Saturday, 31 July 2010

10G Adventure Challenge: It's Zulu time

Our 5 weekers had an amazing 24 hours back at Fieldbase and are now out in the wild on the first night of their Adventure Challenge: a four day trek phase followed by a competitive survival challenge in a secret location! 

That means our mighty Delta groups have now been consigned to history - 10G has gone tribal with all new Zulu teams:

Zulu 1: Andy Martin, Bethany Round, Graham Snyder, Emily Marley, Hannah Bishop, Ranald Stewart, Issy Kelpie, Laura Dickinson, Polly Roberts, Randall Vargas Barrantes, Seona Stalker, Valentina Toledo. PMs: Karol Ostaszewski, Oscar Saborio, Natalie Smith.

Zulu 2: Alice Whittle, Daisy Bareham, Ffinlo Moore, Henry Lonsdale, Kara Forsyth, Luke Sparrow, María Gorethy Morales Valverde, Max Kiralyfi, Nicky Gale, Shehlina Karimi, Susannah Sconce, Tim Cook, Vicky Palmer. PMs: Emi Uzar, Sue-Lyn Cashman-Pugsley.

Zulu 3: Alexandra Corrales, Daniel Alpizar Peréz, Glyn Worthington, Hannah Love, Jessica Rivas-Furlong, Johnny Rowles, Laura Buss, Lucile Smith, Samuel Harris, Sophie Hammill, Stephanie Davis, Tim Carden. PMs: Lizzie Phillips, Owen Nicholson, Sarah Neale.

Zulu 4: Alice Mathews, Ariadna Venegas Li, Dan Cowell, Emily Rigby, Esteban Aguilar Güendel, Gaby Cichonska, Grace Abel, Martine Kruseman, Rachel Allen, Rahul Ghelani, Robert Pritchard, William Handy. PMs: Amy Roberton, Eleanor Williamson, Matt Lyes-Wilsdon.

There was a fantastic atmosphere around Fieldbase as the Venturers and PMs caught up with the other groups and exchanged stories from their project sites. 

The highlight came with the group skits which were truly amazing. All the Deltas put in an incredible amount of time and effort which really showed in their performance. And in a fiercely competitive contest, Delta 1 emerged victorious. Congratulations to them!

And we've got heaps of photos of our new Zulus preparing to deploy, courtesy of Photographer James:

Friday, 30 July 2010

Phase 1: Missions accomplished

Phase 1 of Expedition 10F&G is all but over with our Delta groups expected back at Fieldbase at any moment and the Alphas getting ready to return for their changeover over the weekend. And it's a pleasure to report that it's mission accomplished for all our project teams!

Over the next few days we'll have heaps of photos and updates from the Venturers as they get access to a computer. There'll be a lot of new posts so we'll create an easy way to find info on the projects you're most interested in - keep an eye on the right hand sidebar.

In the meantime, we have a couple of updates written by our Venturers earlier in the phase to whet your appetite...

Delta 3: Getting underway in Alto Pacuar
Alpha 5: Getting down and dirty in Rio Arriba

Delta 3: Getting underway in Alto Pacuar

Delta 3's Andy Martin filed this report from Alto Pacuar after the first few days of Phase 1:

Up at 3am, Delta 3 prepared for their three week venture to Alto Pacuar. The bus journey took us up into the clouds through some of Costa Rica's most stunning scenery to our drop off point, the bridge at Alto Vereh. We were met by eight horses and some of the locals from Alto Pacuar, who kindly loaded up with all our tools. The trek into the community took us just over three hours. We walked up a mountain and down the other side into the Chirripo Indigenous Reserve. Accompanying us to our project was our cheeky but knowledgeable translator and guide Pedro, who was born and bred in Alto Pacuar.

When we arrived we were greeted by the community and shown to our home for the next three weeks, the community centre. About 600 people live here, extremely spread out over a large area. It takes our cook, Marisella, two hours to walk to our home to cook us rice and beans at 7am. The village kindly offered to cook for us in return for building their school.

The school we are building is a secondary school with two classrooms for pupils from a range of ages and levels of ability. Marisella's 14-year-old daughter, Particia, is head girl of the school. She wants to become a teacher and is very excited about the new school building as it is "helping her community to develop". Alex is another pupil at the school, he's 20 and wants to be a doctor. He loves living in Alto Pacuar because of the nature and the peace and quiet. He is really looking forward to the new school being completed as it will be less noisy and more focused on learning than in the community centre.

The area is very wet naturally, a situation which has been exacerbated by the tropical wet season. Some moments have been muddy beyond belief with no dry clothes to our names. However, the sun has also shined upon us with two days of glorious sunshine and heat, giving us renewed drive to progress with the school. On July 19, there was no rain, a first for most of us here in Costa Rica! We've never loved dry socks so much. 

