Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Who said the jungle was tough??!!

Here's an update from Zulu 3 (by blogger Serena) who are certainly making the most of their time in the jungle and setting themselves some though challenges.

The Zulu 3 jungle warriors have arrived and settled into camp where we will be living in deep jungle for 19 days. Whilst here we are digging a trench and laying water pipes to supply water for a project that includes building a wheelchair access path and providing toilet facilities to visitors to the national park.

The work is very tough because of the rocky ground but we are all motivated by our PMs’ promise of a cake if we make 200m of pipe and our desire to beat the previous group!!!

In the middle of snakes, spiders, tropical birds, poisonous frogs and other wildlife we have set up an amazing jungle camp albeit with a few collapsing basher beds (belonging to Jesus, Friso and Annie).

We work hard in the morning but have time to play games and enjoy camp in the afternoon. We are midway through a weird and wonderful game of human cluedo and have a Ready, Steady, Cook competition, pub quiz and Raleigh prison break to come.

Out of our humble jungle kitchen, we have already been provided with tuna fish cakes, onion rings, brownies and an incredible fudge cake by Ken. We can’t wait for the next one!

The rangers are very friendly, the river is crystal clear and our beds are waterproof. We are all okking forward to the next two weeks in the jungle.

Pura vida!

Bravo 1 will be visiting Zulu 3 next week so we will return with photos of their work and impressive sounding jungle camp.

Zulu 1 off to a flyer

Bravo 1 are back from their first roadtrip and have brought an update from Zulu 1 blogger Katie. This is followed by a report on our epic ascent of Volcan Turrialba.

We started walking at 9am on Saturday morning with our jungle guide Helberth. The day started with some particularly boggy areas where we went up to our calves in mud. People were quite apprehensive going through it and getting stuck in the mud so PM Bruce inspired us by yelling “get in the mud!” every five minutes!!!

In terms of distance we completed 5km which doesn’t sound like a lot with the steepness and mud it was certainly a challenge. We arrived at ‘camp’ for the night and had an early night to prepare ourselves for our daily 4am wake-up call! Lisa learnt a lesson in the evening when she put her socks a little too close for comfort to the fire to dry them out and when she came back she only had half a sock remaining!

Day 2 saw more jungle trekking and long grassy areas before we arrived at ‘murder mansion’ at 10am so everyone was in good spirits. The majority of us had fallen over at some point during the day but Afsy definitely took the prize when she fell into a stream and couldn’t get up for laughing so much. We had fun in ‘murder mansion’ where there were great views of the jungle. The story of the house is that two brothers lived there. They had an argument and one killed the is now a great stop off point for trekkers!!

On day 3 we reached the end of the jungle and found ourselves overlooking a beautiful amazing, tranquil spot. Here we set up camp and steeled ourselves for the next day’s challenge...climbing Volcan Turrialba.

Bravo 1
After some fairly serious off-road action and an hour’s walk in heavy rain, we met up with the Zulu 1, who were preparing themselves for the following day’s ascent of the 3340m Volcan Turrialba, whose billowing smoke can be seen from fieldbase.

With PM Barney having motivated the group with descriptions of the stunning views of the Carribbean that we could expect during the ascent, there was a little disappointment when we awoke to the sound of pouring rain and the hardy trekkers pulled on wet clothes for the third morning running!

However, this is a tough bunch. They weren’t to be put off by a bit of moisture in the air and tackled the 1000m almost vertical ascent with gusto. Passing through lush green fields, thick, muddy forest and then impossibly steep slopes, the group pushed on taking regular breaks to fill the lungs.

It has to be said, when the group reached the top there weren’t the whoops of joy you might expect. I imagine this was mixture of extreme tiredness and fact the promised views were somewhat hidden by a thick bank of cloud. But then, right on cue, the cloud cleared and the group caught their first sight of the active volcano....then the cheers came.

A truly outstanding effort from a very determined group of venturers, who Bravo 1 left enjoying the amazing views. 

Tired and wet but they made it!
Only to be greeted by this!!
But then the skies cleared and the smiles came out!
This is what it's all about.

Zulu 1 an awesome team of trekkers.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Phase 3 has lift-off!!!

The third and final phase of the legendary Expedition 11L is underway. The Zulu grups boarded their buses at crack of dawn yeasterday and by 6.30am fieldbase was a much quieter place with a motely crew of eight staff left behind.

