Khetiwe, Pforzheim, Germany


Posted Sep 3, 2008, 2:37 pm
Lotjhani! Hello!

I am Khetiwe, I am a member of the isiNdebele tribe of South Africa.

I am so excited to be traveling out into the world to see other cultures, but before I start, I'd like to tell you a bit about my tribe.

Posted Sep 3, 2008, 5:19 pm
Now, Jo'burg is a little far from where I come from so I am going to show you pictures from this book...

My people have a long history in this country. We originally broke off from the Nguni (Zulu speaking) people in Kwa Zulu Natal and moved further inland to the Northern part of South Africa (we are also known as the Southern Ndebele, as a further group broke off from us and moved further North into Zimbabwe)

The orange square on this map shows the geographical area where we isNdebele are to be found - to the North of Pretoria in the Northern Province (now known as Limpopo). Johannesburg is in the extreme bottom left.

South Africa has eleven official languages. Ndebele, spoken by 2% of the population, is the smallest of the indigenous languages. But as it is an Nguni language it is understood by many other people, most notably the isiZulu, isiXhosa and siSwati.

Although the languages may be similar you will never mistake an Ndebele for any other tribe once you see them!

We isiNdebele are very well known for our artistic abilities. Our houses are decorated with very distinct geometric patterns. These are painted freehand, with no previous thought out plans. Only the women do art work.

Usually, only the front of the house is colourfully decorated, as this is the first view a visitor will see. Windows and doorways are of particular importance to us.

The back and the side walls are plastered with cow dung and patterns made by scratching fingers through it. This is known as kghuphu but is also called 'tyre tracks'!

Sometimes the interior of the house is also decorated. It is hard to tell in this picture, but the seating is incorporated into the wall, it is a ledge that goes round the house. The 'cupboards' are also built into the wall.

Meals are cooked outside in a large three legged pot over a fire. Our staple diet is a maize (corn) meal porridge called iphutu. Sometimes we add meat and vegetables to it.

We have a very distinct traditional costume - a very colourful one!

Most Ndebele men wear westernized clothing, but when they do wear traditional dress it is very plain and simple. We women on the other hand, are very proud of our beautiful colourful appearance and our clothing indicates both age and social standing.

Little girls wear an apron made of thick cords, as they get older the aprons become larger until they are of a marriageable age. We then undergo an initiation ceremony and our dress changes completely.

The initiation process (iqhude)is as follows:
It starts at full moon, the girl is removed from her home, stripped naked and her hair and eyebrows are shaved off and she is placed in seclusion for a month (traditionally - 3 months, but this is no longer practical.) She is looked after by the older women of the community and taught to be a home maker and matriarch.

At the end of this period, there is a 'coming out' ceremony, with much celebration. The girls wear a lot of thick beaded bracelets around their arms, waists and legs and a stiff beaded apron that their mothers have made for them.

It is unusual for unmarried women to cover their breasts, but sometimes they wear a decorated breastplate.

Once a woman has been chosen as a bride there are a lot of complicated arrangements made between the two families and the bride- to- be wears outfits that symbolise these arrangements. She is only married after the birth of the first child.

The mother of the groom gets to wear a linga koba or 'long tears' The beads of the head dress symbolise her joy at his return from initiation (which is quite gruelling and includes circumcision) and her sorrow at losing him as a child.

Once married, we cover our breasts with a blanket around our shoulders and wear Isigolwani (a thick heavy loop of twisted grass that is beaded) or dzilla (a copper or brass ring). Both are worn around the neck and sometimes on arms and legs.

The dzilla are ONLY worn by married women, and they are given to us by our husbands. Superstition does not allow the rings to be removed, as it may incur the wrath of the ancestors.

We Ndebele are polygamous. The man can take as many wives as he can afford. The first wife lives in the largest main house. Each successive wife gets a smaller inter leading house. The husband not only rules over all the wives and children, but also any wives and children of his sons that live under his roof too. Once he dies, he STILL rules as an ancestor!

If we ever get sick, we go to see either an nyanga or a sangoma. We believe that illness is not only physical but that it has a spiritual or mental dimension that only a medicine man or woman can divine.

The isiNyanga are herbalists and are exclusively male. They wear necklaces which have magic powers and charms.

The iZangoma are mostly women, they throw and interpret bones to communicate with the ancestors, they may also use herbal remedies.

We Ndebele are synonymous with beadwork. Colourful glass beads replaced our original beads when the Europeans first settled here and traded with us. Lately, with the increase of poverty we have turned to using plastic beads. We also reuse beads from older items that are no longer needed.

Here you can see the traditional beaded goat skin apron of an Ndebele child, a traditional fertility symbol, just behind me is a traditional doll and to the left are some more modern Ndebele dolls - not quite as cute as me!

Another craft we are famous for, but which is sadly a dying art, is weaving. We make mats from dried grass and weave intricate coloured patterns into them to express our creativity. Traditionally these mats were used for sleeping on but we now use beds like everybody else.

The isigolwani that we wear are also made from dried grass. It is quite a process. The grass is wound into a thick hoop that is then bound with strong cotton. Strings of beads are threaded on, one tiny bead at a time, and then wound around the hoop. It is the placed in a pot of boiling sugar water, which causes it to harden from the inside. It is then soaked in a syrup and left in the sun (but turned regularly) for two days. They are then washed and are ready to be worn.

And there you have it, all about me and my fellow isiNdebele.


Posted Sep 9, 2008, 11:39 pm
I joined the other TVs on a visit to this Museum but the only thing that interested me there were the few items of Ndebele art on display.

