Monday, 25 June 2012

We've got a cunning plan...

So, the PPVers have returned from their projects! The last couple of days have entailed groups of weary-and-smelly-but-happy groups bursting through to the door greeted by big hugs, then spilling their stories of meeting rangers, jumping off piers and planning jungle camps. Thousands of miles have been covered between the groups and we’re all getting excited about getting stuck in once the Venturers arrive.

Here’s a rundown of the Alpha group Project Planning Visits (Delta to follow!)

Alpha 1 PMs took a practice walk of days 4 to 6 of the Coast to Coast Trek, starting at El Barbilla National Park in Costa Rica,walking through the jungle into a beautiful valley where they stayed with the indigenous community there, eating an amazing local breakfast of rice and beans while watching the sun rise. Jealous, moi? They then drove through days 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the route, finishing around the Tepanti area, visiting Pejibaye. A mere snippet of what will be an amazing trek, taking everyone who walks it on an amazing physical and emotional journey they'll remember forever.

Coast to Coast sunrise
Alpha 2 took a bus up to Nicaragua to walk the end of the Miratombo trek, and straight away started hiking up to the top of Volcan Cerro, a new and unique volcano that is made of black sand. They then went onto Volcan El Hoyo, part of The Hole, a huge natural sink hole made up of several volcanic structures – and then finished off by heading towards Cerra Asososca and down to the Laguna, which is the end point of the trek. A trek full of ups and downs , quite literally, and the group will be staying with various indigenous families and in community centres with a bit of glamping thrown in for good measure!

Alpha 3 (i.e. we!) went to Volcan Tenorio National Park and were completely wowed by the stunning Rio Celeste waterfall and turquoise waters – jaw-droppingly beautiful. After playing football with the rangers and site workers on Day 1 (in hiking boots!), we started the next day on the work site, planning the work for the Venturers to do – carrying materials, restoring tourist trails, building the staircase to the waterfall and perhaps helping to create a rockery garden by the ranger station.  We also planned out where we would set up Jungle Camp - a basha village 1.5km from the waterfall which the Venturers will build when they arrive. Mucho exciting, and the rangers and workers were fantastic, so we're really looking forward to working there!

Cascada de Rio Celeste

Kickabout with the rangers
Alpha 4 took a 2 hour bus followed by speedboat to stunning San Lucas island and the new National Wildlife Refuge – transformed from an old converted Alcatraz-style prison into a diverse eco paradise.  They planned out the work they and the Venturers will be doing - working on the paths and welcome area to make them more accessible and attractive to tourists, thus generating much-needed income to keep the park alive and free from poachers. They also met some new friends in the form of noisy howler monkeys and brightly coloured crabs, but luckily they didn’t meet the local sting-rays when they leapt off the pier into the sea!

San Lucas Island
Sonal and Lottie making plans...
Alpha 5 headed on a short journey (!) to the north of Nicaragua to a tiny remote area called Achuapa – one of the poorest areas in Nica that was devastated by Hurricane Mitch 13 years ago.  After a 7km uphill trek, they found the village and scoped out the project which is to build a gravity water feed system, providing clean safe water to 66 families in the area – fulfilling one of the key UN Millenium Development Goals. They also visited the Co-operative La Paz Silva and met the secretary to discuss how they would work together on the project. Some amazing coffee and amazing views over the valley softened the 7km trek back again!

Alpha 6 went on an equally short journey to Las Lagunetas in Nicaragua – and as soon as they arrived (after around 13 hours on the road!) they met Edwin and Sylvia from U.C.A. Miraflor, the project partners. Sylvia heralds from the community benefitting from the project, which is to build a brand new pre-school, so it’s very close to home for her – in fact the PMs stayed with Sylvia’s mum so it got even closer! The Venturers will be doing similar home stays, and have ‘chickens dropping from trees onto the tin roof’ to look forward to as an alarm to wake them up at 5pm (apparently!).  After sorting out materials, working hours and visiting the school to a warm welcome, they started the long journey home.

The groups are just choosing their best pics, so more to come!

We can’t wait for the Venturers to get here so we can get cracking...a few more days of training and cleaning before the big arrival day. Good luck guys with your final preparations – y hasta pronto!

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