Another baby on a bike…

In the last month or so of riding in Germany Shoshanna was complaining about being unusually tired.  I just put it down to the fact that we were cycling 60km a day and parenting a temperamental toddler.  But no!  She was pregnant!

Sebastian Lior was born on the 1st of May.  All are healthy and well and feeling very blessed.

We haven’t managed to put him on a bike yet but we are working on it.  Any suggestions are welcome!IMG_3062

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We were attempting the tricky task of taking a passport photo (we are off to San Fran in June) and Amaya wanted to help…

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Baby on a Bike Swing

We feel so privileged and overwhelmed by this gesture…

Shared from:

http://clinicaverde.org/our-baby-on-a-bike-swing/

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Last year, Aussies Michael and Shoshanna Hindmarsh took their 2-year-old daughter Amaya on a bike trip from Barcelona to the Baltic Sea in Germany to raise support for Clinica Verde. We were awed by both their kindness and adventurous spirit, and wanted to commemorate their experience at the clinic in a special way. Well, we finally put our idea into action – and it’s a wonderful addition to the clinic. Presenting, our Baby on a Bike swing, located in our clinic courtyard. Now, one of the first things visitors approaching Clinica Verde see is children swinging near the entrance. Thanks, Amaya!

Swing 1 Swing 2

A Sense of an Ending

Berlin

“Here we are!” we said to Amaya as we pulled into the courtyard of our apartment block.  “Come on lets get out and have a look!” “NO!” came the reply, and we spent the next 5 minutes trying to coax her out.  We had been telling her that we were finishing, and I think she also knew that this was the completion of something great.  Her nomadic, outdoor life had ended and she was staying put in her ‘magic buggy’ hoping that there would be more.

Alas our journey had come to an end.  We took the iconic photos in front of the Brandenburg Gate just as we had taken them in front of the Sagrada Familia five months earlier.  We feel privileged to have had this time as a family, to see a Europe that few people see and to expose our daughter to so many wonderful things.

After more than 5 months  and 4000km of cycling we finally made it to Berlin!

After more than 5 months and 4000km of cycling we finally made it to Berlin!

Growing up wild and free

“Amaya lick Mamá’s tongue?” Amaya asked me using her super sweet voice thats reserved for requests. “Ummm… noooo,” I reply, “that’s gross.” We are eating in a rather nice fish restaurant and Amaya has just dropped some rice on the floor “oh, a little bird can eat that bit” she announces. Hmm, yes. Its said that two year olds are little barbarians and ours maybe a slightly more barbaric than most. Camping for so long has made us all a bit rough around the edges. We eat out of the pot we cook in for goodness sake.

Straight up and into a bit of puddle splashing before breakfast

Straight up and into a bit of puddle splashing before breakfast

Breakfast on the wharf? Sure, why not :)

Breakfast on the wharf? Sure, why not :)

As any honest camper will attest, part of the beauty of camping is you get to chill out and relax your standards. Waltz around in the same clothes, shower if you feel like it, brush your hair – whats a brush?! Its a time to get away from fast paced city living and societal pressures. One afternoon all three of us managed to get cherry stains on our t-shirts, our care factor – about zero.

Dressing up with her "Hello Kitty" cape.... don't ask me, it wasn't my idea!

Dressing up with her “Hello Kitty” cape…. don’t ask me, it wasn’t my idea!

From your position sitting in a comfortable office chair and breathing in air conditioned air this may seem disgusting to you, so judge us as negligent parents if you must, but it is said that a bit of dirt is good for immunity. From our position it is brilliantly refreshing to have dropped parenting standards, what does it really matter if our kid has less baths and is running around in slightly grubby clothes. She’s happy and healthy. Camping it seems is the perfect environment for a two year old. They seem to be made for fresh air. Shriek and yell, play rough, throw sand, run around naked, whatever it is the outdoors can take it. The large environment readily absorbs noise and activity, even a full blown tantrum while it may be in public is certainly less out of place than in your local supermarket.

