Thursday, 30 September 2010

Jungle bunnies and happy campers

Did you know that sniffing in the fumes of bat feaces puts you at risk of rabies? That 90 percent of snake bites in Costa Rica are not venomous? And that an injured person screaming at the top of his lungs is probably in a less critical condition than the one who's quiet as a mouse?

We're off for Jungle Camp to put our health and safety, navigation skills, and all the other skills we've learned over four days of induction, to the test. It'll be an interesting two days.

Volunteer Managers

Oh here comes the storm! Time to go.

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The PMs are here! The PMs are here!

It’s always a big day when a new group arrives at fieldbase. Yesterday we were thrilled to welcome the group of Project Managers for expedition 10L. 

After the hugs and hellos, it was 12 straight hours of induction which included fieldbase tours, Raleigh rules of conduct, swim tests, mess tin-painting, radio communications training; wrapped up with a preview of the 10L community, adventure and environmental projects.

It’s going to be a busy week with project planning, health and safety training, and the highlight of induction: Jungle camp. Watch this space for more action!

The first breakfast

Soap, bleach, rinse

Sarah and Sarah

Extra curricular activites at fieldbase


Admin stuff

Swim test

Mess-tin art

Cab-er..cable tossing

Zero this is Alpha 1 do you copy?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Visit to Volcan Irazu

There is always a healthy balance of work and play as a Raleigh volunteer. We've been beavering away at fieldbase with driver-training, stock-taking, and generally getting the camp ready for when the Project Managers and venturers arrive over the next two weeks.

As a small treat for the ahem, hard work all week, the team made an excursion to Volcan Irazu this morning. Volcan Irazu is an active volcano located about two hours drive from fieldbase. The locals have dubbed it "El Coloso" or The Colossus for the disasters it'd caused in the past. Alas, the gods were not so kind today, granting us instead with a thick fog that blocked the view of Irazu's crater when we arrived. The drive was a scenic one, nonetheless. David caught some fantastic shots of the Costa Rican landascape - which you can expect to be a regular feature of this blog.


It was cold and wet when we arrived. Not promising.

In principle ... You should be able to see the crater from here
Always look at the bright side

Thawing the digits

Ross: I'm telling you it's real!

A resident Coatimundi or "Pizote"

Squeezing in more driver training

Friday, 24 September 2010

Work, work, work

Photographer David did some stealthy surveillance today. Guess who was cartwheeling at 0:21. Hint:it wasn't the trapeze artiste.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Expedition 10L rolling in

!Hola amigos! This is Maryann, communications manager reporting from Raleigh fieldbase in Turrialba. Fieldbase has just begun to stir again with the arrival of the 10L advance team. 

Some of us have travelled almost three quarters of the globe to get here; almost all of us have had to recalibrate our bio clocks. It’s been a long voyage but we all made it in one piece. Everyone seems to be getting along fine and the vibe can only be described as positive. Perhaps it’s early days; perhaps it’s just the Raleigh volunteer spirit that switches on the team player in you; or perhaps Ross put something in those delicious pancakes he made for breakfast when we got to fieldbase?

Breakfast menu: Pancakes with syrup and tropical fruit
This is how the pros do it!
A family that dines together ...
Fieldbase is located within the CATIE campus, a sprawling piece of agricultural land divided into sections for crops such as coffee and sugarcane, forestry, and live stock – it is really a place where you can play, work and talk ‘til the cows literally come home! CATIE stands for Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza or in English, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center. They have a noble mission to for human development which you can read all about here.
With so much sun, green space, clean air and a permanent view of misty mountains in the distance, you couldn’t ask for a better place to call home. Personally, I feel privileged to be here.

We were not lying about the view
Nor the cows ...
Luxury is reserved for the venturers
As we orientate ourselves with the environment and settle into our respective roles, a roll call may be worthwhile. So who's checked in?

Marcus Collie – Finance Manager
Alex Coulton – Project Manager and volunteer to volunteers
Carl Gilham – Driver
Emma Green – Logistics Coordinator
Keiner Jimenez – Host Country Programme Coordinator
Ross McKenzie – Country Programme Manager
Euan Naismith – Medic
David Roos - Photographer
Maryann Tan – Communications Manager
Vanessa Targett – Logistics Manager
Roberto Ulloa – Administrator
Sarah Walker – Deputy Programme Manager
We’ll have more about us in the next post. Meanwhile, let the induction begin!
¡Salud y pura vida!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

This is just the beginning...

Raleigh is not just about an expedition; it is about being part of a global community of like-minded people. People like you who want to do something extraordinary with their lives and really make a difference in the world. And so although your time in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is over, your journey with Raleigh is only just beginning!

The Fourth Challenge...

The Fourth Challenge is to make a difference upon your return. During the expedition, you learnt many valuable skills that you can now use to make a positive impact in your community when you get home.