All groups reported in safe and sound yesterday evening and this morning will either continue their journeys or start getting camp set up.

Zulu 1 reached their destination and camped by Rio Guacimo let night, using the house that PMs Ken and Will rebuilt during their PPV. Bravo 1 will meet them with a food drop on Monday and then join them in climbing Volcan Turrialba on Tuesday.

Zulus 2 and 5 reached Jinotepe in Nicaragua yesterday afternoon, where they spent the night. Zulu 5 will continue onto to Achuapa today to meet their host families, while Zulu 2 will continue on to La Rampla in Miraflor to start the trek proper.

Zulu 3 are in La Cangreja, having waved good bye to the 7 weekers at San Jose airport, and spent the night in the rangers station before setting up camp today. The general consensus from the group is that jungle is ‘pretty amazing’!

Finally Zulu 4 will be setting up camp today at Playa Hermosa ready to start their night patrols and hatchery protection.

Yesterday was a mix of excitement at starting a new phase and sadness at waving goodbye to our awesome 7 weekers who will very soon be home.

Bravo 1 will be with Zulu 1 tomorrow so if you are posting blog messages for anyone in that group please try and do so by 11am Costa Rica time.

Pura vida!

Departure time approaches and there's still a bit of packing to be done!!

A Raleigh send-off for the 7-weekers - the hug line!

Members of Zulu 2 practice their walking technique.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Zulu groups announced....

After last night’s high quality skits (joint winners were X-Ray 2 and 5), and the judging of our Movember competition (won by John Ward – evidence below) it’s time to get down to business again and so here are the Zulu groups for the third and final phase of Expedition 11L.

Please remember when posting messages from now on to use the Zulu groups.

Zulu 1: heading off on the Turrisantos Trek with Bruce, Kunmi, Matt and Barney are:
Afsaneh Mahloudji
Cristiany Alexander Alonso Torrez
Oscar Crol
Dinora del Carmen Flores Talavera
Jonathan Morales Munoz
Katie L Wilson
Lisa Rijsenbrij
Sarah Bartram
Alex P Shaw
Ying Bik Konica Kwok

Zulu 2: heading up to Nicaragua for the Miratombo Trek with Will, Lucy and DPM Brie are:
Mark  Wem
Geoff Kirby
Ana Gabriela Herrera Corrales
Flor Mendieta Noguera
Imogen J Wetzell Ramsey
James Holland
Laura Smith
Poppy Bluman
Sascha Tubbeh
Julie Göllner

Zulu 3: continuing the digging and wildlife spotting in La Cangreja with Vic, Kelly and Ken are:
Eleonore Vollebregt
Friso Tigchelaar
Jeanette Reeves
Jesús Jiménez Valverde
Melissa H Kenney
Lidia Belén Mendoza Acuña
Ally Cheung
Millie Pierce
Moritz Steinbeck
Ross Skinner
Tim Sawrey
Marette B de Vos

Zulu 4: protecting the turtles at Playa Hermosa with James, Julie and Gemma are:
Alice Hall
Brian Lam
Daisy Knox-Murphy
David Hernán Sequeira Cascante
Erick Monge Castillo
Harneel Cheema
Hilmar Heijmans
Jacobus Rutgerrs
Jahari Lisseth Blandón Jarquin
Molly Sandquest
Jeanette Reeves

Zulu 5: starting a new water project in Achuapa with Rachel, Duncan and Owen are:
Anne Sleurink
Arnaud Laurencin
Clare Jones
Emma Jacob
Floris Muller
Issac Colom Viquez
Jasper Jongeneel
Jayne Deegan
Jonathan M Ward
Josue Gomez Rojas
Reinier van Doorn
Rob Farmer
Sarah Church
Serena Glynn
Thomas Coombs

So, the groups announced, it was time for last minute preparations but before that, the teams battled it out for the X trophy in the inaugural Zulu games. Such challenging events as the Bravo 3 pull, the slippy-side, soak the fieldbase team, and dodgeball helped to establish the champion Zulu team. After some pretty intense competition, Zulu came out on top...although they may struggle to fit the trophy into their hand luggage!!

Zulu 5...champions
Fieldbase staff get a soaking in the water bombs challenge!