Racing in the hanseatic city of Lübeck

Racing in the hanseatic city of Lübeck

Please don’t misunderstand me, Amaya is not a wild and crazy kid. She’s a sweet girl who has benefitted greatly from living predominately outdoors. Before our trip she was greatly concerned about getting dirty, touching sand, and didn’t really like the feeling of different textures under her bare feet. Now she will pick up a snail and with a wicked grin say “Mama eat it?!”

Bit different from eating a snail - but what a find!

Bit different from eating a snail – but what a find!

Loving natural park Muritz - the park with over 100 lakes!

Loving natural park Muritz – the park with over 100 lakes!

For a mini person what tops regular camping is being a camping nomad. Simply because you never know what kind of entertainment or delights the day is going to present.
Lunch may turn out to be at a lake – so we enjoy an unscheduled swim.
Another day its raining so we eat breakfast in the campground family room where Amaya’s breakfast chair of choice is a toy tractor (exciting for a 2 year old).
Or its the day of the campground bowling competition (on manually run equipment from  GDR times). Amaya won (no one is sure how – but it happened).
We play in a fountain, dance to live music in the town square, stumble upon a local fair, have breakfast on a wharf, the world is her playground with every day providing delights.

Checking out Bremen town square. Special times like these Amaya gets to ride "on top"!

Checking out Bremen town square. Special times like these Amaya gets to ride “on top”!

riding a swam paddle boat - cause our legs haven't done enough lately ;p

Riding a Swan Paddle Boat – cause our legs haven’t done enough lately ;p

Amaya somehow managed to win - no ones knows quite how.

Amaya somehow managed to win – no ones knows quite how.Important phone call

It’s the People not the Place

We are on our homeward stretch.  The Baltic Sea is behind us and we only have a bit over a week before we will find ourselves back in Berlin.  Close to 5 months of riding and over 3800km later we have enjoyed our share of adventures and met some fantastic people.

Most of the time the people we connect with are kind strangers who offer us help.  Take for instance….

A 36 degree day near Hengelo, Holland. We stopped at a random house to ask for some water.  We were given ice water, home grown berries, coffee and an hour or two of enjoyable conversation.

It was so much fun chatting with Herbert! If you are ever riding through Holland and are in need of water he is your man!!

It was so much fun chatting with Herbert! If you are ever riding through Holland and are in need of water he is your man!!

In Bremen while watching the reenactment of “The Bremen Town Musicians” an elderly German tourist slipped me 10 euros to spend on Amaya – evidently overwhelmed by her charm.  We used the 10 euros to buy a lovely picture book of the Grimm Brother’s fable.

The Grimm Brother's fable is acted out every Sunday in the town square.

The Grimm Brother’s fable is acted out every Sunday in the town square.

The donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster.  Amaya loves the story!

The donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster. Amaya loves the story!

Then there was Astrid, Andreas and Felix.  Resting in their driveway after an exhausting day crossing Hamburg, Astrid pulls up in her bright red porsche and asks us if we would like a coffee in her garden.  We obviously agreed and were once again treated to an enjoyable afternoon with some unexpected surprises thrown in.  There were rabbits, chickens and macaws much to Amaya’s delight.  Most random of all was the large warehouse jammed full of antique horse drawn carts, gypsy caravans and even a 100 year old hearse.

Amaya loving life!

Amaya loving life!

Chickens Rabbits

A child size gypsy caravan!

A child size gypsy caravan!

Wow - very random but very cool

Wow – very random but very cool – the place was like a museum!

We were so fortunate to meet these wonderful people!

We were so fortunate to meet these wonderful people!

More recently our Baltic sea experience was significantly brightened by fellow campers, Bjorn, Kirsten and Simon (aged 2).

