Thursday, 30 August 2012

Playa Hermosa... lugar maravilloso

No fue muy buena nuestra bienvenida con toda nuestra comida oliendo a cangrejo y camas mojadas, gracias X-Ray 3!

 Pero ahí de inmediato lo arreglamos y comenzaron nuestras patrullas esa misma noche. Al primer grupo le cayó una inmensa lluvia, luego ya salió el otro grupo a las 12:30am y lograron recolectar 12 nidos de tortuga y miraron el amanecer ya en la mañana. Nuestras caras eran indescriptibles por tanto sueño.

En nuestras mañanas pasamos trabajando creando una barrera protectora para cuando suba la marea no entre al vivero. Estas horas de trabajo nos tienen todos quemados, la mayoría rojos camarón y uno que otro más moreno.

A las 10am termina el primer turno de trabajo. Hora tan esperada ya que todos nos vamos a meter al mar o a jugar voleibol.

Estar en Playa Hermosa es como estar en el paraíso. Es única la sensación de mirar a una tortuga desovar, tener los huevos en la mano y ya luego de un tiempo liberar las tortugas bebe en el mar; eso realmente es vida! Estamos tan felices por esta experiencia inigualable, sabiendo principalmente que lo hacemos por el medio ambiente.

Por William Pavon

X-Men 5 - Masters of the loo-niverse

After the excitement of the Achuapa music festival, the giddiness was replaced by that of arrival at El Portillo. The group received a wonderful welcome in true Nica style before we were allocated to our families and we all went off to spend our first evening with our new madres, padres, hermanas and hermanos.

The next day the head of the community, Don Brigido, talked us through the eco-latrine project along with one of the maestro de obras. We learned how traditional ‘long drop’ toilets can flood and cause water contamination, hence the need for the new latrines which are much more sanitary, can provide fertiliser for the community’s crops and prevents diseases caused by dirty water supply. We also spoke to members of the community already using them who say they are a god-send. There was no rest for the wicked as we commenced work that very afternoon.

Since then we’ve been working very hard every day making concrete bases, brick laying, making roofs and generally building ‘super-loos’. We’ve also been interacting with the community, teaching english and health & hygiene to local children, making cuajada cheese and milking cows.

On Monday we were very lucky to receive a visit from Stacey Adams, Chief Executive of Raleigh, and Fiona Woolf, the future Lord Mayor of London. The X-Men and people of El Portillo entertained our visitors with traditional Nicaraguan songs and the story of the eco-latrine followed by fireworks and piñatas. We have two more days of work before all our efforts will culminate in a massive launch party on Saturday night with the entire community. Let’s just hope the rain stays off!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

From beach to jungle

We departed from Playa Hermosa on Friday and arrived in Carara National Park to greet X-Ray 4 as it was time to swap camps with them. We set up camp in the jungle; it rained constantly and Emma awoke in a paddling pool! Jed, Emma and Sarah made Banoffee Pie for the group to celebrate the start of our new phase in the jungle.

On Sunday, the lovely park ranger, Oscar, showed us around Carara. Soheba spotted a poisonous dart frog during the walk. The following day the rangers moved us from our jungle camp due to the rising river presenting a risk of visiting crocodiles! The whole team rallied together and we moved everything to our new camp. Jed and Jason transported more than their fair share of kit and we trekked the 3km to our new home. Work in Carara is really satisfying; we are rebuilding the tourist trail after flood damage and clearing the drains.

Updates on the team: Isabel and Sarah spotted a family of monkeys really close to the ground today. Henry got some amazing wildlife shots. Raymond redeemed his cooking skills by making us a lovely lunch! Josue has repeatedly had to defend himself in the game Mafia, saying "I'm Costa Rican - pura vida - I'm not mafia!". Along with games of cards, the whole team has been entertained by Jed's endless comedy!

It was great to see the Bravo and welcome back Tom to the rest of the phase.

Coast to Coasting along!

