Thursday, 8 September 2011

The End.

Well I’ll be darned, it’s only the final blog!? How quickly time flies when you’re having too much fun. After ten eye-opening, testing and beautiful weeks of Raleigh, expedition 11G&H has now officially come to a close. There were tears as we said goodbye to our venturers this morning. It really was a very moving goodbye. We've spent ten weeks getting to know these guys and I think it’s fair to say, on behalf of all the VMs from 11G, the venturers have been brilliant to work with. Over the ten week period they have achieved some incredible goals for which they should be extremely proud of. It takes a lot for a person to come on Raleigh, taking themselves away from the familiarities and comforts of home, friends and family, but it takes even more for them to push and challenge themselves in the way that our venturers have; achieving objectives and testing oneself in ways that you may not have deemed yourself capable of.

Over the course of this Raleigh expedition we have ran seven trekking voyages in Guanacaste, Turrimacho and Miratombo. With each one averaging a distance of approximately 250km each, all in all our trekkers have hiked an outstanding total of 1750km. According to some tip-top, highly specialized Google research, this is the distance between London and Warsaw. Pretty impressive. The treks have taken our teams out through some seriously tough terrain; through the darkest depths of the rich and vibrant Costa Rican jungle, up and down some of the steepest hills with mud so thick and deep you quite literally lose your boots (this actually happened), over volcanoes and mountains with the most stunning views that take you to the end of the earth, and through the most mesmerizing waterfalls, rivers and Laguna’s. We have run community projects in Nicaragua’s Los Apantes, Yeluca and Achuapa and in Costa Ricas Bajo Chirripo and Tsirbakla, Chirripo. Altogether we have managed to build a school (in one single phase), two community centre’s and two separate gravity-fed water systems that have provided twenty-one different homes and families with fresh water straight from a tap for the very first time in their lives. We have spent time out on two separate turtle conservations, Camaronal Wildlife Refuge and Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge, where we have saved well over two thousand turtles eggs and released hundreds of baby turtles back into the sea, preserving this impressive species for years to come. We have helped to preserve the most beautiful National Parks in all of Central America, including rebuilding the trails for tourists to climb at Volcan Turrialba National Park, and maintaining the trails in La Cangreja National park, Rincon de la Vieja and Braulio Carillo National Park in order to make these areas more accessible for visitors, and to maintain and share the true beauty of these parks with the rest of the world.

Our venturers have put their blood, sweat and tears into these projects. They have overcome personal, emotional, social, physical and mental challenges. They have immersed themselves in new cultures, languages and communities and pushed themselves to their limits, testing their stamina, leadership and self-motivation. They have enriched and influenced so many lives in Raleigh, as well as being a true inspiration to both us VMs and each other. We hope that they have left with an open mind and a new and enthused zest for adventure and life, but most of all we hope that they have had the most wonderful time, because we certainly did. Venturers, we salute you. Fantastic job.

As for me, guys, it’s been emotional. It’s been a truly wonderful experience to be able to keep up to date with and visit all the projects that have been running during the expedition, and it’s been even better getting to know everyone on Raleigh. What amazing people. I’ve loved my work here and feel privileged that it was me who got to dish the dirt and enlighten you with all the goings on back home. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog as much as I have.

I’m now off to help clear up and finish off jobs for the expedition and then, I won't lie, we’re all going to have a great big, massive party to close in 11G properly. I suggest you do the same. For now though, I’ll leave you all with some photos from changeover alongside a poem written by Host Country Venturer, Karen, that I think we could all take a little something from. Enjoy folks.

Always and forever, Pura vida!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I learnt in Raleigh
To get ahead and achieve what you want it is not necessary to take big steps. Take small steps but don’t stop, you have to have confidence in yourself.

I learnt that when you find your path you can’t be afraid. What’s more, I learnt that you have to have courage to make wrong steps, to be disappointed, to be defeated, to be demotivated. They are all tools that appear to show us our path and show us how to fight.

I learnt not to take things lightly. With a little patience I’ll be rewarded.

On Raleigh I learnt that life is a trek – every day is a different walk, good days and bad days, but at the end of the day I am happy with myself for what I have done.

I learnt that there is something that will never come back and that’s time. That’s why I enjoy every minute that passes; above all, getting wet in the rain, watching the sun set and not being sad when night comes because night is no more than the past of the day.

