Sunday, 11 March 2012

X-Ray 3 - Miratombo Trek

X-ray 3's Sam gives an account of week one on the legendary Miratombo Trek

Hola todos que estan leyendo. This is the xray 3 blog coming to you from
Miraflor, Nicaragua.

We have now been on trek for 7 days and barring a few navigation problems, we’ve gotten off to a fine start

After travelling to Nicaragua with x7 & x8 (who are currently undertaking their community phase in Miraflor) we bid them farewell at La Rampla where we began the trek and walked to the ranger station we were staying in at El Cebollal. We arrived just in time to witness a stunning sunset across the mountains from the local viewing point and got in a few games of ninja before dark. The night itself was rather eventful with several members of the group wondering if we had been caught in the middle of an episode of “Nicaragua’s most wanted” after windows and doors began banging throughout the house at 1am. Thankfully Baggers was at hand to assess the situation and discovered that it was only the wind and everyone was soon asleep in their sleeping bags and mosquito nets

After a 330am start and the ever appetising Raleigh porridge rations for breakfast we set off for our first full day of trekking. The day got off to a frustrating start after a few misguided sets of directions from locals but we were soon on the right track making good ground. Later on we passed a local school just as the children were leaving for the day and a dozen also joined us for a few kilometres as we continued on through Miraflor. The most noteworthy moment of the day took place when after stopping to ask for directions a local dog decided to mark his territory all over Ollie’s rucksack, much to the amusement of the group (bar Ollie) and several of the locals.

As a result of the time lost in the morning we were slightly behind schedule when it came to mid-afternoon and so we began looking for a campsite locally before realising that X-ray 8 were only a few km away in San Jose. Raleigh has completed various projects in the area and we headed to the town with a view to staying in the school that was completed with the help of the local community in 2010. However, as it turned out, the local schoolteacher (and the only holder of the key to the building) was out of town so the local community leader’s wife very kindly offered to have us stay in her front room, Much to their surprise we were reunited with X-ray 8 that evening and spent a couple of hours sharing stories about the last couple of days. Thea was also able to be reunited with her host family that she’d stayed with during phase 1 much to the delight of both parties.

We we’re back on the road by 5am with around 14km ahead of us and made great progress all morning. The landscape in Miraflor varies drastically from km to km from desert-like and fairly barren areas to lush green hillsides and patches of forests. At times we could quite easily have been in the American Wild West with locals all riding around on horseback more often than not wearing cowboy hats. We stopped at Universidad del Tropico seco (which Harol attends) for a well-deserved lunch of chicken tortillas and rice and beans. Moral and energy levels replenished we set off for the afternoon and arrived at our rendezvous for the day Buenos Aires within a few hours.

After asking several the locals where the best place to camp was, a very kind lady offered to let us camp on her porch so we set up our tents there for the night. Several members of the group were treated to a lesson into how to lasso a horse by a young boy of only 8 or 9 after one of the families horses escaped and began galloping up and the road in front of the house.

We were awoken the following morning by an ensemble of local cockerels and dogs and were soon packed up and back on the road. Conversation soon turned to that of the group’s skit with the guys from Alpha 3 eager to continue their winning streak, and the other member of the group keen to taste success/the ice-cream that comes with it for the first time! There were several suggestions of songs that could be included in our potential medley of hip hop remakes: “I’m bringing sweaty back”, “cry me a footpath”, “mo blisters, mo problems” being amongst the highlights.

We were supposed to wild-camp again on Wednesday, however it would appear that lady luck was on our side – along with a certain element of local knowledge in the form of Harol who’s proving to be a highly valuable member of X ray 3. Whilst we were sat outside a pulperia having lunch east of el Regadilo, Harol’s neighbour pulled up on a motorbike and gave us the key to the local community centre. We arrived shortly after 2pm and spent the afternoon showering (for the first time in 4 days) with camel-packs under the amused/bewildered gaze of the locals and wondering around town.

The following say was Kelly’s birthday and we celebrated in style with cake, orange juice and a round of happy birthday at 4am. The highly resourceful and incredibly artistic Vivian was also able to put together a birthday card (with a sketch of the group out of nothing but a piece of light paper and a pen).

The morning saw some of the steepest and most difficult hiking to date and yet moral, enthusiasm and encouragement in the group did not falter. The local wildlife also featured throughout the morning, the more bizarre being a pair of goats who were blocking our way and tried to head-butt any one brave enough to approach!

The afternoon was one of considerable frustration as the route through the mountainous area we were passing was far from clear and we were forced to make several u-turns. As evening approached we were still some distance from the rendezvous for the end and so the decision was made to set up camp.

