Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Anna Banana & The Return to Oz

It is with much sadness that we had our farewell dinner for Anna this evening. Unfortunately she has had to return back to sunny Brisbane earlier than planned. To mark the occassion we had a packed Field Base and enjoyed many laughs around the dinner table.

Anna and I did our first expedition together back on good old '06G' - she was Project Manager / Interpreter and I was Logistics Manager. Thankfully she returned last year and begun her first of three expeditions as Deputy Expedition Leader. During this time she been an inspiration to everyone she has worked with. A lot of you have already sent mesages to her and I'd like to join you in thanking her for her incredible hard work, professionalism and fun over the last year. I still haven't quite worked out what we'll do without without her! Anyway, here is a selection of Anna's finest Raleigh moments...

This is Alpha 5, Tres Colinas in 2006 - I took this one!
Digging a long drop with 06G Alpha 8 in La Perla, Miraflor.

The second day of Coast to Coast Trek on O8D&E - she loves this one.

Banana in her beloved Bravo 3 during 08J... on her way to the gym no doubt.

Coast to Coast Trek 09A - the last lucky Raleigh group to be led by Anna.

Julian, Anna, Ross. Presenting Anna with 'This is your Raleigh Life'.

Thanks again for everything Anna - you're a true Raleigh legend. Safe travels

Pictures of Alpha Five in Santa Rosa

Hi again everyone

It feels like both ages and only yesterday that I deployed with Alpha five at the start of phase three! In fact it feels like that for the whole expedition - only ten days to go now until everyone starts returning home, and what an amazing journey it has been.

I had an absolutely amazing 12 days in Santa Rosa - it is an incredible place and the group is amazing - I was very, very sad to have to leave yesterday to head back to Fieldbase. I know the guys here have been keeping you up to date with what we’ve been doing so I’ll dive straight into the photos...

Olivia carrying our water cans to the camp

Floor and Nick carrying more kit...
The group starting to put the camp together
"Hmmm, so how do these basher beds work then?"
A very tired, but happy Alpha five in their finished camp...

After this we put up our mosquito nets, but decided to brave the elements without tarps over our bashers. Fortunately it's very dry in Santa Rosa so we didn't need to worry abour rain, but the best bit was falling asleep every night under a carpet of stars and waking up to the sun coming up through the trees in the morning... (The view in the morning from my basher)

One of our neighbours, the white-faced Capuchin Monkeys who swang, climbed, ran and jumped their way through our camp every day
The group at the grand opening of BarTico (a highlight in the Santa Rosa social calendar!)

Amy, Mark, Olivia and Davis getting started on the demolition...

Floor, Sophie, Rose and Tish carrying the rubble from the demolised BBQs

Amy and James made easy work of this one...

Floor, Sophie and Isaac demolising another BBQ
The group tuning into Radio Raleigh last Sunday

Here is a selection of our group photo shots taken for the magazine up at the stunning viewpoint...

The group toasting marshmallows when we went stargazing at the viewpoint

Sunrise at the viewpoint

Davis, Isaac, Mark and Rose relaxing after the 13km trek to the beach
A deserted Playa Naranjo, with the magnificent Witch's Rock in the background, which legend has it was deposited there by an angry witch many years ago. The beach is now a legendary surfing spot famous for its hollow right handers (James and I were both very upset not to have our surfboards with us!)

Nick, Floor, Isaac, Rose and Me watching the sun go down Watching the sunset, the perfect end to an amazing day

As you can see, Santa Rosa is truly a magical place, even though I know I’m probably a tiny bit biased! I spoke to Laura just now and she said the group are back into the swing of work already. I'm missing them very much already but I know they’ve got many, more fun times to come in their final week.

Going Home

As I read the many blog messages I can almost taste the excitement building back in Europe as you guys count down the days until your loved ones return. As I myself prepare to return to my own reality I thought I could give you some insight on what it is like, because sometimes returning is a little tougher than we all expect.

