'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Monday, 30 July 2012

Playa Nosara , Pizza and Camp Fires

 Sunday 29th July

Today we finally got a lie in (Yey!), but as I have got used to waking up so early I ended up waking up at the same time as usual. I made the most out of this time and had a shower; I think I’m finally getting used to not having hot water!

Today for breakfast we had a traditional bread thing with scrambled eggs and then porridge afterwards. It was actually really nice and for once no rice!

As it is Sunday and the Costa Ricans are quite religious, we didn’t have to do any work today! To fill our afternoon off Gilbert took us to a lovely beach (Playa) at Nosaro. On the way Gilbert pointed out a foot bridge over a river, it was only built four months ago by Gilbert. Because during September time the area gets flooded really bad, this new bridge means that the children can still get to school even if the roads are flooded.

At the beach we found a lovely spot underneath a little shelter. Also at the beach Holly realised that she had quite a few small ticks on her legs (First ticks of the trip!). In total she had around 6 ticks but Cliff managed to remove them with some tweezers from the first aid kit. At the beach we played in sea, watched the surfers, played cards and Jenny collected hundreds of shells. (Ed. I think US customs are going to have fun! J)

At around 2, when we had decided we were hungry Gilbert took us to a pizzeria on the way home.  I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had a pizza in what feels like forever, but that tasted like the best pizza I had ever eaten! By the end every plate was clean and everyone seemed much happier.  (Ed. No sign of any monsters lol)

Back at Gilbert’s house we had a group meeting to discuss rest and relaxation details, we still can’t decide between a canopy tour, white water rafting or a wildlife walk. We also talked about our arrangements for the night before we travel home, it seems weird that were talking about this already but we’re already about half way through our expedition.

After the meeting we packed our rucksacks in preparation for travelling back to San Jose, after being here for about a week I think I’m going to miss it. I’m especially going to miss the nice beds and good food.

For tea that night we had chicken, chips, rice and an egg omelette. I presumed the omelette would be made with chicken eggs but I just found out that it was actually made out of turtle eggs, I’m sort of glad that I did eat it because now I can say that I’ve tried turtle eggs but I still think eating them is a bit gross.

After tea the man selling the jewellery from the other day came back to give us all our orders, he also engraved them for us for free. To thank us before he left he held a prize draw for 2 free necklaces Ellie and Leah were the winners. (Ed. It was a fix!!!!!)

As I am writing this now we are sat round a campfire enjoying biscuits and preparing for the travel day tomorrow. Everyone is enjoying themselves but we’re all missing home and can’t wait to see you all soon.

Quote of the day: We can’t remember any quotes so here’s an extract from Alex’s journal – a great night’s sleep aided by a fan, miraculous. I could sleep on it for days; I would rather carry the whole building with a working toilet system rather than my rucksack with tent.

Alice Hurren x

Monkey Trek in Ostional

Saturday 28th July 2012.

Today we had another 5.50am wake up to clear the beach up of the driftwood, so it is easier for the baby turtles to get back to the sea after they have hatched. Considering this was our last day of doing work, we made sure we put the extra effort in so we could feel a sense of achievement and that we have really made a difference in the end. The walk back from where we had finished was really good! Looking at the amount of work we had actually done, it felt really rewarding. Once we had got back to Gilbert’s crib we had a lovely breakfast of rice, omelette and two slices of toast. Not that it’s an unusual thing to have rice for breakfast here! It’s certainly something that we will remember about the meals; having rice with breakfast lunch and tea, so parents be warned that we might crave this when we get home due to this difference of not having it three times a day.

At 9.30am we went for a walk to go and see some of the local monkey spots. We took our backpacks on the walk with the 3 litres of water so we could get a taste of being in the main trek, with heat and the weight; however, the walk was only for 2 hours and on our main trek we will be walking for about 7 hours a day. To see the monkeys we walked through quite a lot of overgrown greenery and a lot of bugs which made it feel like a real jungle experience. When we saw the monkeys all that you could hear from many different directions was ‘aw’ they were so cute, little black monkeys swinging from vine to vine in the trees. To be honest they were still cute even when they started throwing little sticks and fruit at us - and that says something. Now I know where the saying ‘cheeky monkey’ comes from. On the way back we went for a little walk to go and see a view of the ocean from above Ostional, which was simply beautiful. We could see the beach, the trees, all of the local’s houses and the school’s sports area. After that we walked home got a shower and  sorted all the little things out such as washing. Then had tea, and guess what we had for tea? Rice, with carbonara. Good old rice!

