Monday, 31 March 2008

Expedition 08A Blog 14: An update from phase 3 Alpha Groups

Hello everyone. There’s only been 3 of us here at Fieldbase for the past 5 days and it’s been really busy. Yesterday we hosted Radio Raleigh, where most of our Alpha groups were able to call in and listen to news and entertainment from around the world, along with an update on what’s been happening in each of our projects across Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We thought you’d like to know what your friends and family have been up to, so here’s the round up. Sorry there’s no photos this time.

Alpha 1
Nick, the invincible leader of Alpha 1, has now been trekking in his wellies for the past 10 days, since both his boots and his trainers have crumpled under the pressures of extreme trekking. Alpha 1 have had a tough few days as one of their group fell ill and had to be taken to hospital from the middle of the jungle. It was no mean feat and Alpha 1 did an amazing job, pulling together brilliantly as a team and ensuring the person concerned received medical help quickly.

Thankfully, the participant is making a fabulous recovery and the group are now back on track. If you’re reading this and wondering if it was one of your sons or daughters, fear not – it you haven’t spoken to us, it wasn’t! As they say, no news is always good news.

Alpha 2
Alpha 2 are having a storming 2nd week trekking. Now that everybody has learnt to live with blisters the size of Mars, and their rucksacks feel like a part of them, they are powering up the steep mountain slopes - fuelled by enough snacks to feed a large army. In fact, rumour has it Edouard’s came in at the grand total of 12 per day … no wonder his rucksack weighs twice as much as everyone else’s!

The whole group fearlessly conquered ‘the Dragon’ in the early hours of Friday morning, rewarding themselves with fantastic views over Costa Rica from the top. They are making great progress and hope to arrive at the beach a day early, to give themselves a thoroughly deserved bit of R&R. The only downside is that the female members of the team are still getting to grips with just how much socks can smell without regular washing machine attention… strange how the boys don’t seem to be as concerned!

Alpha 3
The overly modest Macho group have decided their trek is more like ‘a walk in the park’ for them, often arriving so early at their destination that they have to wait hours for lunch. But this is giving them a great opportunity to catch up on their tans. Not such good news for the fair-skinned Charlie and Anna, who are having to take shelter in their tents, as even factor 50 total sunblock is not enough to protect them against the fierce midday Costa Rican sun.

Most of the Macho group also summited the Dragon, a day before Alpha 2, and again snacks played an important role in getting them there. As if all that trekking wasn’t enough, Alpha 3 have also been burning off their excess energy by playing and winning games of football against some of the locals. The fact that the opposition had an average age of 8 years is irrelevant … well done boys!

Finally, trek leader Tabitha was delighted to be re-united with the group on Saturday following a few days out due to a calf injury. Her Spanish/IT/cooking skills will be sorely missed by Fieldbase.

Alpha 4
Alpha 4 are having a wonderful time on Isla del Cano. The group have done a huge amount of work on the forest and beach trails, and they are now cutting wood and transporting it by boat so that the new roof can go on the Ranger station. They are finding the communication side of things a little more tricky though, as their radio only works when the tide is low and someone wades out to sea holding one of the antennae! When the radio doesn’t work, rumour has it they’ve been spotted bobbing about in a fishing boat trying to get reception using the Rangers’ mobile phone!

Alpha 4 have decided not to proceed with a trip request they submitted a few days ago, asking whether it would be OK to go to the mainland – clearly they are enjoying themselves too much on the island and don’t want to leave. We fear we may have to remove them by force at the end of Phase 3!

Alpha 5
Alpha 5 have done a cracking job in Piedras Blancas National Park, and they enjoyed a 2 day hike to Cana Blanca beach at the end of last week. They stayed overnight at an animal sanctury and reported back to say they’d thoroughly enjoyed a couple of well deserved days of R&R.

Yesterday (Sunday), they moved site to El Bonito Ranger Station and will complete the wall Alpha 5 were building in Phases 1 and 2, to protect the Ranger Station from being flattened by the river next time the rains come. This is great news as there had been a problem with obtaining the materials we needed to finish the job, but this has now been resolved and Alpha 5 are thrilled to be completing the wall. They’re also pretty pleased to have the opportunity to see another part of the National Park.

Alpha 6
Alpha 6 are currently at the beach, lucky things! They’re having a couple of well deserved days off, following lots of hard work clearing trails through thick jungle. They now have only around 500m of path left to clear and the long awaited tractor has finally turned up, which should make this more than achievable by the end of the Phase.

