Ruth and I paid a quick visit to Tango Five and Charlie Two this week, while David and Simon each spent a couple of days digging with Echo Three.
So here’s the first of three blogs covering our visits.
Ruth and I joined Tango Five late last Sunday afternoon towards the end of their survival day. They’d spent the day building themselves a shelter for the night (tents having been temporarily confiscated), preparing a meal from locally sourced ingredients and – joy of joys – listening to Radio Raleigh.
Their campsite was certainly bijou, but, following an application of salt along the ground around the shelter, almost leech-free.
|Just to be on the safe side - Carline in leech socks|
|Preparing breakfast and packing at the bijou campsite|
The new campsite was a field in the middle of a rubber plantation. Dinner was fairly late in trek terms, as we awaited the arrival of the supply drop to replenish the supplies consumed during previous days.
|Late dinner and sorting out the supply drop. Joris looking 'smooth' after his recent haircut|
The next morning brought the arrival of a man in a balaclava wielding a machete. Happily he’d only come to empty the rubber cups and re-strip the trees!
|Man clad in balaclava tending the rubber trees Who said it was hot in India?|
We left the team on Tuesday morning just after breakfast. They were all in great spirits and looking forward – albeit some with a little trepidation - to their 40 km cycle adventure.
Before we left, Carline and Joris kindly provided the following guest blog:
Tuesday morning, 27 November 2012
From the first moment we left the bus after a five-hour drive it was hot and our bags were already too heavy. The first 700 metres were the most challenging, but step by step we became more and more used to walking with twenty kilogrammes on our backs. As soon as we arrived at our first campsite three and a half hours later, we all forgot how tough our first walk had been when we saw the beautiful view of mountains and a waterfall in the distance.
After taking advantage of an unexpectedly good shower facility, we cooked our first group meal and then all enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
The next morning we left our first campsite. Day 2 was an incredible day, on which we walked 8 km with backpacks and 4 km without. These 4 kms were straight uphill and we had to climb over two peaks. After this extremely hard walk we arrived at a lovely cooling lake, where we all sat down and relaxed. Overnight we slept on top of a water tower with the most amazing view.
On the next trekking days the walking distances became longer (12 and 14 kms), but our bags became slightly lighter as we ate all the meals we were carrying. Even on the hardest moments of trekking we kept our spirits up because of the beautiful views we had. We walked through tea plantations, jungle, high grasslands and over mountains.
But … it wasn’t only sunny! On day 4 the rain suddenly came pouring down for an hour and a half. We were forced to wear our ponchos over our backpacks and we got soaking wet! And if that wasn’t enough… Arriving at our wet new campsite, we were eaten alive by leeches, our biggest enemies on this trek (after our backpacks and some blisters!)
Day 5 was all about surviving. We ate local chicken, which was lovely, and we slept under a self-made shelter.
All things considered, these first five days have been absolutely fantastic, and we are all looking forward to everything which is coming. We are laughing, sweating, walking, struggling and chilling – enjoying everything at the same time!
Big kisses to all our loved ones at home!
Last but not least, here’s a short video of your loved ones saying hello from the rubber plantation.
News from Charlie Two will follow very soon …