Friday, 30 March 2012

Come Rain or Shine

Greetings from ZULU 2. So, 5 days in! It has already gone incredibly fast. Remarkably despite hill after hill after hill the team just gets stronger and closer. Everyone has gelled incredibly well and we understand the importance of supporting and helping each other in this sometimes difficult environment. The feet situation is pretty positive too. There has been superb use of zinc oxide tape and foot powder!

The weather seems to have a routine. Very hot and dry in the morning and then around lunchtime it rains, and if we’re really lucky we get thunder and lightning (renamed FUNder and BRIGHTning). We are very fortunate to be trekking through the jungle in La Amistad National Park for 2 days. Hopefully we shall see some awesome wildlife. We have already seen some monkeys in the trees and a few coral snakes.

Holly celebrated her birthday in a very sweaty style, and received an amazing Tinkerbell sticker, colouring book and marshmallows! We completed our first river crossing like professionals, and it was a proud and satisfying moment when no one fell in or lost their boots!

Smiles all round!

Zulu 2

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

No 'Oar'dinary Trek Group

It’s Day 5 and Zulu 1 have made pleasing progress on the Turrisantos trek. Thankfully the torrential downpours which hindered previous groups’ progress in Barbilla National Park stayed away, and glorious sunshine has been in abundance, enabling a good speed through the jungle and on the climbs.

Day 4 saw us ascend out of Barbilla and out into the Rio Pacquare valley, and the group enjoyed an hour or so in its water, cleaning off the previous day’s grime. Given our early arrival time we chose to push on and eat into Day 5’s 25km, following the undulating gravel tracks around from San Joaquin to San Vincente.

Several positions have been created which add to the fun of our endeavours. The ‘Master Oarsman’ is charged with ensuring our group is well hydrated. The solution – a ‘boat race’. 2 teams of 9, each member consuming half a litre of water in turn whilst competing against the rival team. To the victor the spoils, and to all a refreshing and healthy start to the day.

Last night’s food drop saw another enjoyable evening’s entertainment in the form of the snack stock exchange. Negotiations were fierce and Zulu One is home to some hard businessmen and businesswomen, and some who made questionable trades. To inform those of you at home – Trail Mix and Casino biscuits are hard sought commodities whilst for many, peanuts sell sell sell.

George, Amanda, Rachelle, Daniel, Fred, Charlie, Tom, Harvey, Amy, Hannah, Sonia, Kevin, Ant, George Moody, Charlotte, Jess, Joe, Matt and Dave are in good health and send all their best. Pura Vida!

Phase 2 Slideshow

Well here it is - what you´ve all been waiting for... the amazing Phase 2 slideshow. Ale and Jemma did such an awesome job that we´ve had to divide it in two... enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Like the proverbial butterfly our venturers and their groups have undergone an astonishing transformation: they’ve morphed from X-Ray groups into Zulus as they bid to see out the third and final leg of their quest. In other words, Phase 3 is ready to roll!

Zulu 1 – Turrisantos Trek

David Winterflood
Matthew Jewers
Jessica Soane
Joseph Donovan
Charlotte Rombaut
George Moody
Anthony Gallagher
Kevin Ho
Sonia Deiters
Hannah Voisin
Amy Craddock
Harvey Burgess
Thomas Edney
Charles Pilkington
Frederik van Landegem
Daniel Meza
Rachelle Bent
Amanda Petersson
George Cosgrove

Zulu 2 – Corcovado Trek

Jon Baguley
Dani Percival
Roeland Terpstra
Jezreel Lezama
Véronique Driebeek
Ileana Boyes
Phillip Houghton
Louis Manders
Alfredo Salas Garro
Ben Chowdhury
Joni Antonio Moreno Gonzáles
Fleur Jansen
Andrew Sweerts
Holly Courtier
Georgina Webster
Mercedes White
James Barlow

Zulu 3 – Miratombo Trek

Alex Dennis
Adri Rodriguez
Daniel Walsh
Valeria Celeste Polimeni Solís
Ben Maclean
Liam Ward
Gareth Price-Baghurst
Maria Gerono
Gustavo Badilla Araya
Simon Webb
Sophie  van Woerkom
Ravenna Westerhout
Dara Sternberg
Robert Sutton-Mattocks
Ciara Atkinson
Brayan Lobo Fallas
Alexandre Bello