We are now over half way through and the biggest hurdle is behind us, which peaks at 3000m!

Since we last wrote we entered the jungle with an indigenous guide (cleverly dressed in wellies) and after hours and hours of walking through thick mud, sometimes up to mid shin, we were treated to a stay in a locals house. It was very basic, but had all the facilities we needed and we were happy to have a shelter.

The next couple of nights we managed to negotiate and charm our way into shelters to avoid camping in the rain, in particular, the highlight for all the group was staying in an incredibly hospitable couple's house. Susie and Alberto went completely out of their way to make us feel at home - everyone was very happy when 'Berto made some fresh chicken soup, as an alternative to lentils and mash.

After the next day of trek some of the group still had enough energy for a game of football with the locals. England managed to win against Costa Rica, even with the Germans on-side. Special mention to 'Hatrick Hero Ed' (PM) - we didn't know the old dog had it in him!

We had a fun time on the 'Raleigh Approved Risk Assessed' Indiana Jones Bridge - which was in a better state than the one in the town of Canada that we had to trek around after it had washed away.

We finish our blog in the opposite way to our last entry - heat is now what we crave, as camping at 2500m is not hot!

Diary of the Miratombo..

...continuing Endgoes diary of the Miratombo trekkers!!

Day 7
We left the mountain of military station and continued our trek. When we got to our end point, we searched for somewhere to stay. Finally we reached a local school but unfortunately it was closed so we stayed in building next to the school. It was still under construction but there were lots of rooms to sleep in and a common area for cooking - it's certainly better than staying in tents!

Happily, Bravo 3 visited us today and delivered our food drop plus fresh fruit, water and sausage - oh my god... SAUSAGE for dinner!!! We almost forgot the taste of sausage - thank god and thank Bravo 3!!

Day 8
Our rucksacks were super heavy again after the food-drop however our spirits and energy were very high after a nice food and sleep. We walked 16km in just 5 hours today. During the day we passed through an impoverished area of Esteli and while it can be distressing it is also amazing to have such experience to see the slum side of a city. During each rest break we would find check the map in order to reach every checkpoint before our end destination although we did get slightly lost in the countryside we figured out a right way shortly afterwards. We arrived at the community at noon and enjoyed delicious local food and coffee. At night everybody was hyper active but without any reasons. We like our group and our trek.

Day 9
Relaxing day! We climbed through a few hills in three hours stopped and settled down at a local restaurant – there's nothing to do but enjoy life and a barbeque dinner. Life is short, catch your time and have fun.

Day 10
After downhill with million rocks and uphill with around 60 degree slopes finally we reached a hidden village in Nicaraguan mountains. There's a beautiful waterfall here and, with help from a few locals, we managed to locate it and swim around in our first waterfall of the trek. We are proud to be adventurers.

Day 11
Today was Saturday; we had a half day walk and planned to stay in a school for rest however the school was closed and the locals could not find the key for us. Finally we stayed in a local family's house. It is very small and our roll mats are practically connected each other - how close we were!

Day 12
Muddy boots and muddy body – we’re exhausted but enjoying the muddy life! Our hearts felt tense because we thought the second food drop was missing but we found it in the end. Everyone recharged their energy with a shower after reaching the checkpoint however two of our soaps were eaten by a pig - one was mine!

Goodbye for now - I'll share with you more at the end of the trek.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The fieldbase garden

Thanks to fieldbase's wonderful Don Martin and his willing assistant Warren, the fieldbase garden has been transformed into a fruit, herb and vegetable delight. They have re-landscaped the existing garden and we now have peppers, yuca, thyme, mint, basil, corriander and avocados growing. The plants will be fed from our lovely home produced compost and it's only a matter of time before we add more vegetables and fruits to our collection. Yum!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

X-Ray 4 - Parque Nacional Carara

Nuestro proyecto empezó con el parque nacional Carara a la cabeza, dando mantenimiento a uno de los senderos del parque porque en temporada de invierno se inunda y es imposible de pasar.