We've got a lot of stories to tell, so please be patient with us as we slowly work out that you might not want to hear how many crema biscuits Bob ate on day 5 of phase 2 and that jokes we found hilarious might not necesarily translate.

Please help us to work out how we can continue to do some of the things we may have discovered for the first time here, help us to do what the Raleigh motto says and keep "getting out there"

And please support us to be the sort of person that we may just be discovering and now want to be. If we feel down, and get a case of the Raleigh blues, please know that it has nothing to do with you, it might just take us a little while to settle.

And finally - please have your ovens ready - we have been talking about food and our first meal since day 1!!!

Due to personal reasons I am heading home today - and it is with more than one flood of tears that I pack up my room and desk which has served me so well since arriving in June. Yet again I have had the most amazing time on expedition and this is largely due to the venturers who continue to inspire, surprise and challenge me on a daily basis. Some brilliant young people, you can and should be incredibly proud of them - I certainly am.

Below is a reading which has been adapted for Raleigh -I think it goes a long way in explaining our sentiments.

Raleigh Reflections

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 106 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.
Enjoy the last week of hearing of their adventures from afar and really enjoy having these guys home!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday in the Costa

The sun is shining here at Fieldbase, in fact the ground is looking positively dry for the first time in months. This morning we are trawling the internet looking for news from the outside world for Radio Raleigh this afternoon. As it stands the Alpha groups may be in for a bit of a long one as Helena and I try to outdo each other with hollywood gossip and other interesting news stories - so far Brad and Angelina are leading our top stories (sad but true)

We heard from all 7 groups this morning with some excellent radio coms and news that everyone is healthy and happy.

Alpha 6 on the beach had the most interesting Sitrep when they told us about their Survivor style plank challenge – the challenge was to stand on a 6 inch tilted plank for as long as possible. The plank off began at 9pm with Kyran, Will, Dirk, Bart and James. By 11.30pm Kyran had seen the light and bailed out, Will continued until 2am, while James and the Dutchies stayed on the plank until 5am!!!

The other great news is that the Macho trekkers did indeed get the view that we were hoping for. They reported clear skies and magical views from the top of the Dragon. They certainly deserved it. Today they trek on and are heading to the delightful community of Alto Reflis. There are lots of hills in this section, but the views are spectacular,

Alpha 3 are on their way up to the pylons as I write this. Having sorted out their food drop on Friday, their bags were particularly heavy yesterday and as Fran said the day was not flat as promised by Ross!

Alpha 4 have returned from the beach and are today getting back into some jungle action. Vee is on camp duty and is working on some creative recipes to keep the troops happy. Rain is threatening, so fingers crossed the basha beds are waterproof!

Alpha 9 have returned from Panama where they were supposed to pick up the materials for the roof. Unfortunately delays on the supply side meant that they returned empty handed, but as always in good spirits after their mini adventure. Today they will play in the local football competition and the materials will arrive tomorrow, just in time for them to finish the building.

Alpha 5 had a great day yesterday, celebrating James’ birthday after a hard days work. Today they will call in from the beach, so we are expecting them to be even jollier than usual.

And finally Alpha 1 had a tough day yesterday, a guided section through some serious uphill jungle. They wild camped last night down by the river and this morning have climbed out of the valley to the look out point where they will see what is ahead of them in the next few days.

Here at fieldbase we are preparing for the final washup including the highly anticipated Golden Mess Tin Awards. We are also happy to report that our pig which has been well fed on our leftovers, is looking bigger by the day, and indeed tastier!

That’s it from me, Lizzy and Szeman are back today and Amy and Jackster tomorrow so we should have some photos for you. Until then stay safe and have a fantastic Sunday evening.


Saturday, 28 March 2009

Alpha Group Round Up

Fresh back from 9 days trekking with the delightful Alpha 3, I thought I would indulge in some blog action and give you all an update on the latest antics of the Alpha groups.

