Thursday, 30 July 2009

09F Alpha Groups return to fieldbase

We’re delighted to have Alpha 1, 2, 3 and 4 back at fieldbase!

Alpha 1 completed their Guanacaste Quest walking an amazing total of 250 kilometres in just 19 days! After days of rain the sun finally shone on Alpha 1 in time for a well earned break relaxing on the beach at Playa Junquillal on the last day. Tim and Guy were there to capture the moment they arrived at the beach after a 30k day!Fee, Michael, Harry, Vicky and Tina taking a dip!

The classic 'Where is the beach' pose!

Alpha 2 took on the 280 Kilometres Maribios trek and won! Volcan Consiguina was the target, 859 meters tall with a crater 500 meters deep and 2 kilometres wide. The views of El Salvador and Honduras from the top were worth waiting for. The group hiked to the top where they set up camp for the night and watched the sunset over the volcano. The next morning as they watched the sun rise it lit up the 280k route they had spent the last 19 days trekking! Then it was off to the beach in Mechappa - a mere 33K away for a chill day!
Enjoying the view from the top of the volcano
Where is the beach?!
Its in sight.......
They made it!

Alpha 3 finished phase 1 of the water project in Achuapa providing fresh clean water to a staggering 240 people in 44 houses throughout the village. In just 19 days they become expert diggers and builders and were able to turn the taps on in the village for the first time. An amazing achievement in such a short time - well done Alpha 3.
Ben, Oli, Bernardo and Deven getting ready for a hard days work
Laura chatting with Chico (foreman)
Bernardo, Rob, Alex and Karla
Jane digging it!

Alpha 4 rocked Miraflor with their digging skills. The first phase of building the community centre was to level a rocky 30˚ slope and lay the foundations, not an easy task! Alpha 4 steamed through the work and even had time to collect the materials for the walls that will be built in phase 2. Good work Alpha 4.

Ben showing us how to do it!
Work work work

Gemma and Ben taking a moment!

Back at fieldbase the Alpha groups are enjoying some free time in Turrialba eating pizza, emailing home and playing football against the volunteer managers and winning! Its now time for project allocations for phase two and getting to know their new Alpha groups before deployment tomorrow. More on that later...............

Monday, 27 July 2009

Dr.Challoner's School Expedition

Updates from Yankee 1 and 2 in the Salitre Indigenous Reserve in Southern Costa Rica

Greetings from Yankee 1 in Cebror!

We arrived safely on Wednesday afternoon to our project site after a long 6 hour mini bus journey through the Talamanca mountain range from San Jose. Half of our group are staying in a spare house in the small village, equipped with kitchen and even a flushing toilet and shower!! The other half are living with a local family and their many cute children. One small surprise was that we are not building a water system anymore, instead we are building a classroom.

We are already getting involved at the work site and work is progressing rapidly; we even think we will finish before the end of our two weeks here and have started brainstorming other things we could do to improve the school, for example build a garden and decorate the inside. So far we have been involved in mixing cement, sieving sand, sawing wood, plastering and playing football with the local children. The workmen that we are helping on the site are all really hardworking and keen to involve us. We are also enjoying some banter with them and they find us entertaining; for example our silly hats and our weak limbs! So far the foundations, walls and plastering has all been completed, and the roof looks like it may be finished today. The children come back to school next Monday and we are looking forward to hopefully giving some english lessons to them and playing more games with them.

The group are all doing really well, everyone is healthy (apart from a bit of sunburn!) and are all enjoying themselves.. although the 5:30am start is taking a bit of getting used to. We're all looking forward to continuing and completing the project and involving ourseleves more with the community. Tomorrow the lady next door who owns the spare house is going to teach us how to cook a traditional Costa Rican dish along with a barbeque which we are all looking forward to as it will be a good chance to talk to the locals and practice some spanish! We are also going to have a party tonight with a piñata to celebrate our leader Emmas birthday.. Happy Birthday Emma!

We are having a great time and surprisingly missing the rain! Will update again soon,

Love Yankee 1..

Greta, Ollie, Rachel, Emma K, Millie, Emily, Tasha, Paula, Lawrence, Lucy B, Ellie B, Sheena, Alice, Katie P, Liv M plus the leaders Jules and EmmaBlog update for

Greeting from Yankee 2!

After a very bus bumpy ride through the green hills of Salitre we arrived at Ako on Wednesday. Ako is a small village in an idigenous reserve in Salitre. Its relatively remote, but they have running water and electricity, what a treat! The people are quite shy but we have made some friends and every night someone from Carlos' family has stayed with us in the house. Carlos, and his family have moved out for two weeks, so we have a whole house to ourselves.

On the first day we did lots of training. We learnt alpha, bravo, charlie etc and called the Raleigh office in Turrialba with our radios. The highlight of the day was definitely bath time in the local river!! Who needs a shower when you have fresh water rivers to bathe in?!!