Here is the beaded skirt of a young maiden who has undergone initiation.

Here is another beaded apron ( a very old one) and a few items of jewellery.

Just outside of the museum, are a few curio shops. We went into one and found this beautiful display of Ndebele dolls. Can you spot me? Didn't think so! I am at the front on the extreme right.

Here are close ups of the two larger dolls so you can see the detail.

Close to the museum is the tourist information centre, so we went in to get some information brochures.

I got to meet Madiba (the local nickname for Nelson Mandela), my hero, he is not an Ndebele, but that is okay with me.

The South African flag is as colourful as me!

I found some more of my fellow tribe’s people, and an Ndebele pot...


Posted Sep 9, 2008, 11:43 pm
Today I am going to be posted off to JaymeC in Okinawa, Japan. I can't wait to meet her and her family. I just hope I make the long journey via the USA without incident.

Posted Sep 22, 2008, 3:28 am
My envelope was opened and I got to meet my new host, Jayme. She said we were on the island of Okinawa in Japan. Though Okinawa used to be an independent nation it has been conquered by many different people. The latest in the early 1900's by Japan. Since then it has remained a Japanese prefecture. Today she said we're taking a very special trip to learn about the island's history, but we have to prepare our meals first.

So we made bento boxes, these are toddler sized ones for her two children.

You can see they stack up to be carried easily.

I also had to do some that were larger for the adults.

Traditionally bentos has rice in them instead of crackers, but Jayme said we were in a bit of a hurry and she didn't have any cooked rice. Darn. But our preparations done, we were able to get on our way..

This very beautiful coast line is found at the edge of the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park.

Okinawa was caught in the middle of World War II's Battle of Okinawa.  During the battle Okinawa's large civilian population could not escape. Because of this they suffered many, many casualties. As a remembrance of this battle and the loss suffered, the Peace Memorial Park was put into place. There are many smaller memorials throughout the grounds as well as a cemetary, but you are not to take pictures of Okinawan tombs without the permission of the family.  We could take pictures of some of the Memorials though.

The most beautiful and sad part of the park is over this small bridge here.

In here are walls... so many rows of walls! With over 200,000 names inscribed into them of those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa. Most of them were civilians, but there are also military from Japan, the United States, and Great Britain inscribed here. It is a very sad and amazingly beautiful site.

What an amazing place to visit and learn about! After our visit we headed home, but the children had been so well that we decided to stop half way to let them play a bit.

What an exhausting day... time to head home and take a little break!

Write more soon,

Posted Sep 26, 2008, 6:25 am
Jayme says her lifestyle is rather odd because she's caught between two worlds right now. On one side you have the Okinawan/Japanese world and on the other the US military bases. Today we had to visit the largest base on island, Kadena Air Base. There isn't much to see there, but they do have one special area that is a park with retired planes from the 1950's onward.

Very neat. Maybe I'll get to see more of the bases sometime as well.

Write more soon,

Posted Sep 29, 2008, 4:56 am
Today we went to a neat place that's supposed to teach us more about Okinawan heritage. Its called Murasaki Mura. Here we are outside the front entrance.

Inside all the streets were old stone roads.

There were many things to see. Do you see how small we are next to this whale shark?

And here's a traditional Okinawan Building.

Here's another building

The lion/dogs you saw us with at the entrance are called Shisa. They always come in a pair, male and female. The male has its mouth closed to catch any bad spirits and the female has her mouth open to let the good spirits through. There were lots and lots of neat Shisa's here.

You could even paint your own! We didn't paint, but we watched Jayme's son paint.

And on the way out we found this neat prism thing were you could take your picture.

Write more soon,

Posted Sep 30, 2008, 11:53 pm
Today we decided to take a break and do something fun instead of educational :) To that end, we headed to Comprehensive Park. Comprehensive Park is near where Jayme lives and is the biggest park on the island! There's lots to do there. Our goal today was the fish pond. Once we got there, we paid for our tickets and got into the paddle boat! They didn't have life jackets to fit us, so we had to hold on tight...

Here's a better view of the bridge from this side.

Ohh and here's a box of fish food!

The fish followed our boat all through the water.

And we got to see some ducks too!

We headed back under the bridge towards the boat docking area.

And a little turtle came to visit

Finally we docked the boat then went to the playground for a bit to run off some energy.

And then headed home! Write about our next adventure soon,

Posted Oct 6, 2008, 4:55 am
Today was a busy day! We had to run a few errands. First we had to stop by the post office of course.

From there we had to stop by one of the small stores on base.

While we were walking a helicopter went overhead, there certainly are a lot around here!

After errands we headed back to a different part of Comprehensive Park

There was a different playground here

Plenty of room for playing ball

As well as a neat memorial statue

A little further along there was a place to stop and rest under a giant seashell

It was right next to the ocean. The tide was out, when its in you can't see any of the rocks!

Write more soon,

Posted Oct 9, 2008, 3:25 am
Well we were sitting around the house being a little bored so we did a puzzle (okay, Jayme's husband helped some!)

Then did some Halloween Decorating

And then found out we were going to a place called the Nakamura House. It was built in the 1400's and is a traditional home from that era on Okinawa.
Here I am in front of one of the sleeping rooms. There were many sleeping rooms, and one family slept in each.

And here's the storage room

This is a family room

You can kind of see the ceiling in this photo

Here's the kitchen area

And the horse stables

As well as pigpens

This used to be a well, but it was filled up and flowers were planted

And here's some of the many stairs around

And finally here's one of a few Shisa in the home

It was a very neat, though very small for so many families!