Raleigh has a range of exciting volunteering opportunities in the UK and there is an Alumni Team at Head Office to support you in whatever you choose to do. You could:
  • Volunteer in your local community 
  • Join the Raleigh Youth Forum and help generate ideas about volunteering and be an active voice for the way Raleigh is run 
  • Be an Expedition Coordinator and help everyone from your expedition keep in contact
  • Help out at Raleigh events 
  • Tell people about your Raleigh experience at schools and universities, open days and careers fairs
  • Be an environmental volunteer  
  • Help with a local sports team or initiative 
  • Get involved with national campaigns 
Staying in touch

Whether you’ve got a question, photos or stories to share, or just want to say hi, please keep in touch as we’d love to hear from you. Visit the alumni section of the website where you can:
  • Keep in touch with your expedition friends and share memories and photos on the forums
  • Find out about Raleigh societies and volunteering opportunities
  • Register for the alumni newsletter
You can contact the Alumni Team at or on +44 (0)20 7183 1290. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Expedition 10F&G: You've been amazing

It's nearly time to leave Fieldbase for the last time. Everything has been cleaned and packed away ready for the next expedition and it's time for everyone to move on to the next stage of their journey. 

Thanks to everyone who helped make 10F&G such an amazing expedition. To Julian, Ross and all the Fieldbase staff, the Project Managers, all our project partners across Costa Rica and Nicaragua and especially the Venturers. They were a fantastic group who put everything they had into every project they worked on. Hopefully they've all taken a lot away from this experience and we wish them all the best for the future. They are going to do amazing things.

A special thanks to Photographer James for all the brilliant photographs he's provided for the blog and the magazine we produced together (you'll be able to find a pdf of the magazine on this page in the next few days). I couldn't have done it without him.

And thanks to everyone who has read this blog and posted messages during the expedition. Your messages really meant a lot to the Venturers and it's been a pleasure to bring you a little bit of the fun and adventure we've all had on Expedition 10F&G.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Expedition 10F, we bid you a fond farewell

That's it, it's all over.

Fieldbase is a lot quieter this afternoon after we waved farewell to our amazing Venturers who are now on flights home or beginning a new adventure travelling in central America. We hope they are taking a lot special memories with them.

Expedition 10F certainly has an impressive list of achievements. Two beautiful community centres built in the Miraflor Nature Reserve. A new gravity system piping clean water to homes in Rio Arriba. Thousands of baby turtles getting ready to emerge from new hatcheries built in Playa Hermosa and Camaronal. New trails for visitors to enjoy in the stunning scenery of La Cangreja and San Lucas Island. And epic treks completed in the Maribios volcanos of north-west Nicaragua, Guanacaste's amazing national parks and from one coast of Costa Rica to the other.

The Venturers signed off yesterday with some really special review sessions with their original Alpha project groups, followed by a delicious Costa Rican meal and the presentation of the much coveted Golden Mess Tin Awards. I know you're all dying to know the results, so here are all of the winners:

Spirit of Raleigh Award: Raj Rajamohan

Most Outstanding Female Venturer: Jessica Rodriguez Soto

Most Outstanding Male Venturer: Sam Bryant

Most Improved English: Marianella Orozco

Most Improved Spanish: Shiblu Miah

Hardcore Trekker: Ana Howard

Best Hair: Tony Tawakali

The 'I Survived' Award: Beth Davison for surviving the Coast to Coast Trek in Phase 1.

Best Performing Artist: Will McNess for his standout performances in skits throughout the expedition.

Dumbest Action by a Venturer/PM: Aiden Duggan for sitting on a hornet's nest.

Romeo 6: A great sense of achievement and respect

Andrew Kirby looks back on Romeo 6's adventures in Rio Arriba:

We spent our final phase in one of the most beautiful places in the world with some amazing local families who welcomed us into their homes and their hearts. Our mission was to provide them with clean, reliable water directly to their homes. We were finishing Alpha 5's work started in Phase 1 of the expedition.

We arrived in Rio Arriba to a great welcome and were assigned families, we then started settling into new lives for the next couple of weeks. On the first day we were taken on  tour of the village, the work site and the water source before starting work building a tank to connect the source and the village.

After this we were building trenches down from the tank to the main houses in the village, fitting pipes and then covering them up. We worked until midday most days, with a few exceptions when we had good weather in the afternoon.

Most afternoons we met down at the river for a wash and swim after a hot day's work and then went to the main house to teach the children some English. They caught on quickly and did the lessons with enthusiasm and we played some games of Deal as well.

We managed to finish the project and brought clean water to 20 houses, a school and church through our hard work and determination. On our last day in the village we turned on the first lot of taps. We were all excited and happy that we were able to give this gift that we take for granted in the UK with tons of help from the locals who truly become our families in Nicaragua.

We sang songs for them on the last day in the village including Jingle Bells, Rattling Bog and If You're Happy and You Know It, even getting the kids involved. Then they sang some local songs for us.

We moved to another community called La Guarama for the last couple days where we started work on a water project which will be completed by another expedition. Again we welcomed into their homes with amazing hospitality and massive portions of amazing food.

On the last night of phase, the Coopertiva and the locals threw us a party including amazing food and a piñata which we all had a go smashing - some of us almost smashing the nearby house and the crowd at the same time. Some of locals from Rio Arriba came to say goodbyes as well and we took pictures with our families and the Coopertiva staff.

We left Nicaragua in love with the country and its people and a great sense of achievement and of respect.

Romeo 6 photo album

We've collected stacks of photos from the Romeo 6 Venturers and PMs - here are some of the best: