Our last day in the jungle started with a very tasty fry up prepared as a surprise by a few of our venturers, who also stayed up most of the night planning and making it. We had scrambled egg, fried potatoes, cheese and bread, fried onions, salchicon and fried cinnamon bananas. It was really scrummy! Nice change from porridge. That day we finished off all the work on the trails and to much of the delight of the rangers, we had exceeded their expectations for how much we had done in our time in the jungle. On our last night the rangers surprised us by cooking us dinner. We dined like kings eating from real plates with a proper knife and fork and a glass of coke each – it was luxury! In return we shared a generous helping of our Energy Bomb. The night was made even more special by the whole group staying up to watch the sunset from the viewing platform overlooking the beautiful, un-touched jungle of La Cangreja, and then spotting shooting stars before bed.
The next day we left for Playa Hermosa, “Beautiful Beach”. It was even better than we had imagined, it was like arriving in paradise. Sparkling black sand totally deserted but from some driftwood, and lined with palm trees. With crashing waves of the ocean (this beach is where the international surfing championships was held) this place is rugged and wild. On arrival we set about building our new jungle camp less than fifty meters from the each. This involved making the basha beds suing bamboo tripods and canvas. For those of us who hadn’t done this before, it was somewhere between entertaining and a complete headache (even more so when we discovered how many had leaked the following night during a thunderstorm…). That evening Ricardo (one of the volunteer rangers) gave us a talk about the turtle conservation work don here, and how Romeo 4 would be contributing over the course of the week, with night patrols collecting eggs and fending off poachers and assisting with the running of the hatchery. Our first patrol was very eventful. Johnnie, the ranger we patrolled with was very passionate about teaching sui how to track the turtles, find their nests and dig for the eggs to protect them from predators – poachers and animals alike. On that one patrol we collected five batches of eggs, each of about 100 eggs, the size of a golf ball and incredibly fragile. On a sadder note, we also came across an injured dolphin stranded on the beach. It had suffered an animal attack and after the ranger concluded that there was nothing more we could do for her, we carried her back into the water and left nature to take its course. It was a very emotional moment for everyone in the group and really brought home the struggle for survival in the animal kingdom.
The next day spirits were lifted when we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to release two baby Olive Ridley hatchlings into the sea. We names them Ollie and Tyrone. During the days we have been building a small stone wall along the dirt track leading to the ranger’s station in order to protect the saplings of a reforested area from passing cars. The work at Playa Hermosa is less strenuous than what we did in the jungle, mainly due to a four hour break midday when the temperatures soar to 35 degrees centigrade, making it impossible to work. In this time we cool of in the sea, catch some rays and have a siesta to make up for the sleep lost on night patrol. We’ve been very fortunate with wildlife again, with brightly coloured crabs, huge iguanas wandering around our camp, crocodiles in the mangrove swamp and scarlet macaws flying overhead.
The cherry on the cake was our patrol last night, in which we got to play real life cops and robbers, getting some poachers arrested by the local police. At the end of the patrol we had an extraordinarily lucky find of turtle entry tracks with no exit tracks! This could only mean one thing… an Olive Ridley was still laying her eggs just meters away from us! Manual, chief ranger was so excited he was literally jumping up and down. We quickly put on gloves, got out our collection bags and one by one collected the eggs dropping into our hands as she laid them. We then watched her cover the nest and waddle back out to sea. It was the most incredible experience. Next update, 15th August. Lots of love, Christina and Cat xxx
|Setting up jungle camp|
|Ranger Ricardo teaching us a few lessons|
|Setting the baby turtles free after they hatch|
|A little bit of encouragement from our venturers - "you can do it Oliver!"|
|Work in the hatchery|
|Finding a nest on patrol and collecting the eggs|
|Burying the eggs in the hatchery after collecting them on a night patrol|
|Time spent well. 'Planking' - it's the new standing.|
Romeo 2 also have more news for us as they continue to trek through Guanacaste…
Romeo 2 has completed a further six days trekking and is currently camped in a farmers field looking out towards the impressive Volcan Miravalles which towers over the surrounding valleys. Despite the early morning wake up calls by Niall the llama at 3.30am and trekking under the intense sun everyone is in fantastic spirits and would like to wish everyone else on project a great second half of phase two. Admittedly, some of us are rocking some rather fetching burn/tan lines and one Australian member of the group has even gone as far as giving a certain area of body hair a change of colour, courtesy of some carefully applied bleach.
We’ve seen some magnificent sights since the last blog update, not least the scenic ridge walk amongst the wind farms and the spectacular turquoise river and waterfalls. After two days of trekking through intense jungle with Don Luz where Grace demonstrated her ballerina-like balance as she slid down yet another muddy track, we emerged next to the natural thermal spa: a welcome sight for Romeo 2’s aching bodies, where we enjoyed a relaxing lunch. Other highlights include have been the epic hour long rest stop next to a panaderia where everyone gorged themselves on some food which hasn’t come out of a tin or foil packet. In Zapote several of us enjoyed a game of football with the local school children before heading for a dip in the nearby river to cool off. We’ve had our share of tears on trek too. Emma mourned the loss of her walking stick and Justin had us all in stitches when he told us what animal he thought we most suited. Some came off better than others. Although most evenings we’re in bed before we would have sat down to watch TV back home, we’ve still found time to enjoy some themed games of mafia. Richard has now imparted his gigantic store of Harry Potter knowledge with another team and Justin dazzled us all with his accent during Irish mafia. That’s all for this time. We’ve got our sights firmly set on reaching the Pacific Coast in another six days time and look forward to sharing our photos with all of you when we’re back at fieldbase.
Romeo 3 have finished their project work for the phase and are now spending their days working on helpful extras for the ranger. The team are on good form, enjoying jungle life and its beautiful surroundings.
Romeo 5 are on wonderful form and have made a start on building the walls. The group are building some really strong relationships with their adopted families and settling in well to community life. They spend their evenings playing games with their families, including musical statues at which PM Jon seems to be taking the lead in, with some close competition from the local children.
All is good with Romeo 6. They're working hard and enjoying every second. Our Bravo one road tripping troopers enjoyed a sports day with them on their visit, with events such as the mum and dad's race, the egg and spoon race, the 'balloon between the legs' race (official name unknown), the wheelbarrow race and many more. Our venturers even spent hours preparing individual certificates for each of the children as a momentum of their sporting achievement!
Romeo 7 are working, working, working to get their project finished by the end of phase. On Friday they'll be heading to the International Music Festival to let their hair down and give themselves a well deserved break. Keep going guys!
So all is good in the Raleigh hood. All of our groups are working hard and enjoying what seems to be some truly unique and wonderful experiences. The venturers will be arriving back on the 15th and in the meantime fieldbase are busy preparing some fun and festivities for the next changeover . More news soon so until then, all the way from beautiful Costa Rica - pura vida!
Blog written by Dawn Tennant and photo's by Kat Mammone unless otherwise stated.