Tonight we had our turtle patrol, so shortly after tea the people who did the 8-10pm watch left and on their time they saw 5 turtles laying their eggs. Then after they came back the group of 10-12pm left, they also saw 5 turtles laying eggs. 12-2am saw 4 turtles laying eggs. Sorry that those times aren’t detailed, the reason for that is because I wasn’t there so I’ve just had to hear from other people. However I can give detail on the times of 2-4am because I was there. We saw 7 turtles, but one of the times when we spotted the tracks we expected it to be of a normal size (about 2ft) but then we came across something so surprising, we all actually stepped back. This turtle was around 5ft! It was enormous!  It was a Leather Back Turtle which only normally lay between November and April.  Then as we started to go near its eggs, it noticed us out of the corner of its eye and decided to turn around and shuffle towards us, and considering the size of this turtle it can move extremely fast! So as it started to come towards us, we assumed it was going to attack. It looked like something off a horror film, we all just backed away getting faster and faster, switched our lights off hoping it would forget about us and go back, but then when we turned our lights back on, there was a turtle still coming towards us so yes by that time we thought let’s leave it alone and moved on. It was actually really frightening! But after that we were all glad that we didn’t have a 6am wake up and finally had a sleep in, phew.

Quote of the day: Leah is speaking about bears “is Mr Taggart here, or is someone else talking about bears” –Alice (by the way, Mr Taggart loves bears and constantly goes on about them)

by Leah Samuels x

P.S. Can Miss Carey or any of the other parents please try and contact my mam and dad to give them the blog address. They’ll need it to see what time I arrive home as well as reading about my adventures!

Poor Mans Viagra

27th July

Today started with another tedious 6am patrol of the beaches drift wood, making way for the mother turtles to lay their eggs along the sand. The early mornings have finally caught up to us “I was so tired I couldn’t find my armpit” as said by Stephie. But our homemade breakfast definitely lightened the mood. Pancakes.  Gilberth was very confused and took back when we all poured sugar on the savoury pancakes, which were supposed to be served with rice.

After breakfast everyone left to go back to the primary school to present gifts including balloons, skipping ropes and crayons to the children. We then went back to the high school to present a check of $500 donated by us, World Challenge, to contribute to the new cafeteria being built for the students, which will approximately cost $6000. Also with a second contribution from another World Challenge group from Sunderland visiting the school, $1000 made a massive impact to the community. The school really appreciated our help and were extremely grateful.

With the rest of the afternoon free to do as we like, everybody washed themselves and their clothes, dirty from the busy morning, and had an early lunch of amazing, homemade lasagne. We all then went to a beach half an hour away from Gilberths crib, and the only way to travel there was in his rusty truck along the bumpy dirt tracks winding through the jungle. There was room for four people inside with air conditioning and cushioned seats, and the rest outside on wooden boards, holding on the frame of the vehicle. Arriving at the beach was like arriving at paradise. Palm trees, white sand made from shells and a view of the Pacific Ocean with fisherman around the bay, in small, old boats. Cliff, Taggart, and Miss Booth all went into the ocean with 6 students and swam or snorkelled whilst others collected shells or sunbathed (or in Alice’s and Holly’s case, sat under a tree in the shade). Three hours flew past and the sunburn was starting to show on Alex and Beth while a group of us went and ventured around the bay for winning shots of the horizon. But another hour later the group returned and we all soon realised Alex and Beth were let off easy with their sun burns. Jenny and Emily were like lobsters (but are now tanned with frequent use of after sun, don’t worry parents).

Returning to Gilberths crib, everybody rinsed in the shower and gathered in the eating area for an important announcement. Turtle egg shots were to be served. These consisted of one raw turtle egg and tomato salsa in a shot glass for the ladies, and a double turtle egg shots for the men. The turtle eggs have 90% protein and no cholesterol in them and are used as an aphrodisiac. “A poor mans Viagra”. And with the lack of knowledge that a “double shot for men” didn’t mean the boys should have two separate shots to themselves; every single one of them consumed a total of four turtle eggs, at the least. Me, Alice, Beth and Jenny didn’t have any eggs (for moral and preferential reasons), Ella and Jack struggled to get them down, however Leah struggled to keep it down so left it for the crabs in Gilberths eating area.

