Saturday, 30 August 2008

Expedition 08D: Phase 3 - Alpha 6 in Miraflor, Nicaragua

Living and working in Nicaragua.

Buenas dias, I've just returned to Fieldbase after a thrilling tour of the Raleigh projects in Nicaragua. Many of the phase 2 participants had told me what a wonderful and magical country it is but just like the Alpha 6 team I was completely charmed by the landscape and people.

We arrived at sunset to find a birthday party in full swing in one of the local houses. After a lovely supper followed by the tastiest, sweet, coffee Alpha 6 hit the dance floor. Whilst the project managers, Jules, Amanda and Ali tried their best it was Iesha and Ben who stole the show.

As you can see from the photographs work on the project is proceeding really well. In fact I understand that they are putting the roof on the first building as I write - Well done! Additionally the team have started digging the foundations for the second building. ( Above Tom puts the finishing touches to one of the walls ).

Of course Julian, Nick and I were only to keen to join in with the work. A special thanks to Zeko for the dustbin full of cold water that he managed to pour over each of us...

Alistair, Jules and Amanda eagerly point out the cold water Zeko has poured over Julian.

Zeko and Jorge welcome Nick to the work site.

Alpha 6 take a break from digging the foundations for the second building.

Alpha 6 are each staying with a family in the local community. Everyone I spoke to was having a wonderful time and really loved living and eating with their families.

Mucho gusto, Dennis

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Happy photos from throughout the expedition

Today I was taking a look at photos taken by Sam Newman, currently making his way across the country as part of Alpha 2 and their quest to go Coast to Coast, and it struck me how many happy smiling faces were on display, so I thought I would post some of them so you can get a sense of what a brilliant experience this has been for us all.
Getting to know the venturers and sharing some of these experiences with them is such a privledge and I have absolutely loved it all. So I hope these photos will brighten your day as much as they did mine.
Saludos de Costa Rica
Salsa night right at the beginning when we all barely knew each other - Jamie, Anna, Susie, Daniel, Kyle, Mel and the rest of the gang

Sorting out kit before first deployment and the original Alpha 2 girls, Hannah, Jo and Annabel get dressed up for first change over party
Katy, Rosa and Maddy getting into the grove at the first party

Miranda and Ross looking gloriously happy

The winner's of our Salsa competition Ben and Yasmin are congratulated by Dennis our MC

Sarah explains the finer points of navigation to Laura

Suzie and Helen at Jungle Camp

Makeda tries out her bacha at jungle camp

Will shows his moves on the dance floor with MC

The big moment when we all found out where we were going phase 1

Tom waits for his medical 121 on the very first day of expedition, hard to believe he only had a couple of hours sleep

Will and Sam - en route to Raleigh


Friday, 22 August 2008

Phase 3 - So where are they going

It is now 5 days since our groups headed off for one last time and my apologies for not letting you know who was going where and doing what sooner, but we are down to a teeny tiny field base staff and time is something that is sometimes difficult to find. For the first time we are an all girl FB, except for Jamie who is recovering nicely after having his appendix removed in Nicaragua. Rachel is here busily finishing off what promises to be probably the best magazine in Raleigh history, it's truly stunning, Carolyn has returned from midwifery duties in Nicaragua to be our fieldbase medic, Vixster is currently on a food drop to Alpha 7 but will return tomorrow, and me, Anna, doing my best to keep smiling despite Australia's poor performance in the olympics.

Phase 3 has seen the introduction of two brand new projects, the Macho Trek, named after the River Macho - not because you have to be 'macho' to complete it, and a new environmental project at the Guayabo Monumento Nacional, Costa Rica's largest and best preserved archaeological site.

Alpha 1 Guanacaste Trek
Project Managers - Aleks Sawyer and Mike Bateman

Esteban Castillo
Rudo Chimbghandah
Joy Hardyman
Sarah Long
Rosamond Luther
Katarzyna Lukjaniec
Daniel Rooke
Felicity Shapland
Daniel Wigmore-Shepherd
Ricai Williams

Due to a slight eye infection Jungle Mike was unable to lead this group for the first few days and so our trusty logs manager, Nick, sprung into action at the very last minute. Nick who completed 3 treks as part of 08A, soon had these young guns in action and on the second day managed to have everyone out and treking by 5am - a new record, somewhat helped by the fact that they had stayed in a cow shed overnight and the cows were queing for morning milking!

Alpha 2 - Coast to Coast
PMs - Laura Skinner, Ben Fellows and our new medic Sarah Rounding
Viviana Aguilar
Natalie Ali
Edward Davies
Makeda DeShield
Sam Newman
Jason Reading
Marie-Claire Streets
Matthew Theakston
Ashun Wolffe
Laura Wyglendacz

The Coast to Coast crew are making great progress and are currently in the jungle on their way to an Indigenous reserve where they will stay tonight. This is one of the toughest sections of this epic journey, think mud people and plenty of it! The team is in great spirits, and we will be able to give you some more news when Vix meets them tomorrow for their first food drop.

