Monday, 17 December 2007


So we've come to the end of expedition 07J and it’s been an incredible experience for everyone involved. The eight projects that were undertaken were a huge success and from the staff team we’d like to say a huge thank you to all the participants for your hard work, energy and fun. We hope you had the time of your lives. We definitely did. Best of luck in your next adventures. We miss you already, stay in touch and have a great Christmas x

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Island life

Bravo 1 has just returned home after three awesome days spent on San Lucas Island with Alpha 3. Everything is going well with the group – the weather is constantly fantastic and they are making good progress on the trench which is being dug as part of the water system to take fresh water from the inland well out to the ranger station and tourist facilities near the pier. Sunday was a day off so the group spilt into two teams (inventively named ‘Team 1’ and ‘Team 2’) for a raft building competition. Team 1 got the points for sturdiest raft and fastest time paddling out to the wreck and back. Team 2 got the points for comedy after setting off without paddles, attacking the other team at sea pirate-style, and returning with their own raft in tatters. The rest of the day was spent swimming in the sea, toasting marshmallows on the camp fire and star-gazing on the pier. All in all, a pretty good day.

The Bravo vehicle also fit in a quick food drop and stop-over with Alpha 2 who are currently making their way through Volcan Rincon De La Vieja National Park in the north part of the country. They are now ten days into their trek across to the pacific coast and are doing brilliantly well. The area is famous for its incredible waterfalls and hot springs in which the group have been making the odd stop-off to recover from tired limbs and blistered feet.

News in on the radio from the other groups: Alpha 1 are also well over half way into their trek across northern Nicaragua. At the weekend they had what’s called a ‘rest day’ where they climbed up to the top of Volcan Casita and back – rest?

Alphas 5 and 6, also in Nicaragua, are doing well on their community projects. Alpha 5 are steaming ahead, having just moved 2 tonnes of sand as part of the water system they are installing in the homes in Wisquili. Alpha 6 are continuing with the bridge build in La Pita which involves an immense amount of rock carrying and concrete mixing so well done to them. They also fit in a well earned rest at a nearby waterfall and orchid garden at the weekend.

And finally to Alpha 4 who are down in Carara National Park in Costa Rica. Work is progressing really well with the trails and bridges through the park. The group also had the fantastic opportunity at the weekend of visiting nearby Playa Hermosa where they assisted with a night-time conservation project releasing baby turtles into the sea. We are very envious!

Check back at the end of next week for final updates on phase 3…

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

And onto the final phase…

We’re now a few days into the final phase of expedition and everyone is safely out on their project sites getting stuck into making this a totally incredible last three weeks of the programme. Changeover was fantastic with a hilarious series of skits from all the returning phase 2 groups, plus a spot of synchronised swimming and an auction that raised a huge amount for the host country participant fund. Brilliant efforts by everyone and we were sad to see them go on Sunday morning. Here’s a quick summary of who’s where at this exact point in time…

Alpha 1 is making fantastic progress two days into their Maribios trek in northern Nicaragua. See previous entries below for a description of the route. Ellie and Lena are the PMs on this one, and have with them: Marina, Rory, Kit Sze, George, Danielle M, Louis, Sasha, Edwin and Patrick. They will also be joined from Tuesday onwards by Deputy Expedition Leader Mac, which is very exciting as he’s been locked in a dark corner of field base for the past 5 weeks. No dramas to report apart from Lena managed to forget her walking boots. It’s only 280 km, I’m sure she’ll be ok in flip-flops…

Alpha 2 now consists of PMs Ben, Lucy and Emily who are no doubt keeping the troops entertained on the awesome Guanacaste trek in Costa Rica. In their team are: Carmelo, Peter, Stevie, Gerson, Kerry, Nicholas, Talitha and William. All seems to be going splendidly with them. Bravo 1 is setting out to meet the group for their first food drop tomorrow evening – can’t wait to see you all!

Alpha 3 PMs Kiran, Wayne and Hazel are now the lucky ones back on beautiful San Lucas Island in the Gulf of Nicoya. This is a deserted prison island (Costa Rica’s version of Alcatraz) and they will be spending the next 2 weeks with Maggi, Darwin, Ericka, Micheal F, Tom F, Ritchie, Alison, Karla and Harry, clearing trails and starting work on a water system for the rangers and tourists. The sun is shining and they have their own private beach, so all good.

Alpha 4 has now moved to the popular Carara National Park with team members Kate A, Stephanie, Victor, Sylvius, Thomas L, Tonia, Edward, Reinier and Maikel and PMs Tom I, Kerenza and Rhodri. Tom thought he might be getting a bit of a rest after 2 Maribios treks back to back but alas no, they have got straight to work on the start of trails throughout the park. This, I understand, involves a lot of digging. On the radio this morning we heard that they’d so far built a bridge. Good work. Oh and happy 30th for tomorrow Tom!

The final Alpha 5 now consists of Matt, Rogier, Danielle L, Laura, Chris McPhee, Kaya, Simon and Saskia along with PMs Naomi and Gavin. They have returned to the lovely Wisquili in Nicaragua and are currently doing a project recce for the next two weeks work in nearby La Calera where they will be installing fresh water systems into village homes.

And finally Alpha 6 – now made up of Hannah, Josh, Stuart, Liam, Kate M, Chris J, Damian, Pablo, Ma Lee and PMs Nicola, Beccy and Helena. This team has returned to the beautiful Miraflor reserve in Nicaragua, this time to the small community of La Pita where they are repairing a damaged bridge. This work will allow locals access to nearby Esteli in order to sell produce in the markets and to bring essential supplies into the community. So far we gather there’s been a lot of rock carrying – well done team!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

News from phase 2

So we’re now nearing the end of phase 2 and how time flies. All the groups are due back with us on Thursday, so here at field base we’re busy preparing for an exciting 3 days of changeover and looking forward checking out the crazy facial hair the lads have been cultivating. Here’s an update on how the groups have been getting on in the past couple of weeks:

Alpha 1
Congratulations go to PM superman Tom and his team for completing the awesome Maribios volcano trek across northern Nicaragua. News came in on the radio last night that they had reached the beach at Machapa and were relaxing with a well-deserved BBQ and night in a beach lodge. That’s 280km and 2 volcano climbs under their belts – well done A1.

Alpha 2
Likewise, Alpha 2 trekkers are currently watching the sunsets further down the Pacific coast in Costa Rica. They have just completed an incredible journey against all odds across the Guanacaste province, a brilliant achievement. We’ve just received news via the radio that they have been joined for the celebrations by the support team in the Bravo 1 landrover. Lets hope the weather holds out for them all for a day on the beach tomorrow.

Alpha 3
After a week battling the rain on top of Volcan Turrialba to complete their work on the viewing platform, Alpha 3 are now settled into their new home of San Lucas Island in the Gulf of Nicoya. This is a deserted prison island (Costa Rica’s version of Alcatraz) and here the group are starting work on clearing trails and installing a water system that will be continued by the next Alpha 3 group in the final phase. Field base paid them a visit at the weekend and were treated to fantastic weather, a game of rounders on the beach, marshmallows round the campfire and a night in hammocks on the pier. Not a bad life.

Alpha 4

Good news too from La Cangreja National Park. Alpha 4 have completed all the planned work for this programme – an immense 3km of trench digging and pipe hauling plus the construction of tanks to bring fresh water into the ranger station. They’ve now cast off the wellies and are spending their final two days of phase on the beach for a well-earned chill out.

Alpha 5
An enormous well done to the group in Wisquili. The news yesterday was that the tanks are all now completed, joining the pipe system created in phase 1 to bring clean drinking water into the village homes. They have also finished the massive task of building an essential new well. The community is delighted with the work and is holding a farewell party for the gang tonight before they start the long bus trip back to base tomorrow.

Alpha 6
And our final awesome success story comes from Alpha 6 in the Miraflor Nature Reserve in Nicaragua. The primary school/community centre is now open! In this phase the group has succeeded in completing the walls and roof of the schoolroom as well as the plastering and painting of a stunning mural for the interior walls. The official opening ceremony was held today, we’re just sorry we couldn’t all be there for the party. Well done team.

Check back at the weekend for news from changeover and the final phase allocations.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Hello again from field base, Costa Rica. We’re all recovering here from a hectic few days of changeover where the groups descended on us for 3 days between phases. It was fantastic to see everyone, hear all the gossip, get horror stories from the trekkers, and find out how work is progressing on the project sites.

Everybody managed to fit in a fair amount of sleep, shopping, eating, relaxing, and of course there was the obligatory fancy dress evening. Well it just wouldn’t be field-base without it. A few of the sporty types managed to squeeze in a game of cricket against the Costa Rican national side. We got horribly beaten, but it’s the taking part that counts right?

