Home Bound (We’ll ALWAYS call Australia Home)

We’re at Santiago International airport waiting to board our Qantas flight back to Sydney!  (We don’t think anyone has ever been as excited as us to see the flying kangaroo!!) All bags have been checked in and we’re all doing last minute duty free shopping!!! hehe.. It has been an amazing 3 weeks but we’re all ready to go home!! 

 When we get back to Sydney we’ll do a rundown of our posts that we’ve missed and add some photos so please continue to check up on it!
 
It’s nearly time to board so it’s farewell for now!! We’ll see everyone is less than 18 hours!!!! Yay!!!!!! =) 
 
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Day Eight: Rio #1

The pilgrims awoke on their first day in Rio feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new city, people and language. I’m kidding, we were still exhausted. But, as the ever determined pilgrims we are we waddled on to meet Brazil.  

First stop was the colossal lump of rock known as sugarloaf mountain. As we piled what was probably more than the recommended number of people into a cable car those of us at the edges of the car took happy snaps of Copacabana from above, those in the middle thought it was pretty neat too. We reached the peak, undeterred by the vultures circling the mountain, and took yet more photos from the many viewpoints or just bought lunch.
 
Next stop, the beach. No, not just the beach, THE beach. Copacabana! Okay, so we didn’t actually get out of the bus, but we saw some brilliant views and then some. 
 Past this point, the day went downhill pretty quick. We missed our train to the top of the Corcovado to see the great Christ the Redeemer, which meant we didn’t get to celebrate mass in the chapel built into the podium of the statue. But after over an hour of waiting, we finally boarded our train and arrived at the peak to find… The mist was so thick we couldn’t see much past the big mans knees.
 
Okay, so I may have bent the truth in that last paragraph. Yes, we missed our appointed train. Yes, the was no mass in the chapel underfoot of the messiah. And yes, the mist was too think to the the statue in all its glory. But if anything the day was made by what happened as a result of the delay. We sat in a park, waiting for the next train. However the park was also inhabited by a few Brazilians. Usually we don’t condone stereotypes, but we started a conga line, and danced, and taught each other chants (Aussie Aussie Aussie). We were soon joined by a pack of Bostonites wearing fluorescent green shirts. The yanks managed to match our enthusiasm, much to our surprise. 
 
Soon Fr. Pete returned, having slipped away the the church across the street unnoticed. The church had both the days readings and the missals in English! In the middle of Rio, that about as likely as a cardinal rocking up and saying the mass for us! So we had fun, we had mass, but still no giant Jesus.
 
We reached the summit, after scaring Laura half to death with tales of train conductors from beyond the grave, and found the there was nought to see but the son of God’s big toe. It was cold, wet, windy and we couldn’t see more than 20 metres. There were a few optimistic attempts at photography, to very little avail. It was at this point the complaints began. “It’s cold” “I can’t see him!” “There’s so much mist out here I think I’m drowning.” However some pilgrims had a more optimistic outlook. 
 
As one began to rave on about the great metaphor of the day. “It’s the perfect metaphor for God! You can kinda see a bit of him, kinda, but you know he’s there! You just can’t see him properly! This ain’t just a statue! This is God right here!” Not a minute later, a gust of wind blew the mist away, and for a few seconds, the few statue was visible. This was met with cheering and applause (sidenote: WYD pilgrims will cheer for pretty much anything, it’s great) and the man of metaphor went wild “It’s like he just finished the metaphor for me! If you have faith, the statue is there,” practically jumping up and down at this point “if you have faith, God reveals himself to you!” This was truly a lesson learnt.. God is always there even when we sometimes feel like he isn’t!! 
 
Overall the night turned out to be fantastic! We got to see the sights of Rio and got a feel of what WYD would be like! It was off to Aussie Central for a good nights sleep before WYD officially started the next day! 

Day Seven: Flight to Rio de Janiero

We’ve got WiFi!!! hehe.. Over the next day or so we’ll try and do a back log of posts from WYD week!! Here we go….

Today was spent flying from Cusco to Lima then onto Rio!! As we were flying over Rio we were all amazed at how beautiful the city was! 

