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May 28, 2014

Hank: Thailand

Barf bags and beaches
Thailand was pretty amazing. We stayed on an island called Koh Lanta which is west of Krabi in southwest Thailand. I actually did not pay much attention to much of the stuff there because I was sick but the stuff I did see looked cool. I now have a beach on an island in Thailand to add to my list of prime puking locations. My mom found us a great room that looked off of a mountain to the ocean. The only down side of it was the monkeys that lived outside our room and used our balcony as a play ground. You would think that this would be cute but I have seen lots of monkeys and after awhile they all start to look the same. One also tried to steal my water bottle but I saw the little guy sitting outside my room with it and I got it back. Although, that bottle had been chewed on quite a bit by the thief and his pals. Thailand seemed to be mostly tropical jungles and mountains on the inside with either pristine beaches or tall cliffs making up the coastline.
Beaches are an important part of vacation destinations for most people and not many can compare with the beaches of Koh Lanta. Another big attraction is the elephant rides. You see elephants every where. Walking down the road, eating next to people houses, and lounging in crop fields. The Blue Moon Cafe was one place without elephants although it did have one of the best beaches I have ever been to. Soft sand, big waves, and a drop off that was perfect to push Nadine off of. It was owned by a 50 or 60 year old lady. The food was delicious but, unfortunately I did not have much of an appetite. I would highly recommend Thailand and hopefully I will be coming back.
May 9, 2014

Nadine: Tree of Life Children’s Village, Zambia

“Tree of Life”, it does not tell you what it is, though personally I think that it is a fitting name for the orphanage. A place where children brake out of their buds and blossom. The Tree of Life is a large property made up of a valley and a large hill located outside of Lusaka, Zambia. There are 35 houses right now and five more in the making. The unique part about Tree of Life is that the Houses are not separated by age. Each house has an assortment of ages and two women who go by the name of house mom. The different houses act as families while every body acts like friends.
The children at Tree of Life were so caring. Each kid seemed to have an older kid that cared for them and that the younger kid looked up to. Every child seemed to be interested in what we know and where we’re from. Every child was unique. One would be amazing at building sand castles and an other would be able to run extremely fast. Every kid was nice, unique, and interesting.
There were many children, though one girl seemed to always be able to find us. Her name was Faith. We always bumped into her some how. She loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There was just something about her that was comforting and warm. She was fast and graceful in her movements. She was always laughing. It seemed like she did not care where she was as long as there were other people to play with.
Tree of Life was an amazing experience that taught me how lucky I am. Some of the kids there were just sad looking. One girl had burns all over one side of her face where her mom would pour hot water on her. An other had knife scars on the backs of her legs from where her dad’s girlfriend would throw hot knifes at her. All of the kids had sad stories though they all seemed happy to be there and I was too.
May 9, 2014

Hank: Tree of Life Children’s Village, Zambia

Tree of Life is a really cool orphanage. It is located just outside of Lusaka, Zambia. It rescues kids from very bad situations in Zambia. The Tree of Life people then school the children and put them in houses with twelve kids and two house moms. The houses are either only boys or only girls but school is coed. The houses have all different ages of children living in them. A house could have a 17 year old and a five year old both living there at the same time.

The boys at Tree of Live mostly play soccer but sometimes play baseball and volleyball. Girls played a lot of “touch” which is their name for tag. They also played some soccer. There was a boy named Mulanga who could build anything. While we were there he built a 2 story mud house that was about 2 feet tall. It had a sky deck and a little Lego door on the bottom. When you opened the door it would be hollow inside. It was really cool.
The family we stayed with in Lusaka was great. They lived about 20 minutes away from Tree of Life. There was a 6 year old, a 7 year old, an 11 year old, and a 12 year old. Their names were Emmi, Elli, Bennett, and Parker. The dad’s name was Clay and he worked for Tree of Life. Their mother’s name was Erin. They had a nice house with a swimming pool and a trampoline. All the kids ride horses and the two older boys play a sport which I did not know existed until I got there called polo cross. It is a mix between lacrosse and polo so it is like lacrosse on horses.
Zambia was my favorite place of the trip by far. Between the safari drives and the Tree of Life it was just amazing. If I got the chance to return anywhere I have ever been I would choose here without a doubt. I am seriously considering living here when I am an adult instead of any of those normal retirement homes like Colorado or France.
April 26, 2014

