Saturday, 6 August 2011

The latest from Romeo 2, 3, 5 and 7!

We have more updates from our Romeo troops! The Bravo 1 road trippers have been busy driving around Costa Rica and Nicaragua visiting our project groups and have reported back with blogs from our hard working venturers - news, hooray! Let's hear what they have to say for themselves.

Romeo 2 left Zapote this morning and are spending the day making their way over to Finca Armenia. Written by Justin…
From a community center in Guanacaste, Romeo 2 are trekking happily 300km to the Pacific Ocean! On our first day we walked through a forest and narrowly missed the rain. On the second day we were climbing hills and Alfonso managed to score us some amazing (free!) oranges in San Antonio. Day three was spent trekking in the mountains and wild camping in the pouring rain. Day four we marched down to the lake and had a nice splash about before enjoying freshly cut coconut , thanks to Isaak, with dinner. Day five was spent walking into nice little towns and enjoying stunning views of the lake. So that's pretty much it! Hope everyone at home is enjoying their summer! Romeo 2 is missing everyone loads and looking forward to seeing everyone in a few weeks time. Tomorrow we head into the jungle - wish us luck!

Romeo 3, written by Elliot…
We all arrived safely and set up our jungle camp and a neighborhood of hammocks sprang to life. Soon after the local ranger, Christian, gave us a whistle-stop tour of the local area. His passion rubbed off and we have all avidly been looking out for wildlife. Work has started well and the path we are making has made significant progress due to an extremely enthusiastic and hard working team. The weather has been cruel, holding out until all the work is done, preventing any afternoon excursions to a nearby waterfall and plunge pools. However, on our day off we braved the weather and spent 7 hours on a mini-trek to the Rincon de la Vieja, the active water (?). The weather was tricky once again, however we did gain satisfying glimpses of the water. Back to work soon, however, Romeo 3 is invigorated and energized to get the path done, despite inquisitive tourists and the fractious weather.

Romeo 5, written by Darren…
It was a devastatingly long and rocky journey that started on a chaotic morning on Thursday. We were packed into what seemed to be a slightly luxurious coach, all dizzy and doozy, so that the next four hours was a battle for many of us to repay our sleep debt. A screening of 'hangover' and the 'Bounty Hunter’ injected some entertainment and energy on the journey. After a pit stop and a long-awaited glorious treat of being able to go to the toilet, we reached the Nicaraguan border to find fantastically cheap food and sorrow as we had to say goodbye to Pinki and Joyce. Romeo 5 sends best wishes to Pinki in her new project in La Cangreja and we all miss you! We eventually reached a small school in Nicaragua for a nights rest before each group made their final respective journey to their new homes with the novelty of travelling to it in an old American school bus. As the last remaining, Romeo 5 was greeted as the bus approached its destination by the whole community waving and cheering, aka our new families. We waved and smiled as we got off the bus but then we were clueless of how to entertain the eagerly awaiting family so we decided to walk around with our widest smile plastered on our faces, asking for names and ages of the timid children hiding around the parents, only to forget them again moments later! A glorious meal (the first of many) later and after meeting our new families, we were introduced to important members of the community. The following day, we started clearing our worksite and were wowed into silence several times from seeing locals climbing trees and machete-ing whole branches off. Obviously, don't try this at home. On Sunday we got our first day off, so we organised a trip to Yali to watch a basketball game and have lunch there. After what seemed like a long trek we reached town to be treated to confectionary and fizzy drinks. Only when reaching the pitch did we realise we were to watch a local football game and not baseball. Most of us took this opportunity to get some rest, but Chava, enthusiast as always, claimed that near the end of the game a fight broke out and mysteriously a man in a motorcycle carrying a machete rode across the pitch. Whether hearsay evidence from Chava is reliable is left upon the wisdom of the readers. After 5 days of hard work Romeo 5 are constructing a community centre in Yeluca with progress slowly but surely improving. The group have stepped up a gear each day becoming more efficient, aided by daily evening reviews that added new roles such as a ‘group motivator’ and new ideas such as ‘dance master’ and a radio to the worksite. By day five Romeo 5 had cleared the worksite, evened out the surface and created eight 80cm holes where the outposts of the building will go. On Thursday evening Romeo 5 got together with the community to bake biscuits in the traditional Nicaraguan way. As each member of the group got involved in a different part of the cooking process we learned how corn flour hard cheese and sugar were mixed and ground together to make the biscuits which were then baked in a huge wood oven outside the house. It goes without saying those biscuits were delicious.

