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.