Delayed setting off to Nicarague by one day, as a result of the ridiculous amount of rain which has made many of the roads impassable, we made the most of the beautifully sunny Costa Rica morning by swimming at an impressive waterfall. Returning to Fieldbase, we tried our hand at some Costa Rican cooking, producing some surprisingly delicious beans and cheese empanadas (which are bit like fried pasties).
The next day we shared a comfy bus ride with Alpha 6 to Jinotepe, Nicaragua. After spending a night in a school hall and splitting from Alpha 6, the legendary Francisco (our new bus driver) managed to safely get us to the remote community of San Nicolas, no mean feat with some roads requiring a bit of clearing and many rivers bursting their banks. After such a dramatic and exciting trip, we were eager to meet the families that we would be staying with. In another turn of events, due to the weather, the village had not had contact with anyone for 8 days and many families had fled their homes. Only the awesome Alpha 5 had braved the route to San Nicolas! Spirits remained high though with numerous renditions of I´m singing in the Rain and wet hugs as we radioed in to field base. Picked up by Francisco and his party bus, you may, as we did, have thought that our journey was over. But no, on our way to the nearby hostel the bus became stuck in the mud! All 15 of us piled out of the bus and successfully pulled it out with a rope.
We are now staying at a hostel in the town of Achuapa to avoid being a burden on the families of San Nicolas, some of which have struggled for access to food. Our project this phase has turned from providing safe drinking water to helping the region overcome the effects of too much rain. In the last few days we have been gathering rocks and using these to rebuild the roads surrounding Achuapa. This work is very important for emergency service vehicles and food and medical supplies to be able to reach remote communities. To build the roads, we worked with a local youth group which we then got together with for a cheerful bonfire, sing-song and games in the evening. Don Brigido, the President of the local co-operative, has also taught us a well-known Nicaraguan song, which we are hoping to perform to Fieldbase when we return.
To everyone´s relief the rain has finally let up, with a sunny day yesterday and a lovely swim in the river this morning. If food and materials can be got to San Nicolas, we will hopefully be able to spend the second half of the project with the families there. In the meantime, we have our work cut out with emergency relief jobs from our base in Achuapa!
I'm afraid we promised too much yesterday and are unable to upload the photos from A5, A6 and A2. Bravo 1 have tried in four different, quite remote, internet cafes in northern Nicaragua but none of them have had a strong enough connection to upload them... we will have them up as soon possible - hopefully within a few days. (Raleigh Blogger)