Teaching with Espaanglisch in Trujillo


Trujillo is a somewhat sepia toned town; clothes on the washing lines, fluoro advertisementsand even sunflowers seem to jump out from a background of muted colour.

In the parts of Alto Trujillo and Milagro, mud-brick homes have sprung up in the valleys of the sand dunes and the roads are still loose with dust.  This is home to some of Trujillo’s poorest children and this is where we teach.

There is no running water in many of their homes; some of the children brush their teeth at school. Others kids will stay up until 1am working at recycling plants. Before Espaanglisch (a non-profit organisation based here), English was not a part of their curriculum and many of the kids fell behind in secondary school where the subject is compulsory. We hope that English will be invaluable to them both inside and out of the classroom.


The kids give you endless hugs, kisses and stickers. Despite this, walking into a classroom full of Spanish speaking Peruvian kids can be overwhelming. But support is never lacking here in the volunteer house, where a beautiful set of hard working volunteers live. I was welcomed as if it were my home already and eased into a life of combi-van transport, guinea pigs, lesson planning, children’s songs and storybooks.

It’s not just the kids we get to help. Many adults are looking to learn English in order to gain work opportunities in tourism or on cruise ships. These are lessons of both English and cultural exchange. My favourite cultural exchange moment:

STORY TIME with Houdini the Disappearing Hamster. The closest thing they have to a hamster here in Peru is a guinea pig, also known as a cuy, also known as dinner. so of course when i opened up the first page to: “It’s dinner time.. but oh no- where is Houdini?” the kids would have assumed that we need to find him to eat him! so i also had to explain that in Australia/America/England, we don’t eat the hamster. the hamster is our pet!

Espaanglisch has given me the opportunity to teach and learn from 4-year-olds all the way through to mature adults. English is such a valuable tool today, one that can truly make a difference to people’s lives, so any time with Espaanglisch is time well spent. And though Trujillo may seem a little dusty on the offset, the people you meet here and the children you teach give this place it’s true colour.

What I saw of Ecuador


Though it is quite spectacular..that was pretty much all I saw! You see, south america is a ridiculously big place, and since I had already spent all my ‘travel days’ in Cali, I could only stay 2 nights in Ecuador (1 in Quito and 1 in Cuenca). That’s the thing, no matter if its 2 weeks or 2 years travelling, you never feel like you have enough time to see it all!

So when the travel survey asked me ‘what are some things that you didn’t get to do in Ecuador?’ Well.. the list just went on. So I guess ill just have to go back!

I was lucky enough to cross paths again with my old room mate and talk in triple speed with her for three hours before continuing my four day journey south to Trujillo, Peru.

Salsa will make you want to stay…


It is almost inevitable when travelling, that you will come across a place that you just can’t seem to leave. Or simply don’t want to. Whether it’s the people, the culture or even just the feel of the place. For me, this was Cali. I went with the intention of staying a few days and quadrupled that.

Admittedly, the graffiti is pretty cool!

Though the city itself isn’t a wow factor; all the little shops have bars preventing people from entering so you have to request what you want and have it handed to you through the metal, BUT the salsa capital of the world is called that for a reason.

first dance class in Cali.

Beer is about the only drink you cannot get in a plastic bag, and after a couple salsa dancing is the norm. I had never been in a club or bar that all just started dancing together in an improvised routine until I got to Cali. If you aren’t dancing you are sleeping, or maybe doing yoga, or taking a salsa lesson, or watching one, or if you are game, making the one hour climb up to Las Tres Cruces.

My friend Sita is an awesome dancer. This is during one of her lessons.

I was very very close to staying. I sought out some potential school I could volunteer in but in the end, but the kiddies of Trujillo –Peru called. So I settled with learning about an amazing foundation called Escuela para la Vida which runs educational programs that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. I.e the whole school is made of bamboo! The foundation which provides a school for 200 children is run by germans, and they had it all pretty sorted out. So after helping them out with some translating (break out in sweat) it was time to move on.

la Escuela para la Vida and one of the amazing architects, Greta.

But not without ordering a pair of custom-made salsa shoes and booking a flight back! So I’ll see Cali again at the end of May with Jaz and laugh at him trying to dance.

Also, a tip: if you want to feel happy, go and watch some Pacifico music (particularly Herencia). This was so much fun.

Back to the Backpack and Botero


A month of unpacked clothes, an apartment and a little routine faired well. But now its back to exploring.


We walked up about a million stairs to get to Monzerate, a church that sits a top a mountain here in Bogotá, surrounded by Canadian pine trees and clouds. Some people go up on their hands and knees as a pilgrimage..


Botero is a very famous artist here who is still kicking at 80! I tend to think that you have to die in order for your art to be appreciated- not this guy, he’s got a whole museum! He makes all his paintings fat. I think travelling is like becoming a Botero model..

Botero.. more like but-tero. or bootay-ero.

We are teachers now!


March 22, Bogotá, Colombia

It was with this amazing group I braved a serious month of intensive teacher training. Throughout CELTA we saw many tears, a few breakdowns, sickness, drop outs, kick outs, stress outs, all-nighters, long dayers, hilarious input sessions, amazing teaching prac students and a whooolle lot of learning from our course tutors. But we got through and can now peruse the globe to teach English with a solid University of Cambridge Certificate in our back pockets!



Take five girls between the ages of 5-9,  one 6 year old boy,  four 16 year-old girls, a bus driver (oh and his sister),  la señora  (and her daughter), a nun and me, and put them all in a half renovated house with one working tap inside and what do you get?

My incredible experience at with Malambo Children’s Home.

