Friday, 30 September 2011

In the jungle. the mighty jungle....

There are some very tired, muddy, bedraggled and, dare I say it, smelly people wandering around fieldbase at the moment.

Yes, we have made it back from jungle camp, the kit has been cleaned and returned (in pristine condition) to the store room, boots washed, bags unpacked….and now we get to clean ourselves and enjoy Sandra’s amazing cooking once again!!

Four groups (call signs Whiskey 1-4) set off on Wednesday lunchtime with bags fully loaded, ready for…well anything really! Navigation skills training with our group leaders was followed by a risk assessment session with Ross. It was then a hot walk with heavy bags up steep hills to the various camps for the night. Who knew a football field would make such a excellent campsite!!

With a good night’s rest under their belts, the VMs were ready for the first activity of the day…river crossing. Heavy rain in the previous few days had raised the river level enough to give people the wash they probably needed by this stage. With sound advice from Ross ringing in their ears, all groups made it safely across without a proper dunking.

It was then back on the road and on to the jungle for our next training session and to build that night’s accommodation. Thankfully the rain held off long enough for a basher/hammock building session and for the Whisky teams to build their own beds…and what fine beds they were, structurally sound basher beds, carefully hung hammocks, and even hand-made shelving!

Camp set, the rain arrived on cue and a fine dinner was taken under shelter, with the added bonus of energy bombs (Raleigh’s favorite energizer; a combination of porridge oats, condensed milk, chocolate powder, nuts and raisins).

Now, with one rain storm done and dusted, confidence was high that a dry night lay ahead. Alas, the heavens opened for 2 or 3 hours during the night and despite all best efforts at keeping dry the VMs were swapping stories the next morning of quite how much water their supposedly water- tight shelters had let in during the night! A few lessons to be learned then!

With alarm call at the perfectly sensible time of 3.30am, the VMs had camp packed, breakfast eaten, and were ready for tools training at 6am. This was followed by the walk home, during which an amazing number of medics suffered from snake bites...yes it was indeed CASEVAC training.

Casualties treated and reports radioed in, the teams were back at fieldbase by 9am. It is amazing how much you can get done in a day when you get up before sunrise!! And when you get sunrises like this it really is worth it!

Back at fieldbase, the tension is building as we await the announcement of the project teams for phase 1...update to come tomorrow!

Until then Pura vida!

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Pura Vida!