Saturday, 18 December 2010

So long, and thanks for all the pork 'n beans!

Jingle Bell Rock is looping on the playlist. Fieldbase is abuzz with volunteer managers finishing reports, paper work and the final scrub down. But there is a palpable quiet from the absence of venturers who've left the base.

The motley bunch that were 10L are a lively and spirited lot and will be missed. An exceptional few were recognised at the 10L Golden Mess Tin awards ceremony. Here are the nominees and winners.

Hardcore Trekker - For the venturer who not only trekked with gusto but who looked out for others , offering encouragement and support.
Nominees: Jezreel Belleza, Anna Keen Julia Morongiello, Naz Taner, Will Pawsey, and Michael Michael
Winners: Will Pawsey and Michael Michael

Will Pawsey

Michael Michael

Comedian - For the jester who could make even the most horrible day on trek bearable
Nominees: Graham Smith, Vicky Golding, Garry Pearson, Kenneth Yeung, and Ben Saxby
Winner: Graham Smith
Graham Smith
Most Improved Language - Communicating in a foreign language is hard work. This one is for the chicken who made an effort to quack like a duck.
Nominees: Wiki Perez, Raisa Arroyo, Adam Tickner, Jimmy Arias, Naz Taner
Winner: Raisa Arroyo

Raisa Arroyo
Spirit of Raleigh
Nominees: Eamonn McGuone, Carla Gottlieb, Steve Holmes, Ryan O'Sullivan, Ariana Ubeda, Ema Moreno
Winner: Eamonn McGuone

Eamonn McGuone
Outstanding Female Venturer
Nominees: Raisa Arroyo, Amy Cooper, Corrine Davey, Anna Keen
Winner: Corrine Davey

Corrine Davey
Outstanding Male Venturer
Nominees: Kenneth Yeung, Charlie Gledhill-Flynn, Hiten Mistry, Ollie Grayer, Ben Green
Winner: Hiten Mistry

Hiten Mistry
We often discuss physical and mental challenges at Raleigh but for many of us, the challenge of separation and saying goodbye is just as hard when you've shared, worked, walked, climbed, scrambled, fallen, laugh and cried together. The last 10 weeks have been both intense and incredible. Looking back and thinking about how we mobilised 132 volunteers to complete three treks, three community projects and four environmental projects across two countries seems like a colossal task and I am certainly proud to have been part of this amazing team.

The Last Supper

To our 10L blog readers, thank you for your loyal following, your messages, your patience and your comments. It has been a pleasure.

We leave you with a quote from Dr Seuss:
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! This is ZERO listening out...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A pipe dream come true

 How do you get instant joy? Just add water, as Amy Perkins and Zulu 6 discovered in Achuapa.

One of the main reasons I came on Raleigh was for the community projects, so when I was told I would be living with a Nicaraguan family, I was so excited. We were to be living in the village of El Portillo and working in Las Brisas, a beautiful village about a kilometre away. There, we would be reinstalling their water system so that they could have access to clean, uncontaminated water close to their homes where before, people had to walk a considerable distance to get their water. Even during our project we observed pregnant women and the elderly struggling with this.

My family in El Portillo was so kind. My mum was a school teacher called Flor, and I had two big brothers named Erick, Norbi and a crazy four-year-old sister, Eveling (or as we nicknamed her for her mischievous ways, Deviling). Right from the moment we entered their house they welcomed us with open arms and were always so eager to help us. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and the food they made us was amazing. It was a fab change from Raleigh rations. Our diet mainly consisted of rice, beans, tortillas. In spite of the lack of variety we always loved it. We even got the opportunity to make it a couple of times which was a great experience.

We worked most days from 7 am to 2pm, digging trenches and moving sand and rocks most of the time. It was really satisfying work. On the final day at work I was lucky enough to install the pipes and taps at all the houses in Las Brisas, and it was fantastic seeing the families' reactions to having clean water supplied so close to their houses. All of the locals we worked with were really helpful and we established good rapport with them.

