Friday, 19 December 2008

Final Blog for 08J

Well everything and I mean everything has been counted and stored, the kit is away, the toilets are scrubbed and the tents are shut tight. Tonight is our last day here at Fieldbase as a staff team before we head to the Carribbean Coast for some well deserved R & R. But as per usual before I sign off for one last time, there are some things I would like to say:

To the venturers - from the very first day I knew we were on to something special, you came together beautifully as a group and as individuals you all pushed yourselves way beyond your limits. It was a massive priveledge for us to be part of your Raleigh adventure. We look forward to hearing the great things that you will undoubtedly get up to over the course of your life. Please remember to keep making a positive difference to this world and thank you for making a positive difference to our lives.

To the Volunteer Managers and Fieldbase Team - Thank you for your amazing work, for the time and energy you have pumped in to making this such a great expedition. I hope this wonderful feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction lives on for a long time to come.

To the supporters from afar - thank you for all your wonderful support. It has meant so much to us all here, and we have all got a kick out of reading the heart felt messages. I hope you are proud of your venturer and that you continue to support them in their future adventures, and I hope that perhaps their efforts inspire you to "Get out there" and experience this wonderful world.

So from Costa Rica (where it is still raining) have the most amazing Christmas and New Year, stay safe and happy and don't forget to wake up each day, stand at the end of your bed and yell the following - I'm alive, I'm awake and I feel great!!!!!!!!!!

Raleigh Reflections - (I'm not entirely sure of the source, but I can't claim any credit here)

My Raleigh Experience

Everyone in this room has had an impact on the experience I have had over the past 3 months so I have a few things to say about what this experience has meant to me.

I have laughed until my tummy hurts and cried a few tears too.

I have leapt around excited like a five year old and been as grumpy as an old man.

I have met people who will be in my life forever and people I am glad to have known if only for a short time.

I have stared up at the sky and felt there was nowhere in the world I’d rather be.

I have stared up at the sky and wished to god I was somewhere else!!!

I have seen proof time and time again of the enormous impact one human being can have on another.

I have witnessed honesty and bravery that has taken my breath away.

I have learnt some painful lessons that will help me to achieve more in the future.

I have watched friendships form and grow and been constantly impressed by the care and support that exists between the people in this room.

I have seen grit and determination etched on to many different faces.

I have been bowled over by the time, energy and effort that has been put into making someone smile.

I have seen people push through emotional and physical barriers to achieve things they would never have thought possible.

I have seen futures open up and endless possibilities shine through where before there was uncertainty.

I have made a difference to people and people have made a difference to me.

I have been part of something far huger than me, working with 48 other people from very different lives to achieve something that I believe to be amazing.

Every second has had an impact on me.

I have loved this time.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Final Washup

I guess while you are counting down the hours until you see everyone, we here are desperately trying to make the most of our final days together. On Sunday night we had the best skits of expedition, everyone really put in masses of effort, but it was Alpha 2 who claimed the prize!

Last night we have the Golden Mess Tin Awards, which were a huge success, followed by a Scottish Celeidh which had us all dancing... and sweating!

So today on our final day, we start with the olympics before we head into a reflection session and finish up with our black tie dinner and our slide show - if I can get this computer to work!!!

Thank you all so much for your wonderful messages and support. I can't tell you how much it means to all of us.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

And so the end is in sight

As I sit here listening to the rain outside (yes here at Fieldbase the rain has continued for over 3 weeks!) I thought I would take advantage of what is surely one of my last quiet moments before the craziness begins again tomorrow to give you a final update on the achievements of our Alpha groups.

Last night we celebrated with Alpha 2 the Macho trekkers who have reached the beautiful Punta Judas where they will stay again tonight. I can only imagine what it must have been like for these guys to have reached their goal. Despite the adverse weather conditions, additional weight, an awful lot of up (they have now climbed the equivalent of Everest!) Alpha 2 members have remained positive and upbeat throughout. Led by Stu, who yesterday completed his half century of 51 walking days, and the amazing Stevo who's positiveness has inspired us all, this group has exceeded all expectations. Congratulations guys!

Alpha 1 is today packing up their island paradise in preperation for their 6am departure tomorrow. I am sure there will be some tears as they say goodbye to what surely has been a once in a lifetime experience. The question is will overcome all their fears to sleep in the prison tonight, or will they go alfresco and sleep on the pier in order to experience one last sunrise over the ocean.

Alpha 3 have returned from their mini break to the beautiful Playa Hermosa beach, for one last crack at their wheel chair path. They too will be packing up their jungle camp and beginning to wash some of that mud away. Although they've had their share of tough times in the jungle, this is one tight knit group who have shared something pretty special together.