Hank: South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks, Zambia

  I FOUND MY NEW HOME WHEN I AM A MILLIONAIRE.  I am going to live in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia where I will serve as an apprentice to our guide, Manda. I can be the guy who walks around carrying the tea and cookies for the guests when they go on walks and driving safaris. We stayed at Mfwue Lodge, which is located inside the park. You could actually see many different kinds of animals from the cabin.
        We had the coolest guides ever! The first guide’s name was Kelvin. But we only had him for the first day. The rest of the time our guide was named Manda. He was great. He knew all of the scientific and normal person names for the animals that we saw. He had been guiding for 16 years. He showed me how to identify many different kinds of tracks and let me shine the spot light around from the land rover at night. I was the spotter and I spotted lots of animals.
        Next we went to a lodge called Sausage Tree in Lower Zambezi National Park. We saw a lot of lions there. We also went fishing for tiger fish. The biggest one we caught was 8 pounds but we also caught a 7 pounder and some smaller ones. They fight really hard! It was way harder than any 8 pound fish you could catch in Texas except for maybe a tarpon. Of course I have never caught a tarpon so I don’t really know. If any body reads this who has caught a tarpon and a tiger fish then please comment on this blog and tell me which one fights harder. This is the 8 pounder.
April 20, 2014

Nadine: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Elephants, and crocodiles, and leopards, oh my! That is what I thought while we were in South Luangua. We stayed at a lodge called Mfuwe Lodge. It was extremely cool and our guide was awesome. The guide’s name was Manda. He kind of resembled a nature book; he knew all of the scientific names for the animals that we saw from the baboons to the birds. The food at the lodge was also great. My favorite was the BBQ chicken that we had the first day. Some days we would be driving around and the lodge would set up a giant picnic with tables and fires that they make the food on. Our joke about the food was that we would leave looking like a warthog. The two animals we saw the most of were impala and puku. They were kind of like deer. The impala were white, tan, and black, whereas the puku were tan and white. Manda said there were a lot of crocodiles in the water that would drag other things into the water to eat. We saw 27 elephants next to a salt block once. We also saw a pride of twelve lions. Both things were kind of scary, but really exciting. We went to a bush camp for two nights and it was amazing because we were the only ones there. They had tasty drinks and I emptied the stock of ginger beer single handedly. The safari rides were fun and we saw a lot of baboons. We also saw a leopard with two of its cubs. It was great and I can’t wait to go back.

April 12, 2014

Nadine: Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca was a very fun place. There were a lot of beaches and cafés. We stayed in two cities while we were there. The first city we stayed in was called Palma and the second one was called Soller.

Palma was a walled city. It had this giant cathedral in the center of town. The cathedral had a pond in the front that had swans in it. The architecture of the cathedral was absolutely amazing. Palma and New York were both artistic. New York was bigger, but I think Palma had a larger span of personalities, though I do not know which one I liked better. There were a lot of really nice beaches in Palma. There were bike paths that went along the water. You could rent bikes and ride down the whole path, which is fifteen kilometers. My mom met one of her friends from elementary school there. We spent a lot of time with her. Her name was Alice. She was really nice. She was also an amazing artist. We had a little apartment that had no windows and the bedrooms were kind of small, but other than that it was really nice. Mallorca was first settled by prehistoric peoples who built stone structures that included the Great Wall of Palma which other conquerors of Mallorca, such as Romans and Moors, kept in later years.