Romeo 7, written by Jack...
Friends, family and fans, Romeo 7 here (the expedition group - not one of the Beckhams' offspring) with the first of three updates from the sparse cluster of houses known as (together with the densly-packed hills which encompass them) Quebrada Honda. For those of you who don't know, that means you''ll find us on the map in Northwest Nicaragua, not far from Achuapa - a dusty, dirt-track, too-hot, rural conglomeration of wood, clay and many horses. We arrived here in the hills on Friday, July 29th after a 2 hour walk up muddy, vegetation-infested tracks! I think that everyone would agree that we've entered an entirely different world and on the first night (especially for those without any Spanish) that was slightly overwhelming and perhaps a little daunting. A good job then that the people here are so welcoming, warm-hearted and accepting. Our experiences in our various houses (we're staying in pairs) have no doubt been disparate - but there's a definite consensus that these people who - by our standards at least - have so little, are by nature the most generous: with their smiles, laughter, food, time, space and lives.

It's Monday 1st of August now and we're all settling in and adjusting to our new routine well. We've had, however, a few minor hiccups and incidents worth mentioning before I describe in greater detail, our day-to-day life and the important gravity-fed water system we are helping to complete.

Caught out in torrential rain yesterday, we took shelter in a shed containing sheaths of beans and a few chickens After a few minutes a local from the house beside us brought us a dead armadillo and a rather macabre impromptu photo-shoot ensued. Mitchell is slightly concerned that the photo I took of him holding the poor thing by the tail and laughing hysterically might prove detrimental to his prospects of a career in law. If I discover that he's working for a reputable firm in the future I may have to send them a picture with a note attached, saying "Do you trust this man? I used to." Maybe you have to know Mitch to find that funny - he's a very funny guy.

So today we were attacked by a swarm of giant black wasps on the way to work. I think we had about six casualties - none too serious but all painful enough. I remember realizing what was happening, and just shouting "Run for your lives!" Jenny screamed for help but Waheedah was too busy searching for the beast which had trespassed down her top. The latter suffered a sting to the breast; the former, one on the head. They mostly missiled toward the hair, leading Bert to ask ‘Are they trying to steal our earwax?!'

Anyway, more about the people, place and project. The trench we are digging in which to lay down the tough, plastic pipe is coming on well. I think most of us would agree that it's the hardest, most backbreaking work that we've undertaken - especially when we hit a rocky stretch, the sun beating down, and the slope is steep. Today we had all three, and everyone did well (we're losing so much water through perspiration that we're drinking as often as possible).

The trench, which was begun by the previous group at a natural underground spring where a water-catchment tank was built underground with cement and large stones, now runs about 600m or 700m from the high spring, down the mountainside, at an average depth and width of say, slightly less than two by one foot respectively. The remaining days will be spent digging roughly another 1400m of ditch, laying all the pipe (3 inch diameter), covering it all back over, laying a line of big stones above it, and finally, turning on all the taps in the 12 or so houses. - providing them with clean, unlimited water - both being new, and essential properties.

The locals are happy with the work we are doing; it will obviously change their lives for the better. I also believe they are happy to have us staying with them. We are strange creatures from an unknown land, capable of peculiar feats and prone to bizarre habits. In short, we are very amusing to them! Whether we're beat-boxing, singing, juggling, dancing, washing our clothes, trying to use a machete, drawing, trying to speak Spanish or to make their maize tortillas - we are a source of so much laughter. And that's a good feeling. We've been making ourselves laugh as well though - especially today when Jodie got a bit tongue-tied and uttered a perfect spoonerism. A snake had been found, and because I was far away she tried to shout, presumably "Jack, there's a snake!" What she actually said was, "Jake, there's a snack!" At least I believe it was an accident, although there is a chance that she thinks my name is Jake, and that, like Bear Grylls himself, I snack on serpents. Over.

