridge with a fork… you can imagine the look on their faces at the sight of all this!

And at the top of Mount Fitzroy, with snow draped across the rocky edges like a veil, you can imagine how cold this is! I was the only insane person without a beanie and gloves. To be honest, I thought my fingers and ears would freeze right off from the cold. Luckily the didn’t.

Anyway, it was my fault for not looking after my stuff, so I’m left with the consequences. At least Esto would lend me his fork, or whatever useless utensil he had left. But you know… that’s consequences… and that’s just life!

Until next time.

–  Kali –

Back to El Calafate

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Author: Mariza

10 April 2017

On our morning of departure in beautiful El Chalten, the whole family went for an early morning run. We were quite a spectacle with our shorts and sleeveless shirts with beanies on our heads. Our seven kilometre run took us to a stunning waterfall. We admired it for a very brief moment before resuming our heat generating shuffle. Our fellow hostel guests keenly photographed us with an expression somewhere between disbelief and shocked admiration.

With very little time between breakfast and catching the bus, Jarik found himself peddling to the bank on a borrowed bike. Only cash accepted for accommodation upon checkout, which we only discovered at the very last moment, and the bank being on the opposite side of town to our hostel, left him with little choice. The rest of us stood ready to run, backpacks loaded. Because, ironically, the bus station is right next to the bank.

A pleasant bus ride through the countryside brought us back to El Calafate. The public park we chose for our late lunch picnic, between the bus stop and our accommodation, seems to be the local Sunday afternoon hangout spot. The town dogs are there too. 

Our reunion with our hosts was a sweet, heart warming affair. It’s amazing how fond you can get of people in such a short space of time. Seeing little Malu’s gorgeous, friendly face and those chubby cheeks, which I just want to EAT – cuteness overload!!! Joaco speaks no English, but a handshake and hug is universal, so we connected regardless. Viqui is a great hostess and very happy to converse in English. She will forever be my friend who introduced me to the joy of Mate. This is the South American tea drinking ceremony. Very special!! I was very honoured to share mate with her and her brother around the kitchen table. This intimate experience is reserved for family and close friends.

We felt a little sad leaving our El Calafate home this morning. Many goodbye hugs later, we found ourselves stocking up on bread rolls at our favourite bakery for the last time. And off to the bus we go. Two substantial bus trips today will take us to Punta Arenas, from where we will be flying to Puerto Montt, the Chilean lake district.

Goodbye Argentina. It was good meeting you.

– Mariza – 

Mount Fitzroy – Argentina

7 April 2017

Author: Mariza

Forgive me,  but yet again, this was “the most amazing walk EVER”!! No wonder it’s the most popular walk around here and draws trekkers from all over the globe. Stunning, stunning scenery for the entire 20km walk!

We were up at 6 and started our walk at 8am after a delicious breakfast of hot porridge. The entire way up the mountain was freezing cold. We saw lots of frozen ponds and scatterings of snow from the previous day. There was also quite a bit of fog initially, which could be a little disheartening when you depend on clear skies for your view. It did, however, clear up to perfect blue skies and gorgeous views as we were having lunch at the lake at the foot of Mount Fitzroy.

It really is as gorgeous as everyone proclaims and absolutely worth that torturous climb for the last kilometre. And yes, it really is too dangerous for a rainy or windy day. We have been blessed with perfect weather yet again. Apparently there are only two perfect weeks here a year and we happened to choose one of them. Lucky us! 😊

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El Chalten – Argentina

Author: Mariza

Hiker’s paradise is the gorgeous little town of El Chalten. Situated in a national park with wonderful walking trails going in all directions out of town, this is an absolutely gem. People come from all over the world to do these amazing walks. The most famous being the Mount Fitzroy trail.

Upon entrance, each person has to sit through an educational talk (in beautiful broken English or Spanish). The town is tiny – I ran right around it in half an hour – and lies in a valley surrounded by beautiful rugged mountains. Stand alone houses (as apposed to Chile’s on-top-of-one-another-all-attached versions) vary in colours, shapes and sizes. Some look like doll’s houses, small and beautiful and fascinating.

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Our abode was a most wonderful surprise. Having booked the cheapest accommodation in town and predicting from the pictures on the booking site, we expected to share a cold shipping container with twenty-four others. Great was our relief and excitement when we were handed keys to a stunning six bunkbed cabin with it’s own bathroom. Such luxury!! And with a heater that is running 24/7!! Clean clothes here we come!!

On our first day we did a quick 10km walk before scouting out every single shop in town. The shops are small, sparsely stocked and incredibly expensive. There shall be no eating or drinking in restaurants and there shall be minimal purchasing in this town!! A small tin of not-great-coffee, milk, a bag of eggs (Yes! That’s how it’s sold here!), and a box of oatmeal later, we have exceeded our budget for the day.

After eating mostly bread for the past several days (cheapest option), Jarik decided a home cooked meal was in order. Our hostel has a kitchen, so out we went again to hunt for things to boil in a pot. Lentils with a beef short rib and sweet potato stew turned into a delicious, hot family meal around a large wooden table. Round that off with a $12 Malbec (that is cheap for Australia, not for South Africa) and happy parents you have. To topple the kiddos into the land of contentment, a big pot of milk tart inner was served for dessert. The natural reaction to stumbling upon cinnamon in a tiny shop, of course!

To say the heating is slightly overdone would be an understatement. With no windows that open, everyone on a top bunk passed out from heat exhaustion. At least all the clean clothes were crispy dry in the morning. We were planning on being up and running by 6am, but seeing that it is pitch black till 8am, we decided to have a little lie in. After a delicious breakfast of hot oatmeal, we embarked on our 20km walk. Halfway up it started snowing. Snowflakes were falling only ever so slightly, but our kids were in absolute awe.

We reached our destination in record time. Out came the rolls and egg mayonnaise. It took about two bites before we realised we will freeze to death. Esto and Eulain already entertained us with a piece of ice from the nearby glacier. Never have you seen six people wolfing down their lunch so fast. And off we we went, RUNNING back to our warm bungalow. It took us only an hour and a half to do the ten kilometres back over rough terrain. Hot chocolate and coffee – fantastic reward!

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We have another three nights here. Tomorrow we will do THE Mount Fitzroy walk. It’s apparently very long, difficult and have VERY steep trails. Mmmmm… I’m sure we’ll survive it. The kids will probably be skipping along and even if the parents’ knees hurt on the way down, we’ll most likely label it an incredible experience once we’re safely wrapped up in our blankets back home.

How blessed are we to be fit and healthy and able to enjoy this marvellous place?! And to have a big, crazy family to share these moments with. Happy, happy heart! ❤

– Mariza –

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