Shortly after our shots, we had our dinner prepared by Gilberths wife, consisting of a lot of carbohydrates, garlic pasta and spicy potatoes. While me, Ellie, Ella and Leah went to get ready for bed; a friend of Gilberths, who specialises in making personalised pendants, visited the seating area. Postponing our bedtime, we spent an hour looking at his designs and he took over thirty orders from the group combined for gifts and personal jewellery, which we will collect and pay for on Sunday. Nine o’clock soon arrived and everyone went to bed, ready for a new day of collecting drift wood.

Quote of the day, Beth “I only eat chicken, not any other meat, it’s because I hate them”

Sophia  Bennett x

Candle Wax Cures

26th July

Today was again an early start, the knock on our door woke us at 5:50 and within ten minutes we were out on the beach weeding. The job was a lot harder than you would expect but after an hour or so we headed back to Gilberth’s place for breakfast, Gilberths wife had prepared some rice for us and also some porridge water to drink... It was interesting.

Gilberth is a very prominent member of the community so around about 10 o’clock he took us for a tour around the whole of Ostional which is only actually 6km from one side to the other so we were only out for an hour. We then had a few hours to relax and it was decided that we should go for a swim! A few of us went down to the sea with Cliff, Taggart and Miss Booth and even though we could only go 20m in we still had a lot of fun, well until Ellie stood on a sea urchin. She was in a bit of pain at first but after Gilberth’s home treatment of pouring hot candle wax onto the cut and peeling it away, she was perfectly fine and happy. It was also today that we had our first major stomach upset however it was dealt with correctly so they were back to good health in no time.

Later we were sent to work, this time to collect driftwood, we did this for two reasons. The first being for our own personal use and the other reason was to clear the beach and make it easier for the turtle hatchlings to make their way to the sea safely. Although it wasn’t the most fun it was very rewarding to look back at the area and see it cleared as well as knowing we had helped, they call their project ADIO (Asociacion de Desarrollo Intergral de Ostional). After work we sat down to have tea which was rice and we also got a packet of crackers which were surprising nice. As everyone finished their meal and began to wash up the sun started to set so we all walked onto the beach to watch it together, we also took a few group photos.

As it got dark we set our bonfire alight and all sat round singing songs, not particularly well but it was a nice night, made even better by toasted marshmallows, biscuits and condensed milk. Even our hosts came to join us even though we must have looked a bit crazy with jenny leading us through a load of songs including Abba, campfire songs, Disney and any musical we could think of.  As the fire died down we went out to the beach again with Rodrigo and after walking to the end of the beach (3km away -.-) we saw nothing but on the way back we saw one turtle covering her eggs and making her way back to the sea. Whilst on the beach you can also see all the stars because the light pollution is limited here, it also allows us to see the Milky Way which is pretty damn amazing. We then went to sleep very tired in deed.

Hope everything is going good at home, missing everyone but having such a good time!

Love Emily Allen x

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Ostinal - School and Community stuff

25th July

After a very long day of travelling yesterday, we were able to get up relaxed and then find out that breakfast was going to be provided for us, which meant no cooking! The breakfast was a very nice scrambled eggs and toast.

 Shortly after 8 we went along to the school, with the other World Challenge team we met yesterday. Upon arrival we saw the school children put on a show with singing and dancing as today was a festival day. The singing and dancing was quite different to what happens at home during school days.

After the show, we went to the high school to meet with the students where the oldest students were aged 19. The lowest years had about 15 people and the last years only had 3 people in them. At 11, we had lunch which again was really nice. We had chicken and rice with a tomato salsa and tortilla chips. After lunch we went to have a game of football with the students at the school. The game was a great match and we played just like England, taking an early lead and then losing 3-1. The school closed just after the game at about 12, as it was a festival day.

We then left the school shortly after and quickly went to the shops for drinks before having a team meeting. After the meeting, we then did some washing and put up our smelly tents which was followed by going along the beach to do some weeding. The weeding wasn’t very fun as most of us were bitten by sand ants. When finished, we went back to our resting point here we had a really nice paella.

Hope all is well at home.

(Ed. The sunset from last night ....Que Bonito!

"On the Buses"

24th July -

I have to say this was a day I was not looking forward to. This was travel day and we had to leave our, erm, watery paradise of La Fortuna in the North West of Costa Rica and travel to Ostional in the South. And when I say “travel” I mean a long, arduous and hectic slog through the heart of the country in order to reach our community group project. This would entail five buses and a hell of a lot of dashing around, but, like a good Hollywood movie, this one has a happy ending.

