Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bravo 1 Blog by Nadia Nooruddin

On a very early Wednesday morning before it was properly light, the Bravo 1 road trip crew set off on a 9 day epic adventure scouring the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan landscapes in search of Alpha 2, 5 and 6. At times it was difficult, but in the end we always managed to find them no matter how hidden they were… 

The first day consisted of many hours of driving by Jed on and sometimes off road. There were times when we thought we wouldn’t make it as some of the ‘roads’ (aka clearings covered in mini boulders and lakes as a result of the heavy rains) were so treacherous, but the faithful Bravo 1 Land Rover always managed to pull through. We finally made it to Tejona in the Guanacaste province where Alpha 2 were supposed to be arriving. As if by some miracle (much later that day we realised that our compass pointed in the opposite direction), we met them on a winding path to a community centre where we would be spending the night with them. Alpha 2 had been the victim of endless days of rain and cool conditions but were surprisingly holding strong despite their difficult circumstances. It was fantastic seeing them and they were very grateful for the copious amounts of zinc oxide tape that we were able to provide. Dinner consisted of mash potatoes and chick peas (they actually go really well together) and lots of tea. After dinner, around 6 pm, we all headed to bed in preparation for a wake up call at 3am…

The next day we said good bye to Alpha 2 and set off early to our next destination, El Pilon, where we would be dropping off food for Alpha 2. We found the road to the exact drop off point but became nervous about travelling down it as it had literally become a river as a result of the rainstorms. AK47 (Akash), being the bravest member of our crew, agreed to walk through the road/river to see how deep it actually was. When it started approaching above ankle level with the possibility of getting deeper round the bend, we decided to think up an alternative plan. A restaurant where we had coffee earlier near the entrance of the road (and where the staff all seemed pretty friendly) agreed to take on the responsibility of looking after the food until Alpha 2 arrived to pick it up. They also mentioned that a 4x4 had got stuck on that road the previous day so we congratulated ourselves on our decision not to travel down it. 

It was now approaching early afternoon and we still needed to cross the Costa Rican and then Nicaraguan borders, a process which could potentially take hours. We sorted out the piles of paper work this entailed and made our way up to the first border. We sailed across this border pretty quickly and hoped it would be the same as we approached Nicaragua, but alas the passport authorities there clamped down on the fact that AK’s passport was coming close to its expiry date and wouldn’t let our beloved team member through. After a somewhat emotional good bye, Jed and I continued across the border while AK went back to Costa Rica to undertake various road trips there. Armed with one less member of the crew, we ventured on into unfamiliar territories… 

Our first destination was the region of Miraflor which is about 30km from the northern town of Esteli. Again, after driving up difficult dirt roads which had been badly affected by the weather conditions we made it to the village of El Cebollal where Alpha 6 was residing. We asked various locals where the Alpha 6 team actually was and each person seemed to be pointing in a different direction. By this time it was getting dark and we were getting worried that we would never find them. Eventually we made it to Don Rolando’s (the maestro builder and chief of the village) house where the Project Managers Bruce, Vic and Kelly were supposed to be staying. After a warm welcome from Don Rolando’s family and an amazing cup of coffee, the PMs finally showed up. It was exciting seeing them all again and we chatted until long after dinner, but in anticipation of the hard day’s work that lay ahead, we decided to turn in.  

Bright and early the next morning after some more amazing coffee, we met the rest of the Alpha 6 team. The day started with a game of ninja, and then another one and possibly a third, before we all walked down to the site where they were collecting wood which would form part of the foundations of the youth centre that was going to be built. Each piece of wood felt like it weighed a ton and part of the day involved each member of the team, in pairs, carrying a piece of wood up a rocky hill. I was pretty tired after carrying one piece up, but impressively Alpha 6 had spent the whole of the previous day doing this. Due to problems with the chain saw, there was no more wood to collect in the afternoon so a game of football with the local children ensued instead. Bruce, Jed and James were definitely men of the match! Sabrina slipping and avoiding falling into a pile of manure by literally an inch was a true comedy moment. 

The following morning (feeling quite stiff after a random press up competition before we went to bed – Don Rolando’s family probably thought we were quite strange), we hit the road again, this time heading to the town of Achuapa to meet Alpha 5… 

Alpha 5 were staying in a hostel near the centre of Achuapa town as the village of San Nicolas where they were meant to be working was still flooded. Despite the on-off work helping with the disaster recovery effort and wanting to start work in the community as soon as possible, spirits were still pretty high. After a warm welcome by the group and an hour or two of catching up, we had dinner and then went on to play a couple of rounds of the classic, mafia. In the morning, the Venturers informed us that they had organised the ‘Achuapa Olympics’. We were divided into teams and had to compete against each other in various races for the Olympic title. Probably the most interesting of the games involved each team standing in a line and each team member in turn had to down a litre of water, which ever group completing the fastest winning. I’m proud to say that no-one in my team vomited at the end! Close to the end of the Achuapa Olympics, we found out that the villagers had returned to San Nicolas and that we could head there that afternoon. The Alpha 5 team excitedly packed their belongings and took the bus up to the village. In the mean time, Jed and I waited in Achuapa town for the Bravo 1 Land Rover to come back and pick us up after it had dropped food supplies to the village. Unfortunately, the Landy got stuck on a very muddy road and had to be pulled out. Therefore Jed and I ended up waiting in the town for 3 hours drinking coffee and watching the locals pass by on their horses – it was like being in the wild west (except for the occasional 4x4). 