Alpha 6 have had a few problems with their comms, so they were delighted to hear us loud and clear for the radio show while sunning themselves on the beach, and the girls were able to send birthday wishes to their good friend Penny in Alpha 8.

Alpha 7
Alpha 7 started the weekend with only 100m of trench digging to go. All their work is on schedule, the locals are delighted and spirits are high. They have divided the group into two, the competitive bunch, and everyone has become either a ‘mattocker’ or a ‘digger’. Rumour has it there is a definite male leaning towards the mattocks, with Laura and Suzanne giving them a helping hand. Why, we’re not quite sure!

There have been a few incidents in Los Loros though – it’s not all plain sailing! Naomi had an unforgettable incident with the one of the local bovine population when she was milking it, while the Nicaraguan sun has proved more than a challenge for some. The fair Scottish skin of recently off-the-plane Project Manager, Debra, has turned an alarming shade of red and Hattie, on the other hand, has managed the quite remarkable feat of attaining an even paler complexion than before. At least she won’t have to worry about wrinkles in the future…


Alpha 8
Alpha 8 are progressing well – they’ve finished the floor and roof, and are due to start painting next week. Charlie and Peter reliably inform us that they, in particular, are working extremely hard. They have been having unseasonably bad weather, but they are still putting the effort in with their tans. On their day off, Alpha 8 visited a cigar factory in Esteli, and they’ve been spending a lot of their free time playing with the local children.

Alpha 8 received a visit from Bravo 4 (Julian and Ed the Money) this weekend, and reports are coming back that they have almost depleted the good ship Bravo of all the shop stock. In true Nicaraguan style, the chickens are driving everyone slightly stir crazy. Will somebody tell them that dawn does not start at 2.30am!!

Alpha 9
Last, but not at all least, things are going brilliantly in Conte Burika. At the beginning of the week, the group had an epic 8 hour round trip to Panama to collect large panels of zinc for the school roof, and had to haul them back across the steep mountainous slopes. Well done Alpha 9 on a hard day’s trek. They have also now finished the wooden roof structure, and the outside walls are up. They have begun painting the outside of the school, and are looking forward to the opening ceremony next week, which will be attended by Julian, Liz and Ale as the field base royalty.

Although Alpha 9 are still enjoying the local delicacy that is rice and beans, they were thrilled to be treated to chocolate cake last week. They had a successful trip to the beach this past weekend – a well-earned break, and a chance to work on those tans. They missed the radio show as they were walking back – cheeky monkeys!

So, that completes the round up for now. We hope all is well for those of you reading this and will be sure to update you shortly. We’re rapidly coming towards the end of the expedition – time has gone scarily fast and we just don’t want it to end!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Expedition 08A Blog 13: First news from phase 3 Alpha Groups

Hi everyone. Here is an update in brief from all the Alpha groups around Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This follows yesterday’s weekly radio Raleigh show and news round up, broadcast from Field Base with input from all of our groups via their field radios, as well as information taken from the group's daily SITREPs (Situation Reports).

Alpha 1

The group have completed a double day's trekking! Completing twice the distance they planned and are now near Laguna Vueltas, they are on course to have an additional day on the beach at the end of the trek.  Field Base visited them to deliver food and found them living the high life at a local shop, digging into chicken and chips and coca cola. Field Base staff members Pauline and Liane helped them celebrate Norma’s birthday with cake and candles.

Bizarrely, the group have also invested in a set of hi-vis jackets for the day leader and medic and so can be seen for miles. Project Manager Nick’s Marine training has had the desired effect – half the group have got rid of their sleeping bags to cut down on weight. They’ll be huddling up in their tents in their hi-vis jackets instead.

Alpha 2

The Dragón Trek guys had a long hard day today – they started out a couple of hours behind schedule this morning, and then had to double back to recover a lost camera! They arrived at their destination this evening in the dark, but still in good spirits. Looking forward to a short day tomorrow and a changeover of Project Managers at Sabanillas! Liz Killick and Lexi Nicol will be leaving the group to be replaced by Natalie Gee. The group are looking forward to mounting the Cerro Dragón in a couple of days time.

Alpha 3

The guys in Alpha 3 have been cooking on gas so far on the trek. Early starts followed by arrival at their planned destination by 10:30 has become the norm. Despite heavy rain they have been powering up the hills courtesy of Marieke’s Dutch dance music. In fact, they’ve been doing so well they decided to medevac one of their Project Managers – Tabitha. Her calf muscle is recovering back at Field Base, and she will be delivered back to the group with their food drop on Saturday.

