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.