We set off again the following morning and after some excellent navigation work from Baggers and lider del dia/moral officer mark we were soon back on track. Along the way we took in some amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby city of Esteli (which is Deja’s hometown).

Our first week on trek really has been phenomenal and it is safe to say that the feeling amongst the group couldn’t be better. As yet we have walked approx 100 km and have the same to go.

We have now turned south as we head to Momotombo

Xray 3 out deacachimba


  1. Hola deyanira no se si te vaya a llegar este masj .., pero weno... espero estes bien disfrutando de esas maravillas q tiene nuestro pais tan bello ... q cada dia le estes metiendo y siempre tengas vibras positivas.. se q habran dias q te sentiras super cansada pero recuerda q tu puedes y que todo es un juego de la mente... asi q pa lante mi amix tkm saludame al fugo


  3. bente mikkelsen11 March 2012 at 11:04

    hello thea!!
    today is my birthday and it could be no better gift than reading your faboulous story from the trek!! so happy that you were able to meet your family again!! Mormor and I sits and read the stories - you are brave and clever. jeg har en fin bursdag og vi har kjøpt piano. masse klemmer fra mormor og meg - mamma

  4. Danielle Dowding (Xray 1).
    Hey Dan,
    I hope you are having a great time! We are all missing you loads and loads!!! I hope the weather isn't too bad! Starting the eistedford tomorrow, wish me luck!I am missing not having my stunning big sister around.. It's too quiet and tidy around here without you! save me!!! haha:) love you lots!

  5. message for Tim Phoa, Xray 3
    hoi Tim, wat een verhaal! leuk hoor om zo uitgebreid te lezen wat jullie gedaan hebben. lijkt me een geweldige ervaring deze trekking! jullie gaan nu naar een vulkaangebied volgens mij, als ik de kaart bekijk. Hoop dat de honden jullie verder met rust laten.... O ja, Phoa dag was gezellig ondanks de uitgedunde versie (Jij, Eline, Joeri, Peter en Li waren er niet) we hebben 's avonds nog even hier gegeten bij een Italiaan. liefs, mama
    liefs, mama

  6. For Emma Tivey X-ray 7
    Hi Em
    Good to get the blog update on your X-ray adventure and seems you've landed on your feet with a nice place to stay! All is fine this end, Mary is home for Easter on Sunday which I'm looking forward to as trying to keep both Jaz and Harls excercised is exhausting! Mind you keeping Sal occupied is equally exhausting for Dad. I saw Kathleen and Idris on saturday and aunty Mary came over too so it was really good to catch up. They are all fine, Idris not too bad. Spring is definitely sprung here with daffodills everywhere and I saw the first bluebell out in the woods yesterday. Can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks time. Have fun and make sure those houses are built so they don't fall down!
    Love you - Mum and Dad xxxxxxx

  7. Jon Baguley xray 3

    Sounds incredible and i am very jealous! glad your navigation skills have improved since that weekend in bournemouth!! keep up the good zork, more photos please!! lots of love nicole x

  8. Charlie Rombaut - X Ray 4
    Hi Charlie and X Ray 4...been waiting for a blog update and hopefully some photos so we can see how you are all getting hopefully that will come through soon! Stunning spring time weather back home, lowest tide of the year on Sat so big expedition for ormers (found 17, 6 went back as too small!) and yesterday, first trip to the Ecrehous, bit chilly, but as beautiful as always! No dolphins this time, but two were seen yesterday playing at the end of St Catherines looking good for the summer. We're all missing you lots, everyone is fine, and really looking forward to maybe speaking next week when you back at base. LOTS love, Mum xxxx

  9. Sharon Granville12 March 2012 at 14:07

    Maria Gerono XRay 6
    Calling Xray 6 where are you? Hope all is well on project? Really looking forward to your group's update and hopefully some photos soon? Boys got beat at the weekend 1 nil to Sunderland (ouch) so we're 7th still. Champions league distant hope. Love you lots Mum xxxx

  10. Sian Lewis Xray 3 12/03/12
    Hi Sian,
    Just read the trek blog, its so lovely to hear what you are up to. It sounds like really good fun and you sound as if you are all in good spirits.To think you are nearly half way though the trek already. Keep taking lots of photos. We got your 2nd letter last week - its great to hear your news. I have posted Pete's on to him. Saw Pam and Mark on Friday and they send their love. Bethan did her Oxford History debate at Merton College on Saturday and we and Miss Donovan went to see her. She was brilliant - you could have dropped a pin when she had finished. Didn't win but she was still great and we were very proud. Weather has been gorgeous and the evenings are lightening which is very cheering.
    Keep well and safe and enjoy yourself.
    Love Mum xxxxxxx

