Last Saturday Alpha 3 arrived comfortably early at the Cara Park after just a three hour journey from fieldbase. Having met the rangers and their giant iguana, we were shown to the casa verde, just a few kilometres from the crocodiles we saw on our way. We pulled together as a team and managed to overcome the disappointment that the bamboo wouldn´t be ready for another day so we´d have not one, but two nights sleeping inside on mattresses! Excitement was also at fever pitch at the prospect of showers and toilet facilities for the whole phase…apart from PM John, who was keen to ´go jungle´, and stick to the bucket plan.
Over the next few days we met the Rangers who were keen to get us started on the work we´d be doing; showing us around the jungle that is Carara National Park. On our very first morning we were fortunate enough to see numerous scarlet macaws, ant hills brimming with life and much more wildlife typical of the Park. We were also shown one of Raleigh´s previous projects, a footpath constructed back in 2001, and the area we would be working in during phase one, including a 15m wall on which Raleigh Artist Jemma would be orchestrating the painting of a mural. It appeared then that there was much to do in a park of some 2500km squared, covered by a mere 9 rangers! Our role predominantly entailed the reconstruction of pathways to increase tourist access to the national park, rebuilding stairways and digging irrigation drains along the footpaths. An exciting prospect for the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile at the casa verde we began the construction of what was to be our jungle camp; clearing a small area under trees home to capuchin monkeys, and constructing basha beds, a longdrop and a pathway. It took around a day and a half, but the end result felt well worth it. Not only are there now 15 basha beds, we also have a welcome sign, a loo seat, signs directing us to our hometown and what is soon to be a swing. Understandably we were all excited at the prospect of our first night in the jungle, and it lived up to our expectations, since, with the help of no rain to test our tarps, the bashas are still holding strong .It was great to start our environmental work on our fourth day, a full schedule of sourcing rocks for the path made the dinner of masa and refried beans taste even better.
In the past week, work has progressed at a good rate. Around 600m of pathway has been constructed, and the completion of the mural is imminent. It’s tiring, but rewarding work, especially as many tourists walk through, commending us for our efforts. While we’ve been working we’ve seen our fair share of jungle life – more macaws, a morph butterfly and a poisonous dartfrog.
Alpha 3 has also adjusted to life without showers at jungle camp, bathing and washing in the nearby stream every evening after a long day of work has become a fitting end to some tough days work, and other memorable moments included pancakes on shrove Tuesday, cooked by the indispensable trio of Jemma, John and Adri, in addition to learning Spanish, English, Dutch and Greek!
The next few days contain more of the same, mingled with a beach trip and a visit from fieldbase, and Louisa’s 19th birthday! We’re tired most evenings, but high spirited and looking forward to the rest of our phase!