The command challenge
The Bravo 3 pull

Final blogs X-Rays 4 and 6..

I think writer's cramp has afflicted some of our bloggers hence the slightly delayed final blogs from X-Ray 4 and 6. X-Ray 5's comms officer is currently crafting a blog masterpiece which I will share with you in the morning!

X-Ray 4 (Monisha)

Looking back at our time in Playa Hermosa it really feels like it flew by. We becamer a family with the park rangers and even though Don Marco and Jonny, the volunteer, did not speak much English, we found a way to communicate with them, which was made easy by Don Marco’s animated way of expressing himself in Spanglish.

We were especially proud to finish the barrier on our last working day. During our time in Playa Hermosa we were also lucky enough to witness some breathtaking sunsets that I am sure we will not forget in a long time.
One of the unique aspects of this project was the direct contact we had with tourists visiting the beach and wildlife refuge. We were able to impart our knowledge and share our experiences with the people who keep the refuge going and spread awareness of the plight of the turtles.

Spending 19 days in Playa Hermosa made us aware of Costa Rica’s wider conservation issues and the need to protect and preserve the ecosystem. We felt privileged to be part of such efforts.

X-Ray 6: Huzy
The youth centre is all ready! It’s hard to imagine we built this turquoise beauty with our bare hands. When we got to work on our first day, there were just a few foundation structures. Then we slowly built it up under the watchful eye of our maestro, Don Rolando, who, by the way, had no designs of the building skectched out whatsoever. I guess when you’re that good you don’t need paper just imagination and a lot of confidence!!
We’re very proud of this building especially since, for some of us, it was our first time using a spade, hammer or saw!

Don Rolando threw a party for us to celebrate the completion of the youth centre. Lots of dsncing ensued and there were plenty of bodies being thrown around by the locals who were up for some serious salsa dancing.
Earlier in the day, we had lunch at the rangers station. Our hosts mums had cooked chicken for us and it was really special for us all to eat together with our families. This was followed by a speech from Don Rolando. Then we took turns to say our thanks and that was when got a bit emotional. Sometimes you don’t really need to understand the language to get the message.

All in all, it was a great project for X-Ray 6. We came in wanting to give back to the community but we ended up getting so much more from them in return. And we did all that with a beautiful backdrop provided by Mother Nature herself. This experience is something we won’t forget for a long time. After all this is the stuff that awesome memories are made of. With that we leave Miraflor with a sweet sorrow in our hearts.

Amazingly we are about to head into the third and final phase of what has been an awesome expedition. Tomorrow/this morning will see the announcement of the Zulu groups for third phase and we'll bring you those groups asap, along with an update on the eagerly anticipated Zulu games!!

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!

Monday, 21 November 2011

The X-Rays are coming

The X-Rays are coming
Believe it not phase 2 is drawing to a close. After almost 3 weeks of digging trenches, building foundations, putting up walls, moving boulders, climbing volcanoes, and trekking through the jungles, the X-Ray groups will be back at fieldbase on Wednesday, another awesome experience under their belts.
The comms officer from each group will provide us with their final blog on their return but in the meantime here’s a quick update on the groups.

X-Rays 1&2:  the trek is done! After 17 days of solid walking, the intrepid venturers in each group have reached their final destination...the beach (different beaches I should add!!). Tomorrow will be a well-earned day of rest before their return to fieldbase on Wednesday.

X-Ray 3: This has been one hard-core group. In today’s SITREP, they reported 125 metres of trench dug..that is a trench one metre deep ladies and gentlemen. Not content with the digging they decided to walk 19km across the stunning national park on their day off.

X-Ray 4: All are well at Playa Hermosa and, vitally, so are the turtles! The group has been busy building a barrier to protect the hatchery and continuing their night patrols.

X-Ray 5: The group has been working very hard and finished their work for the phase including laying the final pipes. With the work done, they were able to enjoy a camping trip to a nearby beauty spot on Saturday. They also took the time to celebrate Brian’s birthday. With a long journey ahead of them, the group will be bidding a fond farewell to their host families on Tuesday morning as they start heading back to Costa Rica.

X-Ray 6: The group has finished their phase with the wonderful satisfaction of completing their project and today were putting the final touches to the community centre that has been built over the last two phases. Like X-Ray 5 they will be leaving their village on Tuesday morning.