Alpha 1 - Alpha 1 spent the night in what I personally consider to be one of the best accommodations on trek, the local church in Santa Lucia. This church not only provides you with mattresses to sleep on but also offers a fully equipped kitchen and hot (yes hot) water showers. The break was well deserved by Alpha 1 who were misdirected by some well meaning locals and as such had to retrace their steps putting them back a day. You have to feel for them, it is heart breaking to back track, but Stu, Natalie and Kirsty tell me that the team have handled it like true champions, and are determined to make up their lost time. Today they tackle a jungle section, which although tough on the legs offers you some magical views, and a chance to look out over the penisular and the Corcovado National Park. The best news from Alpha 1 is that the dog that followed the original Alpha 1 (my group) has been safely reunited with its owners, Rosie and Nick were beside themselves with joy.

Alpha 2 - Are today tackling one of the highlights of their trek, summiting the Dragon. The group made it to base camp yesterday, and spent the night wild camping, before rising early to make the climb. Currently in the middle of some splendid weather, we are hoping that the group gets the views they deserve. The only trek to have kept all members, these guys are living up to their namesake. They were visited by Ross a couple of days ago at the dreaded pylons, the place where it always seems to be raining! But despite the weather and the climb, the group were in good form.

Alpha 3 - The food drops and various pickups means that you have heard quite a lot from Alpha 3 recently and although I shall try and be fair and limit myself, I hope you will forgive my bias, however as after 9 days crossing a continent, you can't really help getting very attached. I left these guys yesterday after a 23km slog led by Adam who whipped us into shape after a couple of somewhat relaxed days. Up by 3am we left by 5am, and followed a strict regime of 1 hour walk with 10 minutes break. It worked brilliantly, the team rising to the challenge and being duly rewarded by a 2 hour lunch break in Pejebaye, where we found a supermarket - oh the joy of icecream. Jo kept me entertained along the way, sharing her love for theme parks, she can tell you about every ride in the world! while Marvin always keeps us all laughing, he is pure comic genius. Sean and Adam never cease to impress us with their eating abilities, 3 bags of porridge yesterday people! Trading snacks is an essential trekking skill, how many Crema biscuits you can get for a packet of nuts and raisins is dependent on many things - timing, pulperia location, bluffing ability and difficulty of day to name a few- the only food not in demand is the refried beans which suited me perfectly as I currently have a two bag a day addiction!

Today with Wendy fresh out of the blocks, Alpha 3 pass through some styunning cloud forest before descending down to Puriscal. Here they will stay before they too take on the pylons - we wish them well.

Alpha 4 - I have literally just gotten off the phone to Alpha 4 who are making their way back to La Cangreja after two glorious days at Playa Hermosa. Here they celebrated Charlotte's birthday with a bonfire and marshmallows, and of course plenty of sun and sand action. The group also headed out with the rangers in a quest to see turtles, although it wasn't to be their night, they did have the chance to see masses of crocodiles at the infamous crocodile bridge. With plenty of trenches still to be dug, the group will now refocus on the task ahead, no doubt having more fun as they go.

Alpha 5 - Today is Jame's birthday and to celebrate the group will have a BBQ with Laura and Jackie from Fieldbase who are there to orcherstrate the great PM swap. Amy will return in a couple of days, but not before a trip to the incredibly beautiful Naranjo beach, home to the well known surf spot of Witches Rock. Alpha 5 will set out early tomorrow morning for the 12 km trek down to the beach where they will spend the night under the stars. Having visited this spot on a couple of occassions I know that they are in for a real treat. I spoke to the ever positive and upbeat Sophie and Tish, and the hilarious Flor this morning, who tell me they are having a brilliant time. They are completely in love with Santa Rosa and have enjoyed demolishing and rebuilding the BBQs. With this part of the job almost complete the group will now tackle the toilet blocks, first scrapping off the old paint before applying the new coat. They will undoubtedly leave a huge impression on this park and indeed on each other.

Alpha 6 - down on the beach the group continues their work on clearing the site of its coconut saplings, but have taken on some additional challenges in order to spice up their days. Coconut shot put was a featured event at the recent olympics, no news on the victor although my money is on James. Members of Alpha 6 also took on the Solo challenge, spending the night alone (100 metres apart) on the beach. A great experience for all who were successful, (some of the girls may have chickened out). A visit from Julian and Szeman from Fieldbase, led to a BBQ celebrations and a chilled night under the stars, just another day in paradise.