Alpha 4

Alpha 4 are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the beauty of the Isla del Cano. They have been tasked with repairing the forest trails and making a staircase for the jungle path. They also tell us that they’ve managed to put up a decent volleyball court on the beach, so it’s not all hard work and no play.  Rumour has it that there's some spectacular snorkelling to be had on their doorstep as well.  Jealous, us?

Alpha 5

Down in Piedras Blancas National Park, Alpha 5 are busy clearing trails and pathways. They estimate that they are currently clearing 300 metres of path per day! The rangers have been kind enough to lead them on 2 hour night hikes, taking a few of the group at a time. So far they have seen Fer de Lance snakes a-plenty, toads, crocodiles and many many insects!

Alpha 6

At La Cangreja, the team are exerting themselves clearing the trails and filling in holes. They are having some difficulty with their radio communications however. Speaking to them from Field Base is like speaking into a goldfish bowl, but the group are all well and enjoying sleeping in their self made basha beds (hammock-like beds fixed to A-frames and covered with tarp) and taking in the sights and sounds of the jungle.

Alpha 7

The group up in Los Loros have been enjoying the Easter festivities in Nicaragua. They have been to a fiesta, been swimming in a river, learned to make cheese, attended the local Church and been on an Easter Egg hunt! Work started today continuing the trenches that will soon bring clean water to the community. If they managed to keep away from the chocolate eggs.

Alpha 8

Alpha 8 have been working hard putting together the floor of the community centre in La Fortuna. Yesterday they took a break to go on a day trip into the local town of Yali and soak up the sights, sounds and hot sun of Nicaragua. They also met with the project foreman and planned their work for the rest of the phase and are on track and raring to get the job finished!

Alpha 9

In Carona, the group report that the school is progressing well. They have now completed the roof and are working on finishing the inside walls. A trip over the border into Panama is planned for the whole group this week to bring back supplies for the completion of the building. The 5 hour hike in and out of the indigenous reserve will be a challenge but the group are a determined and capable bunch!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Expedition 08A Blog 12: Final phase allocations






Easter greetings to everyone from Turrialba!

The third and final changeover has now taken place. As the troops arrived I gathered in updates from our Alpha group correspondents. Herein follows the news that you’ve been waiting for:

Alpha 1: Corcovado Trek

Not even a lack of hiking boots could deter Marine Commando Officer PM Nick. After literally walking them off his feet, he continued on in a pair of hastily purchased Wellington boots. Now that’s hardcore.











Visited 3 times by roving Field Base staff, the group ate their weight in chocolate and crisps as part of their ‘manning up’ process to become just like Nick.






The group eventually got the better of all their PMs Nick, Hayley and Paul. During an experiment that consisted of leaving the group alone for the day to practise and hone their navigation skills, the participants showed their newly acquired mettle by arriving at their rendez-vous point an hour and a half before the PMs. They stunned Field Base staff and the PMs alike by working out a short cut that avoided the hills the PMs themselves had to struggle up. Bravo Alpha 1! The group made it to the beach at the end of the trek where they spent a relaxing couple of days soaking up the sun.

Alpha 2: Dragon Trek

During our 3 week trek, Alex managed to consume more than his body weight in food everyday. His one-liners kept up the team morale, but we restrained him from his voracious appetite for snacking.


Emily didn’t walk, she floated. She’s a good cook, and also the calamity Jane of the group. She quite often took the lead and continues her campaign against the ant population in Costa Rica.

Eebee and Lexi only just escaped being trampled to death by a large herd of cows, but ‘Rambo-dived’ into a ditch just in time.







Duncan had a video camera surgically attached to his hand for most of the journey - we can't wait to see the outcome.




James was the most conscientious Day Leader with wicked speeches. But what we thought was a tan turned out to be just dirt…

Flic, Emily and Naomi supplied the group with endless power ballads to march along to.

Liz was the super trooper machine of the group, who marched up all hills despite her injured ankle sustained in the Alpha 2 versus Copey F.C. football game.






Jack refused point blank to wash his shirt for 18 sweaty, smelly days but agreed to burn it on his final night. His ability to over-exaggerate provided the group with hours of entertainment, particularly Duncan, who couldn’t quite get to grips with the concept of this ‘mini-Tarantula’ Jack claimed to have seen (i.e. a spider).