  11. Sam Marsden - x-ray 3

    Great update Sam - the trek sounds amazing ,albeit a live version of the three billy goats gruff! It sounds like you're receiving a lot of support and brilliant hospitality from the locals and it's reassuring to know that group morale is so high despite the difficult terrain/navigation issues. Molly has been poorly for the past few days and was greatly cheered to have some news on your group. Ollie is missing you loads (maybe because we're a female dominated household at the moment!) although he's making the most of your wardrobe whilst you're away! Your dad is home from Moscow this weekend for Molly's birthday so at least Ollie won't be completely surrounded when she has her sleepover. Take care, avoid psychotic goats and we look forward to hearing from you when you get back to base. Loads of love, Mum, Dad, Ollie and Mol

  12. Craddock Family13 March 2012 at 10:14

    Amy Craddock, X-Ray 7
    Hello my pops
    Been reading about explorers so thinking lots about you. Hannibal is supposed to have said 'find the way or make a way' Reading some of your exploits sounds as if you and fellow Vs are doing exactly that, perhaps with greater compassion than old Hannibal.
    Dad & I are planning Easter break and probably hideout at Noodles'. Would there be pageantry your end?
    Drought concerns here but looks like spring has arrived. Daffodils are evident in green spaces and Dad has all his seedlings sprouting.
    Look forward to catching up with you next week-end
    lots of love

  13. For Dr Caroline Bolt, X-Ray3
    Just arrived back from Melbourne after 29 hours of travelling. And just in time to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!! (for tomorrow 14 March) Really hope you are getting all our messages as we are not seeing any of them on the blog. Hope to speak when you get back, love you loads, Mum and dad xxxxx

  14. Louise Thompson14 March 2012 at 03:59

    This is a message for Caroline Bolt:

    Happy Birthday my dear! I hope you're having an awesome time, certainly sounds awesome from the report above. 100k walked and 100k to go - who needs dysentery to lose'll be a proper skinnymalink by now :-) Unlike my whale-like self. I finally beat Steve on the scales this week - yikes! But hopefully not for too much longer, the instant diet is a-coming.

    Andrew is here from London keeping me company this week which has been fantastic, I would be a lot more fed up if I was on my own. And Duggie has been keeping me stocked with dvds, currently hooked on Mad Men, - you need some Don Draper in your life when you get back.

    No signs of Mini T arriving, I'm on the curry, raspberry leaf tea and pineapple. Can't quite face the castor oil or other 'natural remedies' that have been suggested but as time goes on and I get more desperate I may resort to anything. The Braxton Hicks are getting fairly sore now, I'm rethinking my reluctance of epidurals!!

    Anyways, missing you heaps and can't wait to hear from you. As soon as I have any more interesting news I'll alert the proper authorities i.e. your folks.

    lots and lots of love to you. xxxxx

  15. Tim Phoa X-ray 3
    Hey Tim! Zo te lezen maak je aardig wat mee daar. Ik hoop dat je voeten het een beetje overleven!! Maar het is sowieso een geweldige ervaring lijkt me. Toch een beetje jammer dat jullie mij niet bij jullie hadden met mijn geweldige gevoel voor richting haha! Ik spreek je misschien wel weer even als je terug op basecamp bent over anderhalve week dan zal ik de verhalen wel horen. Veel plezier en succes met de rest van jullie trek!! xx Daniëlle

  16. Message for: Mark Wardle
    Heyyy markys, I am so so happy to hear u are having such an awesome time on your adventures. I just want to wish you a very happy birthday for tuesday-i hope u have a lovely day. Missing you so much & can't wait 2 see u on ur return.lots of love, jayne xxxxx

  17. Fao Mark Wardle
    Life is quite clearly suiting you out there! An amazing adventure and self learning curve. Well done and have great birthday. All the Hardwick & 8 legs!!

  18. Hi Mark, glad to hear that you are having a great time. Hope you have a super birthday. Look forward to seeing you when you get back and hearing all about it.
    Lots of love
    Judith, John & Abbiixxx

  19. Message for Mark Wardle X-ray 3 : Happy 22nd Birthday Marky! Hope you are having an amazing day! Bet this tops of as one of your best birthdays ;) Can't wait to here from you again, Missing you so much here but know you are having the time of your life, will have to celebrate with you down in Falmouth once you are back :) love you loads! xxx



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