So they’ve all deserted us again now and it’s strangely quiet... Here’s who’s gone where:

Stephanie, Micheal, Rogier, Sylvius, Liam, Kate M, Christopher J, Simon, Saskia are with Alpha 1 Project Managers Tom and Naomi on the huge 280k Maribios Volcanoes Trek across the far north west of Nicaragua.

Edmond, Ericka, Edward, Matthew, Victor, John, Josh, Alison, Tonia, Danielle L and Ma Lee are heading off with Alpha 2 PMs Helena, Rhodri and Lena to the north of Costa Rica for the fantastic Guanacaste Trek.

Hannah, Marina, Peter, Rory, Chris M, Kit Sze, Nicholas, Pablo, Kaya and Maikel are the next team on top of Volcan Turrialba, living at 3,300 metres with Alpha 3 PMs Wayne and Emily to continue build of the viewing platform.

James, Stuart, Danielle M, Gerson, Sasha, Laura, Damian, William and Patrick are with Alpha 4 PMs Gavin and Beccy in beautiful La Cangreja, carrying on with the build of a water system and trail for the ranger station.

Carmelo, Kate A, Darwin, Stevie, Ritchie, Kerry, Joseph, Reinier and Harry are in wonderful Wisquili, Nicaragua with Alpha 5 PMs Jorge, Hazel and Kerenza working on the project to bring clean and safe drinking water into the village.

Maggi, Daniel, Tom F, Thomas L, George, Louis, Karla, Edwin and Talitha will be back in the beautiful Naranja de Fatima in the Nicaraguan Miraflor reserve working with Alpha 6 PMs Nicola, Sarah and Ben to finish the build of the primary school/community centre.

Kiran is back with us on the base as resident medic, hopefully we won’t be needing him that much.

Lucy, Tom C and Emma have just left in the trusty Bravo 1 landrover. They'll be picking up Ellie from Alpha 2 and completing the phase 2 road trip which supports all the trekking groups plus project sites in Nicaragua. They bring joy and food supplies wherever they go.

We’ll bring you updates from the projects as soon as they’re in.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Phase 1 - The Last Week

Phase 1 only has a few days left, so everyone here in Turrialba can’t wait for the groups to get back and hear all of their amazing stories. This is the last blog for Phase 1. Log on soon to see photos from Phase 1, read all about what is happening at changeover, as well as who will be going where on Phase 2.

Alpha 1
Alpha 1 have had incredible weather this week, making their walk along the Maribios volcano chain absolutely stunning. They were joined by the gang of four from Field Base in Bravo 1 last night, so much fun was had around the camp fire. Jane and Iain from FB walked with the group up Volcan Consiguina, to ensure that there will be lots of photos of A1 when they return from Nicaragua. Breaking news just in…Alpha 1 have radioed Field Base to say that they have made it to the beach at Machapa, which means all members have successfully completed the mighty Maribios trek. Congratulations to them all – an awesome achievement

Alpha 2
At the beginning of the week, Tom & Amanda visited Alpha 2 in Santa Maria to resupply them with food. The group were on excellent form and raring to go for their last week. Since the last blog, they have continued onwards to the Pacific, climbing Rincon de la Vieja volcano on the way. Breaking news just in…Chris McPhee has radioed in to Field Base to say that A2 completed a mammoth 32km final day in order to reach the beach a day early. They are currently watching the sun go down over the ocean, while the sauasages and bugers are cooking on the barbie – bliss! Congratulations on an incredible achievement.

Alpha 3
With the miserable weather of last week well and truly gone, Alpha 3 were treated to the unbelievable scenery from the top of the volcano for the first time, which stretches all the way to the Caribbean. The group did an awesome job this week clearing the rest of the trail to the viewpoint, carving out and putting in drainage ditches, and preparing both sides of the peak for the construction of a mirador on each side looking to either coast. They were treated to two visits this week, both bearing gifts of very welcome junk food! Tom and Naomi from Field Base will be joining them for the last few days of the phase. On Sunday, A3 took a day trip down the hill to Central, where they stuffed their faces with yet more junk food and attended a gala day at the local school – the perfect place to practice their Spanish and teach the kids some English.

