Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The X-Rays are back!!

The peace and quiet enjoyed over the past few weeks by the fieldbase team has been rudely interrupted. Yes, the X-Ray groups are back and kit-cleaning, reviews and the excited chatter of comparing experiences has been the order of the day.
The final blogs are coming in so without further ado here the first three from, appropriately enough, X-Rays 1-3!

X-Ray 1 (Serena and Emma)
280km later, X-Ray 1 sprinted the last 100 metres in the pouring rain towards the final stp of the Turrisantos Trek: Playa Palo Seco.

Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling each of us had as we reached the long-awaited beach. With each member present fro the final stretch of the trek, a communal sense of achievement prevailed as we realised we’d finished the 17-day trek together.

The days before proved to be some of the most challenging for X-Ray 1 as injuries intensified and we were unexpectedly greeted with even more hills. However, the constant supplies of pulperias never failed to lift our spirits at the end of a tough day.

Looking forward to the beach only 2 days away, X-Ray 1, with immense determination, powered through the last 44km to smell the fresh sea air. Waking up to the sounds of crashing waves instead of a beeping alarm clock was hard for some of us to comprehend as that dreaded familiar ringing was all we’d known for the last 17 days. In hope of getting rid of our ridiculous sock tan lines we were up and out early hoping to absorb as much  sun as possible. After a long day of swimming and sunbathing, some of us redder than others, we sat down for our last meal and final review. With all of us reflecting on our experiences during trek, we realised how self-sufficient  we were with merely two trangias, a cooking pot and our backpacks. This back to basics lifestyle proved to be difficult yet extremely liberating.

So here we are now driving back to fieldbase, two hours from McDonalds! – an adventure we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Proud of the team!

Pulperia anyone?

X-Ray 1 ..dedicated followers of fashion
If Carlsberg did sunsets....

X-Ray 2 (Clare)
An early start fro X-Ray 2 on Friday 18th November as a long 29km trek awaited them. After saying their goodbyes to the roadtrip team the group headed off. The day was filled with highs and lows. Unfortunately Marette left the group after suffering from bad feet but she was always part of the team after trekking over 200km across the country with her fellow venturers and PMs.

Some of the group were hindered by blistered feet and sore joints but everyone pulled together and made it an unforgettable day. Amazing views, river crossings and a stunning sunset were jsut a few of the day’s highlights.

When X-Ray 2 reached their destination – Lilias – they were greeted by a friendly Costa Rican family and an enthusiastic girl named Karina, who cheered up the venturers. All exhausted from the long trip and tiring day, X-Ray 2 went to bed read for the next day’s trek.

Saturday 19th November started off better than expected when the lady in the house next door cooked everyone a delicious breakfast of gallo pinto, scrambled egg and bread along with the best cup of coffee. Bursting with energy, the group headed off at sunrise. The 18km trek ended with a steep climb through the jungle to the Cacao Plateau. The group were taken aback by the stunning scenery and were able to see their final destination – the beach and the Pacific Ocean. Sitting on the balcony of the ranger’s station, we took in the amazing scenery, all with huge smiles on our faces and looking forward to completing the challenge.
The following days were tough. Navigator Tom felt the pressure on day 16 when the group headed the wrong way through the jungle. When asked if we were going the right way, Tom replied: “If you want to head south to Panama be my guest but I’m heading west to the beach!” after fits of laughter, the group worked together and reached their destination – Maritza after an 8km struggle through the jungle.

The final day of the trek proved to be tough – a 30km battle through rain, puddles and long roads but after games, jokes and singing the group reached the final km of their entire trek. One by one each group member recalled their favourite moment. Mortiz: “When we camped at Lake Arenal and had an awesome view of the volcano with the most beautiful sunset.” Delun said her favourite moment was: “falling over in the jungle – so funny! Don Luz was legendary guiding us through the jungle.”

When the team finally reached the beach they all took their final steps in a line and ran into the sea. After emotional hugs and congratulations all round the group set up camp and celebrated with a delicious and well-deserved bbq.

The final day was spent relaxing on the beach, taking in the beautiful surroundings and enjoying each other’s company.

“The best experience of my life – challenging but extremely rewarding.” Clare Jones.

X-Ray 2 trekkers extraordinaire!
X-Ray 2 with possibly the world's kindest family!

A well-earned group hug at the beach

X-Ray 3 (Sarah B)
A lot has been happening with X-Ray 3 since our last blog – most notably Laura’s 23rd birthday. To celebrate, we spent the morning trekking about 4km to the nearest restaurant, where we enjoyed some delicious food for lunch and took in the incredible views across a huge valley covered in cloud forest.
In the afternoon we returned to camp fro birthday banoffee pie (which Will had managed to create with just bananas, oats and condensed milk), followed by an after-dark headtorch and ipod rave in our ‘rave-cave’ under the group tarpaulin.

