|Welcome to Australia Denisse!|
We had been discussing Alex's niece, Denisse, coming to Australia for the best part of the first half of 2011 but, due to a number of reasons, it was put on hold. When Alex and I went to Ecuador in August of last year, we started to try and 'firm things up', but if any of you know anything about Ecuadorian bureaucracy, it's a nightmare. Little issues become major obstacles, and things that would normally take no more than 20 minutes in Australia take days in Ecuador! Alex and I are pretty persistent folk though, so by the time we left, in the latter part of September, 'things' were mostly ready to go.
|Another family shot ... initiation by pasta!|
We had placed Denisse on 'red alert' and told her that she had to be 'ready to go' as soon as we received word from the Australian Embassy in Chile that her visa had been approved; by this stage it was mid October. We could not purchase her flight to Australia until she was officially given her Australian visa. When word came through, Alex called his sister, Karen, and told her that the visa had been approved and that he's be booking Denisse's ticket immediately. The next week was a blur for all, with Alex working hard to get a decent deal to Australia in a short amount of time. Denisse would be coming in a little over a week!
|Denisse on one of our weekend jaunts around Victoria.|
|Denisse and Alex at Red Rock Reserve, near Colac.|
What followed was an absolutely full on next six months as we aimed to do and show Denisse as much as we could; we covered lots of Victoria, Sydney, and even Thailand. Night number 1 was dinner at Dad's with her Aussie Auntie Kazz (my sister-in-law), Uncle Fuzz (by brother) and cousin James. They went on to play an important part of Denisse's life during her six months here.
We had organsied for Denisse to study English at Lyceum Language Centre in the CBD. She would only have a few days of respite before being ready to go, so to speak. She would study English Monday to Friday between 9am and 1pm for the next six months. Having gone to a bilingual primary school all of her life her English was quite good, but there's nothing quite like learning in the country of origin, and her improvement in six months was remarkable, with her vocab having expanded substantially.
|Chillin' out with Moz & Marie in Mildura.|
Back in Melbourne, and not a week in the country, she was at Lyceum studying English. How dramatically Denisse's life had changed in the matter of only a week. Over the next six months, she would find her own little groove, making lots of new friends and hanging out with them; Friday night, we would soon find out, was her night!
We had a welcome to Australia party with the usual suspects, and during her time here, she got to meet and know a lot of our family and friends too. My 90 year old 'Zia' (aunty) Rina loved her! We also introduced her to a couple of our favourite eating haunts including the Moroccan Soup Bar and the Vegie Bar, which are both Melbourne institutions.
|At Briiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-ton! (Brighton)|
We spent many weekends away camping or showing her various places and things. We also visited places such as Mt Macedon and the Organ Pipes National Park (near Melbourne) as well as had a fun on Australia Day in January, in Gisborne with Kirrily, Luis and little Anamaya. We visited Sorrento and the Mornington Peninsula, and showed her some of our beautiful beaches. We actually did so much that it became a whir of activity. In early December Denisse went to see one of her favourite bands, the Foo Fighters, in Aami Park. It was a brilliant concert, so the story goes!
|Pommy Christmas at Kazz and Fuzz's!|
|With cousins Glenn, Michelle, Oskar & Aunty Lori.|
|Our national icon.|
|The Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell.|
|Camping ... Aussie style.|
In January we went to the Portarlington Mussel Festival, in (as the name suggests) Portarlington. It was a great weekend. Dad came down for the day, but we stayed in Indented Heads, as our friends Betty and Sam and their kids were renting a place there for the holidays. Lots of eating and relaxing with a few beach walks thrown in. Always good to hang out with good friends. Oh, and Betty brought down THE coffee machine. Hear that ... THE coffee machine. Nothin' like a brilliant coffee in the comforts of your own home. Your coffee making skills were 'orright' Sam! January was a pretty full on month in general, and Denisse even got to go to the Australian Open Tennis with Kazz and James.
The next few months were filled with catch ups with friends, coffees in different places, dancing a few times and weekend getaways. We were even doing things during the week ... the weekends were not enough! So many things to do, so little time! We wanted to show Denisse as much as we possibly could. I think we gave it a pretty good crack.
|The three muskateers.|
I love it and so does Alex, and despite the fact that we have been there a countless number of times, we still keep going back; it's still got the X factor! It has a bit of everything; shopping, nightlife, beaches and temples. And thus began Denisse's initiation into the world of backpacking. We bought her a backpack (only fractionally smaller than her!), got her to do some research (as usual, it's travel book first, decide where to visit later) and anxiously waited for the time to come. We chose the two weeks around Easter, as this was the easiest time for both Alex and I to take some time off. We were as keen as mustard. There were still a few weeks to go, but it would be time to go in no time at all.
|Alex and Roberto in Buenos Aires last year.|
Dedicacion: En mi ultimo blog, mi dedicacion fue para algunos de mis amigos argentinos, incluyendo el papa de Charo Roberto (Tito). Mi dedicacion otra vez es para Tito que fallecio en marzo de este ano. Estoy tan feliz que te pude ver para la ultima vez Tito. Estoy tan feliz que pudimos reir, comer, tomar y hablar de tiempos pasados juntos. Tu cara sonriente esta impresa en mi mente, y tu amor y pasion en mi corazon.
Inside Wiki Leaks - My time with Julian Assange at the world's most dangerous website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg
The Nazi Officer's Wife - How one Jewish woman survived the holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin
"Surround yourself by people who always give you a reason to smile".
Next: The three musketeers backpack around Thailand.
|The Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell.|
|At the Organ Pipes National Park.|
|L to R: Deni, Ombi, Karina, Betty, Dion, Sam & Thomas.|
|Denisse at Sorrento back beach.|
|Doobie (Dad) on Christmas Day.|
|Along the Great Ocean Road.|
|The infamous Mitsubishi 'Pajero'!|
|Deni at the Aussie Open.|
|Denisse enjoying a 'Moz pasta' in Mildura.|
|Perry Sandhills, near Mildura.|
|On the banks of the Murray River, Mildura.|
|Moz pancakes for brekkie.|
|Mineral Springs at Kyneton.|
|Takin' the mickey ...in David Jones, Spring Carnival.|
|Deni and 'the' Foo Fighters ticket.|
|Deni at the Perry Sand dunes.|
|With Kylie, Marley and baby Eva at the sand dunes.|
|Eating traditional tucker, fish'n'chips, near Brighton.|
|Food is the spice of life ...with Marie in Mildura.|
|Italian Christmas at Aunty Rina's.|
|A Chocoto New Year!|
|With Bel & Eli at the Johnston St Latin Fiesta, Fitzroy.|
|In the Dandenong Ranges.|
|Christmas, with Aunty Iride and cousin Sonya.|