Desde nuestro primer día fue maravilloso observar todo tipo de animales – como, lapa roja, tucanes, serpientes – que nos iban a hacer compañía los siguientes 10 días. Somos un grupo muy enérgico y cuando llegamos al campamento empezamos a repararlo y mejorar varias cosas para así sentirlo como nuestro hogar porque después de la primera noche todos amanecimos bien mojados.

Vivir en la jungla, sin luz, sin baño, con lodo, hace de esta experiencia única. En nuestro día libre nos fuimos a nadar a un rio, fue una pequeña caminata pero maravillosa, mirando los gloriosos arboles y sonidos de las aves. Encontramos el rio y pasamos la tarde ahí, comiendo nadando y chilliando. Luego ya nos regresamos porque venía lluvia pero eso no nos detuvo y así fuimos al rio Tarcoles para ver los cocodrilos. Todo ese camino fue demasiado alegre, gritando, cantando y saltando para que los camiones nos tocaran el pito.

Y para que ir a un restaurante si tenemos chefs de primera clase, Amy con deliciosas empanadas, Georgia con magníficos postres y Richard y William dando el sabor latino. Sin duda, nadie se puede quejar de la comida.

Ahora todos estamos ansiosos por empezar en playa hermosa y sus bellas tortugas.

Por William Pavon

X-Ray 1 - Coast to Coast

Fieldbase duo Emma and Vanessa drove out to greet the Xray 1 trekkers as they emerged from the jungle of Barbilla National Park. Created in 1998, Barbilla is one of the country's least visited national parks and is home to the Cabecar, the second largest indigenous group in Costa Rica.

An annual rainfall of 140-180 inches keeps the park wet and verdant and allows a great amount of biological diversity to flourish here. Several of the species that can be found in Barbilla are endangered, such as the puma, jaguar, ocelot, tapir, and several birds of prey. Rare avian species such as the tolomuco and sun heron can also be found here.

Xray 1 were lucky enough to spend 3 days trekking in this remote and beautiful area. By day, they trekked through dense jungle and thick mud and at night stayed in indigenous communities. There were a number of river crossings to contend with, although the group were lucky to avoid much rain in what is one of the wettest areas of Costa Rica.

When we arrived to greet the group they were trekking up their last long hill of the day. They were a muddy but smiling bunch and those smiles only got bigger when we presented them with our home made banana cake!

The next few days will take the trekkers through typical rural Costa Rica so whilst the jungle mud may let up, the hills certainly will not...

Here are some of the sights of the last few days...

The Golden Orb Spider

The view as they emerge from the jungle

The secret diary of X-Ray 2

On Raleigh we encourage originality and innovation, and, in that vein we present the diary of the Miratombo Trek by Hong Kong's finest: Endgoes Mak!

Day 1
We are at the start of phase 3; the last phase that the Miratombo trekkers will walk step by step, side by side, to achieve the same goal and complete their expeditions! The large team of X-Ray 2, with 17 members in total, come from different places but have the same mission today: 1) sleep during the long journey from Costa Rica to Nicaragua to charge our trekking batteries and 2) celebrate Tyler's birthday – happy birthday Tyler!
Dutch mountain leader Rolo flies the flag! 
Day 2
The trek has begun and everyone is extremely excited! Two of us expressed our feelings by action and walked really hard, however, this resulted in sun cream and camel bag leakage! Although this lowered the weight of our rucksacks, the weight loss was minimal compared to the total weight of our giant rucksacks! The rucksacks are heavy, yet we can all handle it. We arrived at a community centre within 50mins, after our first short trek. Many of us shared a piece of cake during lunch. It's believed that the trek will be a piece of cake!