Monumento Nacional Guayabo

PMs - Theresa Bailey, Mani Cea-Pobleta, and taking a break from counting money and driving cars is the very lovely Sara Rees

Katie Baxter
Helen Buss
Stephen Hosking
Wendelle Lightbourne
Joanne Lockey
Teliqua Mallory
Tom Smart
William Vasquez
Yasmin Vora

Over 1000 years old the site that Alpha 3 is working on is the remains of one of the largest settlements in the country from that time. Situated just 35 minutes from field base the Fun Club - Rachel, Vics, Carolyn and I paid this group a visit on Wednesday and we can report that they are having a brilliant time! The site is truly stunning with cobbled streets, underground rivers and carved rocks surrounded by some gorgeous tropical rainforest. The group is working hard to improve the park's facilities and have really impressed the rangers with their efforts. So impressed that they have granted them a day off and the group will line up for some football action before heading out for a night of Karoke with their new friends.

Alpha 4 - San Lucas Island
PMs - Karen Forrester and Sarah Finch -

Hannah Allan
Madeleine Gardner
Annabel Gray
Juan Pablo Cruz
Emma Houston
Shohaib Hussain
Miles Kaye
Shakii Pearman
Ashley Phipps
Jasper Mackisack

Enjoying their very own island this crew has discovered the local fish restaurant and appear to be swimming out to enjoy cut price lobster on a regular basis. They have also befriended the local fishermen and will head out on a fishing trip in the near future. Working hard to continue with trail making, Alpha 4 have also impressed the rangers, one PM in particular has been receiving more than her fair share of attention - the question is will Karen come back from the island????!!!!

Alpha 5 - Achuapa

PMs - Helen Marchin, Andy White and Rod McKenzie

Che Augustus
George Finlay
Alshauntae Harvey-Hollis
Matthew Hoghton
Meriel Mulhall
Anna Reay
Mark Taylor
Roberto Ulloa
Laura Wilkins

Alpha 5 eventually arrived at the lovely Montefrio after managing to veer off a straight path and get just a tiny bit lost - it appears that recent treking experience have not taught these guys how to walk in a straight line!!! Still despite the early delay they have found their form and have begun work on the water project. We are hopeful that this project will be completed this phase and that water will be connected to local houses, a momentus occassion indeed!

Alpha 6 - Miraflow
PMs - Amanda, Julz and Ali

Iesha Dill
Alasdair Conn
Colm Doris
Rachael Kelly
Jorge Marin
Benjamin Masterman
Zeko Rubaine
Gabriela Sanchez

Not content with simply finishing the Community Centre, this hard working group have also taken on work at the local school. The roof on the community centre will go on in the next couple of days and then it is just the floor to go before they put their artistic talents to the test and get busy painting. It is sure to be a colourful building that they will leave behind if their paint order is anything to go by. Circuit training, running and yoga are also on the schedule as they make a desperate attempt to work off the rice and beans which keep filling their plates. In great form and giving some excellent radio chat, Alpha 6 is a bit of a dream team

Alpha 7 - Macho Trek
PMs Miranda and Coops

Zakina Allen
Santos Yessenia Blandon Picado
Rebecca Butland
Susannah Compton
Jonathan Cox
James Lee
Ben Haigh
Hugo Ross
Kandrea Romaine

We got to see this team in action as they actually began their trek from right here at Field Base before heading through the Rio Macho Forestry Reserve and passing through Tapanti National Park. After climbing up to nearly 3,000 metres the group will then follow the ridges of the Fila de Bustamante towards Cerro Dragon. From here the group will aim for Cerro Turrubares before heading down to the sea at Playa Hermosa where the groups will spend a couple of relaxing days at this beautiful beach, famous for its nesting turtles.
The group has been more than a little unluky with many of its members struck down with a tummy bug. Most are now on the mend and after a couple of extended rest stops should be back on track soon.

So, this is the round up, sorry for the lack of photos I know that the blog always looks better with some visuals so will see what I can do.

Pura Vida

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Changeover 2

And so they returned from all over Costa Rica and Nicaragua, each bus bringing a new wave of venturers each full of stories of their latest project. It was absolutely brilliant to see them and wonderful to see their excitement and enthusiasm. It is clear that some firm and lasting friendships have been made and there were some big changes in many individuals.

The changeover was mostly a chance for everyone to chill out and catch up with each other. The highlight for me was a cricket match against a visiting team from the Costa Rican national league.

We didn't even come close to winning but it really didn't matter. The support and sportsmanship demonstrated by this group of staff and venturers was outstanding. Our team consisted of both guys and girls from at least 4 different countries, many of whom had never played cricket before.

Zeko and Ricai flew the flag for Bermuda, Alasdair and Ross attempted to prove that the Scots can play cricket, while Annabel, Laura and Emma showed the boys a thing or two. Our captains Vix and Dennis were brilliant in their organisation and Julian's passion for the game inspired us all.

Thanks guys you gave me yet another Raleigh moment.