We arrived at Aussie Central and settled into our home away from home for the next 8 days! Whilst the accommodation was not what we are usually used to, we couldn’t complain because we are pilgrims and not tourists!!!! =)

 

Quick Update!!

Hi All

This is just a quick update to let you know that all is well in Rio!! They’ve moved the Vigil and Papal Mass to Copacabana Beach!! We’ve just arrived at the beach after a 10.5km walk from Aussie Central!!  

 
We leave Rio for Iguazu  Falls on Monday and then we’ll give you a full
update once we have proper wifi! We’re just in a restaurant and are using their free wifi! hehe…
 
We miss you all!! xoxox

Day Six: Machu Picchu

There are no words to describe how beautiful and breathtaking Machu Picchu is! No wonder why its one of the 7 wonders of the world!!

Despite the 5.30am departure, a 2 hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo train station, a 2 hour train ride to Machu Picchu then another 30minute bus ride to the actual ruins… it was definitely worth it!!

We arrived to the ruins all super excited as we got to stamp our passports with the Machu Picchu logo!! We got abit carried away as we could stamp it ourselves and a few of us stamped it more then once!!

Our first stop was to the top of Machu Picchu (after a steep zig zag staircase which felt like death to Miss Bautista) where we got the see the ruins in all its breathtaking glory! We took several photos and some group shots which hopefully we will be able to load onto the blog very soon. But to give you an idea, it’s the same place where you see all the famous pictures of Machu Picchu amongst the clouds.

Our tour guide then continued us on and and gave us a history lesson on Machu Picchu. We found it funny how Machu Picchu was never found by the Spanish but was later discovered by American Hiram Bingham after paying a local 1 soles (the equivalent of AUD 39c) to help him get there. Mind you, 1 soles back during that time was 5 times what the average person would earn.

We then continued further around the site and explored the ruins even more. One side of Machu Picchu was warm whereas the other side was cold.. guess its the Incan equivalent of natural air conditioning!! The funniest moment would have to be when Father Peter lent forward to pat a Llama and it ended up spitting on him! (however if you ask Father Pete he said it didn’t hehe)

After 2 hours of exploring the site we made our way back down to the local town to grab a bite to eat and do some more shopping before catching our train back.

The train ride was interesting as the staff put on a fashion show for us, showcasing the latest Alpaca made designs and there was even some dancing by a man dressed up as one of the Inca leaders. Jade was too shy to dance with him so Laura took one for the team and started dancing with him. Kudos must be given to Peru Rail as the service was impeccable and both breakfast (strawberries, piklets and a spinach quiche to die for) and a snack on the way back (pizza and brownies) was so yummy!!

We finally returned back to our hotel at 7.30pm… Approximately 14 hours since we left that morning and went straight to dinner, then off to bed it was.

Everyone was super happy as Mr Corcoran told us we could all have a sleep in as breakfast was at 7.30am.

We leave Cusco tomorrow for Lima then bid farewell to Peru as we make our way to Rio de Janiero. We are set to arrive Rio at 9.45pm (Sunday 22nd). On Monday we will have the day to explore the city and its famous landmarks such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Copacabana beach before WYD week officially begins on Tuesday.

As we are staying at Aussie Central at Pier Maua we don’t do expect to have much if any internet access. So if you don’t hear from us until next Monday (29th) when we arrive in Iguazu Falls please don’t worry!!

All we can say is that we are truly blessed to be part of this amazing journey. We are only a week in and we’ve seen and experienced things only in our wildest dreams. We hope and pray that our next 2 weeks are just as good, if not better. Thank you for always checking in on us, and please don’t forget that every time we walk into a church or see something breathtaking.. we’re thinking of everyone back home!!

Until our next post…. adios mi amigos y amigas!! xox

ps: we’ve finally started to pick up on the Spanish only to have to start all over again and speak Portuguese for the next week! Hehe

Day Five: Cusco

We are all very sorry for the late updates!!! It’s been a very busy 2 days!