On Raleigh I learnt that the best day of the year is today, because today is the start of a new day, one in which I won’t get bothered by yesterday, nor worry about tomorrow – today is today.

I learnt that the most bitter phrase is “I can’t” if you’ve never even tried, or to say “it’s impossible”. Only people who don’t like to fight say that word. What is possible you do and what is impossible you try to do. At least I’m then left with the satisfaction that I tried to achieve everything I wanted to.

On Raleigh I learnt that you don’t need to have everything in life to be happy, that it doesn’t matter if I feel alone – there are many people around me that are with me that maybe my eyes just haven’t seen.

On Raleigh I learnt that if we put the good things and the bad things on some scales, the good things will surely weigh the most because there is no need to see the dark side of life.

I learnt that to my left and to my right I’ll always have someone to support me and that working as a team is essential. Neither culture nor nationality matter – the important thing is that if someone asks me for a hand, I’ll offer two, because there are many people who give unconditional help without thinking twice.

On Raleigh I learnt to know my friends better, old friends and new - to enjoy even the simplest things together and to laugh at our own silliness.

On Raleigh I learnt that it’s good to have some time away from family for a while to discover my other side, and what I discovered was that I am a strong and decisive woman. By finding myself in such a beautiful place as the beach I feel like I have everything, that I can touch the sky with my hands and feel the water touch my feet. That makes me feel unique and special.

On Raleigh I learnt that you don’t just cry because you’re sad but also because you’re happy and because you’ve discovered new things. I learnt that the more time you spend with people you’ve only just met, the quicker you become very fond of them and it’s difficult to say goodbye. But take care because on Raleigh I learnt that saying goodbye is not forever and I’ve now learnt to say “see you later” because I know that one day we’ll see each other again. If not, well, the memories will stay in my head and in my heart.

On Raleigh I learnt, most importantly, that life is up and down but the view is great. I learnt so much more than this but I’d take more than a sheet of paper to write what I learnt on Raleigh. It was the best experience of my whole life, and I’ll never forget it.

I thank God for my family and all the people who made it possible for me to be on Raleigh because without them I wouldn’t be here today telling you everything that I’ve learnt.

Our open-mike bonfire night!
Conga conga conga!
Toasting the marshmallows (new technique - get down low to protect yourself from the heat!)
Bruce and Welly
Jasmin and Yasmin
Sacha in the spotlight
Karen performing her beautiful reading
The Golden Mess Tin Awards!
Kelly - the Most Innappropriate Sayings/Least Amount of Clothes award

Elliot - the Most Amount of Useless Information Award

Sarah - the Hard Core Trekker Award

Now the VMs take the spotlight - Julian and Brie say a few words about us all

Mr Lover Man... Chava!

The HCVs doing their thing
So much time preparing skits and award ceremonies - good times!
Kat and Amy
Saying goodbye - the tunnel of hugs.
The PMs looking a little lost after the venturers leave...

Blog written by Dawn Tennant and photos by Kat Mammone


  1. from luke smalleys mum , i would like to say a huge big thankyou to all u guys , i have read evey single blog ..... and loved every minute ... they have made me laugh and cry , mainly with happiness ..... i was thrilled to see wot u have all bin working on , and the achievements that u have all made .... i will be sad to come home from work and not be able to log on to the costa rica site , ur work with the guys is amazing and the work u do within the communitys .... i am a barber and was made up that luke gave my hairdressing scissors to a local barber , i could not of ever imagined wen i bought them they would end up living a life in costa rica ..... ne way people thankyou ....and pura vida xxxxcarolyn

  2. Thank you Dawn for producing such an informative and supportive blogspot. just to let you know that the Brits arrived home safely yesterday and finding life back home a little weird! I have really enjoyed reasons about the venturers antics each day and feel that you have managed to involve those of us back home in all that they have done. Thank you for looking after them all and for providing them with such an opportunity.
    Best wishes to you all at field base. Thanks again
    Catherine White's Mum, Gail

  3. For the Raleigh Team

    I would like to thank all those involved in Raleigh for giving my daughter, Jasmine Furbert - A7, R3, and X2, a wonderful adventure. I would also like to thank the local Raleigh staff in Bermuda for giving her the opportunity. Keep up the great work folks and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

    Best Regards,
    Ian Mills

  4. Hi Reggie - Just thought I'd let you know I watched the Raleigh videos on youtube and loved them though being biased my favourite was the r2 one. Love Mum and Dad xxxx



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