Sam was our secret weapon in the navigation department. He kept a secret stash of trail mix and chocolate very much on the ‘down low’ until discovered by snack-a-Jack – with unfortunate results.

Loancy and Oscar were essential members of the team, finding us 5*accommodation every night and a never ending supply of bananas. However, the group soon discovered that mornings were not Loancy’s forte – but this issue was solved with a few buckets of water. Meanwhile, Oscar’s incredible circus skills supplied the group with continuous entertainment.







Del became one with nature, saying ‘the trees are our friends’. Her chirpy attitude kept the team moving at even the most difficult of times.

Overall, the Dragon Trek was a breeze… with lots of up up ups and one or two downs. Despite troubles and strife, the group’s determination brought us to the beach, whereupon the girls set to work exfoliating in the sand, and the boys cut down coconuts.






To finish their trekking extravaganza, Alpha 2 set to work on a magnificent BBQ on the beach that was enjoyed by everyone. :-)

Alpha 3: Macho Trek

As one of the final groups to leave Field Base, Alpha 3 set off on the first day of to the Macho Trek full of mixed feelings: some eager and raring to go, some nervously excited and some terrified.

On day one we faced the challenge of four small river crossings, and one large one. Everyone crossed safely (except Ed, who fell in twice). That evening, after a 17km walk, a kind couple called Maria and Lejo welcomed us into their home, offering fresh coffee, cold papaya and melon smoothie and pancakes. Not a bad start.






The next day or two followed suit, but then the going got tougher and steeper. The group hit a low point on days 4 – 5, but were pulled out somewhat on day 6 by burgers and omelettes at 7am as well as Oreo and strawberry milk shakes later on.






Maintaining our 0400 starts, walking by 0530, we plodded on day by day, getting to a lot of our destinations by lunchtime. This left afternoons free to integrate with the locals, playing football, teaching English and playing games with children.






During the trek we summitted three peaks: the first was 2850m above sea level – the highest point of any of the treks in Costa Rica. Eleven members of the group climbed the Dragon on day 9, and everyone walked up Cerro Barres on day 15 to watch the sun rise.


As we neared the end of the trek, spurred on by the thought of the sea only two days away, we began to get up at 0345 and were walking before 0500.





On day 16, after walking 25km we finally arrived at our first ranger station at the beach. The next day we had a one hour stroll along the Pacific Coast to our final destination, Punta Judas. We enjoyed our final two days in luxury, doing a little but of sunbathing and eating to our hearts’ content.

Alpha 4: San Lucas Island






After being dropped off in Puntarenas by Alphas 7 and 8, the group were taken to San Lucas Island by David the ranger. The island, which was considered to be Costa Rica’s answer to Alcatraz, has been closed since 1991 and is expected to open officially to tourists in April. San Lucas prison was home to some of Costa Rica’s most dangerous criminals.




Alpha 4 were in paradise, thanks to the island’s deserted beaches, amazing sunsets, beautiful wildlife such as howler monkeys, the inevitable snakes, lizards and tarantulas. We even made a companion in the shape of a friendly deer we named Bambi and an evil wild turkey, who was less than pleased about our presence on the island.






The group set to work stringing up hammocks between trees and on the pier in preparation for many a night spent under the stars. After a few days of settling in, Alpha 4 set to work clearing the beaches and trails and restoring some of the dilapidated prison buildings. The group also helped to create some form of recycling system to sort out the mountains of rubbish that wash up on San Lucas’ otherwise beautiful beaches.





When the group wasn’t working, we were to be found sunning ourselves on the pier, building rafts, completing low ropes courses and burying each other up to the neck in sand.







Alpha 5: Piedras Blancas







Alpha 5 soldiered on with the flood defence wall to protect the ranger station from the rising water in the wet season.

They shifted mountains of rock from the river bed and completed the defence wall started by the first Alpha group, and started on a second.


In between rock shifting, the group also constructed a jungle gym and could be found working out in the evening cool. The rangers also took the group on many night hikes around the National Park to see the resident crocodiles, snakes and spiders.






Alpha 6: La Cangreja

Alpha 6 have mattocked, shovelled and raked their way far beyond the rangers expectations. It is now a trek in itself to reach the worksite – we apologise to our successors! To make up for it, we have left a slightly wonky but lovely jungle camp where we all felt very at home.




Our culinary skills have expanded hugely, thanks to our jungle domestic goddess Project Managers, who have taught us to use our rations resourcefully in such delights as Siân’s curry and Bobby’s cracker mush.