 Don Brigido, the head of Juan Francisco Paz Silva, Raleigh's partner in the Achuapa water projects, was a lovely man and a fantastic guitarist which made me even more thankful that I had brought my fiddle. Most nights we played both Scottish and Nicaraguan music together. It felt surreal to be playing in such an unsual place but I absolutely adored it. On the party night towards the end of phase, we played in front of the communites of our rural villages and that's something I'll never forget. On the 3rd of December, there was a big event int he village : Erick, was graduating from the highest school in Achuapa! We all ventured 8km to the mass and the ceremony to celebrate this. We all cheered as he received his certificate. I know we definitely wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this as a normal tourist.

In the middle of the phase, Don Brigido invited us to witness La Griteria, a religious festival in Leon. It was such a unique cultural experience. There were fireworks everywhere and we visited lots of different houses whilst singing the festival's song. We were given fruit and sweets -- complete luxuries!

All in all, this phase has definitely been my favourite. I loved my group -- everyone got on well -- and the whole experience of being completely immersed in the Nicaraguan lifestyle was amazing. My mum cried when we left and everyone felt quite emotional. I feel like I've grown up so much on Raleigh, especially on the community phase, and I feel spectacularly lucky to have been here.

An intimate bond with nature

Holly Williamson of Zulu 5 discovers the precious gem that is Camaronal.

Camaronal is a place of exceptional beauty. From the secluded, private-feeling black sand beach, to the breathtaking outlook atop the Mirador, Camaronal is a little treasure that gives one an escape from the busy outside world. It is a little sanctuary, a wonderful place to slow down, relax, and re-evaluate the priorities in one´s life. Coming here strips down the unnecessary luxuries and clutter of everyday life and guides one to experience simplicity, where focus is on finding happiness in the beauty of the land and people that surround us. A combination of the Costa Rican - Pura Vida, life is good, laid back beach vibe and my desire to be fully engulfed in the moment, led me to three weeks of blissful enjoyment.  

Curling up in a hammock at the ranger station, reading a book while swaying in the wind...writing in my journal as the sun´s rays set over the horizon...playing competitive Beach Olympics with the team…getting a little taste of the latino culture, learning to dance the tango and salsa...all of these bring back unique, treasured memories of my time here.

As I worked with the turtles under the stars, while the light reflected off of the crashing waves, I felt a unique, intimate bond with nature. Although a natural balance is at work with the occasional raccoon eating eggs from the nest, humans poaching eggs are skewing this delicate balance. Spending numerous hours cleaning up plastic waste that washes up on the shores, it also became clear how big of a negative impact we are having on this precious world.
Coming here has really opened my eyes to the disastrous and disrespectful way we are treating our planet. We have a responsibility to make our impact as small as possible. There is an immense need for enthusiastic volunteers to bring creativity and visionary ideas to add to the growth of the refuge. From hard physical labor, to improvements in communications and awareness, there is a lot that can be done whilst here as well as continuing on once we leave. There is great opportunity to shape the direction of this delicate area as it develops into the future. 
My Camaronal experience was absolutely amazing! Zulu 5 was an amazing group, made up of funny, hardworking, wonderful people. Relaxing in paradise with great people, while making an impact on the world…how could you ask for a better way to wrap up the Raleigh expedition?!

We Were Zulu 2

Inspired by his journey on The Costa Rica Trek, Michael Michael tells us the highs and lows in stanzas.

It was in Cimarrones where our journey began
On a river bank, where our tents hang
And in a community centre we did play
Nerves on edge, for trek commenced the next day

The adventure underway, to our first destination
So we head South for the Ranger Station
20 K down, 260 to go
Zulu 2 soon make way for green green grow

Into the belly of the beast we do enter
Armed with packs, poles and the spirit of adventure
With our guide we navigate jungle terrain
Making sure the trees, rivers and vines knew our name

We depart the rain forest on a tough day indeed
But make it out as one, with Oliver our lead
For soon was a welcome reunion with road
And a visit from fieldbase to top up our rucksacks load

The Zulus lace up their boots and don backpacks again
Fortune in Silenco, to find us a good samaritan
Awake on the hard tile floor, 
accompanied with sunshine we bear South West
Where we debate where to stay, 
community centre or camp site, 
what would be best?