The day started with yet another display of La Fortuna’s ability to lash more rain down on us than is usually seen at Wimbledon Centre Court. The 04:30 rise to ensure the troops were plied with enough porridge to brave the day ahead was doing little to brighten my mood as it was, so the prospect of packing away my tent and kit in order to be ready for the 07:30 march to the Bus Station made me blacken like the skies above me; I also couldn’t find the coffee. Grr..

Anyway, like a well drilled marine corps we ate, packed and strode off with purpose to get our first bus to Tillaran at 08:30. The rain had, by this time, somewhat abated. Thank Goodness.  The group loaded up with supplies from the “Supermarcado” and loaded up the kit on board. I have to say that the buses so far had been comfortable and spacious and certainly preferable to the Megabus journey we had endured from Teesside to London - which now seems a lifetime ago.

This area of Costa Rica is beautiful it has to be said: the cloud spewing forth from the top of the mountain like a witch’s cauldron, the lush green vegetation and the expanse of lakes (which do look a little like a Scottish Loch, I have to say!). It does have six months of rain though and we had arrived in the middle of this season, so the prospect of the warmer southern climes was a vision to cling to throughout the day.

The first journey to Tilaran was fairly uneventful and the two hours were passed in relative quiet by the Billingham gang as they dozed, read or laughed at the photos they had took over the last few days. A half hours wait in Tilaran which was akin to the Easington Services on the A19, except with more stray dogs, and we were on the way to Canas. Here we leaped off the bus and lumped our bags more or less straight onto the connecting chariot to Liberia. It was at this point that the need to lift the backpacks over the automatic people counter whilst loading up saw me turn into an Olympic weightlifter as I heaved and lifted bags to a cheery Cliff, whilst he laughed at my discomfort. I knew I shouldn’t have come here with a makem...

The next stop was Liberia. Now this was an experience. As soon as we arrived the atmosphere was less Caribbean and more wild west. It’s difficult to say what it was, but you felt the need to be on your guard here. Thankfully little of note occurred except the driver of this bus deciding our bags now cost $1 per item extra for the privilege of using his boot. A bit of a scam, but we had little choice and coughed up. We loaded up again and packed onto a fairly “full” bus and I have to say it was a relief to get the hell out of Dodge and onward to Santa Cruz.

The President was visiting Santa Cruz when we disembarked after another hour and half of humid travelling, which was nice of her, but I didn’t feel we needed such a grand welcome despite the long journey... Here we met Emilio our contact for the Project Phase and he and his compatriot Gilbert (pronounced “Heelbair”) loaded up the dreaded bags onto vans before pointing us towards our final bus. And here is where it got interesting...

This was the final bus out of Santa Cruz and to Ostional and they pack them in tight here. So in scenes reminiscent of an old fashioned football terrace we set off on an American School Bus style wagon and started the final leg. Now despite the slight worsening of the quality of the vehicles, the roads remained fairly similar – before we hit the dirt track that would take us home. By this time it was about 17:30 and the dark hits quickly here. The bus rattled, groaned and shook along the never ending track in the dark and it felt like we were aboard an army aircraft carrier about to drop troops into ‘Nam. Speaking to the person next to you was almost impossible such was the vibrations from the windows and suspension system. We passed through Marbella (no carbs before marbs!) and continued deep into the south.

Finally to our right we saw the glistening of the moon on the Pacific Ocean and we knew we were close to home. With a final push through the dark we pulled up outside our project with Emilio grinning and ready to welcome us. We are housed in a picturesque hostel right on the Ocean – finally a bed! We met another World Challenge team from Sunderland (booooo!!) and ate a welcome tea of pasta and rice. A tired team had one final surprise – a late walk along the beach with experts to see a turtle lay its eggs! This was possibly one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen – and one I’d need another 1,000 words to describe, which I probably don’t have here!

We have had an amazing day, but a very long one. I can’t wait for the project to start.

Mr A. Taggart.

Cerro Chato in the Couds

23rd July

This morning was very much the same as the day before (Ed. but maybe 2 hours earlier :-(), we all woke up early and we had porridge and eggy bread for breakfast, the ground was very muddy as it had been raining most of the night. But when we woke up the sun was shining and it was a very hot and humid morning.

