Getting to Grips

September 22, 2010 – Turrialba

My destination!

Up this morning at about 2.. then 4.. then 5.. then the trains started again so got up before the rush to shower (which I only just beat!). Then killed 3 or so hours until we departed. Everyone else seemed super keen for the bus, which was fine because it meant that I was in the 4×4 which meant no taxi rides and a shorter trip (and getting to know the head admin girls).

I’m sitting at my desk now, all set up and comfy after pancakes for breakfast, a guide of the field base, a lovely swim at the resort nearby and now helping out to cook some dinner (between writing this). I’ve taken a few photos, but I will upload them along with some of the fieldbase itself (and its environs) once I take them in the nice light of tomorrow morning!

Now it’s all about planning with the communications officer (who writes the magazine and blog) of what photos I need to be taking at the various project sites (all of which I will visit) in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I will most likely be driving (to get me there to take the photos and to do food drop offs etc for the trekking groups), which means 4wd training and lots of time to see the country on roughly my own schedule!

Rough tasks I have for the next couple of weeks are to take a lot of photos, plan my shots for the project sites, plan some group shots (3 sets), sort out how I will create slideshows (I need to make about 7 in total, also need to decide on music <3) and have a good look through the previous magazines to see what has worked and what hasn’t.

Also, today I saw: Hummingbirds, weird toucan like birds with smaller bills, lots of unidentifiable birds and some circling vultures.

I should be around for the next couple of weeks at least, and then for the roughly 20 days after that be mostly away, then back for another 3 days, then away for another 20, then 3, then 20. I might be back at other random times if I’m passing by (eg north to south), but I will let everyone know once I have the final schedule of where I need to be.

Looking to be pretty awesome though – it’s a great group of people so far (the Project Managers arrive next week, then the week after that the actual venturers arrive) and I’m looking forward to it all a lot now!

More tomorrow, assuming I don’t get bogged under (including photos of the most bizarre bug I’ve ever seen or possibly heard of)

September 26, 2010 – Irazú Volcano and Costa Rican Countryside

Today was a day off for us, so it was an early start this morning for the drive to Irazú Volcano. I drove the Land Rover up which was an good practise – a lot of trouble getting from 2nd to 3rd going up hills – I kept ending up in 5th which was the opposite of helpful and would lose all my momentum and needed to drop back down to 2nd and grind away to get the revs back up. Eventually figured it out though and the rest of the ride was pretty smooth I think, considering it being the 2nd hour I’ve spent driving a manual car in my life :P

The whole drive there was about an hour and a half, climbing about 2500m from the field base and through some amazing countryside and country roads (and ‘roads’). I was a passenger on the way back which gave a good chance to take some photos of the area (where possible!)

We were promised an amazing vista when we were at the top, and we got something that I am pretty unaccustomed to in Costa Rica.

The cold.

Thankfully, there was a cafe where we bought some coffee to warm our hands up. I’ve started drinking a bit here – Costa Rican coffee is supposed to be amazing, so I’m having it black and unsweetened and it’s slowly growing on me, I guess.

Upon leaving the cafe we stumbled upon a (quite tame/greedy) Coati – kind of racoon sized mammal thing. Very photogenic (ie comes up to you sniffing for food)

I’m now waiting for the banana cake to come out of the oven. I’m on cleaning roster today so should probably go do that…

September 28, 2010 – Nothing much to report

Yesterday was off-road driving – proper off-road. Took the Land Rover through some boggy and very bumpy and steep terrain which was thoroughly enjoyable and something I look forward to doing again!

While out driving I saw a ‘Jesus Lizard’, no idea what the proper name is, but it’s the lizards that run on their back legs across water. The one I saw was pretty small – it literally was skipping across the water filled tire ruts in the road, but cool nonetheless. I’m told there are much larger ones around to be seen. The driver after me saw a 2m long green tree snake in pretty much the same spot…

After that it was off to the field to practise towing/being towed which was interesting in itself, and has a distinct possibility of being needed in future!

Today is the last day of just the advanced field base group – we have some PMs arriving this afternoon on their on accord and we will be picking up a bunch more from the airport tonight and staying in San Jose overnight before making our way back tomorrow for the PM induction week.

I will be giving tours, helping with lunch dinner etc and taking photos of all the PMs tomorrow when we are back, then after that is swimming(!). Wednesday is various training bits, Thursday we head out for jungle camp, Friday is jungle camp, Saturday we are home again for some more training and then on Sunday/Monday after that the PMs are off on their project planning visits – they travel to the actual sites they will be working at, be it in the north of Nicaragua or the beaches of Costa Rica.

Since this is a photo blog, I took some rubbish photos of today’s scenery and weather (hot!). I hope you appreciate them, because I was attacked by ants taking them. They are small ants, but they are angry.

October 3, 2010

This is what being lazy/ busy does… quite a backlog.

This week has basically involved getting ready for and going to camp/jungle camp and tonight was Phase 1 project allocation (Lots of energy and excitement pending the announcements!)

Wednesday we spent having various medical lessons.

Thursday morning we packed up and headed out for 3 days of hiking and camping with full (20+kg) backpacks.

No pictures of the camp site that night, as we had to set up coms in the dark and rain (which didnt work anyway!). The field had 2 horses, and a million frogs. The trees around the field were full of fireflies/firebeetles which flickered on and off which was lovely to watch as I relived my bladder. We had a hell of a time getting our coms up – we could hear everyone else on the radio but no one would respond to us. We moved the antenna (not a small job) but it got dark and started pissing down and we had to give up when the throw rope got caught in the tree. Satphone to the rescue.

There were a LOT of bugs an jungle camp. Giant crickets, terrifying ants, very large spiders. All in abundance. Mosquito nets and being off the ground <3

Quite tired now. Can’t think of anything else to say.