Fieldbase: There may not be a lot of digging or trekking going on at fieldbase but it has been a busy place. As well as the vital radio duty to keep in touch with all the groups and updating the blog; there has been circuit training every night, tough runs on the campus, planning the X-Ray games for changeover (report to follow), filming the fieldbase skit...and, most importantly, growing moustaches for ‘Movember’.

I’m sure you’re all dying to see the efforts so here they are...some more impressive than others.

Alex a fine two-tone effort!
Pedro he carries it off with Argentinian style

Reggie - have you seen this man?
Ross: we had to shoot it on a white background so it would show up better
Tom: have you ever seen a man prouder of his facial hair!

It remains to be seen if the groups on phase have been taking part in 'Movember' but rest assured we will bring you the photos if they have! 

So just two days before fieldbase is once again alive with venturers and PMs, and we'll bring final blogs from the groups along a report on the eagerly awaited X-Ray games.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Updates from X-Ray 4 and 5

With phase 2 drawing ever closer to its conclusion, here are some blog reports from X-Rays 4 and 5 at Playa Hermosa and Achuapa respectively.

X-Ray 4

X-Ray 4 have currently settled into the roles of park rangers at Playa Hermosa. Our nightly patrol are full of anticipation for who will find the most nests, 10 is the best so far. Usually we find about 100 eggs.

We have been working hard all the time to protect the hatchery from high tide and rangers are pleased with our progress. We are determined to finish the project by the end of phase.

When fieldbase visited our camp, we organised a mini Olympics with disciplines including pinball, dancing, coconut throwing and the best sandcastle built in 10 minutes.

On Saturday, we had the pleasure to welcome a special visitor to camp when the Australian Ambassador came to say hello during her visit to Central America. The Australian Embassy and Raleigh work closely together and we were proud to show her the hatchery, the work we have been doing and our jungle camp.

The luxurious jungle camp

PM Lucy doing some path clearing

X-Ray 5

Having spent the last week and half adapting to a different lifestyle within a Nicaraguan family, the culture and expectation within the community seem to be the main differences from our own personal upbringing.
We found it fascinating that children get married from the age of 14-25. Also there have been recent developments in the education system.

Without knowing what was to be expected when living in a different environment, the way we have been treated in our households has been spectacular, from making tortillas to the unexpected situation of having our clothes washed for us!

The weather has been amazing in comparison to the previous week of torrential rainfall. In terms of the project itself we have built the dam and still need to establish a few waterpipes in order to provide sanitation to families in the village.

It has been a remarkable experience to be living in such a different environment and enjoying many laughs along the way. These included half an hour of Spanish lessons every day where 10 press-ups was the consequences of any’s fair to say some of us have developed quite a lot of upper body strength.
We have also had the idiot of the day award for anyone coming out with the silliest remark...the winner of that has to wear Halloween pumpkin dress for the day.

It’s been an action-packed last 3 days from finishing our project to a few last minute activities with community including a very enjoyable leaving party.

The completed dam

X-Ray 5: trench diggers, dam builders, boulder lifters

The evening radio checks are done with this view...not bad!!!

Friday, 18 November 2011

X-Ray 1: up to the Turrisantos challenge

Th blogs are coming in thick and fast and here's an update from X-Ray 1 comms team Molly, Serena and Emma.

After an unexpected, comfortable night’s sleep, X-Ray 1 began tackling a few days of tough hills. Luckily there were some amazing views which made the endless climbs so worthwhile. While we were fast asleep and none the wiser, our PMs packed up their tents and snuck off ahead of us on trek. We awoke to a letter, leaving us to navigate and organize the group throughout the day. It was a great opportunity to bond and gain leadership and teamwork sills. With injuries prevailing, X-Ray 1 struggled through the day but a real sense of achievement flooded through the group when we finally reached our destination. The next few days were filled with intense thigh workouts which felt never-ending but “Hope” awaited us after 3 days in the town of Esperanza. This was closely followed by an incredible 06.30am breakfast consisting of chicken burgers, pastries, fresh fruit, bacon and eggs. Today X-Ray 1 are challenged to defeat El Dragon which on a clear day has a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Updates from X-Ray 2

Well, the blogs are flying in after Bravo 1 phoned with updates from X-Rays 2 and 3. The two blogs from X-Ray 2 are a little delayed due to a lot of their communications with fieldbase being via satphone, which doesn't lend itself to passing on long blog messages!! So without further ado, here are our group bloggers.