Write more soon,

Posted Oct 11, 2008, 11:20 pm
Today we took a very neat trip to a place called Okinawa World. Our trip started off in a cave, where we were supposed to be quiet...

This is a waterfall

It was a long walk! When it was all through we stopped for lunch and a walk through the village area. They had an area where glass was being made

We also got to look down at a brewery

Finally we got to the exit and the Eisa Dancers. Eisa is a traditional dance to Okinawa. It was a very neat show to see!

You can see a video example of Eisa Dancing here: Eisa

More adventures soon!


Posted Oct 21, 2008, 2:42 am
Today we went to a place called the Pineapple Park. After we paid for our tickets we went and got into a pineapple cart.

Here's the inside of the cart

We got to see many small pineapples growing

And lots of other plants related to pineapples

When we were done in the cart we went inside to a small seashell museum

And from there went to the pineapple store, which even had pineapple wine!

We took some wine and went to relax on the beach after our fun day out

Write more soon,

Posted Oct 22, 2008, 10:23 pm
Today we went to a place called the Shinikean Gardens. It was very beautiful! Its been inscribed by the World Heritage Organization as an important historic spot. It was the Imperial Gardens for the Ryukyu Kingdom back before Okinawa became a part of Japan.

The first thing we saw when we went in was the guard house.

Then we had to walk down a little pathway through a forest.
Where we had to pause to examine a snail.

After that we got our first view of the rest home here, it was quite large for that time in history.

Unfortunately there wasn't much to see inside besides the set up of the home, but we took a few pictures anyways.

Looking outside you could see the beautiful water, and a rock bridge.

There was also another small rest house.

This picture is quite funny in a way. Okinawa is quite a small island! However, the Ryukyu Kings did not want their adversaries to know how small it was, so when they came to visit they brought them to this place to show them the outlay of the land and how large it was. Its one of the very few spots on Okinawa where you can see no water! I haven't seen another spot on Okinawa up high where you can't see water actually.

Write more soon,

Posted Oct 28, 2008, 10:30 pm
Jayme has been very busy lately, but we were able to sneak away for a  bit of a break at the beach. First we sat down to have a bento, but what a beautiful view!

Then we went out to explore the seashells and coral on the beach. There was lots of it!

We found this nice big rock, too bad we can't take it home it makes a great chair!

The water is so pretty here!

And its very, very clear water today

Do you see the big ship in the back?

Write more soon,

Posted Oct 30, 2008, 10:21 am
I know our trip to the beach didn't make it seem very October like, but it IS almost Halloween! So today we celebrated. First... we decided to carve a pumpkin. Its rather large.

Jayme cut and opened the top for us (she didn't want us ot hurt ourselves) and we got the job of digging out all the goo inside. She said some people make pumpkin pie with it, but she's not Marth Stewart enough.

Eventually we got them all cleaned out and here we are after the carving is all done!

We put a candle in them and turned out the lights and...

After we were done with pumpkins we went to go 'trunk-or-treating'. Its a festival that's only done on the base Jayme lives on and people decorate their trunks and you trick-or-treat there. It was lots of fun, but we had to help keep the kids contained so we couldn't pose for pictures :(

Tomorrow Jayme said we're going trick-or-treating and hopefully we can get some better pictures then!

Write more soon!

Posted Nov 4, 2008, 11:05 pm
Mommy I'm sorry I didn't get to write about it earlier, Jayme's been very busy. We've been helping her do tests and papers! But we DID get to go trick-or-treating!

First we had to get our pumpkins ready...

Then we went to visit all the houses and say trick-or-treat! This one looked a little confused... is it Halloween or Christmas?

Some people had really cool pumpkins like this Yoda pumpkin

Some of the houses were a little scary.

We were all so tired we fell asleep on the way home.

But look at all this loot!
Write more soon,

Posted Nov 7, 2008, 6:47 am
Today we went to the botanical gardens here on island. At the entrance were some cows that had been painted by the local school children.

Behind me is a bridge over a small pond area, there are lots of palm trees here and all over Okinawa. These ones are rather short.

There was a small pond where you could feed fish or just look at all the water plants

We walked to the top of the hill to look down on the entire park

On the way out we stopped by the butterfly gardens, aren't they pretty?

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 13, 2008, 9:12 pm
Today we got to go see more butterflies! At the entrance was this neat little boat we played on for a bit.

Then we had to walk outside, but it was raining pretty badly so we had to use umbrellas. You can't see me, but I"m hiding with Jacob under his umbrella.

Then we got to the butterfly house!

They even had examples of every stage of life, do you see the butterflies growing in the cocoons?

And they had a hat you could wear to attract the butterflies, it was too big for Jacob let alone me!

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 17, 2008, 5:00 am
Today we went to the Churaumi Aquarium. It was quite  a drive to get there, but it was nice to have something to do in the rain. Here I am right inside the entrance.

It was very busy! But we still got to see lots of fish.

Finally we got to see the big tank. Its the second largest aquarium in the world, and the largest view window in the world! Its set up with auditorium seating so you can sit and watch as long as you like. And its home to 3 whale sharks!

They're so big! When we were done watching the whale sharks we went outside to see the sea turtles

Unfortunately we couldn't see the rest of the park because of the rain, but what we saw was fun.

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 17, 2008, 5:11 am
When the weather cooperated for a few minutes we snuck off to the ferris wheel. Its pretty big!

Up up up we go!

The view is so pretty.

When we were done we went for another ride, but we let Bertietheduck drive. It was fun to zoom around a bit!

