Friday, 4 March 2011

Word! The final one from Alphas' phase one

It's been a whirlwind two days! The Alphas arrived back in fieldbase....and left again at 7am this morning! They've showered, laundered, eaten well, shopped for essentials (i.e. sweets and treats), performed skits for their projects (and won prizes):

They've partied:

and they've de-briefed and re-grouped (more about that in the next post coming soon).

So without further ado, here's the final word from the Alphas' phase one projects. Put the kettle on, get the biccies out, and settle down - it's gonna be a long one...

Alpha 1- Corcovado Trek, Costa Rica
By Jenni McGowan and Eliana Leon

We made it! 215km [give or take a couple of unintentional detours]. 19 days. 13 amazing new friends. And one unforgettable experience. There was an unfamiliar combination of joy, pride, relief, but also sadness as we retraced our 15 days trekking from the comfort of the minibus this morning. Fond memories of afternoon naps outside supermarkets, scoffing piles of fresh fruit and sprints across rickety bridges, along with not so fond memories of all the bushes that we had used as toilets, came flooding back.

Back at fieldbase, the heat of the boiling sun shining down on us as we trekked our final 30km along the stunning black sand of the Corcavado Coast now feels like some kind of dream. But we were there. With our trails of footprints through the sand; feeling like the only 14 people in the world.

We all agreed that the final days were our best. The flat terrain that we’d all been praying for and the fact that the end was in sight certainly helped. Entering Corcovado National Park on Day 14 was such a fantastic feeling. It was what we’d all been waiting for, and the beautiful, dense jungle and the sight of the coast left us with an indescribable sense of achievement. By this point, we had all developed, both physically and mentally but, most importantly, Alpha 1 had become one big happy family. Like family, you don’t choose your trek group, but you trust, love and support them through thick and thin. (Except of course, when the sharing of Tang is concerned or in our scarily competitive games of Mafia.)

Never again will we watch in awe as Rolando sprints his way up yet another vertical mountain. Never will we have the crazed hungry scramble for Hazel’s breakfast leftovers. And never will we all get so ridiculously excited by the prospect of a second ‘energy bomb’. But- apart from Martha and Jenni, who have vowed never to climb another hill ever- the next time an Alpha 1 member finds themselves on a steep incline or in any kind of difficulty, they will surely hear Brie’s motivational cries and the beautiful, echoing chorus of 'I Will Survive' and will be able to accomplish anything.
Thank you Alpha 1 for an amazing trek!

Alpha 2 - Guanacaste Trek, Costa Rica
By Max Chalong

When Alpha 2 were told that they would be trekking for the first phase they were immediately gripped by a feeling of apprehension and the tension could be felt almost immediately. We questioned our fitness and were gripped by the curiosity of what was to come but the Guanacaste trek did not disappoint.

Despite being faced with blisters the size of toes, aching bones and joints, Jonny’s gammy foot, ever changing weather conditions and tick infestations in unmentionable areas, Alpha 2 came together and battled its way over 270 km across Costa Rica’s varying, harsh and beautiful landscape.

We climbed volcanoes, tackled cloud forest, trudged through rivers and, in spite of the efforts of the legendary Don Luce, slipped and stumbled head-first through the rainforest fuelled by porridge, nuts, ‘Energy Bombs’ and the infamous ‘Refried Beans’.

Our evenings, however, were considerably less stressful and we were able to form lifelong bonds reflecting on the day’s achievements while taking in some spectacular views as the sun set, star gazing on a paradise of a beach, going for a swim or dancing the night away at 8 pm on a hill in the countryside to the sound of monkeys, racoons, bats and Katy B.

Alpha 2 witnessed the best and worst the Costa Rica had to offer and, despite emerging with three integral members less than we started with, had some truly amazing, once in a lifetime experiences.
‘We remember but we don’t cry, we don’t cry but we remember’ – Tito, Alpha 2.

Alpha 3 - Cabo Blanco Costa Rican environmental project
By Sophie Abdy

From a mooring to a cesspit Alpha 3 has had an extremely busy and productive phase 1 in Cabo Blanco. On Monday in particular after seven hours digging, moving rocks from the beach and laying a pipe, it was amazing to see how keen everybody was to finish the cesspit for the main volunteer house and it was very rewarding to see the whole team work together so well.