We arrived in Cusco early Friday morning and straight away we could feel the altitude kick in. At 11,152ft above sea level, it was definitely the highest point anyone had ever been too!! Considering Mt  Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest point and it’s only 7,310ft!!

We arrived at our hotel and somewhat felt a feeling of guilt as the hotel was amazing!!! Comfy beds, hot water, Internet access in all rooms (not just the lobby), a fireplace and super friendly staff (Luke made a new friend named Jesus who sewed his pants up for him for the bargain price of 15 soles = around $5.80). We definitely felt like tourists here and not pilgrims but I guess we couldn’t complain!! We had 2 hours to rest and settle in before going to lunch.

We had another taste of amazing Peruvian cuisine and everyone was so full after it. Following that we went to the Plaza de Armas and took many lovely photos. Some of us even bought some beautiful paintings by the local street vendor.

We then made our way to some old Inca ruins before heading to the local craft market to go shopping. We all become bargain hunters as everyone was asking for discounts and our new favourite words became “muy caro” meaning too expensive and once they finally gave in “muchas gracias señor/ señorita” hehe 🙂

After the markets we had mass in the Church Belen with Bishop Peter Comensoli and our WYD chaplains. The Church was beautiful and mass was very solemn. We have a few stories to tell about mass but we’ll save them for when we get home!

We ended the night with a late dinner then off to bed it was as we had a 5.30am pick up for Machu Picchu. It was a relaxing first day in Cusco!!!

Day Four: City Tour of Lima

So sorry for the late update!! 

 Finally we got an 8 o’clock sleep in and hot water in the morning. We got on the bus welcomed by our tour guide, Blanka, who was to take us around the city for the rest of the day. 
 
Our first stop was the Church of San Pedro which had beautiful monuments of saints and gold features. From here we walked to the Cathedral of Lima but before we could enter the Cathedral we were bombarded by a large group of Brazilian School Kids who wanted to take photos with us. We entered the Cathedral and before we could look around in the 16 chapels which were part of the Cathedral, Blanka gave us a brief talk about the chapel’s history. After taking photos of the Cathedral, we took photos outside the Cathedral and some of us purchased an instant photo from the photographer outside the Cathedral. 
 
On the way to the Church of St Francis of Assisi we came across cheap shops which we were able to purchase many souvenirs from to take back to our families and friends at home. 
 
The Church of St Francis of Assisi was beautiful, consisting of numerous rooms which contained many beautiful paintings, some which had actually been slightly damaged during the earthquakes. The Catacombs was next on our itinerary. This was a major shock for most of us who hadn’t experienced anything like this before. We walked through a path which took us past piles of bones which were neatly stacked on top of each other. 
 
We then got on the bus again to drive to the Church of the Nazarenas (Lord of the Miracles). Instead of actually going inside the church, we said a prayer outside and also received a beautiful medal from the people of Lima. 
 
Once again we got on the bus and were happy to hear that we would be having lunch at Rustica, a Peruvian buffet. This buffet served a variety of meals ranging from traditional Peruvian rice meals to pizza, chips and fried rice. We all left the restaurant feeling very full! 
 
The bus picked us up following our meal, taking us to Lima Town Hall which we felt very privileged to be able to visit. We walked through the Town Hall taking many pictures of the features it had to offer, and then took photos of the plaza from the balcony. 
 
From here we went to the Church and Convent of Sto Domingo, and got to see the skulls of St Rose of Lima and St Martin de Porres which was on the altar.
 
From there we went to the Church of St Rose of Lima were we wrote some special intentions and threw them down a well along with hundreds if not thousands of letters! We also said a special prayer in the courtyard where St Rose grew up. 
 
After dinner we celebrated mass at the Church Devoted to our Lady of Fatima; Mira Flores which was celebrated by Cardinal Pell. It was such a beautiful church and mass. It was a nice way to spend our last night in Lima. 
 
We’re now off to bed as we have to leave our hotel at 5.00am to catch our 8.00am flight for our next destination… Cuzco & Machu Picchu!! 

Day Three: Mission Work

Sorry there are still technical difficulties with the photos!!! 