Our primary enjoyment of the day is bathing in the creek, a refreshing end to the working day. Our primary unenjoyment, however, is the long drop with anyone who can hold their head above it for more than five seconds receiving a medal. On the other hand, the view from its open side is amazing.

Work on the school has been rapid with people showing real determination to make a difference. In only six working days we've cleared the site, levelled it out, dug the foundations in extremely tough, stony clay with shallow tropical soil), erected the stilts and begun laying the floorboards. We are well on track to fulfilling our goals. We should mention our our maestro, Don Martin, who is our local architect, builder and entertainer. His black Batman cape during the rain makes us all smile.

Rounding off the team are our wonderful PMs and the teacher form the school, Olger. We have been teaching English to the children, which they seem to enjoy, revelling in something a bit different from the norm. They also help out around the building site in the mornings, though some are a little shy. We ourselves have taken up the challenge to learn Spanish and also Cabecar, the indigenous language of the area, and Guaymi, the native language of one of our team members, Ronald.

Overall we are enjoying our time in Alto Pacuar and are all well. We look forward to showing you pictures of our progress soon!

Alpha 5: Getting down and dirty in Rio Arriba

Sarah Coyte chronicles the first eight days on Alpha 5's water project in Rio Arriba, Achuapa:  

After a large breakfast of tortilla, plantain, rice, beans, cucumber, egg and coffee we all donned our wet walking boots from the day before and headed up the mountain to the water source. On the way up we radioed into Fieldbase to give an up-to-date sitrep (situation report). At the source we organised ourselves - half of us started digging to channel the water, while the others formed a "Raleigh chain" to move rocks to form a dam - and were thankful to be in the shade.

The locals were very helpful in carrying the big bags of sand to help channel the water. Their current water source is only used in the rainy season, the rest of the year the 209 people in the community use water from the river. The village used to be located very close to the source but they relocated after Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Over the next couple of days, Alpha 5 showed some serious "Raleigh spirit", working together and digging the trenches needed to carry the water to Rio Arriba. Each day it was astounding to see how much progress we made especially due to the less than favourable conditions of heavy rain on a couple of days. In many ways it raised our spirits and we all had fun getting very dirty in the mud!

We've integrated into the village very well and we had many funny moments teaching the local children English with a rendition of "Heads and Shoulders, Knee and Toes".

Deltas work hard and play hard... in verse

All of our Delta groups have now packed up their kit, said goodbye to their project partners and are on their way back to Fieldbase to resupply and prepare for their adventure challenge which kicks off tomorrow morning. There's no rest for our 5 weekers!

All three Delta community projects have completed their schools which is a magnificent effort in less than three short weeks. They've all put in an incredible amount of hard work but they've also had a lot of fun along the way.

And what better way to illustrate this than with a poem, courtesy of Delta 1 who composed this after their first few days in the remote indigenous community of Nimari where they have just completed construction of a primary school. Enjoy.

It took six hours to reach
What some thought would be a beach
We hiked up hills, through streams and mud
We had some incidents and shed a little blood
We finally arrived
We had survived
We are the mighty Delta One!
Who even through rain have lots of fun

Rice and beans three times a day
Doesn’t always keep the D&V away
Lots of bananas and mosquito bites
We chat all the way through the night
We rate our poo
In a makeshift loo
We’ve adopted a dog
Who follows us through the bog

We apply deet spray
And hear horses neigh
Regular outbursts of song
Keep us happy all day long
So far it’s been a hoot
Despite the lack of fruit

Carrying wood through the forest
It was so painful, if we’re honest
Digging holes
To stick in poles
We were drenched in mud
And have all slipped with a thud
We think we’re fast
But the locals always run past
They carry twice as much as us
And never seem to make a fuss
Half the height
But twice the might
We’re struggling to communicate
But learning Cabecar at a quick rate

Don Adriano has helped us through
This jolly old way of building a school
Nail and hammers, spades and saws
We’re really beginning to appreciate the outdoors
We keep on planing
Even though it’s raining
The floorboards are falling into place
And we all have a sunkissed face

Haven’t really showered in over a week
But things are looking far from bleak
The school’s foundations are nearly done
And we’re starting to see some sun
Milton’s son Kenneth has learned baa baa black sheep
He’s the little boy we all want to keep
Our lovely chef taught us to make cake, it was deep fried dough
Don’t think our tummies are quite ready for this show

Scrambled eggs in the morning is such a treat
And we’re lucky to get a piece of meat
We think we’re tanned but it’s just mud
And it’s as though we’re living in a flood
From Spanish, Lucile, Shehlina and Karol are helping translate
But we’ll want to learn Cabecar before it’s too late