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 18, 2008, 10:53 pm
Today we went to the Okinawa Zoo. When we first arrived they were doing an elephant show.

Then we went onto the snake house

The giraffe's were neat

I kept my distance from the ostrich

This sign next to the lion cage apparently means you should keep your distance there as well

I wonder how a tree gets drunk?

This bird's kind of funny looking

We stopped by the petting zoo to see the rabbits and goats on the way out, but I stayed away since I didn't want them nibbling on me. The iguana was pretty cool though

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 24, 2008, 5:30 am
Wow mommy sorry it took so long to update about the ball! We all got kind of sick afterwards, but everyone's better now.

First we had to help Jayme get ready for the ball so we did her nails

And make up

I got stuck in her scarf

And then had to find my ticket...

Once all the prep was done we climbed into Jayme's purse. It was kind of crowded!

Here's Jayme when we were all done decorating her, along with her husband. Behind them is the birthday cake! (We're hiding in the purse!)

First the band played the national anthem and Marine Corps Hymn

Then there were two speeches and then the ceremony! During the ceremony they cut the cake. The first piece is given to the guest of honor (who gave the speech). The second piece is given to the oldest Marine present. He then passes it on to the youngest Marine present to symbolize the passing of traditions.

They played the national anthem and Marine Corps Hymn again and the flags left and it was all done!

Unfortunately during the ceremony two Marines passed out. Yikes! One of the men Jayme's husband works with had to go to the hospital because he was holding a sword and hit his head on the way down! But he's all better (and back to work!) now, so it wasn't too serious. After the ceremony we got to have dinner and cake and then we went home! We have to get to packing for the trip to Tokyo... and Thanksgiving is coming!

Write more soon,

Posted Nov 28, 2008, 6:10 am
Today is Thanksgiving! Even though Jayme lives in Japan, she and all the people her husband works with are American and so they celebrate Thanksgiving. We had to cook for over 50 people! There were 4 people cooking, so we only had to make one turkey at least... we started very early making cookies.

First the peanut butter cookies.

Then the chocolate chip ones.
Then we got the turkey going... its one big turkey!

We got it out and patted it dry then rubbed it with salt and stuffed with veggies to season.

Mmm. Doesn't it look yummy after cooking for a few hours?

While the turkey was cooking we made mashed potatoes.

Once all the food was done we took it down to cook. Look at all that food!

During the party we also got to watch lots of people play video games. There were 4 tvs with video games! Plus lots of board games and cards.

Jayme said it wasn't Thanksgiving without football, so we sat to watch one of the football video games since the games hadn't started in the states yet.

What a fun Thanksgiving!

More updates soon,

Posted Dec 1, 2008, 3:54 am
Since we have to get packing to go to Tokyo, Jayme decided we could do the decorating today to come home to the apartment being decorated for Christmas. Fun! Jayme put up the tree and put the lights on, then we got to put on the ornaments! Everyone in Jayme's family gets one ornament a year, they usually have something to do with that year.

The first ornament we found was a double... it was two identical Shrek ornaments. Jayme said that's because she and Manuel got each other the same ornament last year! I guess there are problems to this ornament buying thing.

There was a pretty panda ornament. Apparently Jayme's son had a panda stuffy he wouldn't let go of for almost a year. Maybe I can meet him later...

Since Jayme's husband is in the US military there's lots of military ornaments (and you can see the Shrek ones in the background).

There's a small nativity ornament.

At the bottom of the tree we put the non-breakable Sesame Street ornaments so if the boys got ahold of them, they wouldn't get hurt.

And finally we put the star at the top of the tree.

Can you find five toyvoyagers hiding in the Christmas Tree?

After that we put up the two Nativity sets. This one went up high where little hands couldn't reach it.

Then we put up the child nativity set that the kids can play with.

Jayme doesn't have a fireplace, so we put the stockings on the wall.

We also put some lights over the tv where the NFL jersey's are for the NFL season. Jayme said they could use some decorating. #21 is Manuel's favorite team, the San Diego Chargers, but they lost today :(

Wow. We got worn out decorating... it may be awhile til the next update since we're headed to Tokyo soon and we don't know if we can update there!


Posted Dec 13, 2008, 10:59 pm
Dear Mommy,
Jayme says it’s time to go! All the bags are packed. We’re ready. We had to get to the airport very early because we’re flying Space-Available so we have to sign up. There was more than enough room for all of us going to Tokyo though! Here’s all of us toyvoyagers waiting for our flight.

It seemed like we waited and waited, but we finally made it onto the plane. And guess what! The plane even had these little televisions for us to watch.

Mmmm. Airline food isn’t that bad. The sandwich was pretty good, and you can’t really mess up water.

When we got off the plane we had to take a two hour (!!) bus/subway/train ride with ALL of those bags! Everyone was worn out by the time we got to the hotel so Jayme tucked us all in for some sleep.

When we got up in the morning we went down to get some coffee. It’s a pretty neat little coffee machine.

Then we drank our coffee while reading more about Tokyo.
Pretty soon it was light out, and we were able to get out first day-time view of Tokyo!

Wow! It looks so pretty… but oh no! Jayme said we’re not staying here; it was just for last night! We’re headed a couple hours out to a place called Hakone… well here we go…

More soon,

Posted Dec 16, 2008, 12:13 am
Today we took the train to Hakone. We had to get off the train at Odwara. From the train station we could see a castle, but we didn't have time to visit. Do you see it far off in the distance?

Here it is when we zoom in.

From here we took an hour long bus ride to our hotel in Hakone. The hotel we're staying at is called a Ryokan. We were in room 7.

