ELT January Group: 4th week

Day 21 – 23. 15-17/2/13

We had a belated pancake day in town which everyone loved! For the following days we chilled out in town, sorted out the lessons we would teach the Trekker group and getting any extra equipment we needed. Did get to see a Keel Billed Tucan which was awesome to see, very bright colours! Met the Trekker group and taught a couple lessons, all very nice! Was strange to see them all arrive and meet us, just like we had done with Tel 10 only a few weeks before.

Day 24. 18/2/13

Set off to the visitor center, the sun was hidden behind clouds so a cool day which was good for the Trekkers, did make the walk for them a lot easier compared to the heat we endured on our first walk in. Got the camp set up and gave a quick tour of the site for the Trekkers and then carried on with the lessons. Paul and me set off for firewood and came back with a huge log, thought it best for a nice big camp fire, took quite an effort to drag it through the Jungle and into camp.

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Day 25- 27. 19- 21/2/13

Spent the next few days teaching basic jungle training to the new group. A good experience to pass on what we knew and actually teach a group. Had a good couple lessons and seemed like they really enjoyed them, especially Jungle Observations where we hid Madness in the Jungle.

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Day 28. 22/2/13

A very early start! Up at 4am and packed away, headed off by around 6am and made our way back to San Antonio to get the bus back. Bus ride back was very interesting, was a busy bus and so me, Dave and Jon offered up our seats to the locals and took our new seats on top of all our bags stacked up at the back. Ended up squashed between the bags and roof of the bus, not the most comfortable ride. Had a beer and Chinese with most of the other Tels and finished it by eating a habanero pepper which was very hot!

Day 29. 23/2/13

Had our own bus come to take us to our project which was nice, a lot more comfortable! Our project was at CockscombNational Park, the first ever Jaguar sanctuary. Got straight into work clearing a track of roots, draining and where it was needed getting the track level, so we were all armed with shovels and axes.

Day 30 24/2/13

Full days work clearing the track, it was a very hard days work especially with the heat! We worked up the track so the further we worked the longer the walk back so everyone was tired at the end of the day!

Day 31 25/2/13

Spent the morning working, had an interesting conversation with the guides about Guatemala. Seems like a huge issue that is still going on and really worrying and even scaring people in Belize. All I can say is I hope Belize stays as Belize and they keep their country! In the afternoon we got to go river tubing which was a good way to relax!

Day 32 26/2/13

We moved up to camp 7 so we could carry on the work. Camp 7 cleverly named as it was 7km up the track, also wasn’t really a camp, we just headed into the jungle and set up where we could.

Day 33 27/2/13

Another morning of work and then we moved camp again up to Camp 12, see if you can work out how far that was! Got to try some scorpion, had a go at the pincers, didn’t taste great but didn’t taste bad. Had a wash in the river and got quite a few fish coming up to nibble at our legs!

Day 34 28/2/13

We have an HLS (Helicopter Landing Site) just behind camp 12 and there I saw a deer, pretty cool to see it out in the jungle and managed to get very close. Took a night walk which lead to me being inches away from stepping on a snake! Luckily I was stopped before putting my foot down on it, so a nice escape there! Then the heavens opened and we got drenched. Took cover under a tree and after few moments noticed we were right above a Tarantula hole, I don’t think it was too impressed by us all around it. Camera did break unfortunately in the rain so hopefully it can be fixed!

Day 35 1/3/13

More work today but did get a quick lift on one the buggies, not the most comfortable of things! For dinner we got chicken, real chicken! Which really cheered everyone up, the best dinner in the jungle yet! Got it cooked jungle style with all potatoes, cohune and chicken cooked on the fire embers wrapped up in some leaves. Night was going well till I managed to split my head open. I was fighting off machete wielding bandits and defending everyone from several very poisonous snakes and a dozen Jaguars just as tornado picked up the pallappa and hit me in the head. OR the more boring way of me walking into the corner of the steel sheets that made up the roof. Got 3 stitches by the doctor and all was fine, did have to be woken a couple times in the night just to make sure I was all fine.

Day 36 2/3/13

Doctor banned me from working today due to my head, so me and the Danes who were also staying behind set about clearing up camp and doing a few tasks. The rest of the group managed to finish clearing the trail so that part of the project was complete.

Day 37 3/3/13

Quite a cold night, down to 14 apparently which for us felt freezing! As plans where unfortunately changed we walked the 12km back to Cockscomb visitor centre. We were going to walk up to VictoriaPeak and then headed back, it would have been great to do and would have been a very very long walk, which would be good practice.

Day 38 4/3/13

Walked up to Bens bluff a smaller peak but still good view, then walked onto a place that had 2 waterfalls above and below. Water was very cold but still well worth the swim. In the evening me and Paul and a couple of Trekkers did some painting of a building and after dinner we got to watch a DVD about the sanctuary. Was good to see why the work we did was important and what the sanctuary was doing.

Day 39- 41 5- 7/3/13

Back to town where we had a couple days were we had few hours each day to have some canoe training ready for the La Ruta Maya. Definitely seems like its going to be hard, practiced capsizing which was quite a laugh!

Day 42 8/3/13

La Ruta Maya! Up at half 4 to get ready and the get to the start line! Great scene as it started with hundreds of people coming to support and all the canoes racing off at the start! Quite a lot capsized so we all did well not to do the same at the beginning. In my canoe was Dave and Dan one of the Trekkers, named our team Three Men in a Boat! It was going well until we had quite a bad capsize and we were three men out of the boat. We went into some rapids but canoe went off too far left, I managed to dodge a log sticking out of the water but it pinned Dave and then the current flipped the canoe over. The canoe then got stuck against a tree so we all grabbed onto any part of the canoe we could. The current was very strong though so we were being pulled off the canoe! To make things worse a Japanese team then came hurtling towards us, crashing into our canoe, went between mine and Dan’s head missing us by inches! It did seem all so chaotic and there was a couple seconds when I thought we were in real trouble. Luckily we got help to dislodge our canoe and all of us managed to swim to a bank, unfortunately we did loose some supplies of food and water. We lost a lot of time but we managed catch up with the rest of the teams from Trekforce. Was a really tough day and ached so much, we had completed 49 miles!

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Day 43 9/3/13

Second day and it was a 60 mile section. Was very long and tough although seemed better than the first day. Got to see some good wildlife, a load of Iguanas and howler monkeys, got to see a bird airing its wings, reminded me of an eagle on a roman banner!

 

Day 44 10/3/13

A 40 mile one today, but seemed the toughest day so far. There was quite a strong wind against us and very little or no current so made it even harder. Still managed a good time for us and got in before a few other teams.

Day 45 11/3/13

The final day! Around 30 miles, although again there was not much current and we were heading towards to the sea so had to watch out if the tide came against us. Went through some mangroves too which was cool. Got to see some dolphins and crocodiles as well as the usual monkeys and iguanas. Had a sprint to the finish and managed to do it under 4 hours with only 20 seconds to spare which was great as we aimed under 4! Three men in a boat beat the other 4 trekforce teams and few other teams which made us very happy! A very tough and tiring 4 days but is something can now say I’ve done and got a nice medal to show for it! We managed the 180 miles in 29 hours! Well done to all the teams as everyone did great!

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