Emi’s T-shirt was eaten by a cow
Probably in some cow poo now
Sarah’s smile keeps everyone happy
Surprisingly in the morning none of us are snappy
Karol had “appendicitis”
So he pretended to go in a helicopter to fright us

Sam’s proved himself to be quite the carpenter
And can even carry a log on his shoulder
Hannah is our mini medic
Stopping things from getting hectic
Gaby’s singing in the morning
Tends to keep us all from yawning
When Rob’s singing he knows all the lines
So we think he’s Robbie Williams in disguise
Lucile’s too weak to carry the wood
But she’ll bang in nails like no one else could
Sophie’s accent’s so typically Yorkshire
And she’s hench because her Dad’s a builder
Alejandro doesn’t speak English
But works so hard until everything’s finished
Vikki keeps us trekking with her chants
They could probably hear us all in France
Randall ‘s never without a smile
It’s enough to keep us going for a mile
Tim’s quotes are quite a laugh
And splashes us in the river bath
Shehlina’s always on the ball
Ready to record us all
Together we’re mighty Delta One
And we’re still having loads of fun

Message to all Delta 1 parents:

Dearest Mummies and Daddies,
Please stock up on chocolate and maybe some Vanish. Don’t give us rice and beans for at least one month. We love you loads!!

In La Cangreja with Alpha 3

The final stop on our southern loop in Bravo 3 (the radio call sign for our modified Toyota Hilux) was with Alpha 3 in the beautiful La Cangreja National Park. 

Set amongst some stunning scenery including the 1305m peak Cerro Cangreja, which gives the park its name and is said to resemble an enormous crab ("el cangrejo" in Spanish) when viewed from above, Alpha 3 have been hard at work clearing and paving a new walking trail, which will be known as the "Water Trail".

The team have also done some maintenance work on the "Raleigh Trail", which was built by a previous expedition, and helped the park rangers in their tree nursery. 

They made us feel right at home, entertaining us in their jungle camp with custom made board games and working wonders with their Raleigh rations.

Today, Alpha 3 will be heading to nearby Playa Hermosa for a well-earned day of rest and relaxation before returning to Fieldbase for changeover.

Enjoy the photos:

Thursday, 29 July 2010

At the beach with Delta 4

Our travelling roadshow - which arrives at every project site armed with post, blog messages and a small shop stocked with treats for the Venturers -  next touched down at the idyllic Playa Hermosa (which literally means beautiful beach) on Costa Rica's southern Pacific Coast where Delta 4 have been playing with the turtles.

Delta Force have built a wonderful turtle hatchery next to the beach and conduct nightly beach patrols to gather freshly laid eggs to inhabit it. We joined them on the night we spent in Playa Hermosa and were lucky enough to see two Olive Ridley turtles make their slow journey up the beach to dig a nest and bury their eggs in the sand - a truly amazing sight.

During the nesting season (July-December) each female turtle can make this journey anywhere from three to eight times and lays an average of 100 eggs in each nest. By gathering these eggs and renesting them in the hatchery our team helps to protect them from natural predators such as raccoons, birds and flooding high tides, as well as poachers (turtle eggs can fetch a good price in local bars where they are sold as an aphrodisiac).

Delta 4 have also cleaned up the stretch of beach they patrol, planted trees and done some work on the ranger station where they are based. Not to mention the beach volleyball tournament which is very competitive.

They got the hatchery finished just in time for an official visit from the local mayor who turned up with a TV crew and other media to celebrate some upgrades to the ranger station including solar powered lighting - an event which included a delicious catered lunch for the whole team.

All in all, Delta 4 are having a great time at the beach (despite the attention of some rather vicious bugs) as these photos will attest:

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

In the wild with Alpha 4

Photographer James and your roving correspondent are back at Fieldbase after a whistlestop tour of our southern Costa Rican projects along with Amy - still on loan from Raleigh head office - and Team Zero's own Sarah and Abi.

We dropped in on Alpha 4 in the tranquil surrounds of Golfito Wildlife Reserve on the southern coast of Costa Rica where they've been working to develop visitor facilities ahead of National Parks Day, a big event which is scheduled to be celebrated in the reserve later this year.

The group have built a really good rapport with the rangers stationed in the park as they have worked together to clear 22 sites for information huts along a trail for wheelchair users, improve the paths around the ranger station and revitalise a nearby pond. And they've found time to take on their hosts in a couple of games of five-a-side football along the way.

Golfito is also a wildlife extravaganza. An armadillo was brought in and released into the wild by the rangers during our visit and a family of monkeys came to visit while we were packing up to leave. Alpha 4 have also seen a sloth released by the rangers, as well as a boa constrictor, a small turtle, frogs, toucans and lots of butterflies.

And of course we've got some photos from beautiful Golfito: