Tuesday, 29 June 2010

10F project allocations: PMs discover their fate

It's been another busy week here at Fieldbase but all our project managers have put in a phenomenal effort and they've come a long way in a very short time. Now they're ready to go out into Costa Rica & Nicaragua to do some amazing work with their teams of Venturers.

And now they have the information they've all been waiting for: which projects they'll be leading on Phase 1 of Expedition 10F&G.

All of our PMs are currently gearing up for their project planning visits (PPVs), which will take place over the next fews days. The PPVs are an opportunity for the PMs to get a feel for their project sites, make contact with the local people they'll be working with and get started on their risk assessments.

Here's some info on all our 10F projects (that's the 10 week expedition) and their all important PM teams. Read on to the next post for all 10G (5 week expedition) projects.

Alpha 1 (Adventure) - The Maribios Volcanoes Trek
Project Managers: Sofia Carvajal, Lisa Cranfield, Dan Leddy

In the far north of Nicaragua, close to the border with Honduras, this Raleigh group will walk along a mountain ridge through the pine forests above Achuapa. From here you will eventually reach the string of volcanoes called ‘Los Maribios’ which are named after an ancient tribe who lived in the area. You will follow as closely as you can to the line of volcanoes up to the Cosiguina Peninsula for one final volcano ascent. Volcano Cosiguina is the site of the largest volcanic eruption in the history of Americas and from the summit you will hopefully get spectacular views across the Gulf of Fonseca to Honduras and El Salvador. The last day will be spent on the beach and swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

Alpha 2 (Adventure) - The Coast to Coast Trek
Project Managers: Andy Doherty, Louise Stewart, Jonathan Keevins

Starting on the shores of the Caribbean Sea this group will walk across a continent in 19 days to the Pacific Ocean. The trek begins through the Caribbean lowlands, hiking through the jungle at Barbilla National Park before heading to the climb over the continental divide through Tapanti National Park. Once up to nearly 3,000m the group will descend through the stunning cloud forests of Los Santos to the Pacific Ocean at Playa Palo Seco. This trek will be challenging but achievable by all encompassing a wide range of scenery and habitat. It will feel like an awesome achievement to have walked coast to coast and we're sure it will be an unforgettable experience.

Alpha 3 (Environment) - La Cangreja, Costa Rica
Project Managers: Matt Johnson, Jemma Bingham, Margit Takacs

La Cangreja is Costa Rica’s newest National Park which owes its name to the striking 1,305 metre peak Cerro Cangreja. The park has a mixture of Tropical Humid forest and Pre-Montane forest with a number of species of plant found nowhere else in the world which makes the area important for research purposes and for conservation. The park is also blessed with amazing waterfalls only to be found through exploring the forest. At present the government is developing the facilities in the park and during the expedition Raleigh venturers will build a viewing platform near to the main park headquarters that looks over the national park and a trail for local school groups and other visitors.

Alpha 4 (Environment) - Golfito, Costa Rica
Project Managers: Helen Butler, Greg Oldfield

Located in the far south of the country, Raleigh will be working on an important project to develop this stunning wildlife reserve. Golfito wildlife reserve abounds with animals, birds, insects and plants. The reserve acts as a biological corridor between many neighbouring protected areas. This reserve is in the process of being converted into a national park and at present has almost no visitors facilities. The plans for this reserve include building trails in the forest as well as a trail for wheelchair users. The year the Costa Rican National Parks day is going to be celebrated in this park and Raleigh will be working to help build the trails and develop the park.

Alpha 5 (Community) - Achuapa, Nicaragua
Project Managers: Lisa Rushforth, Euan Platt, Darshana Bhattacharjee

High in the hills above Achuapa, in one of the poorest most remote areas of Nicaragua, Raleigh will be working on a series of small projects to bring clean and safe drinking water to 50 families in the community of Rio Arriba. At present the local people get their water from the river which often dries up in summer or comes from polluted water sources. This project is a multi-stakeholder partnership with the local community, the Cooperativa Juan Francisco Paz Silva, Nottingdale International and Raleigh. The group will be working with the local population to dam small streams, build tanks to collect the water from where it can run through pipes to all the local houses. The benefits of clean water will be felt by many generations to come. The participants will be living directly with families in the village and will help out with their day to day tasks.

Alpha 6 (Community) - Miraflor, Nicaragua
Project Managers: Helen Jacobs, Nuria Rivero, Cat Feltham

The Miraflor reserve is 206 sq km of beautiful mountainous terrain with various different ecosystems such as tropical savannah, dry tropical forest and mountain cloud forest. Within the reserve there are a number of communities living through subsistence farming and gaining income from coffee growing, cattle farming and some small tourism initiatives. However the people have few resources and lack access to basic services such as health and education. On this project the participants will be building a community centre in the community of La Naranja de Tayacan which will be used for community meetings, cooperative meetings, adult education, pre-school education and recreational activities.

And Zoe West will be our Fieldbase medic during Phase 1.

10G project allocations: Who's going where

All of our project managers now know which projects they will be leading on Phase 1 of the expedition and are gearing up for their project planning visits (PPVs), which will take place over the next fews days. The PPVs are an opportunity for the PMs to get a feel for their project sites, make contact with the local people they'll be working with and get started on their risk assessments.

Here's some info on all our 10G projects (that's the five week expedition) and who'll be working where. All of the Delta projects are located in Costa Rica.

Delta 1 (Community) - Tayni Indigenous Reserve
Project Managers: Sarah Neale, Karol Ostaszewski, Emilia Uzar

Situated at the center of a Cabecar indigenous reserve in the Matama region of Costa Rica, a Raleigh group will be helping the local people build a primary school in the community of Nimari. At present in this area of the reserve many of the children receive education in a temporary shack which lets in the rain. This project, funded by the British Embassy, is extremely important for the reserve as it will equip the future generations with the skills they need for the challenges of globalisation and change in the 21st century. The Raleigh volunteers will be working with local Cabecar families and learning about the culture of these indigenous peoples.
Delta 2 (Community) - Jokbata, Chirripo
Project Managers: Ellie Williamson, Owen Nicholson, Natalie Smith

This group will be working in the Chirripo Indigenous Reserve to build a primary school in the community of Jokbata. This remote community, 5 hours to get to on foot and found in the foothills of the Caribbean slope of Central Costa Rica, is inhabited by the Cabecar indigenous people who maintain their own language and culture. There currently are no primary schools in this area and the children have to go great distances and cross rivers to receive an education. This group will also have a unique experience where they can learn about the lives of the Cabecar people and understand the challenges that face this indigenous community at the beginning of the 21st century.

Delta 3 (Community) - Alto Pacuar, Chirripo
Project Managers: Oscar Saborio, Sue-Lyn Cashman-Pugsley, Kala Rudman

Very similar to the Delta 2 project, this group will be building a secondary school in the community of Alto Pacuar.

Delta 4 (Environmental) - Playa Hermosa
Project Managers: Matt Lyes-Wilsdon, Lizzie Phillips

This beach literally mean beautiful beach – and this year it is home to the World Series of surfing. Sharing the waves with the surfers and thousands of turtles that also lay their eggs on this beach. Behind the beach there is a 4km section that has become totally deforested and the aim of this project is plant 6,000 trees in this area to build a biological corridor that runs behind the beach. This unique project will also get to take part in nightly turtle patrols to collect the eggs of the turtles and put in them in a hatchery. Monitoring the nesting of the turtles gives us important information to conserve this important species.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Better know Team Zero: CPM

Today's Team Zero subject is the man with all the answers, our amazing Country Programme Manager, Ross. A proud Scotsman, Ross has been working for Raleigh in Costa Rica & Nicaragua for over three years.

Any worried parents reading can sleep a little bit easier knowing he's running the show - he really knows his stuff.

Now on to the questions:

1) What are your responsibilities at Fieldbase?
Day to day management of expedition including training volunteers in everything from off-road driving to living in the jungle to development issues.

2) What can't you live without?
Music - a 24/7 requirement.

3) You're about to embark on a week-long road trip to Nicaragua and you can choose one person, living or dead, to be your co-pilot. Who would it be and why?
Chris Rock... although he'd have to drive as I'd be laughing too much.

4) What is the most exciting thing you've done in Costa Rica & Nicaragua?
Watching the sun come up at the top of Volcan Cosiguina - stunning!

5) Who's going to win the World Cup?
Scotland... Brazil 2014.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Better know Team Zero: Country Director

At this time we'd like to kick off an ongoing series which we hope will help you get to know our Fieldbase team - better known by its radio call sign "Zero" - a little bit better, the people who make this whole expedition possible. And what better place to start than the head honcho, our wonderful Country Director, Julian.

Julian is a real Central American aficianado - he's been living and working in Costa Rica for the past eight years and knows the region inside out. He's very passionate about Raleigh's work in Costa Rica & Nicaragua so it's quite inspiring to hear him talk about the projects we'll be working on over the next few months.

His other passion is cricket. He has recently returned from leading the Costa Rican national team in its first ever official ICC tournament, the World Cricket League Americas Region Division Four tournament in Mexico. And while Julian will be the first to tell you their results were a little disappointing (you can read all about it at Cricinfo), we're sure better days lie ahead in the international cricketing arena.

Here are five questions we'll be posing to all the Fieldbase staff:

1) What are your responsibilities at Fieldbase?
My job is planning all the projects, managing relationships with project partners and long term planning. During this expedition I will be helping to deliver all aspects of the expedition.

2) What can't you live without?
Real Costa Rican coffee.

