Calgary October 2016……

Hi

Another amazing thing we did here in Calgary was to go and see a native Indian place called head smashed in buffalo jump. Hope I got the name right….anyway it’s a place or rather a high cliff where the natives used to heard the buffalo and then scare them into a mad run and then the buffalo ran off the cliff….neat way of hunting. Usually a lot safer way of hunting although it was still extremely dangerous. There is also a museum on the site sort of built into the cliff and so interesting. It was a beautiful day, warm breeze on the prarie and the stillness with the total quietness was so relaxing and touching. I could imagine what they life was like, in tune with the nature and the complete darkness at night to see the amazing starry skies that most people miss out on…we have been lucky to see that night sky in all it’s glory when we did the Atlantic crossings….

Then the time came for mum to go back to Finland….and I made a promise to myself that we never again leave it so long between visits.

On Alice’s ballet class I met this couple from Colombia, funny. Just down the road from Santa Marta, a place called Barranquilla. Wow. And she did Spanish lessons from home. Even better, and to James’s big horror we enrolled him to do 2 hours once a week. Sitting there listening to it all and made to do homework I can finally say that it is starting to make sense, something has finally clicked and now we got to keep it going…

THEN……one Friday to my absolute horror I woke up to……guess…..SNOW! Oh yak! The kids went mad and no school got done…needless to say….it lasted for 3 days and we didn’t see them for hours. I went nowhere! Sat in and mumbled some kind of prayers to get the snow to disappear…..IT WORKED!

We also got invited for thanksgiving dinner across the road. We all brought something and of course we did proper roast potatoes. The evening was great, shared many laughs, met more people and the kids just had plain good fun.

So in all our time here Chris turned 50, went to Radium for couple of days, up in the mountains with our friend and her son Julian who became the fourth child in our family, James’s birthday when we went to a archery club and Halloween, never seen anything so mad and the amount of sweets is just insane….
Chris left for Panama a week earlier then us, get the boat sorted out and We have plodded on with school, the last sleep overs and packing our bags…..

This goodbye will be hard, we have had so much fun, met some truly amazing people and seen some incredible places. Canada has been good to us but yet again it is time to go….never gets any easier but at least we had a chance to meet these people and do all these things…

And what is the plan? We haven’t got a clue…..San Blas, San Andre, Bocas, Corn Islands….who knows….

xxx

Calgary August – September

Hi

So now we were a family of four….one missing but overall very peaceful.
Our time went on kids being here every day to play, cinema, out for walks, swimming pools and just enjoying internet and netflix. few movies we haven’t seen….
Also got mums ticket sorted out as when Chris went to London, mum would be here to keep me company.
Ever so often there was a bbq or a drink invite here or there and much laughter was shared as we settled into Calgary life and life in a house again.

Chris left for London and following day mum came here. Brilliant as we haven’t seen each other for over a year. So much to talk about, over few glasses of wine and the kids got more swedish language again. More Calgary city trips like the Glenbow museum where the native indians, the blackfoots have a great display of their culture, language and history. Also the Calgary fort where the story is more from the new settlers side. Went to national parks and more pools with million slides to choose from as well as just plain playgrounds that doesn’t seem to exist in South America.
All fine but on the back of my mind Was always a James….how is he doing…missing him….

Chris and James got back, totally lovely, so much to talk about…James got to go on holiday from London to France, not bad. Reconnected with few friends but also missing us.

So the next trip was a day to Banff. Up to Rockie mountains. What a drive. What a view. What a beautiful place even as I saw snow…
First to Lake Louise and the ski lifts that takes you up in 15 min. Early morning, we are dressed like going to a beach but thankfully had a fleece each. Everybody else had coats, hats, gloves, walking boots…do you get the picture? We had shorts, skirts, flip flops and felt like complete idiots. And yes, it was cold. We could choose from a enclosed gondola or a open seat. Well, I’m from Finland, I’m going on the open one…admitting to have a small blanket from the car to snuggle under. It was needed…
The trip up was stunning. So peaceful and quiet. Hoped to see a grizzly bear but no luck there. As the morning went by it got warmer and when the time was to go back down it was hot. We had the last laugh! Perfectly dressed watching everybody else ditching their hats and gloves. And yes, flip flops was fine.
Next stop was the Lake. Glacier water and so icy blue/green. And of course it was my children who decided to go for a waddle and fall in. I was not amused but everybody else was, bloody kids. Charlie was like a shivering rat, no change of clothes so made him get on with it.
We also met this old Sioux indian…..wow. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. My thoughts spiraling back in time…he was still a very proud man, spoke so softly and had a wisdom in his eyes that I / we can only dream about……
The drive back felt long, everybody tired to only be invited to the neighbours for another funfilled evening. Never to say no to a party…

I also enrolled Alice to a ballet class. Oh the joy on her face as she got to dance and twirl. Loving it. But it’s times like that, that makes me feel guilty as none of the children can never really join a class of something. Just once with James in Colombia with his football.