Soller was a cute beach town. It had an amazing port, and there was a really nice beach there. There were a lot of little cafés along the water. My favorite place was a little ice cream shop with really creamy ice cream. Personally, I think my favorite flavor was strawberry. In Soller proper there were a lot of really cool hikes. The first one was my favorite because it had a canopy of trees that made a tunnel. There was also a train that went from the port to Soller proper. A different train went from the port to Palma, and yet another went from Soller proper to Palma and back. Mallorca was really fun and I can’t wait to go back on another trip.

March 27, 2014

Nadine: Going to see Matilda on Broadway

We started this trip by visiting our cousins Noel and Lily in New Jersey for two days. While we were there, mom and I went to see the broadway play Matilda. Going into a broadway theater surprised me. My expectations were a large theater with a couple of stories of seats. It was completely different. It was a small theater with only two stories of seats. The bottom story must have sat about five hundred, while the top probably sat about the same amount of people. The theme of the set was Scrabble pieces. Most of the theater was covered in fake Scrabble pieces of different fonts and sizes. Some of them spelled words, while others were just random letters, and other had music notes on them instead of letters. The children in the musical were absolutely amazing! It seemed like each of them were unique, which I guess they were. It must have been hard to cast the children, but who ever did it was amazing at their job. The children were very good, but my favorite character was ms. Trunchbull. She was played by a man, who was amazing at playing her. He wore a short skirt the whole time. He did some very funny things during the musical that mostly had to do with the fact that he was playing a girl. He sang some really good songs. The children also sang some really good songs, in fact my favorite song from the whole musical was sang by the children. My favorite song was the very first song, Myricle, though I absolutely loved the whole musical!

March 3, 2014

Hank: Galapagos Islands

The Finch Bay hotel on Isla Santa Cruz is like paradise for the average American tourist which can either be a good thing or a bad thing. In our case it was a very good thing. It had a pool and a nice beach. You can go on excursions every day snorkeling and hiking or you can just choose to relax. We chose to work our selves ragged by riding to other islands each day on a big motor yacht with a bunch of other tourists. Boy it was just exhausting.

The food was delicious. The last night we had fresh tuna that I  caught and for any one who knows tuna they know it tastes the best when it is just barely cooked. They made it perfect!!! I would recommend the Finch bay hotel to any one and every one who comes to the Galápagos Islands. It is a great way to see all the wonderful wild life around here.

We saw a lot of wild life. There were sea lions every where and we saw blue footed boobies. Yes you heard me right. I said blue footed boobies. Their feet were really really blue!!! There were also these cool crabs that were bright orange and yellow and red and they sort of looked like a little bitty sun scuttling around on the rocks. We saw lots of cool looking fish. They were all colors and all sizes and all shapes while snorkeling and some times the sea lions wanted to play but at that point you were supposed to get out of the water because they were really big and supposedly kind of  dangerous to play with but to me they all just looked like really big dogs with fins. We also saw some iguanas that would happily mingle with the birds and not tear them to shreds. Kind of disappointing in that regard but it was still cool I guess.

We saw some turtles that were swimming because turtles swim and tortoises walk on land. The biggest tortoises that we saw were 500 pounds. We even learned some science. It was mostly about Darwin and evolution and all that stuff so that is what I shall tell you about. Evolution on large scale does take hundreds and thousands of years but evolution on a small scale takes just one baby organism. For example if there is a family of tortoises who in habit an island in the Galapagos and all the trees were one yard off the ground and the tortoises could only reach 9/10 0f a yard off the ground then what would happen? If you are thinking that they would be forced to eat second hand grass off of the filthy and un sanitized ground then you are absolutely correct. Now say a tortoise is born with a neck that is 1/10 of a yard longer than its peers and is able to eat more delicious first class tree leaves than its little tortoise buddies. So now you hopefully understand that small scale evolution can happen at any random time as long as babies are still being produced. This process all has one big fancy name and that name is NATURAL SELECTION!!!!!

