Baseball time!

Author: Ruzow

It was late afternoon, when our parents dropped me, Kali, Eulain, Esto, Shinae, Michelle, Conrad and Emma off in front of Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. I could hear the roaring crowd from where we stood in line outside the stadium. Our seats were high above the pitch and I had a perfect view of the home base.

The game had already begun a few minutes ago. Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox. Most people, including us, were cheering for the Astros. This meant every time the small minority of Red Sox fans began cheering us Astros supporters quickly drowned them out.

It was a very close game, but in the end, the Red Sox managed to get away with a 2-1 win. Even though our team had not won, I was still happy to have been able to see the game and be part of the stadium atmosphere.

Thank you very much Wessels Kids!!!

– Ruzow –


Ultimate… Spectacular… Awesome…(USA)

Author: Kali

29 June

Our time in the USA was simply too short. There were too many people we could not see, even though we would have loved to. However, the few we had the chance to see was definitely worth every second. We had many special moments and precious conversations with some of our dearest friends. It was absolutely wonderful to see everyone!

It was a big shock for me to see the grown up faces instead of the chubby baby ones that were so familiar to me throughout my childhood. With every family we saw, there was an instant reconnection between all of the children, even though we had not seen each other for over 5 years.

As soon as we had hopped off the plane into the USA, it felt as if we had entered luxury. It is funny how little things that used to be normal can excite you after not having them. These are now luxuries. We got so spoilt in the USA that the transition back to cheap and cheerful backpacking life has been rather difficult.

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A few notes…

  • Katie, instead of writing this I would much rather want to sit with you in your hammock and chat. I have scouted through the trees near our cottage and have found the perfect two. Looking forward to seeing you in Australia!😋
  • McCurtis Children, I would trade anything to swim in the sunlight with you guys  for endless hours. It was so much fun and I really started missing it now that I’m in the icy cold of Finland,  thinking through our fabulous time together. 😄
  • Shinae, It was wonderful to see you and spend such valuable time with you. It was so strange to have you drive us around. Those cakes still haunt me at night. I run around the house in search of them. 😝
  • Emma, I had a wonderful time with you! Thank you so much for all the effort and thought you guys went through to enable us to have such a spectacular time. Maybe next time I’ll be able to fly through time on The Bullet, with my hands in the air and return to the normal pace of earth alive. 😜
  • Pieszchalas, it was so special to see you, even though there wasn’t even time to sit down. Just to see all your beautiful faces and say hallo was such a delight. I am so glad we took the chance to see you guys on the way to the airport. Can’t wait to see you in our living room not too long from now. ❤️
  • Hope, it was absolutely wonderful to see you! You have grown from a little nine-year old (whom I still remember playing with) to a beautiful young lady who has a heart with endless volume. I am so excited for what lies ahead in your bright and exciting future. Maybe we can meet up somewhere around the world!
  • Chellie, I’m still waiting for you to arrive as my personal chef and baker. Thank you so much for all the delicious dishes and meals you magicked from the kitchen. Please come cook for us!! 😉
  • Conrad, drowning out the Red Sox supporters with our loud and enthusiastic Astros cheering was something I will never forget. It was so much fun to be in the stadium with you guys. No wonder my voice was gone the next day. Also, the shooting was something spectacular. Thank you for being brave enough to teach and show me how it is done. Next time I will surprise you! 😝

Until next time,

–  Kali –

New York on my Birthday!

Author: Ruzow

It was 9 pm. We were very tired after sitting in the car the whole day on our way to New York. It was my birthday and we had embarked on our road trip from Charlotte in the early hours of the morning. After many long hours, we went through a long tunnel, and on the other side there was a sign that read: WELCOME TO NEW YORK!!! We had arrived in New York City! Everyone was now wide awake again. I could not believe we were in New York on my birthday!!!

A few minutes later, we stopped outside an old apartment building, in a small side street. Instantly Kali started getting nervous. We went inside and found our tiny little apartment for $62 a night. It may have been small, but the owner was very friendly and the place was clean.


The next morning, we walked to the subway station one block away. There we bought tickets and got on. Ten minutes later, we got off and walked a few blocks to Wall Street. Here, after about twenty minutes of searching, we found our tour guide. Jon was a nice guy with a great sense of humour. During our six hour walking tour of Manhattan, I would have been able to fill a whole book with all the things I saw and learnt, but here are my highlights:

  • The Twin Tower Memorial was something I have always wanted to see and learn more about. I was very excited when we arrived. Our guide shared a lot of good information with us, that really helped me understand what happened.
  • Little Italy, is the suburb where Italian immigrants settled for the first time, and who generations later, still inhabit the area. It was full of small shops and restaurants and interesting buildings.
  • Lunch in Little Italy, a delicious pizza.
  • Another of my highlights was that in every street, there was something interesting to learn. For example, the first building with a lift in it, the highest building with a fire escape on the outside and many other small bits of interesting facts about the buildings, their former inhabitants or uses.

I can definitely conclude that,  if you are ever looking for a tour to do in New York, Free Tours By Foot is the best one there is.

Following the tour, we walked along a pathway, towards the ferry terminals and after about an hour, we went inside a café where I got a milkshake. (Not the best I have ever tasted.) However, twenty minutes later, we were on board a ferry and sailing steadily down the Hudson River. Now we got to see New York from the river. We saw many famous buildings, including the World Trade Centre, Chrysler Building and Empire State Building. A little while later, we were underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, something I always longed to do. From there we sailed on, gazing at the city and taking photos with all the famous landmarks in the background. We turned around and sailed back a different route. Then, in front of me was the one thing I dreamed of seeing – the Statue of Liberty. It was up close now and people were all trying to take photos of it. I just stood there looking at it. It was amazing! After seeing it, we sailed back to the terminal.