Zulu 4: Carara National Park

Alex Beaumont
Amanda Payne-Danson
Victoria Brennan
Erika Lobo Sánchez
Thea A Mikkelsen
George Batt
Claire F Edgley
Marvin Uriel Perez Villarreyna
Azelle Egbe
Anna Blackwell
James J Wildgoose
Hanko Gerritsen
Michael Modesto Romero Herrera
Josephine Killen

Zulu 5: Volcan Tenorio

Jemma Grundon
Daniel Saborio
Alexander E Gordon
Istvan Josue Sepulveda Hernandez
Yzza R Slaoui
Lisa J Steinmetz
Fosca Meyjes
Max de Kroon
Valeria Vasquez Cruz
Deyanira Monterrey Centeno
Jarol Jassiel Tercero Morales
Eika S Webb
Roisin M Carson

Zulu 6: El Portillo

Francesca Hodge
Caroline Bolt
Katie Philpott
Jose Pablo Castilo Halabi
Lauren Davidson
Louisa F Treadwell
Jonathan A Sacarello
Mark T Wardle
Rosemary G Henry
Wing Tung Wong
Samuel G Marsden
Tess P de Jongh
Julian Heckmatt
Amelia A Christie-Miller
Allegra Dowley
Edward M Lilley
Sjoerd B Baardman

Zulu 7: La Naranjita

Fiona Arakelian
Afsana Tahirova
Lucinda Ryan
Markus Hjorth
Diana  Hindle Fisher
Savan Shah
Sam Horbye
Sophie  Jenkins
Callum Hunter
Mary Dashfield
Sian Lewis
Ting Phoa
Jessica Emerson
Mark Fearon
Julie Balfour
Timothy Welander
Pamela Quesada Gutierrez

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Blink and you'd have missed it

So another Raleigh phase has gone by quicker than a meteor flashing over the Cheviots; here’s a run through of the endeavours of those fine Raleigh guys and gals’

Our trek groups have routed their respective routes. X Ray 1 delved through the heart of Costa Rica, almost coast to coast. Beginning in Barbilla National Park they have breached the continental divide and are celebrating their success at Punta Judas. Whilst Turrisantos may sound like a beach resort, apparently its completely the opposite. And you need to like peanuts. and tang. and getting slightly lost. but mainly peanits.

X Ray 2 conquered the Corcovado, tackling the eponymous national park and La Amistad in the hot and humid southwest of Costa Rica. They finished with three days striding the sands at Playas Madrigal, Carate and Piro.

X Ray 3, up in Nicaragua, mastered the Miratombo trek, with their final days in the Maribios Volcano chain, enjoying stunning views of Volcan Momotombo and Lake Managua. They visited many communities along the way, were treated to food by smiling hosts, slept on volcanoes, traversed deserts and rivers, all celebrating in style at Lake Asoscosas.

X Ray 4 have completed their work on the ‘Quebrada Bonita’ trail in Carara National Park, enjoying a day trip to Playa Hermosa, and celebrating several birthdays throughout the phase. The traditional celebratory energy bomb cake was pimped with addition of oreos. Must have been some huge sugar crashes down in Carara after that...

X Ray 5 in La Amistad have also been productive on the ‘Gigantes del Bosque’ trail (Giants of the Forest’. They have enjoyed various outings to the swimming pool in Altimira, a local farmers market, and to the Valley of Silence Ranger station where Raleigh undertook a project a few years ago.

X Ray 6, after 18 days of pouring rain, finally had a day of sun! They have been working at Volcan Tenorio, undertaking an overhaul of the path to the waterfall on the aquamarine Rio Celeste.

X Ray 7 have continued the work of Alpha 7 on the adobe brick houses in La Naranjita, mixing mud and ‘old man’s beard’ to create a ‘cement’ between the bricks, alongside trips to Esteli and visits to X Ray 8...

...who have completed the community centre in San Jose! This was celebrated with a fiesta yesterday afternoon, featuring all the classics - pass the parcel and some rather competitive musical chairs. They too undertook trips to Esteli, visiting the cigar factory and there was a barely a dry eye when they said good bye on Tuesday morning.

Finally, X Ray 9 in Dorbata. In their one phase, they whipped up a school building faster than a Groundforce montage and have enjoyed the good life in the beautiful surrounds of Chirripo Indigenous Territory. The school is already in use and the group enjoyed a game of football with the locals, the torrential downpour during the fixture making the Brits feel truly at home.