Arise to find the PMs MIA
Yet faster than them, we do find our way
So we discover accomodation in a tranquil sugar mill
Who knew trek could be such a sweet deal?

The view changes to forest scenery
As we have lunch on the banks of Rio Grande De Orosi
Graced in Purisil by a fieldbase visit
Halfway through the trek, the sky's our limit

On day 10, following pylons and pylons
With the strength of bears and courage of lions
For the next day, the challenge would step up a gear
Zulu 2 tackle every obstacle in our path without doubt of fear

Thus 13 treckers on the Pan American Highway,
As Mack trucks speed past, the Zulu's pray and pray,
Armed with hope , love and simply a smile
Zulu 2 conquers the road, mile by mile

The team rendezvous with Bravo 3, for the last time
With dreams of beer, gin, vodka, lemon and lime
All of the Zulu nation on the wagon
We climb to 3000 Ft up “Cerro Dragon”

And so we head South, through a desolate valley
Pounding our feet on the road's surface, in the name of Raleigh
On day 16 we overcome many a land slide
The penultimate day of treking mountains and rivers, far and wide

So Zulu 2 make for the Ocean Pacific,
Singing along to every songs lyric
Simultaneously our feet touch on the sand of Playo Palo Seco Beach
All of our dreams and fantasies within our reach

So ends the tale of the Zulu's who
Whenever questioned, would say, WE WERE ZULU 2!

By Michael Michael

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Rincon de la Vieja with Zulu 3

Photographer David, trailed Zulu 3 up Rincon de la Vieja on the Guanacasate trek. A view of the group's journey through 45, 50 and 85 mm lenses. 

Una invitación a vivir

Work,  play, fish, cook, clean. Zulu 4 have made San Lucas Island their home. And it is close to paradise. Host-country venturer, Yali Gonzalez extends us an invitation to live.

Nuestra participante, Yali Gonzalez de Zulu 4 escribe sus pensamientos durante su tiempo en la Isla San Lucas.

Me desperté con los primeros rayos de luz y los fuertes aullidos del macho alfa que llama a su bulliciosa manada de monos congos. Estaban durmiendo en el mismo higueron en el que colgué mi hamaca, desde donde el cielo cobijarnos con muchas estrellas.

Estos dias en la isla han sido puro natural mystique. Frente a nuestro campamento tenemos un muelle que nos permite penetrar en la inmensidad del mar que se asoma muy tranquilo llenándonos de paz. La natureleza se siente, se respira, vibra. Nos ha recibido con las mejores puestas de sol, que miramos desde la playa después de nadar un rato.

En esta última fase, nuestro días inician muy temprano; después de desayunar un atol espeso llamado "porridge", nos adentramos en los senderos para hacer labores de limpieza. Ya estamos acostumbrados a trabajar y nos sale fácil.

En la tarde nos dedicamos a explorar nuevas playas, meditamos, hacemos yoga y tai'chi en el muelle, bailamos y nadamos un rato.

Las noches son innolvidables. En realidad el muelle es inolvidable, nos acostamos a contemplar las estrellas fugaces y a contar historias.

Cuando llegué a la expedición, ni me imaginé lo que iba a aprender aquí. Estos dias, después de 9 semanas de experiencia Raleigh, he entendido que Raleigh es una invitación a vivir, a darle vida a nuestra vida, a entender que el mundo esta lleno de sopresas maravillosas, pero sobre todo de gente increíble y que si es posible cambiar para ser mejores.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Photo update: Zulu 3 and Zulu 6

Bravo 1 have returned from their road trip with photos of their visits to Zulus 3 and 6. Zulu 3  are camping at Rincon Lodge with Bravo 4, who left fieldbase this morning to meet them. The teams will climb volcano, Rincon de la vieja tomorrow. 

Zulu 6 went on a tour of Leon today that included a cultural experience of a religious festival. Bravo 1 spent a night with them in Achuapa last Friday in time to join in on an evening of cultural activities. The venturers are reportedly having a whale of time, working and playing under the sunny Nicaraguan skies.