Hola from Fieldbase,
This is Andy, Project Manager, here at Fieldbase a week early; trying to help out when needed (call me ‘The Floater’) and generally keeping a low profile whilst the Advance Team bond (and as a result featuring as first guest blogger). And I’d best explain why I’m here early. It’s because Becky, Logistics Co-ordinator, and I are married……to each other (two fantastic years as of yesterday!), so we travelled out together; I needed someone’s hand to hold on the plane because I’m a nervous flyer!
As you’ll have seen from the first post, we arrived early Friday (8th June) morning. Since that point it’s been a case of getting settled in and getting set up for the other Volunteer Managers to arrive and the Venturers thereafter. Amongst other things, we’ve taken a tour of the site, been given instructions on how to wash up/use the toilet, undertaken a swimming assessment, which we all passed with flying (maybe that should be butterflying) colours, got ourselves semi acquainted with the local town Turrialba (more on that to follow), learnt the rules of Racing Demons, stopped to admire a mesmerising Costa Rican sunset (see the previous post), and organised the bodega. As i write this, some of the advance team are learning off road driving skills.
In terms of our environs, we are (field) based just outside the aforementioned Turrialba in a cluster of buildings including the office, bodega, and Volunteer Manager & Venturer accommodation. It has all mods cons such as electricity and running water (sometimes cold, but that’s often welcome!). A very friendly and playful dog called Splatches also greets us warmly when she’s around.
To get into the local town, Turrialba, it’s about a 25mins walk, or a 5mins drive. Turriabla is where you’ll find everything from numerous butchers, a toy shop, restaurants, the post office and classical guitar playing in the plaza. It has a population of around 40,000 and the feel of a buzzing market town. If I’ve time, I’ll try to learn some basic Spanish there at a language school. That would be muchos……good.
Further afield there is the local pool around 20mins walk away, accessed via a gravel lane, which is flanked by fields of sugar cane; the workers were toiling said fields in the searing midday sun as we walked by, so massive respect to them! The view from the pool is one of lush green vegetation on all sides. As you might expect from such an environment, there is an abundance of wildlife. Small black birds (around the size of a wren) dart around, what look like birds of prey (maybe condors but in reality I think they are vultures) drift around on thermals, humming birds flit between flowers sipping nectar and last night I caught a glimpse of a frog about the size of my hand; quite some sights for this city dweller.
The whole area is managed by CATIE, an educational institution concerned with reducing poverty via promoting competitive/sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.
Don’t let the above give you an overly rosy view of the place though. The hard work of setting up has only just started, and in the heat, even the most basic tasks can be quite draining, leaving clothes and bodies sweat-covered. Accommodation, although comfortable, is pretty basic and it rained all day yesterday. This, of course, is all part of the challenge of which there’ll be many more besides over the next few weeks, and then some when we get to project sites/trek phases. Bring it on!
Andy (The Floater) Youl