*Blog written by Dawn Tennant unless stated otherwise.


  1. ¡Buenas noches amiga! Tis James coming from Palm Springs, in a hotel with a mysteriously large proliferation of pseudo-ghetto fat kids who wear knee high white socks with sandals. And they ain't even female or attractive.

    Anyway, did my own bit of expeditioning yesterday by headig into he desert proper around late afternoon to sunset, spotting palm oases, coyotes and rattlesnake... Tracks. Nothing deadly, le sigh. However, after playing tennis at Indian Wells on a proper tournament court (yep I'm tennis fanboying) I spotted and photographed a bona fide Looney Tunes-esque roadrunner. It even meep-meeped for me, amazing eh. It was also 35•C at 8am while playing and it gets up around 45 by midday. It's good though, dry clean heat rather than the humid times that I'm expecting you're having? Going into even more proper desert tomorrow which ought to be great, and at least won't have lame Hispanic prepubescents at every turn

    Gonna sign off for now 'cos I'm off to the bar for another non-alcoholic drink, not fun. However, means that resultsy times can be my avenue back into booze in a big way. I read the blog from Elliott, wasn't a patch on your comma officer sills so you had better get back on that, I want some laughworthy lyrical Lydiaisms to peruse with happiness. I know you're still having an awesome time because you're almost certainly making it awesome, and keep safe too, yeah?

    See you soon I hope, and loads of love xxxxxxxxxx

  2. Charlie Page - Romeo 5
    Sounds like you are all really busy in your new venture in Yeluca - hopefully there will be some photos posted soon? Dinghy week now finished at home and Abbie's first week as a DI was challenging! Dad and I somehow managed 1st L2K and no black eyes this year! Ollie had a good week instructing and on the last day sailed Dad's laser in the long distance race and did very well (4th) so Dad now worried that he can't blame the boat when he doesn't do so well! Letters are on their way to you filled with news and tons of love. Georgie and Dad fighting over who is going to try and ring you on results day - i won't get a look in but you know i will be right there thinking of you. looking forward to hearing from you when you get back to field base - missing you - love Mum xxxxx

  3. To Niall McElroy, Romeo 2:

    Hey you. So, it's my last week in Pokhara! Things are going well at the daycare - the tots have mastered the alphabet and are storming along with numbers. A couple now also successfully give out high fives, although sadly I have gained a reputation for throwing them up in the air, and there are 20 of them, and I simply don't have the upper body strength to do it all day! Have also discovered some of the boys are, in fact, girls when I took them to the toilet. Awkward. In other news, I'm having a Nepali outfit made (it would just be rude not to), and still grappling with that essay. Will send another message during the week, and should have time to write you a long and heartfelt (cheesy) email at Kathmandu before I head off to Lukla and Everest (scary). Hope all's well on trek, missing you as much as always (perhaps more), but at least it's only 6 weeks now.. All my love, your Sarah x

  4. luke smalley romeo 5

    hello there luke ....just read the blog bout wot you up to , sounds like fun but hard work to ... we up the wall as well and bin working hard on the house , there is plaster dust everywere mixed with ceiling dust, not a good combination !!!! only a bit left to do now , so it will be all sorted by the time u home .... cant wait for a chat , love u lots and missin u lots to ,, take care mum xxxxxx