Mum then flew off to Vancouver to see her old school friend for 10 days. School started for us again, the lovely summer holiday over and of course James started the week with arguing and mouthing. Yes, another year on it’s way….

Another trip we did was to Drumheller and the badlands. One of the biggest dinosaur museums is there and yes, what a collection. To much to take in but we learned a lot and had fun although it wasn’t really Alice’s cup of tea….

We also took a trip to Drumheller and the badlands where there is one of the biggest dinosaur museums. To much to take in but what a collection.

Calgary, Canada

Hi
Next day the first thing we did was to go and find the kids friend Benjamin. He is from Venezuela and we have now known him since last summer.
We sneaked around to his house and saw him feeding his dog……the kids ran, he saw us, ran in, came back out again and ran to us. Oh the joy!!! We all jumped and screamed and his mum came out as well. Happy days again!
So kids playing we needed to sort out the haul out. Got a slot the next day so all happened very quick. Had a new crane driver so we were a bit nervous, don’t want to drop the boat now, do we…..

Boat on the hard we had to learn to live with no use of toilet, so always dashing over to the portaloos. Uugghhh! Some days good, most days awful….
Had to climb up the ladder, high, so always watching over Alice. No wind, extremely hot…
Then Chloe turned up, happy days again for Alice. Play, play and play….
The boys had sleep over around Benjamin, two nights in a row, needless to say they were shattered. Then a new girl on the block turned up, Noa. More kids, more fun….
Rock hopping, swimming and having fun whilst me and Chris cleaned and packed. Some days we had no rain and some days it poured. One day the dingy was full of rainwater….well come on, get the shampoo, wash in rainwater and use it as a pool. Fantastic!
All to soon it was time to go and leave Benjamin behind again…
As now we were heading for Calgary, Canada. A house sitt for a parrot, cockatiel and a budgie. Oh and two fish. We were very lucky to get the sitt as mostly people want just couples or singles but certainly not kids. This family has 4 children so it was perfect.
Went to Panama City first to pick up my passport and off to the hotel for the night.next day to Houston for another night and finally Calgary.
We met the family over next 6 hours as they were frantically packing and cleaning. It was chaos. We were tired and tried to take all the instructions in, bird feed, what to do and don’t etc. Finally they left and we sorted the beds out and crashed….

Next morning it was a case of finding your way around house, what’s where and took a walk down the road. Not a lot, houses and parks and the beautiful nose hill park. A huge vast expans of prairies and hills and when you climb up the top you can see the rockie mountains and how wide spread Calgary really is.
This is now in August so it was warm and of course with summer comes what??? My other pet hate….mozzies. Oh bloody no. Our first picnic effort we did lasted all 20 min as we are bombarded by them.
The first effort to find a food shop was a joke. We walked 4-5 miles, 6 km and found Safeway supermarket. We had no use of car as we were reassured that we don’t need a car…..hmmmmm.
Come to pay, card didn’t work. Couldn’t phone the bank, somebody lent their mobile phone but no luck. Suddenly a man steps forward and offers to pay for our shopping. What!! Seriously? How outstanding. And gave us a lift back. What an amazing person and our first taste of how friendly Canada is. We did pay him back the next day.
We soon realised that taking the bus to the shop was going to get expensive so we voiced our concern and luckily we got to use their car. What a difference that makes. We could join the library, go swimming and get to the cinema. Also wine proved to be expensive, how would I survive? I’m not really a beer drinker but soon found out that Costco liquor store was a good place. Happy days.

Took the bus in to Calgary city, a very small area of high rise buildings and parks. Stevens avenue is for pedestrians and a bit like Covent Garden in London. Just walked around and then needed a toilet. Well, McDonald’s will do and buy couple of coffees as well. As we came out of the toilet and Charlie has realised that they get nothing, we had sandwiches with us, he shouted” it’s the worst day off my life” …..
The lady who worked there stopped and started asking why. Well, Charlie pours his heart out, lady took a pity on them and gave them free ice creams. Needless to say it was happy days again!