16 of us visited Agua Dulce on the Coast of Panama, to my great surprise the housing situation worked out! We took the girls to the river everyday to swim. I’ll always remember climbing the Tamarindo tree and throwing down fruit to a bunch of grinning girls with their arms stretched to the sky. We played guitar and danced and tried to learn some english. At times it seems like English is the answer to everything, but what they needed more than that was a little love. And, as Jaz lead me to realise, just as much as they needed some love, it was learning how to love  that was missing (and if I’m being honest, a few good manners).

We made it back to Panama City eventually, and our 5 girls became 13. During my time with the kids at Malambo, I met four very incredible teenagers. The four 16 year old girls needed just as much as the little ones did. They are basically all mothers of 13 girls and they are only 16 themselves. They cook for the girls, clean the house, shower them, do their hair and supervised them 24/7.

I came to know Malambo as the place where nothing is yours. The girls would always be part of a mass, but needed individual recognition and love. I learned that your time becomes your time with them, your arms an extension of constant hugs, your seat always made for two, your food, drink, your sunglasses your towel, everything is for sharing. I couldn’t have shared it with a more amazing bunch.

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Yessenia, Tatiana, Ernestina, Arasellis

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Thank god I met Nina. She was my first ever couch surfing host and I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience, she introduced me to the amazing kiddies of Malambo.

Nina volunteers at Malambo, which is a kids home 40 minutes of out Panama City. So I went along with her and asked the head nun if they needed a hand. It was the 5-9 year old girls who needed help with their English. So two days later I was back at Malambo amongst kids who are tougher that I ever have been. Their circumstances ranged from having a sick parent and a working parent, to having nobody at all.

It is no doubt the people you meet who make your travel. The ones that blow you away, who you may never see again, and the ones that you know you will have to meet again somewhere along the way. Either way, people can change your thinking, open your eyes, hang on to your heart. More often than not on a travellers road, you know these people for such a brief amount of time, but the magic of the road means they can make the difference of a lifetime.


Nina and I with Elizabeth, Anna, Elena, Dariana, Chelsea, Coco, Ashleigh, Nicole and Tatiana.

300 Elephants


Not only is it the only thing that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but the lock gates of the Panama Canal weigh equivalent to about 300 elephants!

It felt like I was a part of the Titanic set, amidst something grand, as I stood upon the railing like a little girl waving down at the big ship slowly passing by.

The men on deck were smiling up at the crowd and taking photos of the waving strangers. I wondered how long it had been since they had seen people other than each other.

I never understood what an engineering marvel the canal is, until I met the head engineer of the Panama Canal Expansion project. His name is Michael and he and his wife Nina were my first ever couch surfing hosts. I hit the jackpot.

Panama City gets a bit of a bad wrap from the nomads. Its definitely the most cosmopolitan city in Central America but it still has it’s little gold mines, even if it isn’t hipster central.

“Welcome to my Office”


Pura Vida. Pure Life. This is used to say hello, goodbye, thank you. Anything. And when you get to the jungle…

“Welcome to my office”, they say. For most of the people who work around Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, their office consists of luscious jungle. Of ZipLine Canopy crossing, waterfalls and white water rafting. In their office, plants close at your touch, mouse ears grow off trees, the trees walk and the lizards run on water.

Literally, this is called a walking Tree; it uproots it’s roots to move itself and ends up ‘walking’ one metre per year. They walk to wards the sunlight.

And these and Jesus Christ Lizards, they can run across water.

This is a touch me not. When you touch it, the leaves close up. And will open again about an hour later, if there’s enough sun.

When I first touched this fungi, it was handed to me “This is a mouses ear”. I really thought it was a mouse’s ear. It feels like one. And when they grow bigger they look like human ears!

Little things seem more dangerous in this kind of office. This little snake is a Viper. And it doesn’t grow much bigger than this. But it can kill you within hours if you don’t find a hostpital. This little frog will only make you reallllllllly really sick if you eat the whole thing. So don’t eat little frogs you find in a costa rican jungle.

While we played with barbies and paint, the guys of the office grew up playing with plants that grow with a white type of powder under their leaves. They would take a leaf, place it on someones back onto their t-shirt, and slap it, leaving a powerdery white leaf tattoo.

The office prodcues citronella, licorice, even deep heat, that muscle rub. I smelt it all. And also had a little facemask from a clay stone called clay of gold.

I found my happy place in Manuel Antonio. Literally a place I will revisit in my mind to find peace again. It was a waterfall in the depth of a jungle, about a 50 minute walk from the roads. There was no one there and I stayed and swum (naked like a forest nymph) and hung out and climbed and hiked and listened to the cicadadas- which are not all that quiet. It was amazing to find a place so untouched and undiscovered. Butterflies bumped into my face and I wove my way through fallen down trees and across the running river. Birds fly just meters above my head and spider webs surprised me inches in fron of my face, often making me stumble back and nearly fall.

I had many a hard day at the office, ziplining, then abseiling down waterfalls, then ziplning again, free falling into water falls, white water rafing and cruising around the beach. And did it for next to nothing, all thanks to my friend Miguel of Hostel Pura Vida, though it was more like Home Pura Vida. Because of the puppies and the people.

I woke up in the mornings to sometimes find 10 monkeys on my balcony, and at times handed them bits of bananana which they took right from my hands. I watched humongous sunsets, the ones where you feel like if you just swam 400 meters straight ahead, you could be swallowed by the sun, but instead you just watch the sun get sucked through the plug hole in the distance as it disappears behind the horizon.

And it was here I studied. And ghekos fell from the roof onto my study notes. It was the perfect place.  Until the puppy jumped right off the balcony and broke her hip! I don’t know how she survived, but she did.

So whoever would like to join me in returning to Costa Rica- let me know! Because I am going back for certain.