 We began our day with a bus ride to Pamplona only to later discover we were in the most dangerous suburb in Lima. Hehehe :0 (but don’t worry… we were completely safe the whole time). Due to this we had to move some students on the other bus to get some weight off!! (Hmm thank you Laura!!) The remaining students who stayed on the bus ended up praying the rosary to guide us to our final destination.. Unfortunately for us our prayers were not answered as we broke done again which resulted in all of bus 8 squished together in a mini bus! We couldnt complain though as it was a blessing in disguise as we did get the chance to further bond as a bus group. 
 
We finally arrived at the child care centre where we spent the day working at.  Firstly we ran a catechesis in the form of plays based on the parable of the talents. We then had time to play games and hand out souvenirs from Australia before we began dental hygiene lessons. It was such an awesome experience to see the smiles on their faces except when we had to put fluoride on their teeth and they didn’t like the taste lol. The kids also had a chance to go on a spinning thing however Luke was pushing them a bit too fast as we did have a few dizzy kids & pilgrims when they got off!! 
 
After the kids left the real fun began! We sanded down the gate so we could put a fresh coat of paint on, and cleaned up the classrooms and playground area. The 2 hours spent doing this went a lot faster as we played guitars sang songs!!
 
We ended the day with another Peruvian inspired dinner and mass! Tomorrow will be our last day in Lima where we’ll get the chance to go sight seeing around the city!!! 
 
We miss you all!! 

Day Three: Mission Work

Sorry there are still technical difficulties with the photos!!! 

 We began our day with a bus ride to Pamplona only to later discover we were in the most dangerous suburb in Lima. Hehehe :0 (but don’t worry… we were completely safe the whole time). Due to this we had to move some students on the other bus to get some weight off!! (Hmm thank you Laura!!) The remaining students who stayed on the bus ended up praying the rosary to guide us to our final destination.. Unfortunately for us our prayers were not answered as we broke done again which resulted in all of bus 8 squished together in a mini bus! We couldnt complain though as it was a blessing in disguise as we did get the chance to further bond as a bus group. 
 
We finally arrived at the child care centre where we spent the day working at.  Firstly we ran a catechesis in the form of plays based on the parable of the talents. We then had time to play games and hand out souvenirs from Australia before we began dental hygiene lessons. It was such an awesome experience to see the smiles on their faces except when we had to put fluoride on their teeth and they didn’t like the taste lol. The kids also had a chance to go on a spinning thing however Luke was pushing them a bit too fast as we did have a few dizzy kids & pilgrims when they got off!! 
 
After the kids left the real fun began! We sanded down the gate so we could put a fresh coat of paint on, and cleaned up the classrooms and playground area. The 2 hours spent doing this went a lot faster as we played guitars sang songs!!
 
We ended the day with another Peruvian inspired dinner and mass! Tomorrow will be our last day in Lima where we’ll get the chance to go sight seeing around the city!!! 

 We miss you all!!

Day Two: Mission Work

Due to technical difficulties we wont be able to upload any photos tonight, however we will endeavour to do so ASAP. 

 
Our day stared off with a 45 minute drive, just outside Lima, to a town called Pamploma. Due to bad weather conditions which made the road unsuitable for driving we hiked to the mission site. Although it was a difficult walk with what seemed like a million stairs, we got our first experience of the hardships faced on a daily basis by many living within this Shanty town.
 
Our first activity was scrapping the paint of a community kitchen which is vital to the area as the residents are unable to have their own kitchens in their homes. Most valuable scraper goes to Luke. 
 
Our second activity involved us helping build a staircase, we formed a production line where we had to remove rocks and then transport cement down the line into form work. Although the cement buckets were heavy we worked as a team  to get the job done. 
 
One of the heartfelt experiences of the day was when the leaders of the community thanked us for all the work we did. They said they will keep us and our families in their prayers always. 
 
Despite the mud, dust, dirt and humidity around us we would do this a million times over as the smiles on the peoples faces, especially the kids, were priceless. 
 
Tomorrow we continue our mission work but this time we will be taking care of children in a nursery and helping them with colouring and various activities. 
 
To end todays post, even though we are halfway across the world…. Go the mighty blues!!!