The next morning after staying the night in the village with the PMs Barney, Julie and Kunmi, we embarked on our journey back to Costa Rica and a final meeting with Alpha 2. 

We met Alpha 2 on a very hot and afternoon at Rincon Lodge. Rather than soaking wet and cold they were all sunbathing on sun loungers beside a swimming pool – it was hard to believe they were still on trek! It was a deserved rest after all they had been through and are about to embark on over the next following days…  

Good luck to Alpha 2, 5 and 6 for the remainder of Phase 1!


  1. to Reinier van Doorn. Alpha 3.

    babytje zo leuk dit!!! maar ik weet dus niet of je iets krijgt dit is mn 5e denk ik klopt dat?? hoe is t daar? ik heb een superlange geschreven paar dagen geleden maar kan m niet terugvinden op deze website dus hij zal wel afgekeurd zijn haha? afgelopen weekend halloween weekend..... ben daar niet zo van heel eerlijk gezegd maar was zeker leuk!!!! ik was bob marley!!! superlelijk! superleuk! kan niet wachten totdat we eventjes kunnen bellen of zelfs skypen. bestaat dat in costa rica haha schattieeeee kan niet wachten totdat je terugbent hiiiiihiiii heel veel zoentjes x x x x hannah

  2. For delun jones, 11L aLpha 4
    hI Delun, hope ur having a great time and everything going well for Alpha 4.
    James just collected the tickets you booked. All is well here, except that we are missing you more every day-especially me! Can't believe u been away 3 weeks already. Love u to bits, want to give u a big cwtch! Mam. X x x

  3. Hilmar ,11L alpha 1

    Lieve Hilmar,
    Hoe gaat het? Weinig bericht en foto's van jullie groep niet de laatste dagen. Ben erg benieuwd naar jullie ervaringen. Als het goed is komen jullie woensdag de dag voor je verjaardag weer aan in het Fieldbase. Hier is alles goed. Papa is voor een week naar Egypte met een groep van het ziekenhuis.
    Lieve Hil stuur je even een berichtje als je terug bent? Zou ik heeeeel erg fijn vinden.Tot gauw liefs mama

  4. Aan Hilmar Heijmans.
    Lieve Hilmar, we zijn zo ontzettend benieuwd hoe het met je gaat? En wat je allemaal aan het doen bent, ik kijk af en toe op de site en zie dan allemaal spannende dingen die jullie doen. Ik hoop dat dit bericht aankomt, we willen je ook vast van harte feliciteren, dit moet wel de gekste verjaardag ooit zijn.Ook namens oma, die moet ook heel vaak aan je denken. Hier is het intussen herfst en zijn haast alle bomen kaal, en ja Sint is ook al bijna weer in het land, Andrejko gelooft dan wel niet meer maar vindt het toch reuze spannend. Andrejko heeft sinds een week lenzen, gaat heel goed en staat ook veel leuker! Gisteren is hij met Ernst naar Kuifje in 3d geweest in Almelo, kon ik gelijk even bijkletsen met oma, daarna nog even tapas gegeten, nou lieve Hilmar veel plezier, en sterkte gewenst in de bush, Ernst, Adrejko, Oma en Saskia


  6. Oscar Crol

    hee oscar!! hier in india is het super heb net mijn eerste phase af (enviromental bio-gas units bouwen)was super leuk in een dorpje bij een resevoir met hele leuke groep. Hoe is het in Costa rica? hoop dat je het heel leuk hebt. haha mis het relaxde leventje van SS wel! xxx Valerie

  7. Hilmar Heijmans 11L Alpha 1

    Lieve Schat van harte gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag! Wel heel erg raar dat je er nu niet bent. Maar dat gaan we zeker nog uitgebreid vieren als je terug bent. We hebben een envelop gestuurd en ik hoop dat hij op tijd aan komt. Als het goed is ben je weer terug in het FB hoe ging het allemaal? Ik begreep veel regen? Maar het schijnt nu beter te worden volgens Big. We hebben regelmatig contact over jullie wel en wee. Papa heeft geprobeerd om vanuit Egypte iets op het blog te zetten maar dat lukte niet (heeft te maken met de server daar). Vrijdag komt hij weer thuis.
    Het is nu wel erg stil in huis ik mis zelfs je rondslingerende schoenen.
    Died is erg hard aan te werk voor haar SET- week , maar mist ook de aanwezigheid van haar lieve grote broer( met op en aanmerkingen en ondersteuning). Vanavond is zij naar debattraining geweest.Nou Lieverd hoop dat vrijdag 4 november een mooie dag wordt dat was het 19 jaar geleden zeker en we zijn nog steeds heel bij met je. dikke zoen en heel veel liefs van ons , mama



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