3) You're about to embark on a week-long road trip to Nicaragua and you can choose one person, living or dead, to be your co-pilot. Who would it be and why?
Carlos Fonseca, founder of the Sandinistas. I'm sure he would have had some amazing stories about the Nicaragua revolution.

4) What is the most exciting thing you've done in Costa Rica & Nicaragua?
I came across a jaguar last year whilst visiting a national park.

5) Who's going to win the World Cup?
Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerlaaaand (sorry Julian).

We're not in Kansas anymore...

We're happy to report that everyone has come through Jungle Camp with flying colours and is now back at Fieldbase enjoying a little bit of R&R. Here are some of the weekend's highlights:

The safe way to cross a river.

Perfect form from Ellie.

Here are some sticks, tarps and string, now build a camp...

...which is no problem for Greg.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Departing Fieldbase for Jungle Camp

Everyone has left Fieldbase on a high after thinking they were at a photoshoot. A mammoth number of photos were snapped so while they're gone and can't try and censor them I present this photo essay - James, Photographer:

Jungle Camp beckons

Fieldbase has been a hive of activity this morning - rucksacks packed, radios checked, food allocated, water bottles filled - because today's the day we get to put the theory into practice.

Yes, today's the day the volunteer managers go to Jungle Camp! 

For the next two days we'll tramping around the bush in groups of seven or eight (Whiskys 1-5), crossing rivers, testing our radio skills, cooking on Trangia stoves and generally fending for ourselves.

Ross briefing us on packing

Ellie was then amazed when Ross pulled a white rabbit from his pack. Non essential items such as rabbits are not a wise thing to take with you.

Maps, without them you'd be lost.

Some worried faces in the group.

Johnny "Soft Hands" gets to grips with some bamboo.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Medical training

A lot of very important information is being absorbed around Fieldbase today. This morning it was water safety (watch out for those rips) and casevac (casualty evacuation) procedures. 

And after lunch our extremely capable medics Ellie, Zoe, Darsh, Lisa and Emi gave us all the first aid training and other medical information the PMs will need to handle any emergency situations which arise while away from Fieldbase.

Now it's time to digest...

Handbook.... check, emergency drugs.... check.

Wake up, sleepyhead!

Zoe explains bum injections.

Just ask Ellie about bot flies.... lovely stuff.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Radio training

"Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby."

"That's a negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full."

"This is what I call a target-rich environment."

"Too close for missles, I'm switching to guns."

"I think I'll go embarrass myself with Goose."

Slovenia 0 - 1 England

Day 1: Expedition 10F&G starts now!

Your advance team have enjoyed a busy yet oh so enjoyable week getting everything in order here at Fieldbase. And it didn't rain yesterday!

But now it's time for the real deal. This morning things stepped up a gear or two with the arrival of 18 fresh project managers (everyone arrived safe and on schedule) heralding the kick-off of two weeks of intense staff induction. They'll be radio training, health and hygiene, a few rules and regulations and a trip to jungle camp to brush up on our survival skills... and that's before we even embark on project planning visits.

So bookmark this page and keep checking back for regular updates as the week unfolds. It's going to be a lot of fun!

Remember you can click on any image to open a larger version.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Costa Rica: Greenest of the green

Costa Rica has been described as the "greenest" country in the world and for good reason. The country was ranked 3rd in the world on the 2010 Environmental Performance Index (behind only Iceland and Switzerland).

And last year it topped the Happy Planet Index, which ranks countries by combining measures of their ecological footprint with the happiness of their citizens to measure the environmental efficiency with which people live their lives, making Costa Rica both the greenest and happiest country in the world.

In 2007 the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021. Its currently competing with Norway, Iceland and New Zealand in a race which has been dubbed the "carbon-neutral World Cup."

More than 90% of Costa Rica's electricity already comes from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, geothermal and wind power and it plans to achieve carbon neutrality by cleaning up its fossil fuel-fired power plants, promoting hybrid vehicles and increasing tree planting to balance its emissions.

Around 25% of the country's land area is in national parks and other protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. And it's no wonder, Costa Rica has a plenty to protect, most notable its astonishing variety of native flora and fauna.

It's amazing that despite only having about 0.25% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity (all the planet's plant and animal species) including over 850 bird species, vitally important turtle nesting grounds and four unique species of monkey - howler, spider, white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkeys.

Costa Rica is also a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana.

On this expedition, Raleigh will be working in several protected areas including La Cangreja National Park and Golfito Wildlife Reserve to build facilities like trails and viewing platforms to open up these beautiful areas to visitors in the most sustainable way possible.

Fieldbase relay race

The task at hand

Euan's favourite: The wheelbarrow

James attempting to take flight

"Straight, straight... no, left"

Finishing school pays off

What's all that down your front, Johnny?

Sue-Lyn and her "baby"