Day 3
We were so efficient! After the first night in the community centre, we woke up at 3.30am and managed to finish breakfast, pack our rucksacks and clean up within an hour. We played Ninja and waited for sunrise before beginning to trek. Today, we trekked for 15km and walked through many communities. The barbed wire and fences have been our number one obstacle. However, despite the challenges we faced, we finished today's trek by noon. We arrived at a tiny community centre and then washed in the river together. Today was a lovely day and our group is bonding.

Day 4
This morning we faced the challenge of the first river crossing in our trek. The water was flowing quite quickly and it reached up to our knees. It's great that we all crossed it safely and successfully. The river crossing was an exciting experience made more so for the fact there are no more for the rest of the trek.

Day 5
Today was the hardest day of the trek so far and could be totally represented by Zichari's boot! His boot could not withstand the trek and the sole broke off. We tried to fix it with 'duct' tape from Scotland yet it did not work. Zichari has a number of blisters and so do others. However, the natural scenery is awesome and we are enjoying it very much.

Miratombo trek = awesome views!

Day 6
Today was a long day, with a trek up to the military station, our base for the night but we were all mentally and physically healthy when we arrived – although two of us did collapse with relief for just a few minutes! All in all, we are fit and perfect! In the evening, from the military station, we saw the whole city of Esteli lit up below us. It is 10,000 times bigger than the town that we passed through this afternoon! Trek so far has been a remarkable experience and we are looking forward to the next 14 days!

X-Ray 3 - Playa Hermosa

At the start of the phase, due to adverse tidal conditions, we took refuge in the ranger station as huge waves flooded the hatchery and bashing against the protective wall we had built. It was a morbid experience to see the destroyed turtles nests due to the flooding however, the wonderful experience of digging up new hatched turtles and releasing them into the sea has more than made up for it. We have also learnt how to build turtles nests and on average we’ve see about four turtles a night.

At night we have two shifts: one at 9pm and one at 2am where we patrol the beach to protect the precious turtle eggs and we have even learnt to spot turtle tracks in the dark!

So what have the individual members of X-Ray 3 been up to? Sarah collected eggs straight from a turtle laying them – she says it was a great experience, Henry has sweated ten times the average man as he shovels in the furnace trench every day, Raymond has dutifully kept us orally hydrated as water boy and it was brilliant to welcome Emma on Sunday – her presence has added to the banter. Ysavier and Jason captured an iguana which posed for pictures until its release and Jed has been our resident dancer and all round entertainer.

Earlier today, Lottie and Soheba treated us to a culinary delight of masa donuts and chocolate sauce while tonight Josue and Isabel (who are doing a great job as translators) are serving us up a Latino dish made from fresh fruit and veg Tom bought at a local market.

That’s all for now – more news when we get to Carara!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Day 4 of Coast to Coast trek!

We have been tasked with trekking from one side of Costa Rica to the other. As you can imagine, this is a challenging mission!

At the start of trek, the sheer heat hit us immediately and has turned out to be one of our biggest challenges so far. Although we are lucky, as 4 days in we haven’t yet had rain, it can be hard to appreciate as we are soaked with sweat!

Yesterday, whilst walking along a disused train track, we stopped to ask locals for directions in broken Spanish. We really weren’t expecting to receive a response in perfect Jamaican-English! Stumbling upon a community of Jamaican settlers in Costa Rica was an astonishing surprise that helped us to get back on track.

Spirits in X-Ray 1 are high and everybody is looking forward to the next couple of days when we will trek through the jungle!

Peace out from X-Ray 1 having fun in the boiling sun!    

Sunday, 19 August 2012

X Ray 5 Rock Achuapa...continued...

So, our time was upon us. Eighteen X Men, and a load of Charlies (1 and 2) undertook one last, nervous practice before our big debuts!

Up first was Thomas (actually on Friday night) playing guitar and singing the Libertines, and next on the Friday was Trae freestyling on the guitar with Fu from ICS on the flute...

