Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fieldbase tidy up, important visitors, and all PMs now home

With the venturers arriving on Tuesday, it’s been a busy few days at fieldbase, accommodation has been upgraded, garden tidied, showers fixed, equipment sorted and rooms swept.

Now, of course, we want everything ship-shape for the venturers but there was another motive for the major spring-clean as we had some important visitors. The British Ambassador to Costa Rica and her husband (the British Ambassador to Nicaragua), who arrived in the country in August came to fieldbase, to hear more about the work we do here at Raleigh and to see the hub for our projects in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

We are also now back to a full complement with Alphas 3 and 5 arriving yesterday evening and Alpha 6 arriving this are their updates.

Alpha 3 – Cerro Chirripo

Matt, Duncan, Rachel and Ronnie are safely returned from a couple of very cold but inspiring days up at Cerro Chirripo. After an 8-hour, 15km walk in which they gained 2400m in height, the intrepid team reached their accommodation  - a ranger’s station where the venturers will also be staying during the project. ‘Isolated yet beautiful’ seemed to be most fitting description, with views out to the Pacific Ocean making the arduous climb well worth it.

As well as scoping out the climb and the accommodation, the team were also able to discuss the path maintenance and building project with the park ranger as well as indulging in some yoga courtesy of Costa Rican PM Ronnie.

Alpha 5 – San Nicolas (report by Barney)
The Alpha 5 team, consisting of Julie, Kunmi and Barney, headed up to north western Nicaragua to plan a community project. After 20 hours in various buses we finally arrived in the small market town of Achuapa,

After meeting the amicable Don Brigido and Don Mercedes, who run the Cooperativa, and enjoying a fascinating tour of the sesame seed oil factory, we headed out to the community. San Nicolas consists of approximately 30 houses spread out over 5 square kilometers of rolling vegetation. Our group of 14 will be divided between 6 families, all living 10 to 20 minutes walk from the project site. A few of the houses have solar panels to provide electricity and all have long-drop latrines and a solitary tap to provide water. In general the accommodation is extremely basic and it will be an incredible experience living such a humble, natural existence for the duration of the project. 

The people of San Nicolas were overwhelmingly hospitable and naturally as interested in us as we were in them. We came away with a genuine enthusiasm for the water project and can’t wait to integrate into such a remote community. Our Spanish will improve dramatically and there’s no doubt it will be a truly unforgettable experience... and a lot of fun!

Alpha 6 – Miraflor (report by Kelly)

After some lengthy travelling Bruce, Vic, Kelly and Nadia arrived in Miraflor, where we had a successful meeting with the Al Foro team, who co-ordinate the Miraflor Projects. Working alongside the Maestro and Community Leader Don Rolando, the venturers will be building a local youth centre for the community.

We were able to meet some of the extremely hospitable families that will be hosting us and the venturers and it was very clear that the whole community is looking forward to the project and is keen to get involved.

After a lovely evening meal and a good night’s sleep, the family cockerel played alarm clock and we were able to enjoy a traditional breakfast with the wonderful locally produced coffee before our bus ride home.

For those of you that may be concerned that we're working a little too hard, don't worry we do have the balance just about right.Last night saw some pretty impressive karaoke singing, tonight it's time to don the tartan for the fieldbase ceilidh and tomorrow most of the team are tackling some of Costa Rica's world-famous whitewater rafting. (indeed the rafting world championships are underway here this week).

Photos and reports on all these events to follow tomorrow, until then...Pura Vida!!

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Pura Vida!