Alpha 4
Alpha 4 now all have bulging biceps due to the awesome amount of trench digging they did in the last week. The week started with a new member joining the group – Daniel Carr was warmly welcomed to A4 and got stuck right in. They finished digging their trail, and are now ready to lay the pipes. Due to all of their hard work, they took a well earned day off on Sunday to visit some waterfalls and rivers deep into La Cangreja National Park. To celebrate the end of their phase, the rangers are organising a day of fun for the guys to thank them for their contribution. Tomorrow they are heading to Manuel Antonio National Park, and the day after the rangers are throwing a party and cooking a barbecue for them - a thoroughly deserved reward.

Alpha 5
A5 followed in the steps of A4 and did a serious amount of trench digging this week. They have now dug the trenches from the source to several houses. The exciting news this week was that the pipes arrived from Achuapa, meaning that they can move onto the next stage of the project. On Sunday, the group had a relaxing day off, watching their Maestro de Obra (foreman) playing for the local baseball team – unfortunately his team lost, but a good pitching performance was put in nonetheless. Tomorrow will be Alpha Five’s last day in the community before they begin the long journey back home to Turrialba.

Alpha 6
Alpha 6 made major advances on the construction of their school. The weather had restricted them in the first week, so since then they have finished the foundations and completed the four lower walls – excellent progress that sets up the next group nicely to finish on time. Alpha 6 had some R & R on Sunday – some went fishing with the locals at a nearby river, some played football, and some watched the baseball. Tomorrow is also A6’s last day in the community before the two day bus ride back to Field Base – we can’t wait to see them.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The North Fulham New Deal for Communities & Raleigh International Expedition to Tayni, October 2007

On Saturday, the 19 students and 3 staff members from Fulham flew back to London having had an incredible 10 days on expedition with Raleigh International in Costa Rica.

As detailed in the previous blog, the group had an induction day at Field Base in Turrialba. For full details as well as names of all involved, scroll down. On Sunday morning everyone boarded the bus and headed down to the Caribbean, and then onto Finca Vesta. From here they were met by Roger and Junior, two members of the Tayni Indigenous community. Roger and Junior had eight horses, which were used to transport the tools and food that the group would need. The walk into Boca Coen, where the group would be living and working, was a three-hour walk under very hot and humid conditions. It was quite a challenge, so all felt very relieved upon being greeted by the locals. As soon as introductions were done, the students were shown their accommodation for the week, which was a floor in the health centre - luxury! The locals cooked all of the meals, so they were treated to delicious rice & beans and coffee three times a day.

First thing Monday morning, the group was split into two – half had to cross the river to go to Isla Coen, where help was needed in completing the build of a new school, and half stayed in Boca Coen, where lots of painting was required! Those who crossed the river had to carry and saw wood, nail the walls up, and generally try to get as much of the building up as possible. There was also a school kitchen to paint, which was completed by the students. Those who stayed in Boca Coen painted a secondary school, the school kitchen and toilets, and the new teachers’ house. All of these buildings, apart from the teachers’ house, had been built by Raleigh on a previous expedition.

At the end of each working day, everyone had the pleasure of bathing in the local river. This became quite a ritual and something which everyone looked forward to after a hard days work. One afternoon they also managed to fit in some fishing, and one of the local boys caught a shrimp!

On the final night in Boca Coen, the group did a ‘jungle camp’, which meant that everyone had to put up a hammock and spend the night sleeping out in the jungle, with snakes, scorpions and lots of other interesting creatures! Even though it rained a lot, and there was mud everywhere, a great time was had by all, and the hammocks provided some comfort after three nights of sleeping on the health center floor!

After all of their hard work, the crew from Fulham were due some rest & relaxation. So after another arduous walk out of the reserve, this time involving the use of some indigenous rafts to do a river crossing, they were back in Finca Vesta - first stop: the local pulperia to buy them out of all chocolate, cold drinks and ice cream! The bus was boarded again, and they headed back to the Caribbean, this time to stay in a well-deserved hotel. Within minutes of checking in, everyone was in the sea together jumping waves and celebrating the success of the project. This worked up a healthy appetite, which was just as well, because dinner was a massive barbecue. There was just time for a quick night swim in the hotel pool before retiring for the night.

