Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Romeos Return

Once again our venturers have returned to fieldbase; tired, excited and full to the brim with a second batch of adventure stories. After three weeks out on phase they have taken down their jungle camps, put their trekking poles to rest and made their way back to fieldbase in one piece – welcome back Romeos! On the schedule for the next couple of days: catching up with old buddies, comparing stories, tan lines and enjoying some well earned down time before round three. We will also be saying goodbye to our seven weekers, but not without a succession of parties and celebrations to send them off. This evening the 11G Massive will be donning the braces and spectacles for our 'Freaks and Geeks' party, and tomorrow night is Vegas night! But for now let's round up phase two with a few final words from our Romeos.

Romeo 1 by Tricia
Ok goodie! We have finally made it past the half way mark and yes it’s true we could not be more proud at the strength of our bodies. The most amazing thing about trekking is that we have discovered that your bruises and blisters on your feet do heel despite constant walking. The most challenging part of today was being faced with steep hills both up and down, but it was a pleasure for Romeo 1 to finally camp for the first time as the Turrimacho and Romeo 1 gang.
Highlights from Cam...
Angelina says “Cam what is the temperature tonight?”
Cam says “Tonight! Oh yeah tonight is cold!”

Day ten was a day of some serious mental challenges, this walk tested our mental strength as we faced walks of uphill challenges, however as always with any challenge you are always rewarded with views that are incredibly unique and that will stay with you forever. Viewing Turrialba Volcano from heights that are difficult to reach and enjoying a coffee with the local ranger is enough to cheer any painful trek away.

The day of ‘Dear John’! Today we were ditched by the PMs and had to make it alone to our location. After reflecting on our very amusing letter we all went off marching in single file down the Pan American highway, with one of the venturers playing team medic. There was also plenty of discussion and debate as to whether we continue our trek onwards or stop off at a community centre for the night. As Romeo 1 should be renamed ‘Team Strong’ as we carried on to the Laguna and were greeted by A-class views , our fugitive PMs and the lovely fieldbase team.

The pre dragon day! Here we go again, this time accompanied by a friend called ‘rain!’ This walk was an interesting mix of terrain, hills and farmland. This walk eventually led us to a height where we could literally reach into the clouds. This misty location allowed us all to view a different weather climate to the sunny Costa Rica we had known.

Dragon day! Bring it on. Today we climbed well over 2080 feet. This allowed Romeo 1 to gain access to a sneak preview of the beach we are all heading for. This day was very challenging as we decided to ditch the route card and climb with instinct. Challenge? Most certainly. Views? Like no other ever seen. What made this day extra special was catching a brief glimpse of a beautiful brown jaguar.

The trek continued through the clouds, spiralling down hills and finding ourselves located in a small eerie town that allowed us to gain access to one of Costa Rica’s beautiful churches. From this village we moved towards a village that has been massively hit by landslides.

Out of the clouds we headed down, pointing our noses towards the beach, fighting steep hills and uniquely building bridges. Arriving at a very spacious community centre with a local Costa Rican Mama offering to throw all our wet clothes in a dryer. ‘We love you Ticas!’

Off to the beach we go! Singing, dancing, jumping! 28km later we arrived at Playa Palo Seco. What better way to say hello to the Palo Seco waves than screaming our native Kiwi lingo....”kome te kome te, kuri kuri!” (the hakka!)

Romeo 2 by Justin
Good morning from Romeo 2! We have completed the Guanacaste trek and are chilling out on the beach awaiting a delicious BBQ! Since we last left you, Romeo 2 have trekked through the jungle to Rincon de la Vieja National Park where we met up with our buddies from Romeo 3. In our two days here we have made our way over to the stunning waterfalls and have chilled out in the Rio Blanco Pools. Our next journey took us far into the hills to a town called Las Lilas, where Romeo 2 had the delight of being cooked for by the community. “The King of food” proclaimed Isaac when we tucked into our delicious pork and beans with coffee and ‘queso’. As a thank you, Romeo 2 played football with the kids; and Justin found a guitar and strummed out ‘Yellow Submarine’ for everyone. For our next two days the group head back to the mountains to Cacao station, with beautiful sunsets and stunning views of the Pacific. With big thanks to Ryan, Jen was able to enjoy a birthday cake on the big day- although the cake didn’t last very long after the hungry group set in. In addition, Reggie, Justin, Ryan and Rich scaled another mountain up a long forgotten path in an enjoyable mini-hike. Justin and Rich also showed that there childhood wasn’t wasted by recounting all 150 Pokemon characters from memory. Our final days here are on the beach. After a tough 30km final day Romeo 2 achieved their goal of 3111km and landed on beautiful Playa Junquillal.
So that’s pretty much it from Romeo 2. We’re all so proud of our achievements this phase and look forward to our next challenges, seeing old friends, putting our feet up and relaxing.