As everyone was getting ready for the day ahead, I was worried about the Cerro Chato trek, being so far away from home had hit me and I didn’t feel like I could do anything, even simply walking seemed like a hard task for me.

 As we set off I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the top. The first 3km seemed tough the day before so I was dreading doing the same walk again, especially because today seemed considerably warmer, and we knew it was a much longer and harder walk. The whole way to the entrance of the waterfall where we went yesterday I didn’t believe in myself, but with everyone’s support, especially Taggart staying with me the whole way and telling me I could do it. I probably got to the end because he bribed me with fanta and werthers originalsJ

As we reached the entrance we all sat down and we ate half of our dinner as the walk up took a lot of energy and everyone was very sweatyJ. We all got a werthers original and we were ready to go to the top. Well, until we saw the top! The walk to pay for entry to Cerro Chato was up a slight hill which seemed liked torture to our blistered and tired feet. As we all prepared to eventually make our way to the top, Mr Taggart finally lived up to his promise (slightly) as he bought me a bottle of coke! The way up was very steep and because it was humid and wet the ground was very slippy as a few people slipped trying to get closer to our goal. A viewing point had been set up half way to the volcano and the view was absolutely amazing. We decided that this would be the best place for eating the other half of our lunch, today we had a bigger lunch with TWO sandwiches, and there was quite a variety of sandwich fillers which was highly appreciated as I think cheese was starting to get boring.

As we were getting higher and higher we met people on the way which told us just another 20 minutes we were so relieved to hear that there was not long to go. Then we reached steps, lots and lots of steps. It seemed like we were going up steps for ever, I felt like giving up as the stairs were getting too much. The people we met earlier were definitely lying about the twenty minutes as it felt like we were climbing up stairs for days! As I started to lose faith and started to think that I would never make it to the top again, Cliff’s motivation and determination to get me to the top made me realise that I probably could do it and that just because I’m tired sweaty and I am unable to feel my feet, this doesn’t mean I should just quit, and turning around and giving up shouldn’t be the answer. I thought about how good I would feel getting to the top and I would prove people wrong by reaching the top of a volcano.

As I reached the final steps I could hear others who had already made it cheering me on as I climbed my last step. I have never felt so proud of myself for anything before, it was such a big achievement for everybody, as we all struggled in some way to make it up Cerro Chato.

As we descended down and back to our camp site we were all tired and looking forward to food and a good night of sleep. Going down was so much easier than on the way up and we probably made it back a quarter of the time it took to get there. As we reached the final stretch of the way home, darkness hit and we had to walk home with our head torches.

We were all so thankful for reaching our beds for the night! And we could finally cook. Myself, Sophia, Ellie, Danny and Miss booth were cooking tonight and we put as much veg inn to make a very hearty meal as we all deserved it. By time we had finished eating and washing, the group was very tired and we all needed to sleep!

Overall it was such a good day and I can’t believe I climbed a volcano!! I don’t think we would all be able to make it without the support that everyone has given each other, everyone sticking together makes me realise how amazing our group actually is!

I honestly thank the whole group so much for helping me every step of the way and getting me to the goal, and bringing my spirit up.

I’m missing everyone at homeL

Steffi x

Steffi stough

La Fortuna and the Rain

22nd July

Today was the first full day we had in La Fortuna. We woke bright and early (after a very hot and sweaty night) at 7.00am , ready to cook the breakfast. Whilst others packed their backpacks ready for our day trek, Jenny, Leah, Cliff and I cooked the breakfast-porridge (cliff’s awesome porridge), maple syrup and eggy bread, yum! We also made a new friend! Susie the dog, the campsite owner’s puppy, came to visit and have a play. She is very very cute but made everyone miss their pets even more! (Ed. L)

 Apart from the torrential rain during breakfast, everything was going rather well, we all collected our backpacks and set off to the Fortuna Waterfalls (admittedly later than planned). The trek there took a couple of hours and followed a long winding road with steep inclines up to the national park. It was a very humid day after the rainfall in the morning however, it created a lovely setting in the mountains; big heavy cloud surrounded the volcano in the distance. We envied the passing American tourists on horseback and in taxis however when we reached our destination, the walk was well worth it!