Alpha 9 - and finally from the very south of the country, Alpha 9 actually crossed into Panama today to collect the roof materials. This is seriously hard graft for these guys as it's a good couple of hours there and then another couple of hours back - and it's not flat!!! We will be with them in spirit. The group have been pulling some big hours lately in an effort to complete the building on time working until 6pm the other day. Incredibly happy to be in this really magical place, they are on excellent form.

And that I think is all the news that I can give you before I head off to do my push up regime of 10 to 1, and eat more salad (I really missed vegetables on trek!).

Pura Vida

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The story so far........

Unfortunately a few venturers have had to return to fieldbase for a rest/some proper food/a bath......... So while they are here, we've put them to use! We thought you might like to know what actually goes on when they're trekking, its not all work and no play......

For the Dutch parents out there. The first 3 days of the Corcovada Trek, the brilliant Alpha 1.
Our very first Dutch blog, enjoy!!!

Dag 1. Om half 5 ‘s nachts wakker worden op fieldbase. We hadden een lange busreis van 10 uur voor de boeg. Eerst even wat lekkere “fieldbase sandwiches” maken met ham, kaas en tamaat voor de reis begon. Na de prachtige maar toch best vermoeiende busreis van 10 uur door de mooie kronkelende paden van de bergen van Costa Rica kwamen we eindelijk aan bij de Rangerstation van een klein dorpje. Eenmaal aangekomen hebben we ons kamp van tenten opgezet, snel wat gegeten en toen vroeg slapen want we moesten de volgende dag alweer om half 4 ‘s nachts op om ons kamp op te ruimen en snel te ontbijten want we moesten om half 6 ‘s ochtends alweer in de benen. Waarom zo vroeg? Dit doen we om de hitte te vermijden. In de middag is het namelijk te heet om te lopen.

Dag 2. Wanneer iedereen de rugzak op de rug had in de ochtend was het tijd om te lopen. Gelijk een flinke berg om mee te beginnen, maar wanneer je eenmaal op de top bent gekomen voel je je geweldig. Nadat we de berg van de andere kant weer af waren geklommen was daar de eerste rivier om over te steken. Dat deden we in groepjes van 3 personen en ging allemaal van een leien dakje. Eenmaal de rivier over gestoken hadden we even een pauze om een lekkere snack naar binnen te werken. Niet snel na die pauze was er weer een rivier om over te steken. Stu, onze leider, ging eerst in zijn eentje met een tauw naar de overkant om die vervolgens aan een boom vast te binden zodat we grip hadden om niet weg gevaagd te worden door de sterke stroming van de rivier. Dit ging iets minder soepel. Stu zei tegen Chris dat hij naar achter moest leunen zodra hij het tauw vast had. Maar de jongens die het tauw aan de andere kant vast hielden hadden dat niet gehoord dus de jongens hadden er niet op gerekend dat het gewicht van Chris ineens naar de andere kant ging en vielen samen met Chris in het water. Gelukkig niks ernstigs en konden we er allemaal om lichen (behalve Calum want die had zijn wandelschoenen nog niet verwisseld met sandalen en die waren dus doorweekt voor de rest van de dag). Na deze rivier was het tijd voor een lunchpauze langs de prachtige rivier. Tonijn met noodles en crackers! Heerlijke lunch op een prachtige locatie. Daarna nog anderhalf uur gelopen door de mooie junglepaden van de Corcovada Trek. We hebben ook nog een “brug” (boomstam) over moeten steken over dezelfde rivier die we al 2 keer hadden doorgestoken. Toen kwam er bewoonde wereld in zicht! We waren bij het eindpunt aangekomen, het dorpje Alturas. De pulperia (lokale supermaktje) van het dorpje was in zicht en iedereen begon er figuurlijk naar te rennen). Na lekker wat gesmikkeld te hebben kregen we door een lokale bewoner van het dorpje de plek aangewezen waar we ons kamp op mochten zetten. Nadat we onze tenten opgezet hadden was het tijd voor een heerlijke douche en werd het avondeten bereid. Daarna was het tijd om te slapen. Lekker knus met zijn viertjes in een tent.