The food has been surprisingly good. Last night we had sweet platanos, so, so yummy! Yesterday we also had a football match with the locals and hopefully will be playing lots more in the next couple of weeks.

Our project is to build a school for the village, which they desperately need. There's a lot to do but we're confident we can get it all done. When we arrived the workers had already done some of the walls, but there's a lot more to do.

Right now a couple of us are at an internet cafe in the local town, Buenos Aires, where we{ve come to buy fresh fruit and veg.

So HELLO to everyone at home, we miss you but we{re all having the most amazing time!!

Hasta luego!
Yankee 2

Sunday, 26 July 2009

09G The Dependable Delta Groups Settle In

We have had some great comms from the Deltoids in Tayni Indigneous Reserve and Barbilla National Park - everyone arrived safety and are getting stuck into enjoying themselves (and doing some work)!

Delta 1 and 2 have been warmly received into their communities of Boca Coen and Cuchey. So far they have had a welcome dinner, and today they are getting a tour of their communities and an outline of their project schedule with their Maestro de Obras (foremen).

Delta 3 spent last night at Barbilla Ranger Station. They have already seen a Boa Constrictor and a Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog – just the start of some of the incredible wildlife they will be seeing. Today they will begin moving their kit and camp into the jungle.

09F Triumphs and Tears (of joy!) from the Tremendous Alpha Groups

Alpha 1 will be on the final 10k of their 35k day as I type this. The wide bay of Playa Junquillal will be stretched out before them, beckoning them onwards. Soon they will be enjoying a cooling dip as they celebrate 270k of hardcore trekking!

Alpha 2 have conquered the Maribios Trek! They arrived this morning at Mechapa beach and had incredible views of the mighty Pacific Ocean. The group have covered 270k of the hottest, dustiest and driest terrain in Nicaragua. Congratulations Alpha 2!

Alpha 3 will today be celebrating massive success of the phase 1 water project. So far they have installed water in several houses! To show gratitude and to bid them farewell, the community leaders have organised a huge party in their honour – even the Mayor of Achuapa will be in attendance. Party on Alpha 3!

Alpha 4 are also having a final day of celebrations in their community. Their community centre and museum is halfway completed so the community are throwing them a party and have slaughtered a calf for them. The group will be enjoying some tasty cuts of meat this evening!

Tomorrow its early starts for everyone as they make their way back to Fieldbase...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Alpha 1 Update from DEL (09F, 10-Week Expedition)

Just back home from the Alpha 1 (Guanacaste Trek) food drop, where we spent some quality time with the group on Friday evening. They were staying the night at a Ranger Station and just thinking about dinner when we arrived bearing post, Mobile Shop and messages from the blog. They were in great form largely due to having eaten Pot Noodles for lunch. Henry is still surgically attached to his guitar and all are having fun creating their skit for Changeover at Field Base which is looming in 3 days time. In a fit of unparalleled generosity, I told them all that I would post a brief message to their nearest and dearest so here goes…

Tina – Hi Sis. Hope you’re alright. Make sure you send pics of new niece. Larry- love you and miss you. Write to me! Can you phone Antoinette and say Happy Birthday from me and sorry I didn’t phone her. Hi Cuz – Hope you lot OK. Write to me, man! Hi Mr D, it’s Tina, hope you’re OK!

Vicky – I’m fine! I miss all of you and I will come back home soon. X

Shane – Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing well at home and wherever you may be. Having the time of my life here. Will contact you as soon as I can. Keep an eye on the blog! Happy Birthday to Orlagh, Sarah, Jemma & Tom. Love you all loads, Shane.

Fee – Thanks for the birthday card. Love you lots. Having a great time in Costa Rica! X

Harry C – Love and miss you. Good luck on your travels, Heather. Keep the letters coming. Having an amazing time!

Michael – Thanks for all the messages and letters, keep them coming! Miss you all and love you lots, even you big sis! Love you too, Soph. See you soon…..

Henry - Barnes clan, miss you! Clem, miss you loads and love you lots.

M&D, J + The Lizard Man – All good. Safe and very happy. Lots of love, SRStMcLF/ MP x

09F 10 Weekers Last Days of Phase One

Today an eerie quiet has settled, disturbed only by the plinking of the rain on the roof and the purr of the Radio. For the first time in over a month there are no PMs or venturers lounging on the porch or listening in rapt attention as Ross and Julian deliver yet another training session (zzzz…). After waving goodbye to the 5 Weekers, Ross became pupil and learnt how to make proper pancakes (a la Raquelle) for the traditional Fieldbase commiseration (celebration?) breakfast held after project deployment. With just three days left of the 10 weeker’s phase one, the tranquil mood is unlikely to last long!