In the evenings we sat with chris on the porch at the front in the high evening sun with a glas of wine. Past zooms couple of boys….so I told mine to chase them and we’ll see if they want to play. After a. Our,e of minutes we hear laughter from across the road. Then Charlie ran over and said they met these awesome boys and their mum is a flight attendant. We had been invited over as Charlie told them I used to fly as well. So off we went and met the mum and her friend. What a hoot, great people, great night and friends ever since, thank you!
We also had couple of other kids popping in and a sleep over came crashing on us….yeah sure….does your parents know where you are tonight???
So they have made some great friend, the house is always full of kids, the basement a great place for play as we don’t hear them at all.

James was flying on his own to London to see his friend and we had booked the ticket few weeks earlier. The day was drawing closer me dreading it and James exited. He was going for nearly 4 weeks although chris was joining him for the last week.
On the day we took him to the airport and I was allowed to take him to the gate. Wouldn’t happened in London…..at the end James was very upset, I’m trying to be brave and off he went, disappearing in to the plane. Omg, what have I done? My heart was ripped and I stood at the window looking at the pilots making sure they bloody well will be doing their job properly. They had the most precious person onboard…..and off he went….

San Andre islands April-June 2016

Hi

So we moved on very quickly once we got in anchor. That afternoon we said buy to everybody and prepared the boat for a short hop to portobello the next day. I saw a beautiful weather window from Panama to San Andre and we needed to get ready and check out.
The next day we left, heart banging, at the worry to sail again after so many months….but all went well.
Checked out and stocked up the last few bits, checked the weather again and off to bed.
Early up the following morning and so our 32h sail started. Caught a fish, cero within minutes to everybody’s joy as we missed eating fish in America. We had a beautiful sail that day and night although 2/3 children were sea sick. James, as usual 5 times and Alice 7 times. Belivie me, perfect wind and under meter waives. None of them will be sailors, maybe Charlie….

We arrived in San Andre Saturday morning to absolutely stunning coloured water, the islands are known for 7 different shades of green, blue and turquoise. Only 3 other boats in anchor, perfect!
Checked in and went for a wonder to find something to eat and crashed!
We delayed our Easter holidays so we were in for some fun for few weeks. Got internet sorted, hired golf carts and took a tour around the island, swam in the beautiful sea, the favourite swing came out again and walked to other beaches north of the island.
We also met a man who was a teacher and who came to the boat for few hours each week to teach some Spanish…..still none the wiser. I just spout on in my basic, crappy Spanish and people understand me!

Other issues was pressing us, my passport. I had 3 months left And nearest Finnish embassies were either in Washington, D.C. States, Mexico City or Lima, Peru . Hmmmmmm. Checking ticket prices, hotel etc and finally settled on Peru, for 3 days, on my own…..exiting but slightly worried for chris, in anchor with 3 kids….

Well, off I went. As the plane took off it felt like my heart was being ripped out. The natural instinct is not to leave your kids, or for few hours or few days nearby maybe, not an a hop to South America , far, far away. Well, got over that feeling pretty quick. Loved strolling around panama airport on my own, something to eat and then Peru. I have always had a big dream to be able to go to Peru and this was it. Shame without the family and only 3 days but I was determined to fit in as much as possible.
Landed past midnight to a pre booked taxi and straight to the hotel. And then I was feasting to have access to high speed internet, the joy of that and watching tv. Fell asleep 3 am….

The next day appointment went fine, fingerprinted, paperwork and a chat in Finnish. Where do we send the passport? Well, can’t do San Andre but Panama has a consulate….
Walked around the neighbourhood and down to the sea. Totally weird to be on my own, like I had lost my apron and felt naked. No kids to fuss about or distract, sipping a coffee, yes a coffee and gazing at the sea. Beautiful!

The next day I went for a tour of Lima city. Lima, or Rimar as it was called is the second largest city built in desert after Cairo. It never rains there, just raw mist in winter. They get their water from 3 rivers from the Andes and that get collected in big cistern under the city.
The city has 43 different districts, with 43 different mayors, all with different taxes and laws, totally messy.

Barranco area is arty and green, Isidro area most expensive and tidy and Chocorollo very poor, with lots of unfinished houses and shanty buildings, low taxes, Parrakash, full of fossils….
Minimum wage is $300/ month.
There is 20.000 archeological sites in Peru, 300 sites in Lima and 40% in Pachacaman, an hour drive outside the city.
The inca period was very short and before incas there was wari people who ruled for a long time.
The centre of Lima has beautiful yellow painted buildings left over from the Spanish conquistadors, old churches and a famous church with catacombs underneath with lots of bones and low ceilings…..dark and musty smell……

Lunch was spent on my own again, feels funny to sit in a restaurant and people watch without being interrupted by children and I had the dish of the day which was marinated sea urchin…….sounded disgusting but I was up for something different. It was delicious and totally blew me away!