And here at Fieldbase, we are putting the finishing touches to the final slide show (I started crying about 3 days ago), the Christmas tree is up, the Golden Mess Tin awards are ready and the terrace is preped. We will begin with skits on Sunday night, wash up and free time on Monday (that's when you'll get your phone calls) followed by the Golden Mess Tin awards and a Scottish Fling on Monday night. On Tuesday we will host our inaugral Raleigh Olympics, before groups return to their phase 1 teams in order to reflect on their whole experience before we celebrate with a "Black Tie" dinner on Tuesday night.

And so as this part of the journey comes to an end, I thought I would share one of the many inspirational/reflective readings that we use here with you guys.

The Station
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spands the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the window we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village hails.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restless we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"When we reach the station that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18" "When I buy a new 450SI Mercedes Benz!" "When we put the last kid through college" "When I have paid off the mortgage" "When I get promoted" "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realise that there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
"Relish the moment" is a good motto. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more icecream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
By Robert J Hastings
While this is will not be our last post, I do want to thank you all for the support you have shown to everyone here. I can't tell you how much it means to us. It has been a truly lovely experience reading and passing on all your messages and in many ways I feel like I know you just a little.
Remember everyone is back tomorrow and will be in Turrialba checking out the blog on Monday, and I know that they would all appreciate just one more message from home.
Hasta luego

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Meet the crew - the final members!

Name: Libby Gordon Name: Hattie Cottrell
Age: 26 Age: 18
Nationality: Kiwi Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Bringing the water to Los Playones Highlight: The people
Misses the most: NZ Marmite Misses the most: Boyfriend, family, mumsy wumsy
Do differently: More action, more adventure

Name: Cam Bayford
Age: 27
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Sunrise on Volcan Cosiguina and looking back over where we had trekked
Missed the most: Tim
Do differently on return: Everything and eat more porridge

Name: Vince Skiller
Age: 17
Nationality: Dutch
Highlight so far: Living with family in Nicaragua
Missed the most: Family and friends
Do differently on return: Continue as before

Name: Anna Tate
Age: 31
Nationality: Australian
Highlight so far: Definetly the people, talking on the radio, laughing more than I have ever laughed before and actually the blog and reading all the messages of support for everyone here
Misses the most: Being with my sister while she is pregnant
Do differently on return: Trek more!!!

Name: Chris Moran
Age: 25
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Meeting Rachel
Misses the most: Motorbike
Do differently on return: Wash dishes rather than cover with aluminum foil and reuse

Name: Shona McGuigan
Age: Just turned 25 (Happy birthday Shona!)
Nationality: Northern Irish
Highlight so far: Turning on the water at Los Playones
Misses the most: Hot showers and contact lenses
Do differently on return: Get fitter

Name: Mags Cameron
Age: 23
Nationality: Scottish
Highlight so far: My birthday with kids at Roca Quemada, trek in Nicaruagua, meeting amazing people
Misses the most: Family, girlfriend and shopping
Do differently on return: I've got loads more confidence, so going to continue being a strong woman, but will take lots of memories and will always remember the fun and laughs

Name: Kelvin Lee
Age: 22
From: Hong Kong
Highlight so far: Working on Roca Quemada, excitement of trekking
Missed the most: Food from Hong Kong, internet & friends
Do differently on return: be more mature and have more confidence

Name: Abbie Roberts
Age: 18
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Sunrise over Volcan Consiguina
Miss the most: Family, friends, besd, hummus
Do differently on return: Be more appreciative, and not be scared of frogs!

Name: Natalia Guzman
Age: 18
Nationality: Costa Rican
Highlight so far: Meeting people from around the world
Miss the most: Family, boyfriend, home, pets
Do differently on return: Finish things up

Name: Rachel Staniland
Age: 26
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Meeting Chris
Miss the most: Decent size hairdryer
Do differently on return: Work less!!

Names: Juriaan Boogaard & Mick Van Oorschot
Ages: 18
Nationality: Dutch
Highlight so far: The Island and the wildlife
Miss the most: Food!!!

Name: Holly Winser
Age: 18
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Walking onto beach after trek
Missed the most: Family, friends, food
Do differently on return: Less lazy, more appreciative, wash hair less!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Machos trek on!

The sun is finally shining on the valient Alpha 2, who are fast approaching the beautiful Playa Hermosa on the Pacific Coast. After days and days and days of rain, the group has crossed into the Pacific region where thankfully the weather has been kinder. Five days ago the group summitted the Dragon and today they will take on the great Cero Barres. Spirits continue to be high in the group, and despite the adverse weather conditions, some unexpected delays due to high rivers, and a lot of up (the equivalent of Everest) not once has anyone contemplated giving up.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Special loved ones - Please know you are missed

While I know everyone is missing their loved ones, and in turn are being missed from over here. Nevertheless, as I am a hopeless romantic and I wanted to mention the partners of 3 of our Volunteer Managers. Tim, Katherine and Alison, I feel as if I know you as you are talked about often, with real love and affection. I know it's not easy to be away from your partner for such an extended period of time. Thank you for supporting these guys who are doing a brilliant job! Not long till you see them again!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Messages from Alpha 1

ROSS - thanks for all support that everyone has shown, cant wait till I
Step off that plane a real man lol oh and hey to my little essex
Man missing you more.

