The horrible earthquake that hit Christchurch today at 12:51 pm brought back a number of memories. First, the terror I experienced at 4:31 am on 1.17.94 when the Northridge quake rocked our world, the subsequent feeling of isolation we all experienced being cut-off without phone service for days, and dealing with the aftermath. 

Next is one I have of this morning while helping Vince's class create a banner for Purple Cake Day, precious little Alyahna clung to my dress and smiled.  Alyahna is a joyful, gregarious, always happy... miracle. Last January she spent 22 hours under rubble in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, tragically her 2 sisters and father perished. Alyahna and her mother, Emily, are from Nelson, New Zealand.  I have never experienced such an overwhelming sense of community as I have in the past month as EVERYONE in town rallies around Emily's wonderful cause, Purple Cake Day.  

Emily established the Kenbe La Foundation (‘Kenbe La’ means “Never Give Up” in Haitian Creole), a registered charitable trust, to provide educational opportunities for children in need. The Foundation has since established Purple Cake Day as a specific day to celebrate and connect children from around the world.  Funds raised by the Foundation in 2010 and 2011, including those raised by Purple Cake Day, are going towards the Foundation’s current project of building a school in Leogane Province, Haiti, one of the regions most severely affected by the earthquake.

This is a wonderful and timely cause that I invite all of you to explore and contribute to. Both of Alyahna's sisters, Kofie-Jade (5) and Zenzie (3), attended Nelson Montessori where Vince is now a student. Purple Cake Day  
is an unspeakably meaningful purpose and event for this school and this community.

If you've been following our blog, you will know from the pictures that we've seen some awesome sights in the past year. As we travel from one place to another, we have a tendency to compare it to a familiar location back in the states. This world is an amazing and wonderful place filled with kind, generous and open-hearted people. That said, there is still no place like home. Here is tribute to our beautiful and majestic country, the United States of America. 
Enjoy the slideshow, just a few of our favorite places....
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. " Anonymous-- stolen from my friend Kathy's fantastic photo blog:
We had a great time in the Blue Mountains despite the gloomy weather and rain. We got to ride a real steam engine down to Bottoms Point and even saw a glimpse of Thomas the Train. We explored some impressive caves and experienced some of the "wild" things Australia has to offer: a poisonous red bellied snake that tried to slither over Vince's foot. Our eco-built house had a crazy waterless loo that you would think would stink, but didn't. We spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace!
Adele's Video Tells All about our trip to the Blue Mountains

Sydney, Ho Hum


Don't get me wrong Sydney is beautiful, but we just didn't quite get the appeal, certainly compared to Perth! We spent a few uneventful days here checking out the city and the Harbour. We especially enjoyed the fantastic museums: the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse Museum where we saw a colorful ABBA exhibit and the Art Gallery of NSW which is currently exhibiting The First Emperor, China's Entombed Warriors. 

This exhibit was so fascinating! discovered by villagers in 1974, this vast underground army was created to protect the tomb of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang (259–210 BCE) in readiness for the afterlife. It took 100s of thousands of craftsman to manufacture the 8000 plus life size soldiers and their transportation (i.e. horses, chariots). It is believed that he invited all who worked on the terracotta statues to a big party in the massive tomb then locked the door behind them for good.

Perth is on fire. Western Australia has been in an extended draught for many years and is so similar to Los Angeles that they share a "fire season". 
We hope our new friends in Perth are safe and that the fires end soon. 

Perth is in the middle of nowhere making it a most wonderfully remote, modern and self-sufficient city. We were surprised at how much we loved it here. It didn't hurt that we had fantastic digs through a home exchange and the weather was perfect everyday. Even the aggressive Aussie flys left us alone here. 

We pretty much spent every day at Cottesloe beach catching the waves and swimming in the crystal blue water.  We did venture out a couple of times to check out one of the best parks in the world, Kings Park and the local zoo.  We also had a magical Christmas Eve at St. George's Cathedral  and an intimate Christmas Day, you guessed it, at the Beach. 

We also spent a week or so at a fantastic beach house in Yallingsup in the Margaret River region. This area is beautiful and full of world famous vineyards, one of which was owned by the family of the house we did an exchange with, Wise Winery (yummy SBS). The Aussies know how to mix family and fun--most wineries and breweries are set up with a great big playground so you can drink and they can play. 

We highly recommend Western Australia. Perth has endless things to do, the Margaret River wine region is only 3 hours away and WA has ome of the most gorgeous beaches we've ever seen. 

Today was bittersweet. Yes, I've been dying for some down time to get things done, but for 7 months we Carcanos have been attached at the hip--literally and losing an appendage is painful. Both kids are now in school in Nelson, New Zealand. Vince didn't miss a beat as he joined the Nelson Montessori school where almost everything felt familiar, minus his PPM buddies. Adele started up at Nelson Central and is in a Year 5/6 class. She's used to be one of the older kids and here she's most definitely one of the youngest. She put on a brave face and forged into the class. I sat outside and cried. You can only imagine my relief when I heard what I already knew, she had a great first day! 
I have a new friend. No surprise the friendship was found through the Nelson Montessori where Vince is happily ensconced after his 7 months of social isolation (poor child, traveling the world is so lonely:). 
Kim and I met for coffee today and had so much to share that we kept digressing and covered everything thing from global warming to the neuroscience behind our forgetful mommy brains. 

Amongst this talk I discovered she is a successful author of a number of books,  one in particular of special importance to me: Disappearing Destinations by Kimberly Lisagor. In the books foreword Pico Iyer writes about what we can do about the places we love that are at risk of disappearing before our eyes: 1) visit them and 2) speak up and work for their survival. I hope that our blog will inspire all of you to do both. 

As we traveled through some of the most beautiful and meaningful places on earth it was not lost on us that in perhaps even a few short years, these places might be irreversibly changed: the melting glaciers in Norway, Cairo and the incredible collection (recently looted) at the Egyptian Museum, Petra and Pompeii where millions of tourists walk, touch, litter,  sadly the list goes on and on. 

So, go touring now......

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!

You're off and away!