Dag 3. Na weer zo vroeg wakker geworden te zijn in ons kamp langs de prachtige rivier was het tijd om ons kamp weer in te pakken en onze dagelijkse portie pap als ontbijt. En natuurlijk ook voor onze dagelijkse portie berglopen. Tijdens onze eerste pauze zag onze Nicaraguayaan Alex het eerste wildlife van de trek, namelijk een aapje ergens heel hoog in de boom rondslingeren. Uiteindelijk kwamen we bij een gesloten hek aan dus iedereen moest zijn rugzakken af doen en die vervolgens over het hek slingeren en daarna door het hek om door te kunnen gaan met onze wandeltocht. Toen iedereen door het hek was gekomen hadden we even een snelle pauze van 5 minuten om op adem te komen. Toen we langs de bocht waren gekomen hadden we prachtig uitzicht en vond iedereen dat het tijd was voor een groepsfoto. Een half uur daarna kwamen we weer aan bij een klein dorpje met een kleine pulperia en was het tijd voor wat ijskoude Cola en een lollie!Na een kwartier vond iedereen dat het tijd was om door te lopen want niemand kon wachten om aan te komen bij de “Agua Caliente” ook wel bekend als “The Hot Springs”. Dat is een warmwaterbron.. Toen we er eenmaal aangekomen waren wisten we niet wat we zagen, het was zo mooi. Het lag naast een rivier midden in de jungle. We gingen snel lunchen zodat we zoveel mogelijk tijd in het water konden spenderen. Het water was inderdaad heerlijk warm. De redden dat het water zo warm is is omdat het op een of andere manier verbonden is met een vulkaan in de buurt. Die zorgt er dus voor dat de grond warm is en het water ook.
Na 2 uurtjes gedobberd en gekloot in het water te hebben moesten we nog maar een berg op en dan waren we bij onze eindbestemming gekomen. We konden in een zaal slapen waar danslessen gegeven werden. De zaal was letterlijk gevuld met mestkevers dus een echt pretje was het niet, maar we hadden in ieder geval echte matrassen dus we hadden total niets te klagen, af en toe een mestkever over je gezicht tijdens je slaap kunnen we wel hebben. Na ons avondeten hebben we nog wat spelletjes gespeeld waaronder een echt Engels spelletje genaamd “The Alphabet Game”, daarmee krijg je allemaal verschillende categorieen en een letter en moet je uit al die categorieen iets noemen wat met die letter begint. Daar hebben we ons uren mee vermaakt. Toen was het bedtijd. De lichten gingen uit en gelijk hoorde je geschreeuw van wat dames want inderdaad wat we al verwacht hadden de mestkevers sloegen toe! Maar op een gegeven moment was iedereen toch in slaap gevallen.

Dag 4. Deze ochtend konden we wat later opstaan omdat we ons kamp niet af hoeften te breken. Dus het werd een kleine 45 minuten later. Na de pap gingen we weer op stap. Iedereen rugzak op de rug en gaan ervoor! Het was weer een hoop berg op berg af maar daar was iedereen al wel gewend aan geraakt. Er was niet heel veel te zien deze dag behalve namelijk de dagelijkse ongelooflijke uitzichten. De laatste berg op hebben we denk ik wel 4 pauzes genomen want iedereen voelde zich grof gezegd gewoon kut! Maar toen we eenmaal bij de rangerstation aan waren gekomen was iedereen alles alweer vergeten toen we de stapelbedden zagen waar we die nacht op mochten slapen. Iedereen ging gelijk even lunchen en rusten in het gras. Na de lunch was het tijd voor “Radio Raleigh” en hoorden de Hollanders dat Ajax met 3-0 gewonnen had, onze dag kon dus helemaal niet meer stuk! Toen was het tijd voor avondeten en na het eten werd er nog wat nagepraat over de dag en wat Spaanse televisie gekeken in de rangerstation. Daarna zijn we allemaal naar bed gegaan.