Our day off included a visit to a beautiful waterfall near Montasuma and a cultural trip to a festival in Cabano. Here we enjoyed some local food and watched the bull parade which was made particularly amusing by Christine being offered a ride on a cart. Finally, skit production was well underway for changeover including the Alpha 3 rap:

This is a story about how alpha 3 turned Cabo Blanco all around.
So take your PM and sit right there cause we are the venturers of Raleigh
Here’s Ann our Red Dutch lobster,  Een Lekkerding op een bordje boter
Anita Bonita moves like a snake but pass her any spider and she’ll scream TARANTULA!
Hanging with Angie is like a chi master she brings you in the zone with no disaster.
Yeah we got Alex the master chef but under the hat he smells like a loser
Adam’s swagger a bucket of rocks surrounded by hot girls even more than Ross
Say Ni Hao Bianca our little Samarai she maybe small but she fights sky high!
Daniel our one and only tico acting like a pimp whilst being Rico!
Josseling Entusiasta por toso el paisaje y por esa le decimos !Que Saluaja!
Yuri she’s slipping she’s falling she can’t get up with bruises on her face she still laughs her head off!
Sophie, our bikini girl dancing on the beach till the sun goes down!
Christine’s got her own moves dancing the iguana will set you loose!
Asia she makes the boys drool she sets the law of being cool!

Alpha 4 – La Cangreja trail building, Costa Rica
By Cat Ewins

Hola Amigos, jungle gal again. Some gossip from the rainforest as Alpha 4 said goodbye to their bamboo paradise.

The team had a scare when Costa Rica’s deadliest snake encountered Alpha 4’s official snake hunter during a toilet trip he’ll never forget.  From the man himself, Charlie: ‘calling (PM) Phil for help on the toilet made me feel uneasy but our relationship was about to reach a new level as he rushed to the rescue with Sander’.
Next was the move back up top where a feast awaited the Jungle Massive (complete with cake and cola). The evening concluded with a chess tournament in which Don Boliver, our head ranger, beat the venturers 4-0.

An early morning sunrise over La Cangreja made for an emotional goodbye as Alpha 4 thanked volunteer Himel, and rangers Don Boliver, Don Paulino, Don Guido and Don Efrien for their kindness and generosity.
Anabella summed up the mood, in Spanish:
Triste despedido, como dueles, la nostalgia de los momento vividos invaden nuestras almas, ya no somos desconocidos ya somos parientes en la lucha por la protección de nuestra mama tierra.
In English: what a sad farewell, how it pains us, the nostalgia of the moments we’ve lived together invade our souls; no longer are we strangers – now we are partners in the battle to protect our mother earth.

 Adios from Alpha 4, Pura Vida!

Alpha 5 Nicaraguan community project
By Caroline Murray

The last couple of days in San Marquena were spent finishing the water supply. After many long days of digging trenches in the extreme Nicaraguan heat, we moved onto pipe laying. It was amazing to see how quickly it all came together. Before we knew it our own houses had taps with fresh water right on their doorstep.  It was such an achievement to turn on the first tap and see clean water. After living the lives of these families for two and a half weeks we could suddenly appreciate how exciting this was. Knowing that they no longer have to walk twenty minutes twice a day, just for fresh water.

On the last night the whole village came together and threw a leaving party for us. The night was spent with Alpha 5 throwing some very embarrassing dance moves with the locals and speeches of thanks from our families. 
I know I speak for everyone when I say that this has been an experience of a lifetime. It was so lovely to have such a close group! Our time in San Marquena went so quickly, but we all cannot wait for a real shower!

Thanks Alpha 5 for a great few weeks!

Alpha 6 Nicaraguan community project
By Camilla O’Connell

After the first week, we soon settled into the routine of waking up to grind corn for the day’s tortillas, have our breakfast of beans, sometimes egg and the best coffee ever, and working on the building site. Most week days, three of us would go to the local school to give the children English Lessons. In addition, we also taught the local children in the afternoons. This was a great way to see how our being there benefited the community, not just because we were building a community centre. It also helped our Spanish!

Our working days ended by watching the ever awesome Noel (our ‘maestro de obras’ or ‘site foreman’) riding off into the sunset, after which we would go back to our families for a dinner of yet more beans, rice and tortillas.

We spent the evenings getting to know our families or playing a game of mafia. By day five we were ahead of schedule which meant that by the end of the phase we could paint a mural, beautifully artistically directed by Rosie, on one of the community centre walls.

On our days off we went on two trips with the brilliant guidance of some locals. On our first one we climbed a volcano and saw some amazing views of the surrounding areas. On the second we went to Noel’s home town of San Ramon via the rainforest to see a previous Raleigh project. On the last night we had our second fiesta of the phase. It was the perfect way to end the phase and the next morning we started on the two day journey back to fieldbase.

Next up: find out which Alpha's are heading where in Phase 2.


