10 weeks ago some 110 venturers from across the globe arrived at Turrialba Headquarters in eager anticipation of the experience of a lifetime. They departed yesterday, teary eyed and joyful after an unbelievable journey, the memories of which they will cherish forever. Quantifying the work done, from the stones lifted, kilometres trudged on trek to the tortilla eating record for a phase (107 in case you're wondering), would be no easy task, so I hope the following serves adequately as a summary of an unforgettable 3 months spent in Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Located in the heart of some of the most remote communities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the community projects offered a unique opportunity to volunteers to work alongside members of those communities to build basic facilities such as schools, community centres and water supply systems. The Venturers also learned to overcome communication, language and cultural barriers while living with families who only speak Spanish.
All the projects were formed with the aim to improve the quality of life and to provide valuable resources for very poor communities. The projects were structured in a way to ensure that Raleigh had optimum impact on the communities through improvement of the quality of life and providing valuable resources for current and future generations.
In San Jose, the community centre built over 2 phases will provide a focal point for the 29 families who call it home. Over in El Portillo, 29 eco-latrines gives sanitation to 35 families and in La Naranjita, 5 adobe brick houses were built from approximately 1800 bricks as a replacement for those damaged in the storms at the latter end of 2011. Finally, in Dorbata, the school built in phase 2 will provide not only an educational establishment for the 20 children in the community, but also a meeting point for the weekly Saturday get-together.
Working alongside SINAC, the Costa Rican National System of Conservation Areas, and based in Costa Rica’s National Parks, the environmental groups lived and worked alongside the park rangers, helping to maintain and improve the national parks. In addition to their conservation work, venturers were given talks on environmental awareness in Costa Rica by rangers. Around 27% of Costa Rica is protected territory and Raleigh’s environmental projects reflect the country’s commitment to support their unique environment and natural habitat.
The projects are genuinely important in helping to preserve natural resources and habitats and protect important species of plants and animals, as well as improving facilities in order to generate much-needed income from eco-tourism.
In Carara, venturers renovated 350m of trail with sand and stone, painted a macaw-mural at the main entrance and commenced work on a new path in a park used by some 30,000 visitors a year. In the south, La Amistad's Los Gigantes del Bosque (Giants of the Forest) 1.8km path received an overhaul, whilst in the north, Volcan Tenorio's path and staircase down to the surreal Laguna Azul received a similar treatment - and was visited by 700 visitors during the Easter Holy Week. Up on the slopes of Volcan Barva, 2.5km of pipeline and footpath were cleared, allowing access and water to the ranger's who protect this stunning ecosystem from poachers.
Each trek covered over 250 kilometres in 19 days. Venturers braved the elements, crossed rivers and camped in remote wilderness, jungle or community buildings, learning navigation, camping and survival skills along the way. The 4am starts, tough climbs and up to ten hours trekking a day with over 20kg on their backs tested the Venturers both physically and mentally. Whilst completing the trek, each member explores their own strength and determination, teamwork abilities and a level of fitness some never knew they had.
After having risen to the challenge, the trek groups were rewarded with incredible views, abundant wildlife and an enormous sense of achievement upon arrival at the beautiful beaches; truly giving each person the belief they can overcome any future challenge they may face.
From the ups and downs of the Turrisantos trek, the tropical climes of Corcovado and the volcanic vistas of the Miratombo, attempting to explain the phenomenal feat of trekking 19 days through scenes of beauty at every twist and turn is something that many fail to explain, such is the magnitude of the achievement.
Congratulations to all involved, may you be successful in whatever you pursue next.
Expedition 12B, out