Geschreven door: Harm van Essen

Next, a catch-up on the first week of the Coast to Coast trek. The mighty Alpha 3!
Our journey begins on a surprisingly clear morning at Raleigh field base in Turrialba. The volcano there was visible, a rare occurrence. We took a bus to Moin on the Caribbean coast, our start location, and after the obligatory pre-adventure photos we were on our way, up the coast and onto the railway tracks that run to the Pacific. We stayed our first night in the garden of a benevolent family recently moved from Canada. Our second day began with an early start. Our aim for the day was to get to the Rio Barbilla. To do this however we needed to follow roads, causing blisters too many, but we had the luxury of the river at the end of the day. Day 3, we had the luxury of a lie in until 8am because of how short the day route was, just a short 2 hour walk up to an entrance point to the Barbilla national park. A lady named Yolanda let us use her plushly furnished garage to sleep in which meant a good sleep by all. The following day we set off up to the Barbilla ranger station, situated on the edge of an indigenous reserve, our first taste of uphill so far and we made excellent time to the comforts of a beautiful building with fantastic views of the jungle.

We began our journey into the jungle with 2 days of guided walking. Our walking sticks in hand, we still found the terrain difficult underfoot. Very steep both up and down with boggy mud everywhere. Mercifully, we walked without rain. After a hard day we wild camped in a clearing called Guayabal. Our second guided day began with an uphill hike over a ridge along the jungle track.
We emerged into a beautiful clearing with views over the canopy. Further along the track we crossed a river and entered Valle Escondido, a prosperous indigenous village that allowed us to stay in their spare house. We had a tricky day next, 6 river crossings and our own navigation through the jungle. Luckily we stayed on course and had beautiful vistas out over the valley from the edge of the Barbilla jungle. Our first week completed, and over a third of the way through………
Tom Wright

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A lonely field base misses its venturers.......

Hi all. Sorry for the lack of blog. Unfortunately, I had to fulfill medical duties taking me away from field base for the last few days. However, I hope I have made a small amends with todays content. There are photos of the venturers early morning departure, an alpha group update and some project summaries of the last phase. Enjoy!

Phase Three deployment

Stu, Lisa and Wendy look pretty excited to be off......looks like it might be one crazy adventure!

James and Ivan look like they had a pretty good time, shame Ivan has now left us....

Its a little early in the morning to look so cheeky, Bart!

Ros, Bart, Laetitia and Dom looking pretty chipper despite the early start!

Jackie preparing a food drop for the trekkers.....looks pretty heavy to me!

Kirsty and Mike bid us a fond fairwell....

Dean, Isaac and Will looking contemplative at 4am

Nick, preparing his luxurious lunch for his trip down to Conte Burica.Jam sandwiches......mmmm!

Marvin, looking relaxed as ever. Lets hope the coast to coasters can cope with the inevitable Dutch techno!

Kuo-jan, preparing his bag for the mighty 'coast to coast' trek

Alpha Group Updates......