February 18, 2014

Hank: NE Ecuador Amazon region

Last weekend we went to the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador. We stayed at Sani lodge, a small lodge built by a jungle community called Sani community. It was payed for by an oil company called Occidental in exchange for exploring for oil on the Sani tribe’s land. The Sani community took a big risk letting the company look for oil on there land because instead of a lodge they could have asked the oil company to pay them a bunch of money and if they did find oil the Sani tribe would have received a part of the money. Instead when the oil company built the lodge and did not end up finding oil the Sani community had a tourist lodge in the Amazon, on a non polluted lake, with caimans and colorful birds all around it. It also gave a great and on going source of income  and jobs for the local people. According to our guide Geranio, The Sani lodge has been open for 18 years.
When you go to the Sani lodge they pick you up at the air port in Coca, Ecuador, a medium sized town which is located on a large river called the Rio Napo which flows in to the Amazon River. The Sani lodge is about three hours down river in a motorized canoe. You pass many very small villages on your way there. There are no roads going into the jungle so pretty much all the communities have motor canoes that they drive to Coca in if they are going to visit a relative or something. Many oil companies drill out in the Amazon so you see these huge trucks and bulldozers being pushed out to oil camps on big barges on the river in the middle of the jungle.
Once you get to Sani lodge you decide if you would like to camp in a tent or stay in a cabana. All of the cabanas were full so we camped and I have to say it was pretty cool till I got sick one night and threw up all over the camp sight. We went on lots of hikes and they have a canopy tower in a huge ceba tree that is thirty meters up. We spit off of it and it took 7.5 seconds to hit the ground. AMAZING!!! But we did see tons of birds while we were up there and a sleeping howler monkey. We also went fishing for piranhas but did not catch any.
February 16, 2014

Nadine: La Mariposa Spanish School, Nicaragua

I have been looking forward to this part of the trip for months. I might have been sad when I had to leave my mom, but when I got here I knew that it was all worth it. There are beautiful plants and flowers and everybody is so energetic. There is not just plant life, but there is also a lot of animals. All of these wonderful things are at the Mariposa Spanish School in Nicaragua.

There is one sound that you really have to get used to while you are here. You have to get used to the sound that wakes you up every morning. You have to get used to the sound of the green parrots. In fact they do not only wake you up, but they squawk all day. There are other animals here too. There are lots of other birds, one black bunny, and four really cute monkeys. The bunny lives in a cage in front of the hotel. There are a lot of cages at the school. Personally, I think that the bird cage that is beside the monkey cage is the biggest. The majority of the cages here hold birds because the majority of the animals are birds. The biggest cage holds the toucans and ducks. My favorite bird is probably the whistling duck, but the toucan is also really cute. The birds are all really nice, and are a large part of the beauty of la Mariposa.

I think that my favorite animals here are the monkeys, actually I think that my favorite animals anywhere are monkeys. You can feed the monkeys bananas and other fruits, one of their favorite things is coffee beans witch is a little weird because I would never think that a monkey would like coffee beans. In Spanish monkey is mono, in fact one of the monkeys names is mono. All of the monkeys have names. The monkey’s names are Mono, Legwan, Shima, and Cutie. Mono and Cutie are the nicest, while Legwan is a bit mean, and Shima is very shy. They are usually very nice and fun to play with at la Mariposa Spanish School.

We do not get to hang out with the animals all day, though I wish we did, we have classes from 8:00-12:00. We only have classes on the week days so we get to hang out with the animals all day on the weekends. After breakfast they ring a bell that signifies that it is time for class. I have two classes and I have different teachers for each class. My first teacher changes every week, but the second one is always the same. My first teacher and I will translate read and write Spanish in till ten o’clock. We have a small break at ten and then the bell rings again which signifies that it is time for my second class. My teacher for the second class is named Mosese. We will study in a really nice out door classroom in till noon. At noon we have lunch and then we have home schooling in till three o’clock. Next we have the rest of the day free. All of this cool stuff is at the Mariposa Spanish School.

This is why everybody would love la Mariposa Spanish School. They would love it for the people, the animals, the plants, and the education.