Its was a very pretty room.

And we had a nice little view
We got to sleep on a futon at night!
There were some other pretty decorations around the Ryokan as well.

After checking in we went out for a bite of Chinese to eat. It was very yummy, but Jayme's not sure what it is!

From there we tried to go see a shrine, but it started raining really badly! Since it was rainy we went back to the hotel and decided to make use of the bathing rooms. First you go in and put your towel and other stuff in a basket.

Then you go into the bathing room. Since multiple people use the bathing tub you have to wash well before you get in. Here's the soap and other things for a shower.
Then you get in the bathing tub. Its filled with mineral waters and very nice.
From there we went back and went to sleep. I hope we get to do lots of neat stuff later..

Write more soon,

Posted Dec 16, 2008, 3:42 am
Today Jayme said we're going to go for a few rides and try to find Mt. Fuji (apparently it regularly hides). Our first stop was the rope way. Here's the entrance to the ropeway and the cars we were riding in.

Here's all of us tv's sitting and chilling.
Its a pretty view, but unfortunately no sign of Mt. Fuji yet.
After the ropeway we took a cablecar to the boat. Isn't the boat pretty?
There were some pretty sites from the boat.

Jayme said Mt. Fuji is hiding behind those clouds! Can you see the base of it?
Unfortunately we didn't get to see Mt.Fuji on our trip to Hakone, it was hiding the whole time. Jayme was able to get this picture on the way home from the train though, the mountain came out for a bit in the morning! But it was moving too fast for us to pose.
Next we're supposed to go to a museum, more soon!

Posted Dec 16, 2008, 10:17 pm
Today we went to a place called the Open Air Museum in Hakone. It a museum of artwork that is all outdoors. It was very neat. When we first entered there were many statues.

And I liked the row of diamonds.
The egg made me feel a bit hungry.
Many of the art pieces were play areas. The one behind me is a giant series of tubes for children to climb through.
And this is a maze.
I really like this sphere too. You could see your reflection in it.
It was a fun trip! This was our last day in Hakone... we took another bath and decided to head back towards Tokyo. I wonder what we'll see there?

More soon,

Posted Dec 17, 2008, 8:37 pm
Today we went back to Tokyo. After a long bus and train ride we arrived back at our first hotel and then went out to sightsee. Our destination today was the Tokyo Metropolitan Building (TMG).  Here it is.
The TMG allows visitors to go up the North or South towers for free to get a beautiful view of Tokyo. We took the elevator up to the top floor of the North Tower. Look at that view of Tokyo!
Because it was a clear day, we were able to see Mt.Fuji from the tower though not too clearly. This is very rare.
Here it is when we zoomed in.
It was time to head back to the hotel, but on the way we got to see some Christmas lights! Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.... I hope we'll see some more!
More to come, tomorrow we're going to see a mouse? I wonder what's so special about a mouse...

Posted Dec 18, 2008, 10:12 pm
Today we went to one of Tokyo's Disney Resorts parks. This park is called Tokyo DisneySea. Its called that because it has different ports that you visit and ride in. It looks like it'll be fun today. When you first enter you see a globe.
Then you walk through and you can see all the ports of call, and the centerpiece of the park, Mount Promethius.
We headed to Discovery Port first. He we are waiting in line for Storm Rider. It was a neat ride where you were a plane in the middle of a storm.
After that we went to Aquatopia. See the little boats behind us we ride in?
After that we went inside Mount Promethius! Its called Mysterious Island in here. Here we are there waiting in line to ride 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. You can see a pretty good view of Mysterious Island.
After that we took a break and went to Mermaid Lagoon. Sorry this picture is so blurry, but its all indoors and very dark.
This was the kiddie area, so while the kids went to play and ride we rested on the stroller.
Finally it was getting late so we headed over to American Harbor to see the Christmas lights. Isn't the tree pretty?
After that it was time to go get our seats for the night show. A picture of us wouldn't have worked, but doesn't the show look pretty? It was about the Spirit of Water and the Spirit of Fire falling in love.
Unfortunately we didn't find any mouse. Maybe we'll have to look some more tomorrow.
More soon,

Posted Dec 18, 2008, 11:54 pm
So we're off again to find a mouse... still not sure why though. Hmm. Today we're going to Disneyland! We had to get up bright and early to go in. Here we are at the walkway to Disneyland.
And here's the castle!
This is a different view from FantasyLand while we were waiting in line for a ride.
Hmm. Mouse clues. Look at this sandwich, maybe its pointing the way?
Next we went to ride on the Haunted Mansion, here we are waiting in line.
Mmm. We stopped for more food. We stopped at a restraunt that was decorated like Alice in Wonderland. Here's our lunch!
Can you see the decorations? The Chesire cat is hiding behind us...
From there we went to Toon Town. It was a funny place.
After that it was time for the parade! Everyone here sits down for parades to sit and watch them. Here it goes...