  1. familia fernandez herrera4 March 2011 at 20:56

    alfa 5 carol fernandez herrera uy, uy, que frio mi chiquita cubrase bien dicen que esta a 6 grados aqui en coronado estamos a 17 pero con el calor de tus compañeros todo se aguanta buena experiencia que pases buena noche porque los otros chiquillos estan acostumbrados y felices con el frio te amo su mama que te ama

  2. Familia Fernandez Herrera4 March 2011 at 21:03

    para carol fernandez herrera alfa 5, que alegria poder escuharla por telefono a las 9 de la noche el jueves 2 de marzo despues del regreso de Nicaragua. y poder decirle buenas noches y escuchar que se encontraba muy bien y cansada pero feliz. bueno Carito despues de descansar entras en esta nueva experiencia de viaje y nos llevaras contigo dia ,dia por medio de sus compañeros que cubren todas la travesia y nos llenan de informacion que se vuelve muy emocionante entrar a la pagina y leer sobre todos los lugares que visitan. muchas gracias les damos por este esfuerzo de tenernos informados. papa

  3. Message for Maria Bedford Delta 4
    Hello - is it today you go back to base and then on to your next project? Where are you going next? All fine here at home - Mr B only got his E collar off yesterday and has hardly been in the house since. He had been so cuddly this week - he hardly left my side, but looks like he's back to his old ways now and Mr W is able to get his tummy tickles again. Bully Cat was in again just 6 hours after the cat-flap was re-opened but Mr W chased him away (my hero). So all back to normal! My College was Ofsted-ed last week and got a Grade 2 (good). No inspectors came into my library - but we were all super-ready if they did. Off to work at Highcliffe library soon - its World Book Day today. Natalie Portman got an Oscar for Black Swan. Do you get any news, real or show-biz, there? Well mustn't chatter on. Take care - I'll be watching the blog to see what you're up to next - maybe you could write? I'll try to write to you too. Lots of love Mum xxx

  4. Message for Jessica Bridge-Dunk - Delta 6

    Hey Jess,

    Nutella porridge - LUXURY! No way did we have ANY porridge toppings in Namibia. But then we were able to receive parcels (I just saw a notice saying you can't get any). My parcels from Love Food were the best! I wonder what I could sneak in a 'letter'...a chomp, perhaps! Stickers? Bookmark? A stick of wrigleys? Flat Stanley? Can you remember that book? (Interesting fact, I just googled it and it has 4 and a half stars on Amazon - I don't remember it being that good!)

    Just been reading through what the Alphas got up to, sounds amazing. Looking forward to the update on the Deltas ;-)

    We've been booking places to stay in Finland and Estonia. I got quite excited cos I found this website that tells you about organic farms in Finland that have B&Bs. We're staying in a summer cottage at a Vegetarian Herb Garden. Woop! It's so expensive though - hope it's worth it. The best accommodation in Tampere (the city with the Moomin museum) is a dodgy looking hostel with a twin room (shared bathroom) for 70 euro a night. Last year in Montenegro that got us a 4 star hotel!

    x x x x x x x x x x x x

  5. Message for Jessica Bridge-Dunk, Delta 6

    Just to let you know, I just tried to send you a 'birds of Costa Rica' book from the Book Depository as they do Free Worldwide Delivery. But Costa Rica must not be 'Worldwide' as it is not a country that they deliver to. You probably aren't that interested in a book on birds but I thought it'd be nice for you to get a present! And the book was only 12 pages long so I thought it might well count as a letter rather than a parcel...

    Never mind, it's the thought that counts! x x

  6. Andrew Brown c11 alpha 4
    Hi Andy, well done all of u in completing phase 1, looks like u have been havin loads of fun at base camp, I will b following the daily blog to c how u r all doing, thats some trek u have in front of u but iv every faith in u !! somehow cant c u ever refusing to go corner shop 4 me again can u HA HA !! loves u loads lots of love mum xxxx

  7. EMILY!!Lievee schat ik heb je helemaal gemist .... ik baal daar van als een gek! ik had je nog gemaild maar toen was je al weer weg... Ik baal daar echt nog van.. maar goed hoe is het nu dan? lekker in de jungle?? BORNEOO! Hhahha ben weer op nieuw benieuwd naar je verhalen!! ik heb je dus gemailt dus lees als je kan tijd en wil!! verder ik miss je als een gek!! lekker je ding doen daar en GENIET!! Pas goed op je zelf liefste vriendin lovee you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. Gemma Hall, Alpha 1