VINCENT - Lieve mama gefeliciteerd met se versaardag sammer dat ix
Er niet bij ben, maar het duort neit lang meer. Tot gauw! Groetses

Abbie - loving the island, swimming every day. And tans coming along. Hope the Christmas shopping’s going well, hehe
Love you all xx.

GEORGIE, hi dad have a fantastic birthday make sure you chill and have a yummy
Meal. Will be thinking of you all day, as with everyday. Give everyone a
Big hug from me, happy birthday pie xxx.

HOLLY, hi dad and everyone just letting you know im still alive. Having a great time.
Hope all is well with you. I miss you, and will call you as soon as I can lots of love hol xxx. `

CAM - Loads of love to Tim as usual - hope the writing is going well, not long till I see you, lots of love xxxx

History of San Lucas Island

As promised here is a little bit of the history of San Lucas Island where Alpha One are currently based.
Until 1991 San Lucas was the infamous and feared prison island of Costa Rica. Other well known prison islands include Alcatraz and Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana (the setting for the book/film Papillion).
San Lucas was established in 1873 with the aim of hiding from society those considered guilty of serious crime. San Lucas was famous for the violation of human rights. Conditions were said to be so terrible that people said being sent to San Lucas was equivalent to receiving a death sentence
Whilst on the island Alpha One have been reading ‘The Lonely Men’s Island’. It is written by José León Sánchez who was a prisoner on the island. Although the story is fictional it is based on the authors own experience. The details of the treatment of the prisoners makes grim reading. So well known were the atrocities of San Lucas island amongst Costa Ricans that you will not find anywhere else in the country named after Saint Luke.
In the prison cells there is a lot of graffiti drawn by past prisoners – some of it rather graphic! Up to 100 men were kept in one of the cells together. Each wore a ball and chain. The weight of the ball depended on how dangerous the prisoner was deemed to be. In the centre of the prison courtyard is ‘The Disk’. It is a dark hole in the ground half filled with water. Prisoners were put into this as punishment, some for as long as two weeks!
Since the prison closed, the island has been become a protected wildlife reserve. The island is Raleigh’s longest standing project site and over the years we have made a massive contribution to the opening of the island as a visitor attraction.
Alpha One are all well and the latest news is that they are building an outdoor shower! Also the American ambassador visited the other day and I am sure Alpha One gave him a warm welcome.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Meet the crew continues

Our quest to introduce everyone on expedition continues. We have asked everyone the following - What has been your highlight so far? What have you missed the most? and what will you do differently when you return to your "other" life. I really love the different answers and hope you do to.

Name: Al Burgwin
Age: 18
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Trek - the whole thing
Misses the most: Nothing material- family of course
Do differently on return: Do more things!

Name: Rosie McGinley
Age: 23
Nationality: Scottish
Highlight so far: Sliding down big hill on way to Roca Quemada
Misses the most: Warm baths and my bed
Do differently on return: Take up yoga and relax more

Name: Andrey Vasquez
Nationality: Costa Rican
Highlight: Finishing the trek at the beach
Misses the most: Friends and Family and food

Emily Waterhouse
Age: 18
Nationality: English
Highlight: Halloween night on trek - pounding with rain, dark and muddy but everyone still singing and everytime I get a message from home!
Misses the most: Crumpets
Do differently on return: Dedicate more time for friends and family and cook more

Name: Jen Lane
Age: 23
Nationality: English
Highlight so far: Completing the whole trek, receiving messages from home, living with family in Nicaragua
Misses the most: family and friends, home comforts, things usually taken for granted
Do differently on return: spend more time with family and look at things in a completely different way - more appreciation

Name: James O'Halloran

Age: 29

Nationality: Irish

Highlight so far: Learning how to chillout and live life simply and perfectly in Nicaragua - where there are no surpluses such as additions forks, electricity or toilet paper but plenty of patience, love and time! Being taught so much about myself and life in general by individuals 10 years younger than me.

Missed the most: Umm let's see, Katherine, Katherine, Katherine.... meat and potatoes and Katherine

Do differently on return: Relax more, be there for people more, do things I am good at and enjoy. Be the owner of my time, realise that less is more and abundance whether it be money or possessions etc is not as important as I thought.

Name: Rhys Evans

Age: 18
Nationality: Welsh
Highlight so far: Playing guitar to an entire community in Nicaragua in front of a campfire
Misses the most: Family, friends, food
Do differently on return: Go to college, train to be a chef and spend more time with family

Name: Matt Evans
Age: 20
Nationality: Welsh
Highlight so far: Sunrise on Volcan Cosiguina, making it through the trek
Misses the most: Family and friends
Do differently: More time for self - relax