And THERE is the mouse! Woo! We knew we'd find him eventually!
After the parade we got to do one more ride about Winnie the Pooh.
After that it started raining really, really hard so we decided to go home. Jayme did get one more picture of the Christmas tree on the way out though! Merry Christmas!
Our last day in Tokyo next,

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 12:17 am
Today was our last day in Tokyo! Since I haven't shown a picture before, this is what a Tokyo Subway looks like up top. This is Shinjuku station. There are at least 6 different subway and train lines here!
Our next stop was the National Museum. Isn't the building pretty? I wonder what's inside...
First we got to see some very nice swords.
There were some other carved things with the swords as well. Do you like this dragon?
At first we thought we'd found some ancient toys, but then found out these dolls were used for rituals.
We also got to see some very pretty paintings.
There were two rooms just filled with ancient kimonos!
Ahh, here we found some real toys. This was a game children used to play.
This guy is kind of scary huh?
After the first museum we headed to get some lunch. We stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe. The children split a kid's meal, and look what came with it! A new friend for us!
We all shared a yummy meal.
Then we headed to the science museum! We got to learn about the planets.
Here's our planet, this is a globe that changes as the earth changes. Its very large. Isn't it pretty?
And this is a neuron! Its the only complete large mapped our replica in the world.
We had fun at the science museum. This was the view on our way back to the hotel.
We went to sleep that night and had to get up very early to get to the airport the next day. We were all quite sleepy. Then we took the same plane back to Okinawa, but because of delays we didn't get there til after midnight! Yikes! But everyone's safely here now, and its almost Christmas! I wonder what we'll do for Christmas?

More soon,

Posted Dec 25, 2008, 11:16 pm
Merry Christmas Eve mommy! We had such a fun Christmas Eve! We started out by heading to the botanical gardens for a light show! We got there early, so the lights weren't quite on yet so we chilled out at the playground.
After that we went to see the stage where the light show would be.
Finally the lights came on and we got to go walk around! There were two themed areas, one was a forest
And the other was a sea! How pretty.
Even the lake in the botanical gardens was lit up!
We stayed for a laser light show (unfortunately none of those photos came out!) then headed home. We helped Jayme put the kids to bed then did some last minute wrapping of gifts for the children.
Hmm. Maybe we should've helped more. This is the one Jayme wrapped.
We left out the cookies for Santa, then headed to bed ourselves.
Merry Christmas Eve!

Posted Dec 27, 2008, 10:29 pm
Dear Mommy,
We woke up on Christmas morning to a surprise! Santa had come to bring presents for the children! He had filled all the stockings

And ate all the cookies Jacob left for him.

The children of course dug in and started unwrapping. We helped a little bit.

Then we went to help Jayme make breakfast. Mmm.

We got to hang out at the house and relax all day and watch movies. We also helped Jayme make a turkey for Christmas dinner. She said this time we'd have plenty of leftovers!

So we got to have potatoes and turkey for dinner. Yum!

After dinner we went outside to see Jayme's building, its all lit up!

Merry Christmas!

Posted Jan 3, 2009, 10:14 pm
Dear mommy,
What an exciting New Year's we had! We started it out with a trip to Comprehensive Park on New Year's Even so the kids could ride their new scooters. We went around this small pond.
And found some flowers on the trees.
And this small monument area with flowers.
After that we went home to get some rest then went out for a walk at Camp Zanpa. We walked a little ways, then got to see the lighthouse!
Here's the view in the other direction.
There was also a monument here.
After that we headed home to prepare for New Year's! We played some games to pass the time
And had some grapes, since Jayme's family believes they're lucky for New Year's. One for each year. You're supposed to eat them as the clock strikes, but Jayme didn't want anyone choking!
Finally we got to ring in the New Year!
The next morning we got up very early and headed to Okuma Campgrounds.
Here's the cabin we stayed in.
They had a go-cart raceway nearby!
And we tried to get to the beach, but it was very windy and the sand stung.
Finally we made a camp fire so we could cook some hotdogs for dinner.
What a fun New Year's Eve and Day we had!  After we were done it was time for me to crawl into a box to go to my next host! I wonder what I'll do there?

Posted Feb 1, 2009, 5:41 pm
Dear Mummy,

I arrived in Bruchsal finally. It was a very long travel, but I'm happy to be here now. Let's take a look at the last Christmas stuff, that's in Petra's diningroom.

Petra collects angels - not too sugary - what ever she means by that. She also seems to collect snowmen and other Christmas stuff. I'm sure, she could open a shop with this.

Oh, what's that? A nice guy! What do you say, Petra? It's a present for Fabian from his girlfriend's brother.

Posted Feb 1, 2009, 5:56 pm
Today we drove to Forst, where Petra's daughter sings in a choir. We had a lot of fun climbing around in her car. She thought, she could read a book or work something for school, but she hasn't thougth, that we are with her, lol.

Posted Feb 1, 2009, 6:13 pm
Today another toyvoyager arrived at our host's home: Galo from Brasil.

I think, I should tell you, who is who in this photo:

1rst: Fifi Flowertot, Mumble, me, Surprise Bear
2nd: Hurley, Mousy Mouse, HitchaRideMarky, Galo
3rd: Cassiopeia and Meleleuca

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 10:00 am
Today was time to say goodbye to Meleleuca, Fifi Flowertot and Hurley. Of course we all were a bit sad, because we will miss our friends.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 10:47 am
Petra's one son loves to draw. He made this super sized postcard for Petra's 40th birthday. I'm sure, you remember some of these buildings, when you see more photos of Bruchsal soon: St. Peter, Belvedere, St. Damian and Hugo - the church, which belongs to the palace and the Damian's Gate.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 1:10 pm
Today we woke up and didn't believe, what we saw: during the last night we got some snow. Everything looks so beautiful, that Petra decided to take photos with us instead cleaning the bath.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 2:18 pm
Petra thought, that she could try to drive to the parking place next to the chapel on top of the Michaelsberg, but the road was too icy under the snow. So we only took some photos on the way.

The houses you see on this photo, belong to Obergrombach, a suburb of Bruchsal.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 2:30 pm
There was still some time left before Petra had to go to school, so she decided to take us with her for some photos in Bruchsal.

