Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Power of 6 in El Portillo

Alpha 6 have had an amazing time in El Portillo; building outhouses has taken up most of their days, but that does not mean to say that ‘Team Toilet’ have been all work and no play.

Here’s 6 reasons why Alpha 6 will miss El Portillo:

6 things we’ve learnt
• A little bit of Spanish
• If in doubt ‘mas cemento’
• Alternatively...’mas agua’
• How to make regional dishes.
• Astronomy, we’re now all experts
• How to use a long drop!

6 happy moments
• Arriving to Don Brigido singing (legend)
• Granny’s ice pops
• Endless sunshine
• Dougie’s birthday - camping on the mountainside and sleeping under the stars
• Granny’s flushing toilet! There’s always a queue...
• Completing latrines

6 wild moments
• Discovering the love child of a chicken and a duck = Chuck!
• Phil being kicked by a cow!
• Lisa being awoken by a snake!
• Fosca meeting the locals (whip scorpions and stick insects)
• Witnessing new sports including Granny’s never ending battle keeping the pigs out of the kitchen (they never win)
• George, James and Dougie chasing chickens with limited success (visions of a Rocky training montage)

6 ‘injuries’
• Veronique falling out of a hammock
• Fosca tripping over a football
• Sunburn
• Sunburn
• Sunburn
• ...Sunburn

6 things we’ve eaten
• Sour, salty cheese
• Rice and beans
• Sugar cane
• Jacket potato
• Rice and beans
• Malanga

And a couple of quotes
• What’s Christmas like in Achuapa? Maria Gerono
• Get the wheel bucket – Daniel Meza
• If it wasn’t for the law enforcement of the laws of physics; I would be unstoppable – Louis Manders

Welcome Explorers

Fresh-faced and with a spring in their step, our Explorers have arrived at Turrialba HQ, meaning our roster is now complete for what will be a bumper filled Phase Two of Raleigh Expedition 12B.

In typical Tico style, a gallo pinto breakfast was served and in a matter of hours, they’ll be trekking around the sultry surrounds of Turrialba’s countryside, and getting to grips with tents, trangias and toilets of the short drop variety.

Alpha 7 - La Naranjita

Mercedes with lists some observations regarding life on project in La Naranjita:

• Construction well underway on 5 houses of adobe bricks, and the entrance steps to the school.
• Discotheque Naranjita! Wild!
• Banana Pineapple Cake birthday surprises for Sonia and Phoebe.
• Waterfalls!
• Black widow spiders and a few dangerous snakes (thankfully dead).
• Rice & beans breakfast, lunch and dinner still going strong!
• Playing mafia has become second-nature at night.
• English lessons are going strong.
• Slowly all becoming obese by eating our body weight in peanut brittle - “croquante”
• Finally, the tea brought by Raleigh road trip has been heavenly; the perfect way to end a hard day’s labour.

Alpha 8 - San Jose

Alpha 8Time to clock off for the weekend. We decided to spend our first free afternoon bonding over a game of cards and lounging in the backyard of one of our host families. Of course, nothing says group bonding quite like a big bowl of papaya which we managed to successfully scoff down in under a minute.
The following day we joined the majority of the San Jose community, as well as Alpha 7, at the local baseball game. We spent an exciting day comparing notes with our ‘amigos’ from Alpha 7 while working on our tans. To put the cherry on top of a perfect day we cooled off in the watering hole. We were now fresh and eager to start a new week on the worksite....

...unfortunately this enthusiasm died off somewhat when we learnt that our task was to pick up yet more rocks from the nearby field for the floor of the centre, but Alpha 8 kept their spirits up with catchy rock-related tunes, the most noteworthy being Queen’s classic ‘We will rock you’, closely followed by ‘I like big rocks and I cannot lie!’
The next few days flew by in a flash and we all appreciated the return of Alfredo, Dani and Valeria, along with the roadtrip crew who came to stay for a few days. The day after could not have been anything more than we could have hoped for – our hard work had finally paid off as we started laying bricks. It was now that we could see a building forming and the San Jose community centre was no longer just an image in our heads.

Building such a construction is no easy task and being a phase one group, it is a shame that we will not see the end result of all our hard work. Luckily for us though we were able to see what we were working towards as that afternoon we walked to Los Apantes, an hour or so from San Jose. The walk was energising (for some!), but the view from the top was breathtaking for all. Once there we spent time with the families and were fully able to appreciate the value of a community centre.

As always, Alpha 8 sends much love to everyone back home. Thank you to friends and family for their thoughtful messages.

Pura Vida!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Alpha 5 in Barva

Congratulations! Alpha 5 gave birth today, to two beautiful .... pipes! We (PM’s Dani (Flaves), Afsun (Afsana),Caroline (in spirit!) and venturers Amanda, Vivian, Jess, Holly, Georgina (Gee), Josh, Sam M, Sam H, Harvey, Brayan, Fu and Tom) are up in the beautiful Barva Volcano sector of the Braullio National Park laying pipelines to transport water to the lovely rangers (RONALD, Fabio, Andres, Alex and Juan) very important work!
Our bus journey here was bumpy to say the least and no one could have prepared us for Sam H’s singing. Arriving at our accommodation (the old ranger station with a range of MATTRESSES and WARM-ISH showers) was a pleasant surprise until the bat incident. Our own Sam Horbye showed his true colours when a rouge bat flew into the house. Screaming like a girl he fled the room scrambling over Afsun in the process. He is now called ‘Batsam.’ Sam M’s similar reaction to a mouse has now earned him the name ‘Ratsam,’ while his vine swinging skills gave him the name ‘Tarzan.’ Both work!