  5. Jack Smylie Wild Romeo 7
    loved your post!!!!! i can imagine you digging away and laughing with the locals!! I spoke to Seren this evening which was lovely- so looking fwd to spending time wirh her at Croissant Neuf................ glenn and Wilbs still bar building in airstream and I'm making bunting and backdrops keeping the crew fed and keeping the neighbouring farm collie away from meg!!!!! Shereon is going to look after her for a week - she's in season so we have to be extra vigilant! Thinking of you loads and love love love you honey........Mummy mally , Wilbs and the Loumeister and Mrs, megginsxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Hi Grace -hope the trek is going well.
    Good luck with the rest of your journey.
    Did you enjoy the oranges and coconuts?
    Hope you have taken lots of pics.
    It was good to receive the message you sent to Abi.
    She thanks you for the birthday card and present!
    The weather is still unsettled -approx 18c cludy and showery.
    William is back froma sleepover at George "Binners" - he is in a real "Kevin" mood.
    Went to see Grandma and Grandad (Driffield) pm today. Dad needs cheering up, seeing you will be the tonic.
    Counting down to my birthday!
    Played a golf comp with Will and Alex yesterday pm. Got wet and both played badly. Alex played well.
    Grandna and Grandad (Reighton) following the blogs etc,. Hope you have seed their posts?
    Mum will ring Uni tomorrow.
    Abi doing ok at work but harvest is very slow, we need a few fine days together.
    Oh well thats it for now, getting ready for an early start tomorrow am.
    Cassie carefully took a toffee crisp bar from Will's wet golf bag- I retrieved it just as she was carrying it to her basket, she has an unbelievable nose, Roonie is almost as sharp!
    Take care, ENJOY.
    sjawcr xxxxxxxxx

  7. For Sarah Canty - Romeo 2 Hi Sarah, hope you are well and having a great time on the trek. Just read a report of your first few days on the blog and it sounds great, quite varied. You're about half way through now so hopefully it should be getting easier and you might even be enjoying it! That is if you haven't got too many blisters. We've just got back from our week in Spain which was lovely and relaxing as usual. You're not missing much of a summer here, the weather has been pretty rubbish. David has got back into Southampton again for next year, so that's a relief and Chris, Nanny and the dogs are all fine. Look forward to being in touch when you finish the trek. Saw a photo of Chloe on the Borneo blog, liked the short red hair. She 's on an environmental phase at the mo. Bye for now my lovely, keep enjoying it and miss you loads. lots of love mum and dad x
    By Helen Canty on A fully trained 11I head off to their project site... on 8/7/11

  8. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    News today about the lovely views you are seeing and had a dip in the river.All seems to be going well with you all.I have been to the dentist today and had 2 out . Abis birthday rang her this morning , is having a few friends round tonight.The weather has turned cold and showers.Are you looking forward to a good roast dinner? Look after your self. Love CHICKY G G XXXXX.

    Hi Grace, sent a message last night which has not appeared.
    This is really a test to see what the problem is.
    I sent you all the news and it does not seem to have been posted.
    Hope the trek is going well.
    All ok here. Abi survived 1st driving lesson.

  10. Mitch Tulloch Romeo 7
    Hi Mitch read the recent blog from Jack, sounds like you are having and interesting time, hope you dodged the wasps. I would love to see the picture of you and that Armadillo. Hope you are still enjoying yourself, take care love Mum&Dad

  11. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    Hi Gracie, How is the jungle trek going? Are you counting the days to finish your long trek? Abi has been celebrating her birthday today has a few people round tonight. 1st driving lesson went really well cant believe Abi is 17! Hope you are keeping well and taking lots of photos on your travels. Take care, with love from us all xxxx mum xx

  12. Hi Daniel, Greetings from Durango, Colorado. We have been doing our share of trekking along well-maintained trails, which make us think of you! Hope you're having fun and looking forward to seeing you in ten days time. Lots of love from us all, D, M, J & B

  13. Catherine Chatfield Ball
    Romeo 4.
    Hi darling. We are all fine here. Have you heard about the London riots? as far as I am aware Marcia Rd is not in the affected area - the nearest is peckham the other end of the Old Kent Rd I think. Croydon, clapham, and Bromley plus so much more have been looted, burned. This is the most shocking thing I have ever witnessed. Started on Sat night, and has got worse and worse. Other cities now involved as of Sunday night - Liverpool included. Hope Jordon kept his nose clean! Can't wait to see you soon. We miss you especially the animals! XX mum

  14. Grace Minns Romeo 2.
    We are all o.k. and hope you are still going strong. Abi had her first drivingt, so we kept well out of the way! Thinking of you as always with our love G G xxxxxx

  15. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    Hi Gracie, how are you doing? apart from acing bones and sore feet!! Booking you in for a back and head massage and an appt at Sharpes for 20th. The thought of home life and all the comforts must seem a distant memory after all the excitment of your adventure.Gma &Gdad send there love there is another letter to be picked up and sent to you by blog. All ok at home, the plans are going well for dads party on the 28th 12.30 onwards should be 30 - 40 people. Will be glad of your help when you have recovered. Take care, lots of love Mum xxxx

  16. To Christina Clare - Romeo 4

    Hi beautiful, by now you should have got the letters and cards (fingers crossed!!!)