Thomas´s solo
Adam and Trae (X-Ray 5) with Ant and Fu from ICS
Then, on Saturday night, the whole of the X Men (as X Ray 5 are now better known) sang "Where is the Love" by Black Eyed Peas with the words changed to a song about reforestation, in English and Spanish. A few new talents for rapping were discovered!

Following that, Trae, Chris and Leanne performed "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet, and then Adam swapped in to beatbox with Trae and some of the Charlies in a wonderful fusion of rock and hip hop, with a bit of body popping thrown in.

Leanne, Chris and Trae
Charlie 2 and the Agua song
The mighty X Rays are a bit of a talented bunch if we do say so ourselves! And amidst all the fun we´ve learned masses about our community here in Achuapa and hopefully helped them to think about how to become more sustainable in order to benefit generations to come.

X Men and Charlies say ta ta for now...
We waved off the Charlies this morning and are just about to trek up to our community in El Portillo to be welcomed by our families. Can´t wait - wonder if they'll recognise us from the stage....

Saturday, 18 August 2012

X-Ray 5 Rock Achuapa Music Festival!

X Ray 5 (AKA X-Men) arrived in Achuapa yesterday afternoon after 2 days travelling to Nicaragua to a massive welcome from Julian and the Charlie groups and the community of Achuapa including the community leader, Brigido Sosa. As we were just in time for the Achuapa Music Festival, there was plenty for us to do!

The music festival in Achuapa is an annual 2-day event which aims to raise awareness of global and local issues such as climate change, water supply and sanitation and environmental awareness, and how people can become more sustainable in order to tackle them. It´s also an opportunity for the community to get together and have a good old knees up.

After preparing the festival area then having meetings for the music committee, kids´commitee and bloggers´committee, we planned and practiced our first group song before heading off to bed at the end of what was a very long day. We also had to deal with the news that we would be performing our song on Saturday night! But not before we performed some other duties - day 1 of the festival would see us judging the singing competition and playing football with the locals.

Here´s the blog on the singing comp by Moy...

Three Raleigh Venturers and one ICS participant were bestowed the priviledge of judging the English singing competition in Achuapa this morning.  The room was filled with the family and classmates of the participants. After a welcome speech from our hosts, first up on the stage was Santo, Holy and Holy from Los Caraos School. The trio impressed the audience with their English and singing abilities and set the bar very high in the competition. 


Rafaela and Herrera were the second act up on stage to perform. Their song choice was familiar with the Raleigh Venturers sat in the audience. They offered their own rendition of “Chiquita” by ABBA. Both performed with confidence and passion. Offering an acoustic rendition of Tracey Chapman´s “Baby Can I Hold You” was Jay and Estiana. They offered an original take on the classic song, and impressed the audience with their singing and guitar skills.

Taking us back to the 90´s with the classic Backstreet Boys song “Larger Than Life” were Betsy, Alisson, Adda and Joselyn from Instituto Rodolfo Reyes Toruna. The girls worked the stage with their choreographed routine and singing performance. Last and by no means least was the final performer Susana Daraly Talaua Romero from San Sebastian School  who performed Whitney Houston´s “I Will Always Love You”. 

After a few moments of deliberation the judges announced the winner. Susana´s performance impressed the judges so much that she was crowned winner of the English singing competition. The judges decisión was well received by the audience who responded with a raptuous applause. A few of us even shed a tear!

A great experience and insight into the community in Achuapa, and proof that a future star can come from anywhere!

And here´s how the footie tournament went, I (Leanne) felt the pain first-hand...

“Gimme an R! Gimme an A! Gimme an L!” etc etc etc…

We began the Achuapa Music Festival 5 a side football tournament with a tin of orange paint, creating the boundaries within which we would play for our lives (or at least our Raleigh pride)…

Our boys were up first - Tomas, Chris, Emmanuelle, Ben and Istvan. Definitely 'outstripped´ in terms of outfits, they were up against an opposing team kitted out with a slick red and black kit with matching socks! 