The afternoon I was booked to the Pachacaman tour for this relatively new dig site. They have found vast areas of buildings and roads that are thousands of years old. The artifacts are hemp shoes, bowls, blankets with the most amazing colours on it, deathmasks, totem poles to name but few….totally mind blowing. And I was one lucky girl indeed to see some of this amazing Peru and culture. One day I will be back but with hubby and kids.

Before I knew it was time to fly back to San Andre and find out if kids are still alive and all was good in camp moody Finn. Ditched the school for the time I was away and payed for a day in the hotel across the anchorage with a big pool and lunch and snacks included…. Not bad.
So that journey done we went back to normal again with school, swimming but also borrowed a training kite surfing kite and the boys loved it. We had a go as well and it seems to be a lot of good fun. So the next few weeks when the wind picked up we had them training with it. James is well into it, Charlie lost interest a bit but I think he will love it when they can finally go on a proper board and go crazy!

Our friends Colin and Ann sailed in one morning from Panama so it was party again.
James got braces sorted out as its so cheap in San Andre just to sort his front teeth out, lisping away but totally cool with it. In South America it’s in and cool to have braces. Great stuff.
We also went to an island just outside the anchorage where you can swim with the manta rays. What an amazing feel to see these animals close by and to touch them, they feel so soft and the best part is that the Rays can come and go as they please, no captivity or prisoners in pools! Beautiful!

Alice also had her birthday there with a frozen cake and a day at the hotel, presents included princess dress, barbies, hand bags, stickers etc.

Then I lost our debit card, or I left it in the bloody atm so we had no access to money. Lucky our friends Steph and Stewart from sailing yacht Matador came to our rescue so we didn’t have to see hunger or to beg on the streets….
Brexit kicked in, the feeling was great……yes, it will be a long road but hopefully a good one!

So now we had to sort out where to go as the boat needed to come out of the water for few months in Panama . We enrolled in trusted house sitters and started looking for a long term house/ pet sitt. Wow, what a world. So many places……but we needed something where we did not have to pay stupid money to fly to. Ideally Costa Rica or Mexico but as it was, we got one in Calgary. Great stuff. Now we needed to get back down to Panama. But the weather was not going to be our friend this time….days went by and it was blowing a whoolie, boats dragging and tempers rising as we had paid for the tickets and really needed to get a move on….
Finally I saw a weather window of 3 days, let the sea calm down and go.
This trip was rougher as closer to wind sailing, James sick once, Charlie once but Alice didn’t stop for the whole journey. Not until we saw land on the horizon and she got a little sugar in form of a lollipop.The thunder and lightning was raging around us and the raw water pump wasn’t working properly so we had to use the engine on a tick over trying to beat the darkness that was surrounding us…..but no. It got dark, the moon came up, few clouds and in we motored slooowly to Linton bay. Checking for other boats and anchored at the back of the pack. Jeez, it felt good to be safely in a bay, everybody feeling great and just crashing out again. Good night!

P.s we cought 6 fish.
And our hermit crabs we had as our pet in San Andre got back to their home before we left.

America 2016

Hi

So we carried on with nice things like cinemas, ice creams, museums and playing in the icy water of the Atlantic. Went to a gun show, used the library a lot and played around in different parks. All while I also carried on schooling the kids on my own while Chris carried on with the flying.
Then we made plans for half term and good friends of our, Kathy and Chris with Toby, James best friend would come over and see us. It would be a surprise for our kids. But before that we moved house once more. Only around the corner with plenty of beds and bigger garden.
Oh, the joy when there was a knock on the door one afternoon and outside was a big cardboard box….and out popped Toby. They couldn’t believe it! It was screaming and jumping, repeating his name over and over again….fantastic! And off they disappeared in the garden.

Had great couple of days with them, Chris took the boys to space center while we girls went shopping. Perfect.
Of course the time came and they had to leave…..the sorrow and tears, for all of us…only to then also find out that a very good friend of ours had died in Uk….and we couldn’t afford to go to the funeral.

Chris passed his flying test, whoop whoop and that’s when we went out to celebrate. The only time we did go out…and now he was a commercial pilot, how amazing…
Our stay in St. Augustine was coming to a end, went to alligator farm, met up with a friend and her kids for the last time, the cleaning and packing started. We ended up with 9 bags in the car plus 3 body boards and kids squeezed on top of it all. Good byes were said to Ann, the rental lady next door who became a good friend to us and our drive to Miami started.