Kirsten, Bjorn and Simon

Kirsten, Bjorn and Simon.  They had been to Australia on numerous occasions and had probably seen more of it than us!  A visit to the Butterfly house, a swim in the sea and a BBQ made for a memorable day!

There are countless other examples of these chance encounters, however two families we stayed with during our last week in the Netherlands was not based solely on chance – our meeting was some 30 years in the making and the connections span 3 continents.

About 30 years ago a young Israeli called Naim was struggling to fund his travels through Europe by selling paintings in a plaza in a Dutch town called Hengelo.  A young couple, Henk and Annie, took pity on him and invited him to stay with them for the night.  He stayed for a year.  A connection was established with Naim’s family in Israel and Henk and Annie’s family that saw many visits between the two countries.

Fast forward to a rainy night in Israel, about 20 years on.  Stephen (my brother), Shoshanna and I were looking for somewhere to pitch our tent in front of the Ancient Ruins of Beit She’an.  The lady in the ticket office took pity on us and offered for us to stay with her.  Her name is Etti and she is Naim’s sister.  We stayed with her for a few wonderful days and again in 2008 for a week.

Earlier this year Stephen and Jess (my sister in law) were staying with Etti who happened to also have guests from the Netherlands.  They were Rosanna and Mariette, the 2 daughters of Henk and Annie, along with their families. Upon arriving in the Netherlands Stephen and Jess stayed with Rossanna and Henk (the younger).

We also had the privilege of Henk and Rosanna’s hospitality in Hengelo, along with a few wonderful days with Mariette and Robert and their children Leor, Micha and Yair.

Henk and Rosanna

So great to meet Henk and Rosanna

Mariette, Robert and Yair

Mariette, Robert and Yair in front of the old farm house they renovated

Amaya and Yair whom she affectionately called "Mr Dude"

Amaya and Yair whom she affectionately called “Mr Dude”

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Mic chilling with Yair and Leor

Mic chilling with Yair and Leor

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These are the moments that make traveling so enjoyable.  The stunning scenery and quaint villages are just a nice backdrop to the relationships and connections we have made on this journey.

WE MADE IT!!!

The journey began in Barcelona – us and our bicycles and a European continent that stretched out endlessly.  We have cycled 3600km over 4 months, inhaled at least 20 bugs, fallen off 7 times, repaired two flat tyres, endured too many cold and rainy days and we have finally made it to the Baltic!

Made it!

Made it!

Mic and Amaya arrive!

Mic and Amaya arrive!

Baby on a Bike, Barcelona to the Baltic and then down to Berlin.

Baby on a Bike, Barcelona to the Baltic and then down to Berlin.

The Baltic is not so impressive by Australian standards but that is what we get for choosing a destination based on an alliteration.  Someone smarter than me once wrote, “it is always good to have an end to journey towards but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  It has been all about the journey for us.  We have meandered through Europe on our bicycles, watching our little daughter grow up.  There have been incredibly high highs and the lowest of lows.  It has not been all dappled light and ice creams – this has been a very difficult family project.

But we are here and there are many stories to tell.

It has not all been dappled light and ice creams!

It has not all been dappled light and ice creams!

I am particularly proud of Amaya who is surely the toughest and most adaptable two year old around.  She has sat in her little buggy for every one of those 3600km and offered minimal complaints.  She has camped in appalling conditions, learnt to say hi, bye and thanks in a number of different languages, met new people every day, and has had to make do with very few toys.  Yet she is still super keen to get on the road every morning.

Amaya in the Baltic Sea - one of the toughest and most adaptable two year olds around!

Amaya in the Baltic Sea – one of the toughest and most adaptable two year olds around!

Thanks for reading our blog (please continue)! Thanks to all the kind strangers who have helped us in so many different ways!  Thanks to the people who have donated to Clinica Verde and helped change the lives of mothers and children in Nicaragua!  If you haven’t donated but would like to you can click on the link below.

CV button to donate.001

We now have the small matter of cycling 400km or so down to Berlin.