This fine dining has been accompanied by lots of suitably stimulating conversation concerning the benefits of the trail.






We often followed our feasts with feats of great and diverse dancing in the form of after-dinner cabarets. These ranged from impressive recorder to sing-a-longs.





We will miss each other’s company greatly, especially that of the river, and hope to return one day to see the benefits of our work in action. We will take back lots of happy memories of the Black River and such respect for the importance of preserving places like this.





Alpha 7 – Los Loros, Nicaragua

On the 27th February, twelve Raleigh venturers and their three Project Managers arrived in Los Loros to continue work on a long-awaited project to bring running water to the community. They were greeted with open arms by their host families and soon settled into life sleeping amongst the animals and enjoying traditional Nicaraguan food.










Over the two and half weeks, the group’s persistent and enthusiastic work added a further 1.8km of trench to that already done by the previous group. Alpha 7 were also put to work alongside the locals on building the storage tank, which would hold and regulate the water to the village. The greatest sense of achievement of the phase came when the first few pipes were laid and flowing water finally reached the tank.





At the end of each week the locals took the group to a nearby river for a bit of ‘R & R’ Los Loros style. As the girls sunbathed and swam, the boys joined the men of the village to get their supper, Charlie being the most successful fisherman catching one fish and severe sunburn!





Alpha 7 also currently hold the record for the most fiestas in Los Loros, with no less than three during their short stay. However, their final party was the most touching when, after speeches from various members of the community, it hit home how much of a difference Raleigh was making to their lives. There were also a few tears as Raleigh participants and their host families said their farewells and ‘thank yous'. The night ended on a high as Henry, Megan, Frederique and Steven took their well rehearsed dance routine to the floor.






Alpha 8 – Miraflor, Nicaragua

I am pleased to announce that Alpha 8 has returned to Field Base after an unforgettable two weeks in the Nicaraguan hills of Miraflor.

A world away from the bustling towns of the developed world, we were plunged into the laid back Nicaraguan routine.

The village of La Fortuna was where we would build a brand new community centre with El Foro, a Nicaraguan organisation. We lived in family homestays dotted around the main road running through the village. Each of us were assigned a family with one other volunteer. They give us food, a bed, and an amazing insight into their lives.

The local people found everything about us fascinating and would often stop and sit down just to watch us work. The community had never received international visitors before and it was a huge learning experience for them just as much as it was for us.

Our project turned out to be a great success. Although the general pace of work was slow, we met our target and left with all four walls of the centre up. Each of us are now competent Nicaraguan builders – able to dig trenches, mix cement and lay bricks! Head builder Carlos (nicknamed Don Sombrero because of his great straw hat) was a brilliant teacher and other volunteers from the community, including children, came along to help as well. All of us managed to pick up some Spanish phrases even if it was just ‘could you pass me the spade?!’.

We rounded off the phase with a party for the whole community with games, face paints, music and more. We heard from the local leaders who talked about how much this centre meant to them. This made us feel like we had done something truly worthwhile and given something back to such an amazing community of people.

Alpha 9 - Conte Burika

Having assembled a crack team of resident Raleigh fanatics, Alpha 9 set off on a 10 hour journey by bus to the very south of the Conte Burika peninsula. A 6 hour trek along the beach later brought us to the secluded village of Carona.

Picture if you will a small valley, steep round hills covered in tress surrounding it, and nestling between them, the peaceful, noble village of Carona, home of the Guaymi people.

The first phase group had completed the foundations of the community pre-school and laid half the floor. Our first task was to finish this, and then move on to erect frames for both the walls and the roof. We sawed, planed and nailed various lengths of wood with gusto to form the framework of the structure. We then spent the last week putting together triangular frames to support a corrugated metal roof (to be raised by the next Alpha group). This was the toughest part of our job, requiring accurate measurements and careful chisel work. Group member Gustavo, who is studying structural engineering at San Jose University, deserves recognition for taking charge. Project Manager Lorien also worked his socks off, providing the majority of the translation for the foreman Don Sebastian.

Our deepest gratitude could not be expressed to the local women who creatively cooked us each and every meal. Even the staple rice and beans became a culinary delight in their skilful hands. Gracious to the Guaymi kitchen goddesses!

Other highlights of our time in Carona included playing football with the local lads (bemused by our female players Marianne and Izzy), and giving lessons in English and Chinese to the primary school children. We also received visits from Khanaki, the community leader who kept us mindful of his people’s appreciation and aspirations for the future.