Our first day on project was ... cold! Who needs woolly hats in Costa Rica? ALPHA 5 do! Batsam, our day leader, found the language barrier a problem as our 17th human chain failed again and Ronald (our favourite ranger) was vocal about its uselessness.... learning the hard way we realised that human chains AREN’T the answer to everything.....

Our teamwork got us through the painful process of saving a buried pipe. Any hikers will have been terrified by Dani screaming “I CAN SEE THE HEAD!” The Red Cross helped us for our first day- a six day job became one! Woo! Our evenings consist of cards, mafia, cards and more mafia! On 12th February half of the group (both Sams, Gee, Josh, Brayan, Amanda and Tom) successfully slept through a 6.0 earthquake and those who did wake up mistook it for wind or Bryan’s snoring (IT’S THAT LOUD!) On 14th February we celebrated Valentines Day in style with Bolognaise and chocolate fondue for dessert. Vivian, our resident artist, decorated our house beautifully – hearts and roses galore! The 15th February brought our biggest achievement so far. Under the leadership of Josh we put together 250 metres of pipe! That’s 1/5 of our total distance! Boom! We also saw Tapir and big cat footprints (spotted by Flaves and Fu). Next time let’s hope it’s the real thing!

Work is quite muddy and cold but visibly seeing our progress is amazing! Not to mention we are in an untouched jungle! Today Amanda and Jess got Jungle Feve; non-stop giggling! Josh banished them with odd jobs haha! Fu’s constant playing of Bob Marley was challenged tonight with an amazing rendition of ‘Rappers delight’ by Holly and ‘Ignition’ by Gee. R.O.C.K.E.D.I.T! Also today Tom ran all the way home from the project site to shower first – DEDICATED TO CLEANLINESS! We found Harvey tonight KO’d on the bedroom floor – no sheets, no mattress, no nothing! Gee’s blister on her leg has become infamous in Alpha 5 and last night something horrible happened.... Josh kicked it under the table by accident and it BURST EVERYWHERE! Eeew!!

Any rules about clothing have gone completely out the window- socks and sandals everywhere, colour clashed layers galore! Our fastastico PMs are keeping us very cheery – Flaves (Dani) dancing (we have videos...), Afsun’s pink fur pinup jacket (which supplies enough warmth and entertainment to keep us going for hours and Caroline – we can’t wait for you to get here and attend to our colds!!

Food-wise we are happy too! Homemade tortillas and Empanadas were a massive hit! There’s a wee bit of resentment concerning peanuts being our daily snack (especially Amanda) and the tinned tuna has caused some problems concerning tuna burps (again especially Amanda haha!) Fresh Carrots caused quite a stir – who knew Costa Rican carrots were so big!?! Our quote of the week is from Batsam – “oh look at that cow, imagine the bacon we could get off that!” Nice one Sammy!

All in all Alpha 5 are a happy bunch! LOADS of singing (ABBA), dancing and laughing. We’ve started preparing a sneaky part for our end of phase skit. “Preview” I hear you scream.... well...
“Its the remix to ignition, ALPHA 5 on a mission...”
Until next blog... Alpha 5 out.

Samos 12B el grupo de Raleigh y nosotros somos Holly, Amanda, Caroline, Gee,Tom, Sam, Vivian, Brayan, Daniel, Afsana, Fu,Josh, Samcito, Harvey, Jess.

Y somos Alpha 5. En casa de los guarda parques del Volcan Barva. En donde nos encontramos, con risa, mucha alegría en donde también jugamos todo el tiempo, en un lugar donde, compartimos el trabajo donde nos ayudamos, los unos con los otros, donde una sonrisa no falta. Hemos tenido momentos muy buenos y pocos los malos; los cuales no se donde están porque no lo he visto y no los hemos encontrado. Todos aqui somos y vamos mas alla de ser un nombre como Alpha 5….

En el corazón de todos y cada uno de nosotros, recordaremos; nuestras caras y nuestro tiempo compartido.. los llevare en mi mente y corazón que es y será nuestra voz…

The Return of Bravo 2

Bravo 2 have returned from their, and it would be fully justified to say here, epic road trip to northern Nicaragua, where they have visited our community phase groups up in Miraflor and Achuapa. Starting with a couple of days collecting rocks and teaching English in San Jose with Alpha 8, they also had the opportunity to visit Los Apantes where Claire and Dave had assisted in the construction of a Community Centre in Expedition 11G/H - the whole village turning out with refreshing drinks and papas fritas for all.

A whirlwind 20 hours with Alpha 7 in La Naranjita followed, with a dip at a local waterfall before literally mucking in with the construction of adobe bricks; former city slicker Tim Salt described it as the most laborious morning's work he had ever undertaken in his life... Their final stop was with Alpha 6 in El Portillo where they (sheepishly) took a share of the praise lauded on A6 by the community for their hard work during the phase, although they made up for it through their vocal backing during the national anthem and The Beatles' - Twist and Shout at the evening’s fiesta, where speeches, singing and salsa were in abundance, along with the customary piñata.

One blip on an otherwise magnificent trip occurred on the final morning as Bravo Two were left feeling utterly dejected that their Nicaragua - Costa Rica border crossing took 44 minutes, some 17 minutes slower than Ross Mckenzie's notorious 27 minute scintillating slalom through the mayhem of international border bureaucracy back in the balmy summer of 2009.

At this point I wish to inform you, dear readers that your blogger is back (cue sobs of relief/three cheers as you see appropriate). Sadly low numbers at base, tied in with a bug that left many members bed-bound, subsequently left you under informed. This will be rectified asap. I personally wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused, and hope our updates in the coming days serve to slake your thirst for all things Raleigh in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Pura Vida!