The final full day was spent traveling to the Braulio Carillo National Park to go to Rainforest World Aerial Tram. In groups of six they were taken on a tour through the rainforest canopy on a tram. Then it was into the serpentarium to learn all about and see a huge variety of Costa Rican snakes. From here, they returned to the hostel in San Jose where they had a final review session, a photo slideshow of the expedition, and finally a meal out at a traditional restaurant.

The Tayni Expedition was a huge success. The community were extremely thankful for all of the help they received, and the students learned a great deal about Costa Rican & indigenous culture, the environment, and of course themselves.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Welcome Fulham!

On Saturday morning, Field Base welcomed the North Fulham New Deal For Communities Expedition to Costa Rica. This group of nineteen students from Fulham Cross and Henry Compton Secondary Schools are here for 9 days, and will have the opportunity to experience elements of a community, environmental and adventure project.

The group arrived at San Jose airport late on Friday night and were taken to Hostal Toruma in downtown San Jose, by Raleigh International Volunteer Managers Ellie Cottam (also an interpreter), Lucy Collier, Emma Bell and Vanessa Miles (also a Medic). The next day they left bright and early and arrived in Turrialba, Raleigh’s Costa Rican base. The day was spent preparing to deploy on the project, which involved some health & hygiene and radio training, a presentation from Julian Olivier (Country Director) and copious amounts of delicious local cuisine. Due to the time difference, everyone was sound asleep by nine o’clock and up ready for breakfast at half past four in the morning! Just as well, as the bus taking them to their project left at six.

Right now the group are destined for the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. They will pass Limon en route (site of Christopher Columbus’ fist landing in the region), before heading south towards Cahuita and then inland through banana plantations to Finca Vesta. At this point they will be met by Gabriel and Cyriel from the Tayní Indigenous Reserve, who will guide the group into their project and provide horses to carry the tools and equipment required.

About Tayní
The students will be living in an indigenous reserve for five nights, giving them an incredibly unique opportunity to experience a culture and way of life completely different to their own. Tayní is populated by Cabecar indigenous people. There are currently about 6,000 indigenous people in the reserve, living in the communities of Gavilan, Coén, Alto Coén, Boca Coén, Calveri, Xicalar, Jobay, Severe, Tay Tara, Suny and Cumoles. The reserve is 16,216 hectares in size and covers the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range on the Atlantic side. The Pacuare, Chirripo and Tayní rivers all flow through the reserve. Nearly all of the inhabitants speak Cabecar and most speak Spanish. The majority of the inhabitants are subsistence farmers crowing maize, yucca, cacao and beans. Some of the population work in the nearby banana industry in the Valle de la Estrella owned by Dole. The culture of the area is still strong and many traditions persist. The majority of the population are Christians – Catholic and Evangelical.

The Project
The Group will be working in two locations in Tayní – Boca Coen and Isla Coen. At present there is nowhere for the primary school teachers to live in Boca Coen, so the teachers need to either walk for three hours or stay in a very cramped room. The community are building them a house so that they can have teachers permanently based there, guaranteeing the continued education of their children. We will be constructing the floor and painting the building. In Isla Coen, the group will be helping with the construction and painting of a new school, as the previous one is in the flood plain so is gradually being destroyed, and of course is dangerous.

Other Activities
While in the community, the group will also have the chance to experience the cultures and pastimes of the local population. They will go fishing with them, visit the local hot springs, visit and teach in the local school, learn Cabecar (indigenous language) and play football (footwear is optional!) There will be an evening spent camping in the jungle, where they will sleep in a basha hammock that they have constructed themselves, and cook using a Trangia cooker. Upon leaving the reserve they will visit Cahuita National Park where they will see a variety of sloth and monkeys, swim in the Caribbean, stay in a beach hotel, and finally, explore the rainforest in an aerial tram.

The participants on this expedition are: Yasmin Ahmed, Zainab Ahmed, Andrew Ajagungbade, Joseph Butler, Taher Darwesh, Sharna Defreitas, Omar Dixon, Kem Ekundayo, Said Hashimi, Mohammed Homadi, Ryan Keane, Alfie Kelly, Bana Mesgina, Vanessa Miles, Rachel O’Brien, Temitope Oluwadipe, Hussein Omar, Juan Vela Garzon, Jordon Waller and Eric Wong. Teachers Stephen Powell and Shashie Harrie, and Youth Worker Jason Allick are accompanying the group.

It’s going to be incredibly busy, eye-opening and fun nine days. Log on next Friday for an update and to view lots of photos from the expedition.