Another great day was our day off on Sunday, which we spent trekking 19km through the National Park learning about different plants and trees from Don Guido along the way. We briefly stopped at a beautiful waterfall mid-morning, then continued on to a local restaurant for another delicious lunch. This also gave Ani a chance to find out the all-important football results.

We’ve also had a couple more bed-related incidents – Will’s basha bed broke in the middle of the night, then there was the ‘tarantula’ in Kate’s bed, which after much hysteria and Flor leaping out bed to kill turned out to be a regular spider.

In amongst all this excitement, we’ve been taking on the rockface that the water-pipes have to be laid into and have laid approximately 70m of pipework and partially dug a further 15m of trench.

After our final day’s digging (and a tough day of carrying all our group kit up the extremely steep hill between our camp and the ranger station), these efforts were rewarded with a really interesting talk on the biodiversity in the Central Pacific region in Costa Rica by one of the rangers, followed by a delicious meal cooked for us at the ranger station.

It is this hospitality from the rangers along with the unique opportunity to live in the middle of the rainforest and, of course, the members of X-Ray 3, that have made this project so much fun (in spite of the hard work and lack of dry clothes).

I think it’s safe to say we have all learnt a lot on this phase and take away some great memories.

Group shot...on a bridge!

X-Ray 3 blogger Sarah enjoys the view
X-Ray 3 find an alternative use for their trench!

70 metres dug...quite a lot more to go!


  1. Delun Jones XRay 2
    Just saw the blog -glad u made it to the beach-well done! it sounds so tough, but unforgettable for many reasons.
    Great photos too. I'm going to work now, ur probably just going to bed!
    Love u millions! Enjoy the rest of your time there, hope your feet are ok!
    Pura Vida! Xxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Clare Jones 11L xray 2

    Hi Clare, I've just read your blog and the trek sounds very challenging but amazing. What an achievement - you should be very proud of yourself - I certainly am. I'm glad to hear you're still having fun and enjoying it. I like your pics, you look so well and happy. I see that some of the venturers are going home this week and I expect you will miss them. I'll keep watching the blogs to see what you're up to next. In the meantime enjoy the rest :)
    bye for now - lots of love Mum xx

  3. Sarah Bartram, 11L, X-Ray 3

    Hi Sarah, great to read your blogs on the website and to see some more pictures of you and your rainforest surroundings. I never realised there would be restaurants in the rainforest, must be more sophisticated than I thought! We have all read your letters and thank you for them - you seem so calm and matter of fact about the disaster in Nicaragua but I suppose when you're in the thick of it you just get on a do whatever you have to to help out. I was interested to hear of the spider incident in Kate's bed - is your view on them changing since it must have been quite big but you describe it as just a regular spider? Bet it was bigger than any we have at home!
    I guess you'll be setting out on a trek in the next phase. Hope you get through without too many blisters, aches and sore muscles! Have a great time and enjoy the final phase in your adventure.
    Not too much going on at home, I have another wedding reception in the barn in a week's time and they're busy decking it out with liners and lights. It even has a blue carpet all over the floor!
    Take care and good luck with the trek - loads of love from all of us, Dad xxx

  4. Niecey!!! So brilliant to hear from you! I can't quite believe all the amazing things you've been up and the feats of endurance you've managed. Being poorly and not being able to eat very much and still making it through is pretty unbelievable - I don't know how you did it! I think I could have done with a bit of your stamina over the last few weeks as I'm still in recovery from having sold and packed up my flat. I'm now staying at Granny's until after Xmas when I'll start to look for a new place a little nearer London as Chelmsford was way too far out. So no more Essex except of course for The Only Way thanks to you I am now a true convert! I have to say I am rather enjoying my stay here as the food is a lot better than yours (cold baked beans only every other day) and I get to spend time sitting on the sofa with Pops

  5. Me again(!) as I couldn't work out how to get back to the end of my last message! Just wanted to wish you the most wonderful rest of your time away. I so look forward to seeing you on your return and to hearing all about it. Granny was just saying that our lives over here seem very tame by comparison - certainly no jungle or poisonous snakes to contend with! With lots of love dear niecey, your Auntie Kxxxx

  6. Emma Jacob Xray 1

    So lovely to catch up with all your news. What an amazing time you are having. Hope you enjoy the last of your ventures and really look forward to seeing you in London in December. Lots of love Gran

  7. Apologies - the 2 messages I posted last night to 'niecey' were for Emma Jacob, Xray 1. I do hope you'll be able to get them thru' to her. Many thanks, Katherine



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