Adios Lewis - We will miss you!!!!!

Tomorrow is a sad day for us as we bid farewell to the lovely Lewis who has been a real star of the expedition. Lewis was injured while on trek and after keeping us all entertained here at field base will head home to Scotland. Lewis is an incredibly popular member of our team, and his positive attitude and enthusiasm has inspired us all. Lewis we will miss you!!!!- the very best of luck in the future - stay away from the chilli - from everyone here at field base and the rest of the 08D expedition.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Phase 2 Our Highlights

Alpha 7 - La Esperanza - Nicaragua
A brand new project for the Alpha 7 team, tasked with the job of building a community centre for one of the small communities in Miraflor, Nicaragua. This is the first time Raleigh has been to La Esperanza and the team certainly had a huge impact. Living with local families, learning how to cook, work and live in this completely different world - this was certainly a once in a lifetime experience which the Alpha 7 team embraced.

Becky shows off some of her new building skills

And the walls go up

Marie-Claire, Esteban, Ricai and Mike - paying close attention to their Maestro de Obra - Foreman

Alpha 7 celebrating their hard work, Natalie, Esteban, Hannah, Marie-Claire, James, Ricai, Becky and Mike - (Amanda, Jamie and Teliqua were checking out the local hospital)

ALPHA 6 - El Cebellol Abajo - Nicaragua

Alpha 6 worked incredibly hard to finish the community centre which was started in phase 1. The group had the great pleasure of painting the building with a stunning mural and then using it on their last night for a whole of community celebration. We hear the dancing went on till the wee hours!

Ahh Tom - what can we say!

Rudo, Wendelle and Makeda working hard

Celebrating a job well done - Miranda, Theresa, Rudo, Matt, Jasper, Tom, Felicity, Rosa, Wendelle, Makeda and Jo - great work guys - I know that a more than a few tears were shed when you left, and while you will be missed you will certainly be remembered.

Alpha 5 - Achuapa - Monte Frio - Nicaragua

It was back to Monte Frio for Alpha 5 in their quest to connect running water to local houses. Although held up by some unexpected delays, the group worked incredibly hard and we are hopeful the project will be completed in phase 3

Our very own medicine woman - Carolyn who has now delievered two babies, bids farewell to her Nicaraguan Mama

The Alpha 5 work gang demonstrate that picking can be fun!

Annabel shows us how its done

Myles and Mani on the trench!

Alpha 4 - Playa Junquillal

A magical location for this incredibly hard working group, who impressed the local rangers no end with their efforts to improve facilities at the Santa Rosa National Park.

These are the BBQs that Alpha 4 built

Camp life - the ever present porridge

A very important birthday for a very important young lady was celebrated in style - Happy Birthday Al!

A glorious sunset for this fabulous group - we heard nothing but great reports from staff, venturers and rangers - Alex, Ale, Ned, Roberto, Alshante, Laura, Ben, Jon, Joy, Kandrea, and Wiggles a truly great team

ALPHA 3 - Bosque del Nino & San Lucas Island

Alpha 3 began their phase 1800 metres high in the cloud forests of Costa Rica where they worked on the visitors centre, visited beautiful waterfalls, ain, climbed Volcano Poas, and ....

got involved in local customs!

And then they made their way down to San Lucas, to help restore trails which take visitors around this stunning ex prison island.

Making friends with local fisherman proved fruitful - fish suppers for several nights made a nice change to rice and beans!

There is something quite magical about sleeping out under the stars on the pier, and the experience is something that few are likely to forget. Alpha 3 bonded brilliantly as a group and showed that it is possible to work hard and still have plenty of fun.

Alpha 2 - Coast to Coast

Starting off on the Carribean Coast, one of the bridges to cross - many more to follow as they made their way over mountain ranges, through jungles and across the lowlands to the Pacific Coast.

Colm checks to make sure they are indeed heading west

Iesha and Mel - having a Raleigh Moment

Andy and James try out the local transport

Many rivers to cross - to take the boots off or not - it's always a dilemma and a hotly debated topic

Mud like you have never seen or in Yasmin's case felt before - but she is still smiling!

Che also gets a taste for mud

The Coast to Coast girls - Laura, Yasmin, Iesha, Maddy, Mel & Emma

And it's all worth it - 19 days, a few hundred kilometres, several mountains, rain, mud, mosquitos, some swollen feet, some very weary venturerers, but what a view and what a feeling when you reach the Pacific - Congratulations Alpha 2 on crossing a continent

Alpha 1- Guanacaste Trek

Boots off crocs on! Another river crossing but not the real crocs this time they were to come later!
Yes it's definetly still raining here in Costa Rica but not enough to dampen the spirits of this crew

Shakii from Bermuda steels some shut eye while he can

Ashley another weary traveller!

Alasdair holds onto Katy in danger of being swept off the Volcano Rincon de la Vieja

And this is why they were walking! The beautiful Playa Nancito in the Santa Rosa National Park - Well done to Alpha 1 who overcame several challenges to finish in great spirits!