Sporting an array of paint spattered clothing any labourer would be proud to wear (due to an artistic Raleigh party). Alpha 4 embarked on their environmental project to Volcan Turrialba and the Braulio Carrillo. Having more or less survived an 'eventful' jungle trek, the team were well prepared for the ardours that life on project would bring. It was something of a surprise when after a casual 40 minute ascent by coach to San Antonio that we viewed our accommodation for that evening, and we were in for a treat. Our home for the night was that of our rangers – a comfortable, spacious chalet, complete with modern amenities – a far cry from the previous night’s wooden floor pallets back at Raleigh HQ. Another surprise was also in store both for us and our project managers, Niall and Carmen. Segro, our overseer and mentor, who worked as a park ranger at Turrialba had tied the knot the previous weekend. Whether or not this was a spare of the moment decision is unclear. The consequence was that no work was possible on our first day. Leisure time was therefore in order and Alpha 4 appeared to be a scholarly bunch with an array of literature being pulled out from bags, accompanied by furrowed brows as group members took advantage of comfy sofas and soft chairs. A short stroll away, the village of Santa Cruz offered picturesque views back down to Turrialba, along with an opportunity to grab the groups first fresh fruit fix from a local pulperia.
After the previous day’s false start, the venturers optimism was plain to see. The sun’s rapid ascension however was in marked contrast to the venturer’s labored crawl in 4 x 4’s up Turrialba’s steep and rugged flanks. The views on offer from the summit fully justified such a laborious journey. Clear skies allowed sight of the Caribbean, whilst for most the sight of Turrialba’s smoking crater, let alone standing on the active volcano, was truly impressive. Sadly, sight seeing only had a minor role on the day’s agenda. The aims of the project were to increase forest access to the volcano whose park was closed due to the volcano’s activity. This was to be achieved through the improvement of a path to the summit, where a mirador was to be constructed. Progress with the picos, palas and rastrillos (pickaxes, spades and rakes!) was pleasing. While altitude sickness is a worry at such great heights, Alpha 4 can truly be proud of their first day’s efforts. Our new home for the night is somewhat different from our previous luxuries but the venturer’s are happy enough! Once settled in, a few games of Mafia were organized, with Richard narrating a ‘Deatheaters’ game with a Hogwarts knowledge so comprehensive, JK Rowling herself would be double checking her copy of The Chamber of Secrets. Ascending through the mist the next day to emerged above the clouds on the summit provided views even more impressive than imagined.
Progress was again pleasing, especially in the early morning when a Costa Rican TV news crew paid the team a visit. Cue game faces and extra exertion on film… heavy panting and resting once off it! The footage they gathered of Keith wielding a machete could possibly be used as Sly Stallone’s double in another Rambo film… but the excitement didn’t end here for Keith. That day we also celebrated his 23rd birthday – cue homemade cards, an array of food procured at the Santa Cruz supermarket and even a volcano cake with dulce de leche lava and Oreo ash. A fantastic start to the project – hopefully the next two weeks will prove just as enjoyable!
Dave, we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Beautifully written. See below for some photo's to match. (Top tip, click on the photos to enlarge!) Enjoy.
|Learning some spanish1|
|Our super talented photographer, Kat - on the other side of the lense this time!|
|The view from the summit. Wow|
|PM's Niall and Carmen!|
|Tired venturers taking a break from the hard work.|
|Volcan Turrialba... it's definately active.|
|Don't do this at home|
|Keith's Volcano cake!|
|A traditional thank you all the way from Hong Kong|
|Alpha 4 tucking into some party food.|
Pura vida todos!
*Blog written by Dawn Tennant and photo’s by Kat Mammone, unless otherwise stated.