This morning Alpha 1 woke up at Cerro Cacao Ranger Station and summited Cerro Cacao. Unfortunately, it was shrouded in cloud! This is the second of the peaks (the other being Rincon de La Vieja) they have conquered, and the second to fail to reveal its stunning views to them. No fear, Alpha 1 still have smiles on their (now grubby) faces and are continuing their march to Maritza Ranger Station. Tomorrow they will walk the last day of the Guanacaste Trek to Playa Junquillal – no less than 35k!

Alpha 1
Alpha 1 Trekking

Alpha 2 walked up Volcan Cosiguina and watched the sun go down at the volcano crater – a spectacular sight with views of El Salvador, Honduras and the Maribios chain of volcanoes behind them including the stunning Volcan San Cristobal. - Sorry no photos currently but watch this space - Bravo 3 (including photographer Guy) are currently trekking with them and will bring back lots!

Alpha 3 have been digging hundreds of metres of trenches, built captation tanks for water and started both laying and hanging tubes that will carry the water. This afternoon they are taking a walk into Achuapa to visit the Cooperative, Raleigh’s Project Partner.

Alpha 3 revelling in the mud while digging trenches

Alpha 4 have completed the foundations to the Community Centre/Musuem! To do this they have made cement and adobe using a 50/50 mix of dirt and ‘Old Man’s Beard’, a tree native to the Miraflor Nature Reserve. In addition they had a cow milking competition yesterday with the following results:

5th – Zoe 1m:50s
4th – Tom Culverwell 1m:35s
3rd – Gemma 1m:07s
2nd Charlie Knight :45s
1st El Benito! :27s

The three PMs, along with perfecting their cow milking, have requested certain treats to be waiting for them at Changeover – Zoe = Fried Chicken, Gemma = Peanut Butter Sandwich, El Benito = a Pop’s Milkshake.

Ross will dutifully oblige because Alpha 4 have maintained the best comms by miles of all the Alpha groups.

Alpha 4 go back to School
Alpha 4 digging foundations

The Alpha groups now have a few days left to cover those last miles, say their goodbyes and write some final reports before they will again invade Fieldbase…

This is Raquelle signing off for today - its supposed to be a day off at Fieldbase apparantly - so it's to Turrialba for milkshakes!

Last Days of Training for 09G 5 Week Expedition

Jungle Camp

Despite a drizzly start to the day, the 09G venturers departed eagerly for their overnight stay at Jungle Camp. After receiving instruction from their PMs yesterday about how to properly pack a rucksack (a peculiarly difficult art to master), Deltas 1, 2 and 3 cheerfully shouldered their packs and trekked into the initiation zone that is Jungle Camp.

09G On their way to Jungle Camp

Enjoying the walking - James, Harry, Anisha, Chloe and Sophie
Julia and Charlie
Rachel and Alex

Under the wise tutorage of the 09G PMs the venturers learnt how to set up a camp. The first thing to go up is always the vital group tarp that provides shelter from the elements and is the perfect place to play cards (beats Las Vegas hands down – trust me!).

Jessica and Rosie demonstrating superb teamworking skills

Next the venturers learnt how to make bashers (beds constructed out of two bamboo A frames) and hammocks.

Sandrine instructing Sebastian on knot technique
...and demonstrating how not to fall out of your hammock during the night
Edwin, Alex and Francis securing rope for their basher tarps

After a restful night’s sleep listening to the dulcet tones of the jungle creatures, the 5 weekers were up bright and early for their CASEVAC Training session. The PMs briefed their Delta groups on the CASEVAC protocol and plans, and then one team member was chosen by the cruel harpies of fate to be suddenly struck down with a broken leg. Leaping to their aid, the Delta groups industriously constructed improvised stretchers (with the conveniently placed hammock and bamboo poles) and carried them back to the safety of Fieldbase – upon arrival, the mere site of the beautiful Fieldbase Team provided immediate cure of all ailments.

Christian, Freya, Julia and Terry discussing the Casevac Protocol
Chloe, Alex, Alice and Harry practicing their radio voices (we all have one!)
Anisha hanging onto one end of the radio aerial
Alex, Karent, Francis, Alejandra
Strectcher carrying!

After a shower and repacking their bags, the venturers were treated to a stirring send off speech delivered by Ross, and a fantastic slideshow of the induction pictures created by Maja. To complete the evening we threw a UV party – which required creativity and a steady hand to cover each other in funky designs that would glow under the black lights.

Ross daubing up with the Hibernian colours

Raquelle utilising her artistic skills by decorating Ross

Ross giving his rousing speech, translated by Charlie

Decorated venturers throwing shapes

Painting each other is lots of fun!
The PMs rocking out in the shop
Tigre Maja and Butterfly Freya

After a few hours sleep, the 5 Weekers deployed onto their project early this morning, leaving us here at Fieldbase to contemplate the mammoth series of training that has now concluded its final act. The venturers and PMs have already achieved so much – we can’t wait to hear more about all of the triumphs and successes they will experience on their projects.