    Had a good time with Rich in lakes last week (we didn't go to Snowdon in the end).

    Love you very much and hopefully speak to you soon between this and your last project. Not long until you get back now !


  17. To Ryan Austin Romeo 3,

    Looking forward to you coming home. I have the last 2 weeks of August off work so there will lots of time to get you ready for school. Tracey, Shawn, and Booker want to have you down for a night to take you to the CNE and Ontario place. That should be fun. I bought you some nice things for school so far. We'll have to go shopping to finalize what you need when you get back. It will be nice to have you home. I hope you are enjoying yourself. It sounds like your group is working very hard. Try to have some fun as well.
    Love Mom

  18. Alfie Carapiet, Romeo 1.
    Just a short note to let you know we are all fine. Alex is really loving his new job. He got to go to a trade show yesterday and apparently there are more in the pipeline. He is staying with John in Tooting andthey seem to be getting on together quite well.

    We leave here on Sunday to return home - but I don't expect you will be back from this phase by then. Do try and get in touch and let me know the best way to contact you next Thursday. We should know by very early morning your time. Otherwise I will just have to email anhd blog it!!! Dad has lost 2 stone in weight - still avoiding bread and alcohol (where possible)and he keeps wrapping his shirt over in the front and saying - "Look how big this is"!! I just say "Way more to go yet"! Think we should send him on a Raleigh trip!!!! That would sort him out...
    Anyway - still miss you loads - not long now - and looking forward to hearing from you and hopefully sending you some good news next week!

    Lots of love

  19. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    To-day we went into Brid and did some shopping . Then went to Driff and saw your Dad <
    they were busy , we got some wheat.Next stop on to your Mums where we had coffee the rain had stopped so looked round the garden.Tomatoes look good.Weather is not good windy and heavy showers.Hope things are good with you and not to rough.More tomorrow Love G G chickyxxxx

  20. Reggie - Romeo 2

    HEY REG!!!!! Hope you're having an amazing trek. Looks like you are losing some weight! Have you heard about the London riots? It's been pretty mental here, loads of high streets are all smashed up. Amy Winehouse died! :'( Theo will be upset about that. Theo, Ted and Gabes have moved in to a house together in Finsbury Park - can't wait for them to have a party! Me and LCB are off on holiday in a week yay and then I will be seeing Ross when he's here woo! I think I may be on holiday when you changeover if you wanna ring but give it a try would love to catch up!

    Take care and speak soon, Nicky xxxxxx

  21. To Dharan sharma,
    Alpha Romeo 5,
    Hi vithya,
    'many many happy returns of the day'
    how r u? how is ur project?
    from Ruban anna,

  22. Emma Black - Romeo 7

    Hi it's me again :)

    I didn't get round to sending your letter until Monday morning. Not sure how long it will take to get to you but hopefully you'll get it soon.

    The blog from Saturday 6th August is good, it made me laugh. Yous just sound like yous are having so much fun. It must be so hard but yous are helping so many people and doing such good things for them and i would think thats a big part of what gets you through the difficult times.

    Some good news here - Claire's friend June had a baby boy today. He doesn't have a name yet but they are both doing well.

    I've got my college induction on Tuesday so I'll send you a quick message to let you know how I got on.

