Hello, my name is Karisha Malcolm and I was one of the lucky kids to have had the opportunity to go on Koru Cares Californian Adventure in October 2008. Because it was Koru Cares 25th anniversary for taking children away on adventures, they took 50 kids instead of only 25. 25 caregivers also came along to look after us and made sure we were kept safe.
We all met at Auckland International Airport on Sunday 26th October where we had the first chance to meet each other. Everybody was excited and rearing to go. Ivana, my caregiver was there to meet me, along with Violet who Ivana was also looking after. My Mum and Dad were just as excited and they wished they were going along as well. Before we boarded the plane, we had heaps and heaps of yummy pizzas and drinks. We all said goodbye to our parents and boarded the plane for two weeks of fun and adventure. At 7:00 pm the 12 hour plane trip left Auckland for Los Angeles. The plane was cool, each seat had a TV screen on the back of the head rest that showed movies, music, TV shows and games. We were given dinner and then treats like chocolate bars, chips and cookies and then in the morning had bacon & eggs and hash browns for breakfast. Most of the people went to sleep on the plane but I managed to stay awake the whole time. At LA the fun began.
Two buses met us at the airport to take us to Radisson Hotel Resort at Beach Boulevard. After settling into our rooms most of us had a sleep for a few hours and then it was down to the pools. The hotel was five stories high with about 500 rooms. It was really flash and had a doorman to open and close the door every time we went in or out of the hotel. The pool was shaped like a jellybean and had two spas around it. There were hundreds of patio sunbathing chairs lined up all in a row around the pool. We played, swam, splashed and sunbathed until it was time to go shopping.
Oh it’s so hard being a girl. The malls were huge and all on one floor. You had to walk for miles to get around all the shops. Its funny but I didn’t see any food courts. The next day we were taken to the Highway Patrol in LA. The police took us out in their patrol cars and motor bikes. They showed us their guns and tasers. That night for dinner we ate out at Medieval Times, a restaurant set in an arena with knights dressed up in medieval gear on horses. It was really great entertainment while eating our dinner. The next day it was off to Universal Studios in Hollywood. It was also great and packed with rides and tours around the TV studios.
We drove down the Desperate Housewives set as well as Fast and Furious, CSI Miami, House and heaps of others. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was interesting because we saw all the stars handprints. We had dinner that night at Hard Rock Café; the children size meals were huge. They were as large as an adult size meal at home.
The drink cups they gave us held a litre of fizzy and as soon as it was empty, they would refill it, even though you didn’t want them to. It was like being in food heaven. Disneyland was really big so we had three days to get around all the rides. The California Screamer, a roller coaster ride was cool, so was the Hollywood Tower of Terror. Some of the rides made me sick but I just kept going back. Ivana came on all the rides with me and together we had a great time.
All the characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and others from Walt Disney were everywhere. When we went to Sea World in San Diego we were all given yellow T-Shirts so we knew how to find each other. The dolphins were fantastic and the Rescue Mountain log ride was so cool. Most nights we ate out at different restaurants and when we got sick of doing that we ordered Subway which was right beside our hotel. After the first week I started missing my family so I sent a postcard to each of my brothers and one to my mum and another to my dad who was away working.
On the 31st October the Americans celebrated Halloween so we all decided to participate and dressed up in weird outfits. We all played tricks on our caregivers and had heaps of lollies. On the free days, I swam in the hotel pool or took a spa and went shopping. At San Diego Zoo they let us pat a lion, a panda and a zebra. This was the first time I had been so close to these animals so I was a little scared.
On another free day some of us went to the Boulevard beach that has a really long pier with Ruby’s restaurant at the end of it. For dinner that night we had a BBQ. The LA Coast Guards took us for rides in their boats and we sped around the bay. That was also a bit scary.
That night we ate at a restaurant that had a pirates theme with pirates fighting around us. I lost count of the number of rides I went on at the theme parks and different restaurants we ate at. So many great things to see and do there wasn’t enough time in the day. At night I was so tired.
Unfortunately our adventure was coming to an end, although I wanted to see my family again after two weeks of being away. I was sad to leave but also excited to be getting home. The best part of going to LA was going on the mean rides at the different theme parks and I really, really loved the Dare To Ride It ride at Knottsberry farm. I also loved meeting all the different people and made so many new friends. Ivana, my caregiver was great and heaps of fun and took care of us well. I also noticed that the portions of food we received were huge and I couldn’t eat it all. This made me think how much food must get wasted in America.
This trip made me aware of how lucky I was to go; all my friends at school were so envious.
I had a great time and would one day like to do it again with my family.
“My trip to Disneyland was amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience. I enjoyed everything we did and had the time of my life. Thank you to all the helpers and the people who organised it. It was amazing.”
“My trip in October to California was an amazing opportunity for me and Disneyland was awesome. My favourite place though was at California experience were I went on a ride called California Screaming this was the ride with a big loop, at first I was to scared to go on it and had to be convinced and then I loved it. I would like to thank Koru Care for taking me on this trip. I truly felt so lucky.”