Costa Rica Trekking

October 4, 2010 – What next?

Today the PPVs – Project Planning Visits begin – those in Nicaragua head off after lunch today and Costa Rican based PMs leave tomorrow morning. I was scheduled for the new and unnamed Costa Rican trek PPV starting tomorrow morning. I am, right at the start of Phase 1 (16 October), going to be doing that exact part of the trek with the PMs and venturers, so I am pulling out of the PPV to give my (very sore) knees and back a chance to recover. I am hoping to go along on a different PPV if possible, otherwise I will take it easy here and do whatever needs doing and perhaps some radio training.

So… my schedule will be as follows:

After that I have no idea!

Interlude – October 10, 2010 – Scottish Night

Last night was the last chance for a few drinks before the Venturers arrive – it’s dry here when the kiddies are around. So Scottish night it was, with Mohjitos, dressing up and Scottish dancing.

October 14, 2010

Venturers arrived a couple of days ago – I drove to San Jose to pick some up and dropped off my laptop at the same time. Still waiting to hear what the issue is there. Will chase them up tomorrow as they were supposed to get hold of me on Tuesday…..

This morning the zoom mechanism on my main lens has gotten itself busted. I suspect some grit got into there. The whole thing kind of jammed up and the flash wasnt working properly with it. I’ve spent a lot of today pricing up replacements and researching etc, walking to Turrialba to try the two (utterly useless) camera shops and trying to find stores in San Jose. Fortunately Julian, the big country manager person knows a photography instructor and gave her a call and got a number for a store that sells lenses and could possibly fix my current one.

The prices of photgraphic equipment here is, I understand, quite unreasonable, so I initially placed an order with B&H in the states, but they are not happy that my Visa billing address is in a country different to my shipping address, so require the money wired. BNZ seemed to require me to go into a branch or spend half an hour on the phone to them at international rates for that to happen. Add to that the potential for a huge duty tax should I actually manage to get anything delivered and it’s all a bit hard.

I gave it a good twist just before, doing all sorts of terrible things to the remaining mecahnics, but now at least I can manually pull and push the front of the lens to get the zoom working. Will still replace it if the price is reasonable, but wll do for now. I just dont trust it to last!

On more ‘why I’m actually here’ news: I’m off on Saturday morning for 3-4 days of trekking up Volcan Turrialba before being back at Field base for a few days. Then I’m off for about 10 days making my way around Costa Rica visiting the various project sites. I very strongly doubt I will be around then – but if I have my laptop I can probably get some wifi somewhere so who knows!

But yes, the Venturers are here – it has been super busy but tonight they are at jungle camp and it is beautifully quiet here

Pizza time (even though I already had dinner and a chocolate….

October 16, 2010 – Phase 1 begins

Tomorrow I am off climbing Volcan Turrialba for 4 long days. The first three days are the ascent – around 2500m, followed by an 18km downhill day before I meet up with the first food drop and am whisked away to Fieldbase for 1000 hours of sleep. I’m packing as light as possible and will be getting some help with adjusting my bag to keep the weight in the right place – on my hips (which is quite hard when you don’t have any) and off my shoulders.

Volcan Turrialba is the smoking volcano visible in one of my earlier pictures(between the rows of sugar cane). We climb right up to the summit through primeval jungle with lots of wildlife about. I meet up again with this trek a couple of weeks later to do another summit – the Dragon, this time sans backpack as it is a day trip up and down (we can drive fairly close to it).

So tomorrow morning I’m off very first thing, to return late on Tuesday the 19th and will be around fieldbase for a couple of days before heading off on a roadtrip of Costa Rica to visit the other three projects. Not sure on dates at the moment but will update when I know.

Computer wise – the motherboard has failed and a new one is on its way from wherever – 9-10 days as of tuesday I think, then a day to fix, puts it at around the 26th of October if all goes well. Hopefully if we are on the road then we can swing by San Jose to pick it up!

Lens wise… it’s very hard to sort. No one sells anything Nikon in Costa Rica, and if I’m not careful I will be hit with a massive import duty when I buy something. Add to that the difficulties of actually paying – no one will take a visa issued in NZ with a delivery address in Costa Rica which means that I need to try use a bank/Western Union here to wire money directly from my Visa to their account or call BNZ internationally as they don’t have any facility to do it online (at least as far as I can see). One of the semi-permanents here is heading back to London for a couple of weeks which could be useful though… But then my current lens actually still works – it just doesnt zoom by twiting it – I need to manually pull it out and push it in again.

Where I will be until the 5th of November: 16 October – 19 October On Trek up Volcan Turrialba with Alpha 2 20 October – 24 October Fieldbase 25 October La Cangreja National Park with Alpha 3 26 October – 27 October Camaronal (Turtle conservation project) with Alpha 4 28 October Dragon Base with Alpha 2 again 29 October Climb Dragon with Alpha 2 30 October – 31 October San Lucas Island with Alpha 5 1 November Playa Palo Seco with Alpha 2 2 November – 5 November Back at Field Base

October 22, 2010 – Trekking

So I’m back from four days of trekking with not quite the outcome that I expected.

They were four hard days – every one of them. The first day was dissapointing for being unable to cross the river so early on, the second for the difficulties in finding a new route and the amount of boring road walking we did, the third for the foot pain and the fourth for the massive amounts of hills we climbed and the huge double back we had to make.

But the hardest thing for me was the guilt I felt for leaving with the food drop. We’d been through so much and there was still a couple of really hard hours to go (huge hill and added weight of the new food) and it really felt like I was taking the easy way out and abandoning them.

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it – I really can understand why people do it and I can only imagine the feeling of satisfaction and achievement they will feel walking down onto the beach on the Pacific coast after 19 days. They are a great bunch – though my usual cynical eyes didn’t think so immediately. After just a couple of days they had all showed their metal and I couldn’t believe what they were putting up with without so much as a murmour.

When I showered that night it felt like I was washing it all away (holy hell did I stink), but also more than that, everything felt different and lighter. Walking and talking and thinking gives you a lot of time to think and I have a few more ideas about my life that I want to explore when I get home. When I finish Raleigh I want it to be the start of the best part of my life, not the end.

The next morning was really beautiful and it dawned on me that I’m only 1 month in and already have had the most amazing time of my life. I

Can’t wait for whatever comes next!