At first we took a view over the roofs of Bruchsal:

The churchs: the tower of the old palace, the church Our Holy Mother (Unsere Liebe Frau, Stadtkirche) and Lutherkirche (from left to right).

A view to the baroque church St. Peter and the house St. Maria, both really close to the house, where we live.

Here you see the building of the houses for older people on the left side.

Then we crossed the road and walked into the park to see the Belvedere.

It was still some time left, so we drove to the baroque palace. First we saw the back side of the palace and the statues. There are four statues for the four elements water, fire, earth and wind and four statues for the four seasons spring, summer, autumn, winter.

This is church St. Damian and Hugo, which belongs to the palace. Inside it isn't baroque anymore, because it was destroyed during the second world war and when it was rebuilt, it was too expensive to make it inside like it was before.

Here you see a view to the Damianstor, jailhouse tower (red tower next to the Damianstor) and the county court.

Now we have to hurry a bit, but there is still time left to take a photo of the entrance of the palace.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 6:32 pm
Happy Valentine's Day!

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 7:58 pm
I met my hosts' budgies today. There names are: Clowny, Fleckchen, Wolke and Linus.

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 8:09 pm
Hey friends, let's have some fun in the snow. Come on, I show you our backyard. There is a swing, do you know?

Posted Mar 8, 2009, 9:50 pm
It started to snow again, but only big wet snowflakes and Petra told us, that they will melt away at once. I had been so happy to see some snow again, but it was too less to play in it.

Posted Mar 14, 2009, 3:54 pm
L e t ' s    h a v e    a    c a r n i v a l   
p a r t y

Cassiopeia invited Mousy Mouse, Fox Force, Surprise Bear, Galo, Mumble and me.

The first guests, who arrived by car, were Mousy Mouse and Galo. FoxForce helped Cassiopeia to welcome us, because she still wasn't ready to dress herself up - she is a turtle.

Surprise Bear arrived too. He wore a crazy frog face.

Finally Cassiopeia arrived too with her hat on her back, because she had to run - do you know, how fast turtles are able to run, if the have to?

Of course she put her hat on as soon as she arrived there.

Galo saw the sofa and ran there to sit down. He knows, where is the best place :)

Mousy Mouse, the beauty!

Fox Force is wearing high heels, very high heels :)

Emmh, you know, this is Surprise Bear - the frog faced.

Cassiopeia had a special seat. They found something round for her, because she just sits perfectly on something like that. She have some kind of problems, if it comes to sitting on a chair or something like that - She's a turtle, you know.

Emmh, why are we sitting so far away from each other?????

Did you see, that there are still some empty chairs? I and Mumble still searched for something to dress up.

It's time to dance now! Does anyone want to join?

There is falling something down from the ceiling, but it seems, that Petra's photo only works, when the things are too high or too low. Hehehe, you should learn to take photos like this.

Do you see that little something on the top?

Hmm, Sabrina and Petra! We want to dance or play now, don't wait too long to take this photo.

Hehehe. Finally the "thing" fell down on Galo.

Let's dance Samba - what else should we dance, if it is carnival.

Uuuups, Mousy Mouse! Be careful! Fox Force, please help her to stand up again.

Finally, while Cassiopeia and Galo danced too, Mumble and Iarrived. Better late than never.

At once we started to dance with Surprise Bear.

Lalala  lala laaaa lala, lalala lala laaa lala, Samba


Posted Mar 15, 2009, 8:48 pm
Later we played some games. We played spin the bottle and really had a lot of fun.

At first it was Mumble, who had to spin the bottle.

Galo had to spin the bottle at next.

It's Mousy Mouse.

Cassiopeia had to do a hind feet stand.

We all were very thirsty, so Sabrina mixed us an alcohol free cocktail.

Petra showed us the time and told us to get ready for bed as soon as possible.


Posted Mar 29, 2009, 7:54 pm
Today Mousy Mouse, Cassiopeia and FoxForce decided to take a bath. Of course we wanted to jump into the bath tub too, but Petra told us to leave them alone.

Posted Mar 29, 2009, 8:51 pm
Sabrina and Petra decided to make soap today. So they invited us to take part and help. I can tell you, the soap smells heavenly and it is really bubbly.

I helped to cut the basic soap into pieces.

Then we had to melt it in the microwave.

I tried to help with the Asian letters.

Then Sabrina added some red colour and vanilla perfume.

At last we added blue colour.

Posted Apr 5, 2009, 8:52 pm
Today we helped to make some "Schichtsalat" for Petra's sister's birthday. Usually you should prepare it the evening before.

1 leek, finely sliced
1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained
1 small tin of pineapple chunks, drained
150g cooked ham, diced
1 small glass of celery salad, drained (hmm, very German, you could replace it with gherkins)
2 apples, cored and diced
200g Gouda, cubed
3 hard boiled eggs, diced or sliced
1 glass of Miracle Whip (can you get this in the UK? It is mayonaisse, I can check the quantity tomorrow for you)
Place the ingredients in a bowl in the order of the above list. Do not stir. Place in fridge overnight.
Stir just before serving.
You can replace the pineapple with mandarine oranges if you prefer.
This makes a bowl for about 8-10 portions.

Posted Apr 6, 2009, 8:05 am
Right before we started to prepare the dough for our Donauwellenkuchen Tito arrived in Bruchsal. The first place, that he saw, was the kitchen.

At first he had to tell a lot about Mexico and everyone told him about their lifes as a toyvoyager, but Petra said, that we would have more time to tell stories, but now we would have to get ready with our work.