Alpha 1- Making good progress and aiming to get to Rio Platanilla by the days end. Had a visit by Julian, Szeman and Jackie 2 days ago, spent the night looking at the stars and had a quick astrology lesson! Managed to tune in to Radio Raleigh on sunday, and quite sneakily, won the quiz!
Alpha 2- Had a few setbacks 2 days ago, but had a huge day trekking yesterday (20km, no less!) and now completely back on schedule....Go alpha 2! Their all doing well and there is a great atmosphere within the group. However, today they are recieving a mighty food drop.....heavy bags tomorrow!
Alpha 3- Currently on course, making their way through Babilla National Park and aiming to reach Rio Platanilla by the end of the day. They've been sleeping wherever they land, including a family's garage! They're eagerly awaiting the return of the 13th venturer...
Alpha 4- Sounds like they're having far too much fun in La Cangreja! Their camp consists of a jungle gym, chill out zone and a hammock area.....I'm suprised they have time for the trenches and trails they claim to be creating! Tonight is the 'welcome to the jungle' party, lets hope its not a late one!
Alpha 5- Appear to be having an amazing time out there. They arrived in time for a local festival, a celebration of William Walker in the civil war. This apparantly involved them being invaded by 500 children. Despite all this, they have still found time to see deers and white faced monkeys around their camp......again, how do they find time to fix those BBQs?!
Alpha 6- Have been swimming and enjoying their 'mini beach holiday'......oh, and clearing some coconuts. Lets hope the sun continues.
Alpha 9- Have started work on the walls of the commodore, and also managed to fit in some English teaching. They are also enjoying the hot weather that seems to never end down there. They were invited to see the National Guayamifootball tournament, and 4 venturers (Will, Tom, Adam and Oliver) managed to join in the teams. We wish them luck!

And now for some summaries of the last phase.........

Phase 2, Alpha 5- Horizontes

The newly formed Alpha Five arrived in the baking heat of Horizontes Experimentales in Guanacaste at lunch time. Our task was to help the rangers maintain this protected area which has been created to preserve and regenerate certain species of trees that are being lost elsewhere on the planet. We started by building our forest camp which upon completion consisted of basher bed and hammock accommodation, a state of the art dining table and a wet room with shower facilities (as long as someone else was happy to pour water over your head out of a jerry can!) Other accessories included a fireplace with seating around it, a swing, a basketball court, a dartboard, a marshmallow stick holder and a Tang Bar named “The Vulture’s Crotch” as both the bar and the camp were dry. We shared our camp with wild horses that would wander round about us at night.
Having completed our camp we set to work. Our main task was the clearing of paths using rakes and machetes, to create firebreaks and tracks for visitors. During our time we also managed to make steps for various sections of our path and build a bridge across a stream.
We spent our days off at the beach, swimming in the waves, playing volleyball and eating fish that we bought from local fishermen.
As a group we had a huge amount of fun living together in the camp. We held a pub quiz, played loads of games and had a brilliant time watching Jon become more and more feral.
I’m sure that our work over those three weeks will benefit the area in reducing the danger that forest fires pose and also increase the accessibility for visitors coming to view this unique landscape. We’re also very glad to have been able to help the rangers who simply do not have the workforce to complete these tasks alone.
Tom Dickson

Phase 2, Alpha 7- Los Playones

Our community phase was a hugely satisfying project to be involved with. Our team of 13 venturers and 4 project managers spent 2 weeks in 2 different communities, in a remote part of northern Nicaragua. The aim of the project was to provide safe clean water to families in the communities that only had access to contaminated river water. We dug trenches to lay water pipes to the houses, moved bricks and built wells. The work was tough but it was massively rewarding to work alongside my team and the local community, to provide families with a substance that is so basic and yet so important. During the phase the team lived with the local families. We were made very, very welcome in their homes and I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and generosity that was shown towards me. Despite having much less than us in the way of material goods, the families were incredibly happy and vibrant.
I spoke very little Spanish but was immediately made to feel part of their family. The chance to live and work alongside a community like this is an amazing opportunity and we all learnt a huge amount from it. It feels brilliant to know that we have made a real lasting impact on these remote communities.
Andrew Riding

Friday, 20 March 2009

So, the final phase begins......

Hi everyone, Helena here. I'm field base medic this phase and hoping to not be busy! I've been entrusted with the blog and hope to do it justice in Amy's absence. This phase has started with the departure of 5 fabulous venturers. Some have gone home and some are travelling on, either way, we wish them well.

Max Barnes the constant MC of the expedition, kept us all entertained throughout the expedition especially the trek. Good luck for the future and hope to hear from you soon.

Alice Weston. Thank you for thinking everything was so amazing. We hope you're travels fulfill your adrenaline junkie needs!