 The sparkling 70m ribbon of clear water cascaded down a beautiful canyon, which is surrounded by dense tropical foliage.  Many photographs later, we continued to walk around the photogenic scene to a clear blue pool of water. This was what we’ve been waiting for! We all stripped off, swimming costumes and shorts at the ready, and dived in. The water was very cold at first but we all soon got used to it and were soon swimming around like fishes (especially jenny and Danny of course). We all had a great time and had soon forgotten about the dreadful steep stairs we’d have to climb afterwards! After our refreshing midday dip, we all sat on the rocks and ate our chicken and cheese sandwiches and cereal bars whilst admiring the stunning scenery. After getting changed back into our sexy trek clothes, we climbed the stairs of doom. They were like the ones up the Whitby abbey but x100 and steep. We were all so relieved to reach the top and we all regrouped and took a last long look and the amazing waterfall.

The walk home was a lot easier as we walked downhill at a gentle pace. When we returned to camp we all split off into different groups to prepare for tonight’s meal and to wash our sweaty, dirty clothes. Whilst some went into town to get more supplies, others prepared the food and some took showers and washed and hung up the trek clothes. This was all part of our new ‘working together to plan ahead’ campaign as the morning had been particularly unorganised. (Ed. This makes Cliff a happy man J)

We sat down for tea just before 7pm and feasted on garlic potatoes and of course beanfeast! However, this meal was especially different as we had different varieties- chickpea and spicy! Taggart’s cooking group (Alex, Holly, Emily and Mr T) did exceptionally well and now were all excited for tomorrow’s new beanfeast creation!

It’s now only 8pm and we’re all so tired, partially due to the trek and the previous hot night. It’s been a long night of washing up and sorting out clothes, food etc. It’s mild weather now but I think everyone actually has their fingers crossed for some rain tonight to make us cooler! I think we’re all missing the British weather. Who would of thought?!

Missing everyone at home! But were all excited for tomorrow’s trek, we think..

Love Ella x

Ella Bloomfield

We´re on our way at last - Volcanoes here we come

Hello out there!  It’s Shaun on the blog for Saturday 21st July.  It was most defiantly a full day.  After waking up at about 7:30 we had the same breakfast as before (Laughing cheese sandwich and fruit, bit dull. Emily is no longer leader as that duty has been passed on to Sofia. We then took five taxis to the bus station in San Jose to get a four and a half hour bus ride to La Fortuna. 

It was a long journey and by the time we got to San Carlos, which is about in the middle of San Jose and La Fortuna, the bus was completely full!  During the journey we passed through mountain roads that lead us straight into the aptly named ‘cloud forest’!  By this time some of us were asleep while the others (me included) tried to play ‘I Spy’ despite the fact that we could only see about a meter away (Ed. “I spy with my little eye something starting with ‘C’ “ hahahaha)!  Surprisingly there were quite a few things to see (Jack was able to find five things to do with a fence). 

After getting off the bus and retrieving our luggage we decided to set off to camp.  Some confusion about which way we were to go ensued and the realisation the teachers and cliff were not going to make the decisions for us set the tone for our first real challenge.  After about half an hour of no-one knowing where to go we finally set off.  After not being sure if we were going the right way Cliff asked a shop keeper for directions who showed us the way very kindly.  We immediately set up camp and prepared to cook tea (I was among the cooking team and thankfully my cooking seemed ok!). 

Around the campsite which we have exclusive use of (its the garden of Nelson our host), all that can be heard is the sound of birds and many frogs!  However it is a beautiful place and I’m happy to sleep here.  There are a number of bats flying around and it rained during the night (I guess that’s why they call it a rain Forest). 

Now this trip is starting to feel real to all of us, now that we are sleeping in tents.  To finish off I want to wish a happy birthday to my youngest nephew Liam whose Two now (good luck to your mum)! 

Once again this has been Shaun, goodbye!

Shaun Laing

Friday, 20 July 2012

Essential Planning day!