And the strip was evidently a representation of the slickness of the team (not any reflection on the quality of our side of course that we failed to score once in a game of many goals…) The boys did us proud however with massive smiles throughout for the onlooking schoolchildren and for being excellent runners’up!

The X5 girls then stepped up – a little intimidated by the sight of our opponents strapping up their legs with duct tape and giving each other motivational punches on the arm…but we held our nerve and gracefully kicked off the game. 

We didn´t score one goal, despite a free kick for a terrible tackle on myself resulting in a big bruise on my posterior. We came off the pitch happy however having worked off the morning´s breakfast of rice and beans and having made a positive impact on the Achuapa community both with our happy ‘have a go’ attitude and the fact that we let them win (OK, maybe that second part is a porky pie…)

An awesome experience for all. Time for a shower!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Highlights of Romeos, Costa Rica!

Romeo 1 Coast to Coast Trek
18 days of trekking culminated in an emotional moment when we caught our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and ran straight for it! In total, we have walked over 250km across Costa Rica. In the process we have battled torrential rain, mudslides and way too many mosquitoes.

On day 12, we climbed 1000m and reached our highest point of 2800m. The route we took was a steep climb during which the group used trees and vines to help us with the ascent. It was incredible, everything was covered in moss and the trees were so high that they blocked out most of the sunlight. As we crossed a whole mountain range the views were incredible.
Our accommodation on trek consisted mainly of community centres with varying degrees of modernity; some had showers and some had a wooden long drop, covered in cobwebs, lurking at the back of the garden. We also camped a few times and have collectively decided that anything is better than being in a tent (though this is probably because every time we camped we had torrential rain!).

Day 18 was the most amazing day; we managed to reach our end point at the beach by noon and then had the rest of the day, as well as day 19, to relax and bask in the sunshine! We went swimming, watched the sunset and awoke to fresh coconuts in the morning which Simon and Cat knocked down from a tree in our campsite. Overall Coast to Coast has been an amazing experience which has pushed us to our limits and surpassed our expectations. 
We made it! Pacific Coast
Romeo 3 Playa Hermosa/Carara National Park
Phase 2 has proven that the Raleigh experience just gets better and better. From living in the beach at Playa Hermosa to living deep in the jungle at Carara National Park, our environmental phase has been amazing.

Working very closely with turtles at Hermosa proved to be an unforgettable experience for the group. During our night patrols we saw both Ridley and Green turtles, collected and buried their eggs in the hatchery, and released newly hatched turtles back into the ocean.

The group also enjoyed living by the beach, especially our post-work paddles in the ocean and collecting coconuts from nearby trees.
Before we knew it was time to say goodbye to the beach and make our short journey to the jungle.  Despite a leaky group tarp, relentless rain showers and constant humidity, jungle living proved to be a fantastic experience unlike any we have ever had before. The famous Romeo 3 refried beans recipe kept our spirits high and our efforts at trench digging were rewarded when whole areas of path remained free from flooding.

We saw lots of wildlife around camp include Capuchin and Howler monkeys. The group were also lucky enough to see crocodiles at a nearby river and even a baby crocodile on one jungle walk. There were also a wide species of birds around camp including the famous Scarlet Macaws.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the phase for many was meeting the rangers whom were very welcoming and helped us at any opportunity, even cooking dinner for us at the beach.

Altogether Romeo 3 bonded fantastically and worked exceptionally well as a team.

Romeo 4 Carara National Park/Playa Hermosa
Our project was a two part adventure divided into digging trenches in the jungle of Carara National Park and saving turtles at Playa Hermosa! From living in the jungle to sleeping next to the beach, this project had everything.

In Carara National Park we dug trenches to drain flood water that engulfs the walking trail during rainy season. Maintaining the trail enables the park to generate income which is used for essential preservation work.

