Hannah and I have just got back from visiting Charlie 2 and Echo 3 and finding out what they’ve been up to. It was great to see the groups and see how they’re all doing.
We’ve also got a few new faces around Fieldbase, of both the human and cow variety!
Emma and Lucy arrived on Sunday and they’ll be joining the groups for Phase 2 and 3. After a good night’s sleep they’ve settled into Fieldbase and are being brought up to speed on all the training they’ll need on expedition.
We’ve also been joined by another PM, Ali Parry, who will be going on both treks in Phase 2 and 3. Ali is also part of the Borneo massive and has led three treks over there and can’t wait to get out into the Indian jungle!
Oh, and Majie has had her baby calf! Who is incredibly cute and we’re sure will be a big hit with the venturers when they return.
Welcome to Ali, Emma and Lucy
Our new arrival!
Apart from welcoming our new faces, we’re all running around Fieldbase and getting it ready for change-over. We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone and finding out how the last few days of their projects have been.
So back to Charlie 2 and Echo 3.
Hannah and I drove to Tamil Nadu to visit Charlie 2 on their community phase. They’ve been working in Mangode for the past couple of weeks, which is a beautiful village on the borders of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It’s nestled on the side of a mountain, surrounded by coconut and banana trees, and lots of tea plantations. The families who live in the village are all tribal, with a lot of them relocating from Sri Lanka. The village is very poor, with the majority of the families living in mud huts. What they lack in wealth, however, they certainly make up with in smiles and it was lovely to see how the community had welcomed Charlie 2 into their village.
Despite being slowed down by lots of rain earlier on in their phase, Charlie 2 had done really well with their project and we arrived just in time to help them finish their last biogas hole. So, with work gloves on and mampti' (Indian spades) primed, we got stuck in and helped to finish their last ‘hell hole’! Luckily, we arrived a couple of days after Diwali, so were treated to lots of leftover sweets, as well as chai, which definitely helped fuel our digging!
Charlie 2 with the family they're staying with
Fun in the hole! Getting ready for filming their music video!
A cow shed with a view
One of the perks of the community phase is that you get cooked for by the local community, so after a morning of chai and sweets it was back to the campsite for a delicious home-cooked curry. Apparently, spice levels in the food have been increasing during Charlie 2’s stay in Mangode, but so was everyone’s tolerance and I was amazed how easily everyone dealt with the spice (I was quietly crying over a rather large chilli in the corner!) After lunch, PMs Sian and Kath, took us on a tour of the village and then it was back in the hole to finish it off. Sadly we had to leave early doors the next day to head off to Echo 3, so we waved goodbye and jumped back in the Bravo.
We had a long and beautiful journey to Echo 3. We were lucky enough to see a family of wild elephants having a wash and playing in the river which was amazing and certainly made the hours of sitting in the Bravo worth it!
We arrived at Echo 3 around 5ish, so just had enough time before dark to see the beautiful scenery surrounding their campsite. As I’m sure you’re all aware from previous blogs, Echo 3’s campsite is right on the edge of a stunning reservoir. The environment was very different from Charlie 2’s and, although there were still a lot of banana and coconut trees around, everything was a lot flatter, with soft, rolling hills surrounding us. Being right next to such a large expanse of water also added an element of serenity to the area and I found it a very relaxing and calming place to be.
Echo 3 showing off their digging muscles!
Chilling at camp
We got to camp just as Echo 3 was chilling out and it was lovely to see them as a group enjoying their down time. We bumped into Charlie and Jake just as they were finishing painting the local school and they gave us a quick tour of the village - Gandathur.
Some of the lovely paintings done by Echo 3 at their local school
Back at the campsite, the cooks were preparing a rather unique, but nontheless delicious supper of boiled eggs and potatoes. As the rain set in, we all bundled off to bed, ready for a 6pm start in the morning. Waking up to see sunrise over the reservoir was amazing, and the group headed down to the bank for a couple of early morning energisers. At 7.30am it was off to work to finish their fourth (and final) biogas hole.
An early morning energiser
The last hole!
Gemma and Shafeeque kindly gave us a tour of the other three biogas holes the group had been working on and introduced us to the families who would be using them when they’re finished. Sadly, we had to leave Echo 3 early so we waved them goodbye and headed back to Fieldbase.
Back at Fieldbase the preparations for everyone coming back are in full swing. The venturers and PMs find out their new groups and projects on Wednesday and, as ever, I’ll be updating the blog with where everyone’s going for their next adventure!