Romeo 3 by Elliot
Our phase is over. On our last day we took down our jungle camp, dismantled our kitchen and solemnly displaced our sacred Toucan. Camping out under the ranger station the emotion of the group was fluctuating; satisfaction from a job well done and being a significant help to the National Park was counterbalanced by the lack of our jungle home and the upcoming separation of our group. Not to be defeated by the somber mood, Romeo 3 celebrated the end of our environmental project in style - with sought after fizzy drinks and delicious marshmallows a late night farewell party was had; a further celebration to the night before where to our surprise the Rangers at Rincon De La Vieja cooked us a chicken dinner. The culmination of the party came as our PMs: Carwyn, Amy and Kiki granted the titles of King and Queen of the jungle to Elliot and Corrie for their efforts and attitude during the phase. Some of Romeo 3 are heading home, their Raleigh experience brought to an end, but whether in the next few weeks we find ourselves in Nicaragua, England or Costa Rica we all share the unforgettable experience working with incredibly passionate rangers and in the most stunning environment, safe in the knowledge that our work has helped safeguard its beauty.

Romeo 4 by Christina
Romeo 4 is now safely back at fieldbase after a fantastic phase in La Cangreja National Park and Playa Hermosa. We had a great time at the beach and seeing the turtles was a highlight for everyone. Here are a few words from Romeo 4:

Kelly: The best part was seeing a dolphin and collecting eggs for the first time ever. My life on Raleigh has changed so much and I respect so much what Raleigh has given me.

Jordan and Tim: The beach was frikkin’ awesome. We love the beach. And the crocodiles. And the baby turtles. And sleeping in hammocks is frikkin’ awesome! “Open up Ollie & Tyrone!”... We ride together; we die together, bad boys for life. T & J

Joss: I really enjoyed seeing the monkeys, crocodiles and turtles. I enjoyed making a difference to the environment in the jungle and on the beach.

Saren: Playa Hermosa is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It would be perfect if it wasn’t for the ants.

Cat: We’ve has a fantastic group and some incredible experiences. A highlight for me was releasing the baby turtles on the beach and making some good friends that I’ll never forget.

Kulbir: I really have enjoyed this phase, especially with its two very unique parts. The varied wildlife and the plant species in the jungle, coupled with the turtle conservation in Playa Hermosa.

Imi: I really enjoyed the two parts of this phase. I’m really pleased I got to see white faced capuchin monkeys and turtles.

Jonny: Really enjoyed this phase with two parts. Both parts were unique and picturesque. I met some great people, made some good friends and saw some amazing animals.

Christina: I have had a really wonderful time on this phase. I feel very lucky to have seen turtles on the beach and released baby ones back into the ocean. Living in the rainforest was an amazing experience, being surrounded by trees that seem to touch the clouds and unique wildlife.

Pinki: I really enjoy walking on the beach. I have seen the turtles, the sunset, a dolphin, and I used my hand to catch the turtles eggs. They are all amazing experiences!

Joyce: This phase is an unforgettable experience to me because it is incredible for me to have a chance to have seen the sea turtles laying eggs, build a nest for them and see the turtles wander back into the ocean. I am very happy!

Tom: Cowabunga - what a second phase! The first half of the phase in La Cangreja and the second half at one of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches. I couldn't have asked for more. Playa Hermosa was a very special experience for me. Catching the turtle eggs as she laid them into my palm was truly magical and a moment that will stay with me forever.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed keeping up with Romeo 4s adventures. Those of us on the ten week expedition are very excited for our third and final phase. Those of us heading home in a few days look forward to seeing you all soon! With love, Christina x

Romeo 5 by Darran
It was a stressful day on our thirteenth day of work but Romeo 5 was determind to reach their target of building the community centre to head height. The pressure was on and unfortunately (although we tried so hard) we only reached shoulder height, but hey, we were still ferociously proud of the work we had done. The fifteen coffee-packed days had caused Romeo 5 to totally become attached to their families by the hips, if not by the mouth from their daily ritual of providing delicious food. It served only to make the farewell all the more difficult and tearful. However, Romeo 5 left with a sense of satisfaction. We had done two ‘how to’ sessions with the communities and had learnt to make biscuits and atol. Being able to cook tortillas and other traditional dishes, many of us became novices in the field of Nicaraguan cooking. It also made us well up with pride to see how rapidly the children at school were picking up English from our daily lessons at school. If only we could have learnt Spanish as fast. Events such as sports day (with some over competitive participants (...Chava)), a birthday/church opening, and two parties further spiced up life with the community. Romeo 5 are incredibly sad to be leaving Yaluca and are envious of the next lucky group that will be fortunate enough to go and experience life there.