    Miss you lots
    Love you
    Kelly xxxx

  23. Claire Barnsley Romeo 6
    Hi Tink. Last blog as off sailing tomorrow. Hope you've had a fantastic time and can't wait to see you to hear all about it and give you a big hug! Remember keep in touch while you're travelling.Love u. Mummy xxx

  24. Romeo 7

    Emma Black

    Hi Emma, how are you doing? it sounds like your putting in some shift, i hope your not feeling to achey from all that hard graft, itll be worth it in the end! is it still rainging there? its bucketing down here nothing new there lol What are the people like your stayng with? judging by what jack has said in the blog use are all keeping them entertained hows the maize torila cooking been are u a pro at making them?
    i went to a fitting today for the movie, i got my rmy suit, make up done, got my picture done and then got mregistered for my gun i start filming nxt week on my birthday so am having to have a quiet one but its worth it.
    well keep up the hard work and have a great time!

    krishan xxxx

  25. luke smalley romeo 5

    hey gorgeous , hows it going ? we not had a blog update for a while , so no pics of the fab job u lot are creating ..... hope u getting better weather than what the great british summer is giving us at the min , lots and lots of rain topped of with lots of wind .... so glad am in work , and that saying something .... this just a quick , reminder that am missing u and love u ... big big hugs and kisses mum xxxx

  26. Romeo 7....Hi jodie Hastie ...

    Hi Jods...all ok with us here hope u r ?

    Im Back home after 5 days on mainland...saw nan and went up to see shirley....
    Saw the new pictures u look great hope u r ok!!
    Hope to have my laptop back this week....Its friday evening George has gone to watch the fireworks in Cowes....Im at Barrie's for tea...
    I went down to see sue last night fireworks and watched the fireworks in shanklin very good...
    My tea is ready we r having steak yummie....As always i love u and miss u Jods xxxxxx Lov mum xx G xx J xx

  27. Daran Sarma - Romeo 5

    Happy (belated) birthday bro, from all of us! You're starting to get old, but its a good place to have it! Sounds like you are having a crazy but good time in Nicaragua.

    I just got back from Kenya, got some stories to tell. Safari was amazing, it's keeping me sane at work!

  28. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    How are you Grace,? Guess you will be tired after all the treking and hot weather. It has been raining again today.G Dad been at Brid this morning.Egg shop been busy. All for now, love as always and in our thoughts G G Chicky xxxxxxx

  29. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    Sunday and we have just had our dinner pork with all the trimmings, has that made your mouth water? You will soon be tucking into a good meal at home.The weather is better today warmer and brighter.Love looking at the pictures of you, always smiling even though you looktired.Take care, lots of love Chicky Grandparents xxxxxxxxxx

  30. Andres Chava! PM!
    MAE MAE MAE MAE MAE MAE, chickys comes? cafes tomas? baños huecos cagas? raleigh felices estas? mae que belleza! mae huevon no lo he podido ver en ninguna foto pero di apenas bueno, nada mas acuerdece que con mucho respeto, mucho cariño y di a mano cambiada... p.d: mae mau alden y yo ya fuimos al poas y al irazu en bici asi que lo estamos esperando para ir de nuevo e ir a roca bruja! aDIOS!


  31. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    Not long to coming home now . Nearing the end to your trecking! You have done very well Gracie , every one will be looking forward to seeing you specaily your Mum and Dad Abi and Wills.Take great care lots of love Chicky Grandparents xxxxxxxx

  32. Jodie hastie...Romeo 7.....

    Hi Lovely great to have chat with u on friday night....hope u found your singing voice and had a good sing song....!!

    Jerrad is now 21 !! we had lunch out yesterday had nice time, we met caroline,rebecca and Jenny in portsmouth...rebecca is staying with us now till friday when we are going up to london for weekend....

    Hope u are getting a rest now before the trek !!
    I thought u sounded well when we had a chat xx
    ok my lovely jodie i will save u a birthday cake, I made jerrad some lemom butterfly muffins he likes them....
    Will post u soon ... u may be able to ring us soon even tho jerrad is out now having a beer down beach with his mates !!!!
    Lov u miss u my fav girl always......
    lov u mumxx J xx G xx Rxx

  33. Emma Black - Romeo 7

    Hi Emma

    All the girls at the desk are missing you but we are keeping up to date with everything you are doing by reading the blogs. It sounds like you are having a great time! Must be really hard but so rewarding at the same time. Keep up the good work, we are all really proud of you and what you are doing. Take care and can't wait to see you to hear all your stories!

    Lots of love




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