After nine days of living under the canopy of the trees we moved to the sunny, sandy beach of Playa Hermosa to help with the conservation of turtles. We built wooden dams and dug trenches to protect the turtle hatchery from sea flooding.
At night, we patrolled the beach looking for turtle nests and would rebury the eggs in the safety of the hatchery. On three occasions we assisted with releasing baby turtles back into the sea and this was truly a special and unique experience for us all.
Every few days during the project our PMs ran sessions on sustainable development. We realised how useful this information was when one of our fellow venturers, Che, entered into a conversation with a tourist about the project, why we were doing it, and what Raleigh is all about. The depth of Che’s knowledge not only impressed the tourist but also impressed his fellow venturers who thought he’d been sleeping during the information sessions! The tourist was so inspired by the information he received, the next day he and his partner very generously came to the project site bringing gifts of food, snacks and soda! The whole group was extremely grateful and also delighted to know that the importance of our work is appreciated.

12G Phase 2 Photo Extravaganza!

On Wednesday, the new groups, X-Ray 1-5, left fieldbase to embrace the exciting challenges awaiting them in phase 3. Before we share news of their adventures, let's take a fond look back on their amazing time spent as Romeos 1-6!

Romeos' Got Talent

As an eerie calm descends once again over fieldbase, we wave goodbye to, the now X-Ray, groups as they head into part three of their adventures in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Some of the seven-weekers have left so we now have five groups dotted around the Raleigh-sphere but before we tell you who's doing what, a few words about the events of the past few days.

Changeover was a festival of talent; on the first night back, the groups presented their phase two skits as the rest of the expedition were treated to a visual representation of what their friends had been up to for the previous three weeks. As usual competition was fierce, but the stars of the show, were Romeo 6 with their opus entitled: “personal development”.

However, the real highlight of changeover was the Romeo’s Got Talent competition held the following evening – the concept is akin to the more widely know “Britain's Got Talent” but we called it Romeo's Got Talent on account of this phase being a 'Romeo' phase - I hope this clears up any confusion!!

The fieldbase team transformed the Terrace into the aptly titled theatre of dreams and we were treated to a range of acts including Lu Ying’s mixed martial arts demonstration; Ta-Shanae’s contortionist display; Richard, Isabel & Sofia’s angry Salsa show and Trae and Michele’s band the November 49ers. Even expedition leaders got in on the act with what can only be described as an ‘eccentric’ cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall.
 A hint of authenticity was added with the inclusion of a live camera feed projecting off-stage interviews with the candidates moments before their act.

The standard was incredibly high but the standout deserving winner – of two, yes two, tubs of ice-cream – with a stunning display of linguistic dexterity was Zichari and Trae’s rap/rock spectacular. Ably backed by Trae’s rock riffing, Zichari launched into what can only be described as a lyrical extravaganza that enthralled the watching audience before being met with a thunder of applause.
Hosted to perfection by HCV Coordinator Keiner, with help from ex-HCV Nacho on interview duty, the evening was a triumph and highlighted the number of talented young people we have here in the expedition. Congratulations to all involved.

The venturers are now on phase 3, so here are the groups in full:

X-Ray 1 – Coast to Coast
Alex Goodchild, Arun Sharma, Lizzie German, Greg Parnell, Ivan Coueslant, Jack Stone, Kat Twigg, Leyla Zelaya, Luis Andrés Mora, Michelle Wong, Rebecca Atkinson, Saskia Proffitt, Che Durham, Chris Hempseed and Oskar Plapperer-Lüthgarth

X-Ray 2 – Miratombo Trek
Dan Cherrie, Zichari Young, Alannah Howie, Endgoes Mak, Juliana Franco, Laura Lynas, Mayerling Pineda, Reuben McGowan, Robin Mackintosh, Suzzie Kidd, Teydí García, Tom Wright, Tom Harrison and Tyler Otite

X-Ray 3 – Playa Hermosa/Carara
Henry Seal, Isabel Matamoros, Jed Pattie, Josué Tuz, Sarah O'Mahony, Soheba Mughal, Tom Breakwell, Raymond Mak and Ysavier Darrell