Romeo 6 by Catherine
Romeo 6 has had an unforgettable experience in the community of Los Apantes. We successfully completed the community centre and opened it on the final Saturday with a big fiesta! The experience went further than that though as we were immersed in a totally different culture, seeing things that we had never experienced by passing through or reading books. Living with the families, we saw and learnt about every day aspects of life with no modern amenities - although I think we all appreciate modern amenities such as washing machines much more, we also appreciate the simple lifestyle they lead, such as the delights they take in playing games and family. We were all also amazed at the wide variety of dishes that can be made from the same few ingredients. The setting of Los Apantes was fantastic too, at 1500m with panoramic views of the mountains and breathtaking sunsets, no wonder it’s such a happy place. It’s nice to think that we have made appositive impact on their lives by providing the whole community with somewhere to meet, and that by simply being in their lives for two weeks we have successfully opened the youngsters eyes to the wider world so that they might go on to be more involved with it in the future, maybe even by doing Raleigh themselves.

Romeo 7 by Jack Smylie Wild
As is the case with most entities, Romeo 7s demise and disintegration is imminent – soon to be recycled into fresh groups for new thrills and purposes. And in many ways this is sad – it really has consisted of thirteen wonderful people, all with so many wonderful qualities, skills and strengths. We’ve been an equal group, a close group and a fun-loving one too. And the PMs have really acted as an impetus and a catalyst for these traits to manifest among us venturers. Well done Jenny, Waheeda and Margarita!
It’s been a few days now since we left our hill top hide-away and entered back into a more familiar but also a more hectic world. We’ve been back at fieldbase for two hours – handing over muddy clothes for washing, catching up with old friends from other groups, organising our equipment, some have been rehearing our ‘skits' (theatrical, musical performances depicting our projects), some guys are playing scrabble next to me and the BBQ is underway. Tonight is movie night. Tomorrow we do our skits and then dress as ‘freaks and geeks’ for the party and have a damn good boogie. Wednesday means the assignments for the final phase, and we’re all excited to see which treks and environmental projects we get and with which people we’ll be doing them. Sadly, the time has nearly come to say a fond farewell to the seven weekers. Our good friend Vejuna will be sorely missed by all in Romeo 7 – happy travels!
We’re all proud of the hard work we did in Quebrada Honda and touched by the simple lives which are played out there, in the remote hills which seem a million miles from anything we knew before. There’s not doubt we’ve all learnt lessons from our time there. What struck me personally was the quiet and gentle tenacity of people who work the land to stay alive and the smiles and generosity they still share with so much ease. Hopefully with instant access to good water more time can be spent educating the brilliant young minds of the children, and will also mean some respite to the elders. Better hygiene and irrigation are also significant benefits as well as many more. What an experience it was! We are all inspired to put our energy into positive change for those who lead difficult lives - a ‘pura vida’ for all!

So that's it for phase two - done and dusted. We're off to get ready for tonight's events but we'll be back soon with some cheeky snapshots of fieldbase fun and frolics, as well as our brand spanking new phase three project groups! Make way for... the X-Rays! Ooh.

Pura vida!

*Blog written by Dawn Tennant and photos by Kat Mammone, unless otherwise stated.


  1. Imi Morgan - Romeo 4
    Happy 22nd Birthday Imi!!! Hope that you have a splendid day; I got your whats app message earlier today, its sad to hear you wont be doing that, perhaps you will get something even better to do! Miss you loads!! All is pretty much set for Netherlands, I've started packing and its only a few weeks left to go until I fly out except I have yet to book my flight. Hope you're keeping well!! Love you lots!

  2. Birthday wishes to Imriel! Hope she continues to enjoy the pleasures of rice, beans and the unparalleled ecstasy of ice cold showers at CATIE :-)
    If someone gives her an extra pack of tang I promise to reimburse them in kind.

  3. Hi Alfie Carapiet, Romeo 1,
    Good to read the blog and so happy to hear that all is well and that you are having a great time. You haven't sent me a number where I can contact you tomorrow - not long now.

    Miss you loads.
    Love Sue

  4. Grace Minns Romeo 2
    Well done made it back to field base! Are your poor feet hurting? You will have made some good friends who you will always remember. There will be such a lot to tell us all, back at home. Take care and a safe journey home love G G xxxxxx

  5. For Imriel, Alpha 6:

    Happy Birthday, Imriel! I hope you have spotted at least a few monkeys or cows on your travels. Your monkeys miss you. Love, Caitlin.

  6. Justin Shenolikar Romeo 2 Well done Boo on the 3000km trek! How are the feet? Sounds like you are having a great time. I am so very proud of you.Costa Rica sounds beautiful. Was not surprised by your recall of so many pokamons but very surprised that some one else was as sad as you and knew them all too - gotta get them all! And 'yellow submarine'? Thought you were a Muse man? Why not something 'exciting' from Damage limitation!! :)Still no pics - not happy.Send lots of pics NOW!Keep well and use lots of DEET. Love Mum x Chris has 2 interviews so wish him luck. He is whining as usual - law is so hard etc, etc. Nothing changes. Jord has one more exam so hopefully he will be in 3rd year when you get back - fingers crossed

  7. Mari cruz x-ray 2. Hey, hope your having an amazing time trekking! My tans fading and im dreading going back to work. Im saving for my next flight already. :)Missing you! Cesca x



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