    HEY GEMMA! I loved reading your message the other day, I hope all is still ok and you've settled into life at Nicaragua after your trek. Good luck with the water dam and congratulations on your offer from Newcastle!!
    It all looks so amazing I bet you're loving it. Enjoy it, as trust me, everything back here is the same as it was before- you aren't missing a thing!
    Let me know when you're back as my memory is rubbish and i've forgotten so don't forget to text me when you're in the UK. Have the most amazing time (which i'm sure you are)!
    Miss you,
    Love from Caroline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  9. andy brown alpha 1
    hi lovi nan here your mum said u have a big challenge ahead, no problem to the bigyin! i no u will do it every confidence in you,, lots off love from a very proud nan . xxxxxxx

  10. andy brown c11
    alpha 1
    hi sweetheart i could not achieve wot u have done up 2 now in my lifetime ,i am so so proud of u ,wot an experience hope u can come 2 mine when u get back and we will have our weeeekeeend!!
    love u Donna xxxxxxx

  11. Delta 5: Mags Chilaev

    Send us a message, lav, daying to hear from ya. souf london just ain't tha same wivout ya
    the other hedgehog

  12. Alpha 1: Camilla O'Connell

    Hi Cammy,

    I hope your having the most amazing time, am so jealous of you! At the moment am trying to sort out traveling for after I finish work. I really need to talk to you urgently about everything but this is obviously going to be rather difficult as your in the middle of the jungle.

    Is there any way you can skype or call me soon? My house phone numbers +852 2849 2214 and my mobs +852 9094 8584.

    I'm trying to plan everything and was wondering if you wanted to go to Tibet and if so is there any way you could move your flights to arrive in hk on the 20th May and leave around the 5th July. What i was thinking was spending a week in hk, 3 weeks in SE Asia and then 2 weeks in Tibet getting you back to London on the 6th July. How does that sound?

    Missing you madly and cant wait to hear about all your adventures. Hope your safe and sound and having fun.

    Lots of love,


  13. For Jessy Boon Cowler (delta 2)

    Jessy I don’t know if my last message reached you – I can’t see it on the screen above :o( It’s a shame if it didn’t because it was a very insightful message, mostly about dahl in a tub. I hope your transition phase went well! You seemed to be playing lots of team games in a circle which I would really like.

    Today me and Sare passed the charity shop ‘The Charity Shop’ in Balham near the Bedford and Sarah pointed out that the manican in the window was the spitting image of you!!!!!!!!!!! Even the vacant expression was eerily similar. (haha good dad joke). Anyway I am planning a trip there soon to give it a hug and tell it all my woes. I am going to tell Alex the same. So excited to have you within walking distance agen!!!!!!!!

    I don’t have much news worth telling and I am fearful that the reason my last message didn’t get sent was because I wrote too much! Anyway, my mum has decided she is definitely a heterosexual after going on holiday with Kathy burping and farting all the time. So this looks good for my parents’ marriage. My sister cooked camel in chocolate sauce the other day and the next day polenta and liver pie. I am kind of looking forward to my mum coming back so we can eat normal stuff again. I am trying to turn around from being a rebel in Journo to being a geek. It is a struggle because really I like sitting at the back writing notes but still being too clever for the teacher to hate. Turns out people around me are not so dumb and I really need to work. It’s really good though – we’ve just started learning about government and crime and how laws are made and all that stuff you should know but you don’t. I am determined to move out, aiming for end of May. House share I think. Love you lots and lots and hope you are doing great as usual Katy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  14. For Tim Niehe Alpha 6:

    Freddy Knie,

    Natuurlijk het belangrijkste: Stekelenburg 6 weken geblesseerd met gebroken duim dus nu de kans voor Jeroen 'Pizza' Verhoeven om te schitteren. Ajax 0-1 thuis verloren van Spartak Moskou, geheel onterecht maar kansen volgende week in het koude Rusland.

    Tot zover Ajax, USF heeft inmiddels ook eerste wedstrijd gehad en zowaar een 0-1 overwinning geboekt bij 'nationaal toernooi ganger' Sacremento State. Een zeer verdienstelijk uur gespeeld en coach was heel blij met mij.

    Ik hoop dat daar alles nog uit te houden is met ontlasten in een gat en duren dicht wegens moffels en piertjes in je kamer. Ik hoorde van mama dat je de jungle in bent nu. Geniet voor wat er te genieten valt en hopelijk snel weer even Skypen. 'Vinny says hi to a true Ajax fan'. Ik kom van de zomer lekker naar huis dus wordt bikkelen in de fitness arena weer. Mis je man, succes X



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