They’ll all be back at HQ tomorrow for all the fun and games of changeover so stayed tuned for the latest goings on at Raleigh Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

X Ray 7 La Naranjita

As we’re swiftly approaching our last few days at La Naranjita – admiring our (nearly) finished house – which we energetically constructed with a ‘little’ help from Alpha 7 on phase one. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. We’re also incredibly impressed by the resident cockerel –that rather amusingly is government protected (it was a gift) and has terrorised victims relentlessly; including Fiona who received a vicious peck to the ankle.

The work has been hard, but we’ve taken it in our stride and there’s never been a dull moment, especially with mud around. It has done wonders for our skin, and some would say it’s like being on an extended spa weekend, minus the relaxation element, with a hardcore workout substituted in. Unsurprisingly, the boys have been trying to outdo each other by carrying the most bricks – current record holder is Johnny, who managed 3 on his shoulders.

We’ve all taken to life in La Naranjita and really settled down with our families, although this took longer for J our village ‘Goldilocks’, as he was determined to find a bed that was just right. A few of us have even woken at the crack of dawn to milk the cows; Istvan and Emma collecting an impressive 5ml of milk between them, which is more impressive thatn A-Bomb’s feeble attempts – and Eika who got lost and never showed! Luckily we had an expert in our midst, so we were all able to enjoy a fresh glass of hot milk with sugar and cinnamon – delicious!

On Saturday afternoon we had a visit to a picturesque waterfall around 30 minutes from the village, enjoyable despite the shockingly cold temperature of the water. Harvey aka Harvinator, stole the crown for best swim-wear. His pizza hut delivery boy chic, sourced from Ropa Americana, for the equivalent of £2. The trip was for many, the first real shower, and in Amanda’s case, her only shower – as hers has 3 sides and a clear view to the rest of the village.
On Sunday we had the opportunity to visit Uriel’s home town Sontule – 2 hours walk away (actually 4), but it was well worth it, even if it did mean having to run 7km mainly uphill to return in time for Raleigh Radio!

I speak on everyone’s behalf when I say that we will truly miss our families and reminisce fondly of our time in La Naranjita. We can’t wait to get home, dig up our own back gardens with our newly acquired expertise, and build our own adobe brick houses. Now where to find some old man’s beard...

News from Nicaragua: San Jose, X Ray 8

The war has officially begun between the boys and girls of X Ray 8. After a lovely day at work under Michael’s leadership, Charlie, Andrew, James and Hanko ruined it by soaking Felur, Holly and Georgina, before rolling them in the sand pit! (Official terminology here I believe is: ‘donuting’) Sleep with one eye open boys... On Monday we had a double excitement – half the group headed with Vicki to Esteli on the bus tour a cigar factory, the industry employing around 70% of residents of the town, whilst X Ray 7 paid us all a visit after work, we had a lovely reunion at the water hall. On Tuesday, the second half of the group made the same trip and we were given free cigars; the boys taking the whole experience incredibly seriously!

Jemma also arrived with us on Tuesday and we are now getting started on the painting. The school is already a brilliant blue/green blend, while the murals have been planned out and waiting to be filled in! The community centre is going very smoothly (our rendered walls are like marble). Georgina and Azelle’s ‘Dad’, Don Gustavo, proved a with the painting, splashing paint around like nobody’s business! James subsequently spent two hours resurrecting the door.. Cindy then showed up Azelle by out-shovelling. And she’s TINY! Charlie got his tongue in a twist discussing turnips with Fleur, or was it tulips? “You have loads of turnips in Holland right, they’re all over your postcards!”

The Bravo’s (Ale, Holly and Dangerous Dave) arrived on Thursday night – lovely to see them all and receive our messages! We’ve got the drawing board out for our skit – the boy’s are gunning for an auction idea but we’ll see... Charlie does a mean Paddy McGuiness impression so maybe a ‘Take Me Out’ parody is needed. Let the bangers see the mash!

We’re all excited for our fiesta on Monday when we open the community centre! A classic Nicaraguan celebration!

X Ray 8 out!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Dorbata, Chirripo Indigenous Reserve X Ray 9

Quietly and unassumingly, hidden down in the Chirripo Indigenous Territory, X Ray 9 have constructed their school building with the energy and vigour of an army of thousands. Indeed, such is their progress that on Saturday morning they celebrated the opening ceremony with the local community.

Apparently the group don't have time for words, preferring to let their actions do the talking, so treat yourself to a mug of the hot stuff, settle in your favourite chair and enjoy X 9's photos from Dorbata.

It is also worth pointing out that an envelope of electronic proportions, featuring a smorgasbord of photos from our Nicaraguan groups landed in our inbox this morning so check back through the blog to see some digital depictions of the X Ray Groups in action.