So he climbed on Cassiopeia's back to have a place with a good view over everything.

At first we added white and then brown dough into the baking dish.

Then we added morello cherries.

While the cake was in the oven, Petra showed us the snowdrops in her backyard.

Because it just didn't rain, she thought, it would be a good idea to go to the church, which is only a few meters from our home. We all were happy to see something else than the house.

We saw the call box next to the church and I thought about calling you, but Petra told me, that it will be too expensive to do it.

This is the church St. Peter. It is a baroque church and I think, it is really nice. Maybe we can take a photo, when it is sunny, too.
The Church of St. Peter is an original building of the 18th century and was not destroyed during World War II. The church was designed by the world famous baroque architect builder Balthasar Neumann.
The cementery behind it is a beautiful place for peaceful, contemplative walkds and its numerous memorials also rovide an insight into the history of Bruchsal and its people.

We found a stone about the Baden Revolution. It is a reminder of the citizens of Bruchsal, who were victims of the Baden Revolution. It was erected on the initiative of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and dedicated on 1st November 1900. Here, next to the church you can see the grave of Johann Baptist Bekk, He was Minister of the Interior in Baden during the years of the Revolution and found his final resting place in Bruchsal. (

The roofs belong to an old part of Bruchsal. Most old parts were destroyed during World War II. In the far you see a big grey building. It is a private grammar school founded by patres of the Pallotti order.

When you stand in front of the entrance of the church and just turn around, you have this nice view.

After we came home again, we had to get ready with the cake. First we had to make a butter cream and then we had to make a chocolate icing. This time Petra was really unhappy, that the icing didn't look nice.

Posted Apr 17, 2009, 9:46 pm
Today we drove to the Michaelsberg in Untergrombach. Untergrombach is one of Bruchsal's suburbs with about 6000 inhabitants.
3500 to 2600 BC there were frist human signs on the Michaelsberg, which gave this culture the name "Michaelsberger Kulturkreis"
1502 AD Joss Fritz from Untergrombach planned the "Bundschuhaufstand" during the time of Peasant's Wars.

The chapel is on top of the Michaelsberg.

In the far (right side) you see some houses, which belong to Bruchsal.

Bruchsal and also Untergrombach are located at the edge to the Kraichgau. Here you see the Rhine Valley. If the weather is sunny, you can see the Palatinate Forest in the far.

I learned something about "Magerrasen" (neglected grassland), which is typical for the Michaelsberg. Behind the sign you see so-called "Steinriegel" (field clearance cairn), made by people working on their fields a long long time ago. They threw the big stones from their fields to the border of the neighbour's field, so that in the middle all stones were accumulated. Many animals and flowers love this gaunt places and that's why a few weeks ago, people cleaned the Steinriegel from all the earth, that came between the stone during the many many years and from all the other plants, that love to grow in earth.

The nature reserve sign

Posted Apr 17, 2009, 10:09 pm
Back at home again it was time for Cassiopeia and Mousy Mouse to say goodbye to everyone.

Posted May 23, 2009, 11:39 am
Petra and her family decided to visit the railway museum in Heilbronn. They asked friends to join them and of course, they didn't forget to take us with them too.
We all were fascinated by those big locomotives and I hope, you aren't too disappointed, that there will be no explanation about each single one.

Posted May 24, 2009, 10:25 am
Today Petra asked me and some other toyvoyagers to help her in her so called "paper-room" at school. She had to sort the paper, which they need for handicrafts and more.

Posted May 24, 2009, 11:12 am
I want to show you some of the flowers in Petra's garden behind the house. I love those flowers.

Posted May 24, 2009, 5:23 pm

Today we decided to go on a day trip to see a model railway. We drove to Merklingen (near Ulm), where they say, that they own Europes most beautiful model railway.

I also saw a real Ralf Schumacher Formel 3 race car.

Posted May 24, 2009, 6:25 pm
On our way home we stopped at Märklin museum in Göppingen. Petra and her family go there about one or two times in a year. Today seems to be a model railway day.

Posted May 28, 2009, 6:23 pm
Today we drove to the Michaelsberg, a small hill, which belongs to Untergrombach. Untergrombach is one of Bruchsals suburbs. There are Untergrombach, Obergrombach, Heidelsheim, Helmsheim and Büchenau.

The first photo shows a view to Obergrombach.

On top of the Michaelsberg there is a chapel called Michaelskapelle. Next to the chapel is a restaurant, where you have a nice view over the Rhine valley.

Petra loves to go on the Michaelsberg to show the Rhine valley to her guests and to show them the edge to the Kraichgau. Today she told us, that she wanted to go there, because she wanted to watch the sunset.

The houses you can imagine on the right side belong to Bruchsal. And you see a part of the quarry pond of Untergrombach too. On the horizon you can imagine two small small towers, which belong to the nuclear power reactor of Philippsburg.

Here you see Untergrombach down the hill.

Here we look in direction, where you come to Karlsruhe, which is in the Rhine valley too. You maybe can imagine the edge to the Kraichgau with its small hills.

I love this last view to the chapel in the evening sun.

Posted Jun 4, 2009, 1:29 pm
Martin, Sabrina and Petra took us for an outing today. We drove to Pforzheim to visit the wild park. It was founded in 1968, is about 16 ha large and there live more than 400 mammals.

Just a few minutes after our arrival, Petra stumbled over a roundwood and fell on her two hands. She was happy, that she had time to relax before she had to drive again - but she didn't expect, that she had broken her right thumb and torn a ligament there too.
I listened to different bird songs and tried to find out, which bird it was.