We then walked to Times Square.  The place was crowded with people, huge screens with advertisements and flashing light! So much excitement. We just watched everything around us, it was a whole experience in itself. All too soon, we had to head back to our apartment for the night.

We got up early and went for a run in Central Park. There were lots of people exercising, playing sports, or just chilling with friends. Afterwards, we went to get our breakfast bagels on Madison Avenue. We then headed back on a bus.

Back at the apartment, we showered and packed our bags, before getting on the subway to the airport. We were on our way again, this time to Finland.

– Ruzow –


A Full Heart

Author: Mariza

28 June

How is it that we make connections with people, don’t see them for five years and pick up right where we left off? How wonderful to feel the same love for and connection with their now almost adult children. Precious beyond words.

Our time in America was way too short, but oh so wonderful. What was supposed to be a quick stopover turned into two weeks of cramming in years worth of togetherness and very little sleep. There were many dear friends we would have loved to have seen, but we simply didn’t have time. Those few we did see was such a treat, though.

Landing in Miami was an experience I would rather forget. The I-am-too-important-and-need-to-prove-it-through-my-power-game immigration official kept us there for two hours, sent us for a secondary interrogation and made us miss our flight to Atlanta. To say I was livid would be an understatement. We arrived in Atlanta way later than planned, but made up for it by not sleeping for two days. Too much to share, too little time. Not that any amount of time would ever be enough with these special friends.

Another family drove all the way from Chicago to have coffee with us. The last time we saw them was at their wedding, ten years ago. Now they have two gorgeous kiddies, one with the chubbiest cheeks in the universe. I wanted to eat her!! We met Gene as a young woman in London. Family at first sight.

Our departure flight came way too soon. Tom and Michelle drove us to the airport at 4am to buy us another hour together. We have lived through so much in such a short time in Houston. How good it is to see our friends doing so well and being in such a great place. Our hearts are forever grateful.

Our next visit was with our dear friends “die Wesselse”. We were at university in beautiful Stellenbosch at the same time, rediscovered one another in our first week in Houston and became so much more than friends in the two and a half years on opposite sides of that city. Eight days of skiing in Colorado and surviving hurricane Ike under one roof definitely sealed our friendship. It’s been five years since our last visit, but nothing has changed between us. Only the kids – unrecognisable, especially some with huge hands and feet who like to look down on me while hugging! Words are insufficient when it comes to these precious ones. Our heart people.

The McKurtis clan, also a family of six, housed us for one cherished night. Here we were spoilt rotten and the kids sacrificed the start of their holiday camp to be with us. Again way too little time. We love these people to bits!! They were the first ones to invite us to their home for lunch in Houston and that was the beginning and the end. A great family friendship that only gets better over time.

We saw two other families, very significant in our lives. All too briefly!! But it was wonderful, wonderful!! And again a shock to see the kids so grown up. Rodgers and Deckers we soooooooooo appreciate you!!!! Sandi has been a key and integral part of our lives for the past eight years since leaving Houston. And oh to see and hug my precious Mike! I LOVE that man!!

On our way to the airport we took a chance, which nearly made us miss our flight. We drove to the Pieszchalas to knock on their door. If anyone can appreciate a surprise drop in, it would be these people. We share so many special memories with this family. From deep, meaningful discussions to sundowners on their newly acquired land and many a meal in interesting places. Christy’s face when she opened the door, followed by screaming which brought Caylin out, was priceless. I only wish we had more time with them. Next year in Brisbane we will, though. I cannot wait!! Special, special friends!!

Charlotte, North Carolina and the home of our beloved Lains made up for all the discomfort we suffered in South America. Vineyards and wine tasting and s’mores on the fire outside, an early birthday celebration for Ruzow’s 12th with delectable cupcakes and sleeping in palatial rooms with luxury beds. 😊 🇺🇸

Mrs Lainie, Joe and girls, you outdid yourselves!! Thank you for embracing and enduring an entire day of shopping with the six of us. And for all the special moments (too many to mention!) we shared. Love you to eternity!!

We left Charlotte at 4 in the morning and drove to New York City via Washington DC. We spent Ruzow’s 12th birthday on the road, only arriving in New York around 10pm. Looooooooong day!!

The excitement of arriving in New York City is not even quenchable by severe exhaustion. After an eventful bag drop in a dodgy street in Manhattan, we finally handed our rented car back at 11pm. And yes, believe it if you can, we WALKED fifty (yes, five zero!!) blocks back to our apartment. Upon arrival, after midnight, we lined up for a turn in the one and only bathroom for a quick shower. Our tiny room containing three double beds (and nothing else, not even air) was clean and comfortable. The rest of the apartment houses all sorts of interesting people, crammed into three more rooms. Great value for money, though, especially considering our proximity to Central Park, Time Square and downtown  New York.

We managed to squeeze a magnitude of highlights into our short visit to New York. A six hour walking tour of the city, a twilight cruise down The Hudson and to the Statue of Liberty, a night visit to Time Square and a run through Central Park to name but a few. We concluded our NYC adventure with expensive bagels on Madison Avenue before catching the subway to JFK International Airport.


America oh America! How we wish we had more time.

Mariza –



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