Our journey to Panama went well and we came back to a very tidy and clean boat. Alice friend Chloe and her parents came over to welcome us back and it was nice to feel the heat and humidity of Panama again. Unpacking 9 bags was a nightmare and the boys horrendously big neuff guns took up so much space in the boat.
Then it was back to reality, to fix the bloody generator, school and anything else that was playing up. Chloe was over a lot to play and we also met THE Eric Bauhaus who writes sailing books and who’s book about San Blas sailing you wouldn’t be without! A very nice guy and his daughter came over and played as well.
More shopping, few beach days, more kids around which was great and they all played around on our or Roberto’s boat. Chris carried on slaving over the beast that wouldn’t start and when it did decide to start it didn’t give out electricity, aaarrrggghhhh!

Anyway, all done finally and it was time to take the scary leap from marina and get back to anchor…
to trust the anchor, to feel the boat again…lovely.x

san Augustine- America Christmas 2015

Hi

Our flight from panama to Miami went very well, little did we know what a hassel we would have with the car rental. We were passed from one car rental to another until we finally found out that we had booked with Alamo. We were told somebody else but that was just the start….
As it was payed for with my card they had me as a main driver but we had booked a second driver. No? Just one driver. Ok we want second driver. Can’t do it or we can but they were asking stupid money. Ok, change the main driver to Chris. Can’t do it. Honestly, 4 hours later we gave up. Got the car, upgraded as we moaned about it and off we went into Miami rush hour traffic me in the driving seat. What a lovely feeling, driving after such a long time. As it was late we drove for a couple hours and had a night in a hotel.
Next day we arrived in San Augustine which was to be our home for the next 10 weeks. So exiting. We had rented a 2 bed apartment on the beach on Anastasia Island, tv in each room and a heated pool. As the date was 16.12 and Christmas near with no presents yet we thought that doing the shop online would be the thing to do….oh no, that went wrong as well. Amazon lost our shopping, don’t ask how and the other few things we wanted couldn’t be delivered in time….so Chris had to do few trips to shops over the next few days but of course the selection was poor.
Anyway, Chris started his flying lessons and Christmas came with presents and the full English roast dinner. Champagne and pool, hot and relaxing, perfect.
We joined the library as well before Christmas and we met this lovely woman called Madeline, that whole thing was the next thing that ended in disaster…
Got talking to her and her daughter, little Aria at the library and I mentioned that the rent was so expensive…no problem, she said. I can rent my other half of the house out at a very cheap price, just around the corner, come and have a look. Ok, why not. So off we went and the house was perfect, a bit messy but she said it will be all ok for January. Well why not. Aria played with Alice, trampoline and tree house. So child friendly, local area, other kids, perfect! Or so we thought, didn’t know she was bonkers! So we moved in there on New Years Eve and had a fantastic new year with her and Aria at the beach. Great firework display that went on for 30min. music and dance.
All settled, Chris back flying, school started and I don’t know where it all went wrong. Anything I said she took it the wrong way around, never mind, let’s ignore that. Charlie’s birthday was coming up so ordering the cake, buying more presents and told Madeline to invite few people around. It turned out to be a great party, another 6-7 kids, all got on very well, music, games and in the evening the glow sticks. So simple and perfect. Very happy for Charlie.
So the next few days it got worse, Chris said she must be bipolar and googled it in and she fit the bill. She was scary, never knew which way the conversation would go, I started to worry about opening my mouth which takes a lot as I talk for the world but this was not worth it. I tried to keep calm, not get drawn in to another argument but when she called Alice bratty that was it for me. We drove to the flight school that evening, me crying the whole way, kids upset and said to Chris that we got to get out. That night she unplugged the wifi.
Following morning we went out to all rental places but had no much luck. Eventually from one number to another we got hold of Ann, our angel who had a place until end of January. Great, we’ll take it. Closer to down town on Vilano beach. So went back and mad Madeline had now locked the door. Jeez, what now? Lucky she is stupid enough to leave the back door unlocked. Went in and she came flying down the stairs and told us to get out. She had taken the boys bed away from upstairs and cleared our stuff from the bathroom. We had payed the months rent, no hope to get that back. Chris went to the police station only to find out she had been there already….they did the crazy sign, all they could do. So we packed everything within the hour, everything in the car and left. Great feeling being out but sad that we didn’t have chance to say goodbye to Aria and Alice was upset. Madelines mother lived there as well and she never came out from her bedroom because she was scared, very sad. Lovely lady. As I went upstairs to tell her we are leaving I cried. Scared for her…shame it ended like that as it could have been just a hoot, I still can’t badmouth her to much as when she was nice she was super company. Who know, sick or just plain mad, we will never know!

So we arrived to Vilano beach into a 2 bed house, upstairs for the boys, tv in every room and a very nice area. And so the next chapter of our life started. Much more settled.
x