Saturday, 25 February 2012
Trekking - Alpha 1 stylee!
Alpha 1 have passed the halfway point of the Turrisantos trek! Yey! Though it hasn’t been easy. Day 5 was an epic 28 km journey that left us all blistered and bruised, but our pain gave rise to the funniest line of the trek so far: “Alpha 1, where the heck are you?!!” cried an exasperated Tim, inadvertently making us all burst into laughter.
The rough conditions of day 5 however led to a very welcome lie-in the next day, which was followed by an excellent and efficient foot clinic run by PM Dr Katie. Seven years of medical training to be treating blisters! Despite the late start, we got to our campsite in good time, and desperate for a wash, we all took a dip in the nearby river. We were enjoying a refreshing swim when the most unusual thing floated by - a rather dead chicken. Needless to say, we all got out of the water pretty quickly after that.
Days 5, 6 and 7 were extra special for Alpha 1 as we had a special guest from Fieldbase – finance manager Holly. Her cheerfulness and motivation were most welcome, although I think her most useful skill was her great expertise in putting tents up! Day 7 saw an early finish for Alpha 1, so we spent the afternoon relaxing on a football pitch and playing with the local children. Although I don’t think they appreciated it when their football rolled over and Hanko had his penknife out!
Day7 also brought possibly our best sleeping location so far – the storeroom behind the shop. The shopkeeper was absolutely lovely and insisted that we all bought something, so we had an afternoon feast of churros, crisps and ice cream. A food drop was much appreciated on day 7 especially as it brought Claire, Caroline and Alfredo to visit us from Fieldbase, and they spent the night with us in our cosy storeroom.
Unfortunately on day 8, Rosh came down with a stomach bug, so she had to head back to Fieldbase with Katie. The rest of Alpha 1 powered on up some very steep terrain. It was tough at times, kudos to Louis who was physically pushing me up the mountain at points, but we eventually got to our campsite, which was an electricity pylon. After carefully constructing our tents around the pylon we settled down to dinner around a lovely campfire built by Hanko. The altitude meant it was really quite chilly, so the warmth from the fire was much appreciated. We all fell asleep to the sweet sound of electricity humming...
Day 9 was one of the milestones for Alpha 1. After an arduous climb, we reached the highest point of the whole trek, 2852 meters. It was an amazing feeling and not at all ruined by Allegra pondering: “Is this a hill or a mountain?” Quickly followed by: “It can’t be a mountain, it doesn’t have snow on top.” – this from someone about to study geography at university. Day 9 also brought the halfway point of the trek. Round of applause for PM Roeland who helped us celebrate in style by buying tuna and jalapeno peppers to jazz up our dinner of pasta and sauce. The community centre we stayed in that night even had a table and some chairs, so we sat down to a wonderful formal halfway dinner.
We covered a lot of ground on day 10 due to the Pan American highway. This tarmac, perfectly flat road was (by some) very welcome after 9 days of jungle and rocky tracks. Another plus of the highway was the numerous service stations, so we were able to pick up some tasty snacks at each trekking break.
All in all, we are continuing to make good progress, and Playa Hermosa feels that little bit closer. Pura Vida!