After 17 days of hard work we left behind a fine structure of which we were justly proud, and returned to Field Base a strong and confident unit of well-bonded individuals. We’d all like to thank our 3 Project Managers Lorian, Huggy and Marianne for such an amazing experience together. We’d also like to thank Catherine, Pauline and Belle for raising our spirits by hiking in with our many shop requirements. In closing, we should mention the dedicated rehearsals of songs and dances which won Alpha 9 the changeover skit competition! Bravo!




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After a hectic changeover, fuelled by crazy antics, skits, dances and fancy dress, our final phase projects are now underway. Project allocations are as follows:

Alpha 1: Corcovado Trek

Georgina Nühn
Tim Hardie
Katie Danaher
Alicia Hockless
Alex Le May
Charles Macpherson
Michael Moloney
Philippa Newton
Jimmy Russell
Claire Stone
Erina Campos Acuna
Norma Reyes Calderon

Project Mangers

Alice Thompson
Nick Dillon
Ale Leon (for the first 9 days)

Alpha 2: Dragon Trek

David van Oostrom
Edouard de Bernis
Tamara Astor
Katrina Buckingham
Victoria Cullen
Carolina Davies
Megan Gibbon
Ralph Giles
Kathryn Hey
Philippa Hill
Christopher Taylor
Gustavo Bolanos Leandro

Project Mangers

Duncan Laurie-Pile
Natalie Gee
Lexi Nichol (first 6 days)
Liz Killick (first 6 days)

Alpha 3: Rio Macho Trek

Kam Fai Yip(Oscar)
Frederique Moll
Marieke van der Noordaa
Tom Dearie
Michael Emery
Anna Meikle
Charlotte Morgan
Jessica Robertson
Kathleen Stoddart
Gavin Williams
Melvin Talavera Pinell
Javier Rojas Bravo

Project Mangers

Tabitha Codd
Alex Baer (Huggy)
Jorge Urena

*NEW PROJECT!* Alpha 4: Isla del Cano *NEW PROJECT!*

Samuel Obstfeld
Thomas Beelaerts van Blokland
Thomas Abel Smith
Emma Hedges
Steven Leckey
Felicity Lyne
Anna Melville
Ruth Whateley
Sam Wood
Odir Rojas Gomez

Project Mangers

Dave Shrewsbury
Hayley Stewart

Alpha 5: Piedras Blancas

Kin Shing Hui (Steven)
Robert van Loenen
Alex Bull
Emily Coward
Camilla Harris
Henry Johnstone
Edward Smyth-Osbourne
Alison Toczek
Delphine Tomes
Johnny Blanco Elizondo
Amparo Oporta
Loancy Cortes

Project Mangers

Edward Rowberry
Victoria Millar

Alpha 6: La Cangreja

Chak Chan(Andrew)
Katie Brokmann
Emily Goldhill
Loué Hamami
Harry Mallalieu
Michael Plant
Isabel (Izzy) Scott Moncrieff
Phoebe Strawson
Josefa Esquivel Arrieta
Eydin Lenin Gonzalez Gomez

Project Managers

Marianne Sheena
Paul Spiby
Caroline Millar


Alpha 7: Achuapa, Nicaragua

Abigail Smith
Benjamin Aitken
Toby Anderdon
Naomi Barker
Charlie James
James Littlewood
Kate Lockie
Laura Rowlands
Alexander Smith
Harriet Spicer
Tessa Svennevik

Project Mangers

Suzanne Rogers
Debra Hey

Alpha 8: Miraflor, Nicaragua

Man Yee Chung (Crystal)
Floris Baas
Tjarda Glas
Peter Broomfield
John Carty
Eleanor Chalmers
Edward Gallagher
Beth Kalischer
Penelope Page
Charles Randle
Oscar Zuniga Meza

Project Managers

Sian Thomas
Roberta Dawson
Juan Diego (Lorian)

Alpha 9: Conte Burika

Barbara Bordewijk
Elizabeth Nolan
Esther Slagboom
Luke Anthony
Alastair Coombe
Elizabeth Flower
David Perrett
Thomas Watts
Amelia Quintana
Vanessa Brenes
Andres Mora
Priscilla Arevalo Villalobos
Christian Staubach

Project Mangers

John Cecil-Wright
Catherine Simmons
Jill Mowbray

As ever, all at Field Base hope everyone has fun and enjoys the challenges ahead.


Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Expedition 08A Blog 11: Second Phase Alpha Group Updates

Hello again from Field Base.

We’ve had a busy week here recovering from the madness of our first changeover, clearing up after our Tribal fancy dress party (with special staff guests, the Field Base Tribe) and watching some hilarious skits from all the phase 1 groups.

The Field Base Tribe in all their glory
Floris Baas during Alpha 1's skit. Nice skirt.
Jill and Suzanne Rogers as the Achuapa chickens... of course...

Ed Dew and Alice Thompson display their face-painting credentials
We’ve also been manning the radios and taking updates from all our groups in the field. We asked each one to update us on their progress so we could post their news here. As soon as I have pictures, I’ll post them too.

Alpha 1: Corcovado Trek

Kai Chan To(Wilson)
Robert van Loenen
Toby Anderdon
Eleanor Chalmers
Emma Hedges
Beth Kalischer
Charles Randle
Edward Smyth-Osbourne
Tessa Svennevik

Project Managers
Paul Spiby
Hayley Stewart
Nick Dillon

One week in, Alpha 1 are flying through the mountains, bound for hot springs. Quote of the week from the group: Emma says that the capital of Iraq is Pakistan.

Nick misses his teddy and his mum. Charlie hasn’t broken sweat yet and Ed is pushing the girls up the hills. Alpha 1 are two people down (Marieke and Jose have defected to other Alpha Groups because of minor injuries). Project Manager Nick says he only needs to break one more so that they can get rid of another tent!

Alpha 2: Dragon Trek

Samuel Obstfeld
Elizabeth Nolan
Naomi Barker
Alex Bull
Elizabeth Flower
Edward Gallagher
Emily Goldhill
James Littlewood
Felicity Lyne
Delphine Tomes
Loancy Cortes
Oscar Zuniga Meza

Project Managers
Duncan Laurie-Pile
Lexi Nicol

We haven’t received a blog over the radio from Alpha 2 this week, but we can tell you they are doing incredibly well. So far they have crossed the jungle to Bijagual, conquered the mighty Cerro Barres, and are now in El Plomo. Well done Alpha 2!

Alpha 3: Rio Macho Trek

Kin Shing Hui (Steven)
Abigail Smith
Thomas Abel Smith
Emily Coward
Luke Anthony
Kate Lockie
Harry Mallalieu
Rowan Robinson
Laura Rowlands
Thomas Watts
Odir Rojas Gomez

Project Managers
Tabitha Codd
Ed Dew
Roger Schofield

On Day 1 Alpha 3 told us they were invited into a couple’s house for the night, given hot coffee made from real coffee beans, and free reign of the swimming pool. They set fire to their cooker twice that evening, but were still given coffee and pancakes next morning! On Day 5, Tom Abel-Smith jet propelled himself up the hill so fast, that despite the smell, Alpha 3 broke a Raleigh record by arriving at their destination at the Ranger Station in La Esperanza by 1036. They then began fierce trading of snacks and Tang. Tabitha has enjoyed arriving before lunch four days in a row. Everyone is enjoying the sunbathing and fantastic weather.

Alpha 4: San Lucas Island

Man Yee Chung (Crystal)
Tjarda Glas
David van Oostrom
Benjamin Aitken
Katrina Buckingham
Michael Emery
Ralph Giles
Alicia Hockless
Jessica Robertson
Amelia Quintana
Vanessa Brenes
Marieke van der Noordaa

Project Managers
Liane Preston
Kate Chapman

Alpha 4 have been stranded on a prison island for seven days now. They have set up camp, complete with a swing, benches and hammocks with bedside tables, and fishing nets on the pier constructed by Michael, their very own Bear Grylls.

A vast array of animals are sharing the island with the group. Lassie the Dog, Lassie 2, the other dog, Bambi the deer who eats anything, an angry turkey, howler monkeys, scorpions and bats.

The group have spent their days working hard, clearing piles of leaves and cutting down trees. Alicia and Tjarda found their beds had blown into the sea by heavy winds. They managed to recover them from the sea, slightly wet and salty.

In their free time, the group have been sunning themselves on the beach, swimming in the sea and exploring their very own island. Their latest news is that a mystery new castaway has joined them – welcome to Alpha 4 Marieke!

Lastly, David has agreed to give up smoking if Alicia gives up snacking. They are not sure how long it will last.