We had an early rise this morning to get showered and dressed, to then meet at 8:30 and have breakfast. We discussed the plans for the day, including what to actually eat for breakfast and also when to meet Javier, our Costa Rican guide. Javier’s representative turned up at 11am after we had sandwiches for breakfast bought from the supermarket at 10:30. We met Jovanni the representative of Javier and discussed transportation and the trekking/camping plans in La Fortuna.
We split into groups to go into town to carry out different jobs that needed to be done for the day. Me, Ella, Ellie and Mr Taggart went to look for places to eat for under $2 per person (£1.50). Emily, Stephie, Alice, Leah and Alex went to change American Dollars (between $50 and $100) into Costa Rican Colones and also find a phone and sim card which wasn’t successful until four trips later. Beth, Holly, Jack and Cliff got a taxi to the bus station to book the tickets for La Fortuna.  Jenny, Shaun, Danny and Miss Booth completed the menu planning for our acclimatisation trek near La Fortuna 
We sat around the pool and Miss Booth, Alice, Stephie and Emily split up the Colones between us depending on how many dollars we put in. We all put in $30 each for the Rest and relaxation part of our trip and also $20 each to tip the guides during our stay here. Me, Leah, Ellie, Ella, Alex and Cliff explored the stripper pole on the balcony across from the lounge, let’s say we received a few strange looks! (Ed.  I need to hone my skills a bit but I thought I taught you lot one or two things ;-) lol )
After we all went to the lounge area and played a game of Pool and relaxed on the balcony and seating area. Then Ellie, Ella, Danny Leah and myself went to town to look for fuel  for the camping stoves and still had none two hours later, despite it feeling as though we had walked round the whole of San Jose. In the mean while Emily, Stephie, Alice and Alex were still looking for a phone and sim card.
When we got back Cliff and Miss Booth weren’t pleased we spent two hours in the town and didn’t come back with any fuel, but it was getting dark and Latin-American Costa Rican men are more “open” with their compliments to women and have exploring eyes. We then went back out into town with the entire group and looked for a place to eat which, Ella, Ellie, Mr Taggart me looked for, for under $2. But with us not having lunch today we could spend $6 and therefore could afford a McDonalds J.  
All in all a busy day doing essential planning for the rest of our trip. 

(Ed. Due to popular demand we have decided to start the “Quote of the Day” again)
“All in all it seems like a bit of a nothing, but when I think about it... we achieved a fair bit” Extract taken from Alex’s journal.
Sophia Bennett

Pura Vida! We're here Safe n Sound

18th-20th July 2012

Hello :-) holly here, giving you the first report since we saw you all 2 days ago. It’s been a long 2 days for the group travelling from little old Billingham to San Jose in Costa Rica. After our final farewell we had a team talk about things such as the tight airport security in America and budget to what we would need to do over the travelling phase. We then watched the movie ‘Arthur’ until the first team were transported over to Middlesbrough for the mega bus. Following the many hit musical songs we sang on the bus ride over to Middlesbrough we had a short 15 minute wait for the mega bus. On the actual mega bus we were all separate but that didn’t particularly matter as we all fell asleep! The overall impression from the team was that the mega bus was very small but it filled its purpose.

We arrived at Victoria coach station, London at 7 on time and we were very glad to get off the bus! It was a short 5 minute journey to the tube station and although there was a little confusion about tickets, we got there in the end. We then encountered another problem when the tube we were taking was not going anymore but don’t worry folks, we managed it :-) ! So after our journey on the tube (some a bit more squished than others) we arrived at Heathrow terminal 4 at around 10 o’clock.

We met up with cliff and got checked in. We then went through security with no problems and boarded the first of 2 planes; Heathrow to New Ark. The seats were very spacious and comfortable and we all received our own pillow, blanket and set of headphones for the individual TV that there was in the back of the seats. We had a 7 hour flight that was spent watching the wide range of programs and films as well as playing the games that they had. We had 2 meals and lots of drinks and landed in newark NY at about 3:30(NY time). We then had a 2 hour wait in the airport until we boarded the second of our flights – Newark to San Jose. I am informed that we were delayed for a while, waiting for planes to go and storms to pass. I say informed because I fell asleep! (Ed. yeah she was snoring in my ear :-/) This journey was only 5 hours and throughout the team spent time watching TV, sleeping and eating.

We arrived in San José at about 12 pm San José time and took a taxi to hostel Pangea. We arrived at about 1 am and first impressions of the hostel were that it was very psychedelic. That was because the walls are covered in tribal drawings! We got settled in to the hostel, some of us showered then and others in the morning. We were all very glad to lay out on our dormitory beds and have some sleep.

We were then all up again at around 7 today and we took a trip to the local supermarket and our breakfast consisted of a lovely baguette filled with mad cow cheese and chorizo washed down with various fruit juices and either an apple or an orange. Our in country representative arrived and we have just had a discussion about transport and food etc. We have now split off into groups with our various tasks to complete. You now know what has been happening over the last 2 days, keep looking ! holly out.

Holly Laing