X-Ray 4 – Carara/Playa Hermosa
Georgia Rattigan, Grant Harrison, Jawonday Smith, Richard Chavarría, Sean Mcgarry, Sophie Scholl, Ta-Shanae Pitcher Trott and William Pavón

X-Ray 5 – Achuapa
Adam Farley, Ben Woodhouse, Caitlin McGlynn, Catherine Inch, Christian Raimondo, Chung Wing Yuen, Cole Durham, Elizabeth Samuel-Bryan, Emanuele Pini, Gema Valdivia, Lu Ying Yap, Moy Mckayle, Sofía Quirós Otárola, Tomas Bassi and Trae Legay Cannonier

Monday, 13 August 2012

Romeo Nica Groups' round up!

The second week of trek continued to be awesome. The weather definitely got a lot hotter but that didn’t affect us in any way. It made us sweat and want to get to the next destination as soon as possible. I can’t begin to describe how lovely and welcoming the locals were. 

One day, probably the hottest, we took a well-needed break in the community outside a lady’s house, and the lady came outside holding a 3-litre bottle of Coca Cola in one hand and a bag of 13 mouth-watering ice creams in the other, all for free and from the kindness of her heart. That has to be one of the best highlights of the trek!

Another highlight was when we got to our destination really early, which was a school where we would stay the night. When the kids finished school, instead of running home as they normally would have, they stayed with us and we all had a great time!

Finally we got to Cerro Negro, the main reason most of us had wanted to do the trek. Being on top of the volcano was hard to believe. It was magnificent looking over Nicaragua. Looking at the sunset then waking up early for the sunrise was all part of the tremendous experience.

After the sunrise, we all ran down the volcano, it was absolutely incredible. 

It’s been great being in a group where we all got to know each other really well and had tons of fun, which makes the sweltering heat and any painful feet disappear.


The second half of Romeo 5’s time in El Pajarito saw us continuing work on the water project, laying pipes and filling in the trench up the mountain towards the spring. We also began work on a trench to take water down from the tank to several houses which currently did not have any taps nearby.

A free day on Sunday allowed us to walk to San Nicholas to meet another group of Raleigh volunteers, Charlie 1 from the ICS programme, and spend the afternoon sunbathing with them and the Fieldbase team and swimming in a stunning waterfall.

With more Spanish under our belts now than we did even 10 days ago, everyone continued to get involved in the villagers’ day-to-day lives. We learned the long process of coffee-making, the difference between tortillas and guirilas, and Bex may have even milked a cow, though we’re not quite sure if we believe that!
Despite not having managed to get materials from Achuapa to finish the dam around the spring (hardly surprising with no mobile phones and nearest road about 40 miles away!) the locals seemed to appreciate the work we had done. 

On our last night we were treated to a meal together, cooked by our Nicaraguan mothers, and a fiesta in the community centre. The locals proved themselves keen dancers, showing us up yet again!

Romeo 6’s final week in the beautiful community of Miraflor. It was to be a long, hard week of digging, cement mixing, levelling floors with the light at the end of the tunnel being the finishing touches – the painting!

We pulled together and got the floor cemented, the walls built up and the roof fixed, so the painting commenced the day before the grand opening.

Romeo 6 decided to go with the Nicaraguan colours – blue and white, and to make a pre-school suitable for children, an ocean-themed cartoon was painted on the wall, with handprints of all at Raleigh and people from the community making up the waves of the ocean.
Music, dancing, food and a piñata ensued later at the opening ceremony, it was great fun!

The next day was bittersweet, we had achieved what we had come to do primarily, and also lived the life of a Miraflorian, having a Nicaraguan family, some getting to do farm work and helkp prepare the delicious food. 

This made it sad to say goodbye, and was an emotional time for many, however we had some unforgettable experiences and priceless memories to take home with us.