Alpha 5: Piedras Blancas

Floris Baas
Esther Slagboom
Peter Broomfield
Victoria Cullen
Katie Danaher
Tom Dearie
Charlie James
Philippa Newton
David Perrett
Harriet Spicer
Kathleen Stoddart
Priscilla Arevalo Villalobos
Jose Esquivel Arrieta

Project Managers
John Cecil Wright
Alice Thompson

Alpha 5 have had a storming start to the phase and have already equalled the amount of work done by the evidently lazy, previous Alpha 5! The first day was spent reconstructing the previous shoddy camp and building their own 'crib' which consists of banquet table, hammock stairs and a gym – yes, that’s right the Alpha 5 boys have a gym so the gun show is up and running.

The first wall has already been rebuilt and the gravel has all been removed. Project Manager Alice has found a nice chair at the worksite where she watches the work go on. Last, but not least has anybody seen Floris’ spoon!

Alpha 6: La Cangreja

Barbara Bordewijk
Georgina Nühn
Tamara Astor
John Carty
Alastair Coombe
Kathryn Hey
Michael Moloney
Penelope Page
Alexander Smith
Claire Stone
Andres Mora
Erina Campos Acuna

Project Managers
Sian Thomas
Roberta Dawson

Alpha 6 have made their jungle camp and are suitably impressed with the last Alpha 6’s bamboo structure. The girls took advantage of the 29th of February and proposed to all the lucky lads. On Saturday they cleared the first 200 metres of trail and celebrated St David’s Day. Sian cooked Welsh cakes which were enjoyed by all, and they also performed a talent show. Last but not least, a big ‘Welcome back’ goes out to Georgina – she joined Alpha 6 today and it’s great to have her back at Raleigh.

Alpha 7: Los Loros, Achuap, Nicaragua

Chak Chan (Andrew)
Frederique Moll
Caroline Davies
Megan Gibbon
Camilla Harris
Henry Johnstone
Steven Leckey
Charles Macpherson
Anna Meikle
Alison Toczek
Melvin Talavera Pinell
Eydin Lenin Gonzalez Gomez

Project Managers
Caroline Miller
Suzanne Rogers
James Gaynor

We’ve not received a blog update from the guys in Achuapa just yet. Our daily SITREP (Situation Report) from the group tell us they are suffering a bit in the heat, but making great progress on digging their trenches (there are 9km of trench to be dug in total!).

Alpha 8: Miraflor, Nicaragua

Sze Man Chan(Toffee)
Thomas Beelaerts van Blokland
Katie Brokmann
Philippa Hill
Alex Le May
Charlotte Morgan
Michael Plant
Christopher Taylor
Ruth Whateley
Sam Wood
Norma Reyes Calderon
Eric Rojas Bravo

Project Managers
Ed Rowberry
Bevin Aston
Victoria Miller
Alpha 8 tell us that position of the pre-school they are building was altered by ninety degrees after they dug in the foundations. I’m sure it will work out okay though! The group have been waking up at 4am every morning to Nicaraguan radio and the delicious smell of frshly cooked rice, beans and coffee. The group also feel they are getting closer to nature as there has been an infestation of mice. They even had their own episode of animal rescue, when Ed used pliers to remove porcupine spines from a dog’s nose.

Alpha 9: Conte Burika

Kam Fai Yip (Oscar)
Edouard de Bernis
Tim Hardie
Emily Acock
Loué Hamami
Anna Melville
Jimmy Russell
Izzy Scott Moncrieff
Phoebe Strawson
Gavin Williams
Amparo Oporta
Gustavo Bolanos Leandro
Johnny Blanco Elizondo

Project Managers
Marianne Sheena
Juan Diego Araya
Alex Baer
After a long, foggy walk along the beach, it seemed that work would be a breeze for Alpha 9. The sleeping, eating and construction area are all just a few metres apart. As well as planing, sawing and lots of hammering, there was lots of carrying wood down steep, muddy hills, resulting in plenty of slapstick, plank swinging-antics. But not for Izzy, who carried four lengths of wood on one arm. Besides the work, the boys, Izzy and Marianne have played lots of football with the locals. Other major incidents include Huggy being put in the outside hammock for snoring, Phoebe mysteriously getting her leg stuck down the long drop, and an earthquake (slight tremor) on Friday evening. Well fed by the village women, Alpha 9 are rampant for action for the week to come.

News from Field Base

Meanwhile, Bravo 4 (the Toyota Prado), Liz Killick and Julian Olivier have just returned to Field Base, having visited Alphas 4, 6 and 2. I hope to post an update from them shortly.