X-Ray 2 - Clare Jones

Blog 1: Monday 7th November 
Day leader Tom attempted to gently wake X-ray 2, after the success of the previous morning’s alarm call but failed to operate the radio! Instead the group were woken by the sound of the radio crackling and Tom shouting “get up” as if we were convicts! X-ray 2 left Alto Cebadilla at 05.30am ready for the day’s 13km trek lead by Jesus, the day’s navigator. The day began with light drizzle and steep hills from the onset. Eventually Moritz, Tom, Clare and Jonathan came across an old shack which the group had lunch in out of the rain. The lunch hour consisted of laughter from playing “elephant, bibalibob-bob”, chici-chici-cho, chici-cho-coco” and ron-maka-ron”, raising everyone’s spirits after 800m worth of hills and getting soaked. After lunch the sun shone and X-Ray 2 reached their destination at 1.30pm. they set up their camp over stunning views of Lake Arenal and Volcano Arenal. Dinner was cooked by Jesus, whilst everyone was snuggled in their tents due to the chill of beginning 1000m above sea level. After playing card games and having teeth chattering while chatting, X-Ray 2 suddenly felt the ground shaking; with panic on her face, Rachel shouted “Everyone don’t panic!”. In fact everyone else was calm. Day leader Tom managed to keep everyone calm by using the toilet nearby and not realizing we had just experienced an earthquake measured at 5.9 on the richter scale. X-Ray 2 ended the eventful day under the stars in their tents preparing for the following day’s 18km trek. 

Lake and Volcan Arenal - a fitting reward after a hard day's trekking

Blog 2: Saturday  12th Nov

The camp awoke at 03.30am ready to be lead through the jungle by the legendary Don Luz. Don Luz hacked his way through the jungle with his machete ensuring X-Ray 2 were safe and sound. When asked whether he enjoyed working with Raleigh, Don Lux replied; “yes I do a lot, I enjoy talking with the venturers and the PMs and enjoy listening to them speaking English. I enjoy this job a lot”.
The jungle’s tough terrain resulted in many of the venturers falling flat and skidding down the muddy slopes. Exciting but very challenging trekking through the jungle but the main consensus of the group was that it was an enjoyable experience. Don Luz then took X-Ray 2 to the hot springs where they bathed in warm water such luxury for the smelly, dirty venturers. PM Rachel thought the experience was magnificent and unique. After the springs the group walked a steep descent to the waterfall on the Rio Celeste which was an awesome sight. X-Ray 2 then continued their trek until they reached their final destination, El Pilon. After picking up their food supplies and setting up camp, we had a lovely dinner of chickpeas, rice and sauce and then retreated to our tents. The distance of the day was 15km through the difficult terrain of the jungle. Day leader Marette kept the group in high spirits. The weather was hot and humid and the scenery was amazing! 

The jungle...quite a lot of trees!

Rio Celeste..yes the colours are real!
Just some of the stunning scenery witnessed by X-Ray 2
X-Ray 3 15th November: Sarah Bartram
Blog 2: since the last update x-ray 3 have had the first La Cangreca table tennis tournament (on a broken ping-pong table we found in the Rangers station, balanced on a picnic bench). We were all kept entertained by Laura’s heated disputes with referee Randy; and there were some impressive performances from Lisa, Randy and Sarah Church. But the real star of the show was Don Boliver, one of the park rangers who put us all to shame.
We’ve almost been to see a waterfall. We walked for about 45 minutes before heading back to camp, only to find out from the rangers the next day that we’d been about 300m away from it! We walked through some beautiful rainforest along the way though and plan to go back another time.
It hasn’t all been fun and games though, the project is proving tougher than we anticipated. As the ground where we are digging trenches is made up of hard rock and clay, which takes a long time to break up with a pic-axe before it can be dug up. However, fuelled by such culinary delights as chips, sausages, salad and Anna and Lisa’s empanadas, X-Ray 3 have been powering through and have dug over 60m of trench and have started laying and filling the pipes. After all this hard work we have spent our afternoons swimming in the river, working on our chess skills and stretching out to Randy’s river-side yoga classes.