|In spite of many logistic problems, the 10 metre footbridge on the Leona trail was completed on 17 July. Due to a local man refusing to allow a fallen tree to be cut up for the main beams, our engineer team had to use alloy girders obtained by the parks director. These were transported from Puerto Jimenez by truck, welded at Carate and then moved two miles by a horse pulling a cart and a detached axle. An extraordinary arrangement worthy of Heath Robinson.
Lt Col Tom Gallagher and Lt Col Richard Brown both retired Royal Engineers, organised the construction with considerable help by Gary Gomez of Luna Lodge and some volunteer gold panners. The bridge crossed a jungle creek 100 yards from the beach where huge waves pounded the shore.
Lana Wedmore (a former Operation Raleigh venturer),owner of Luna Lodge opened the bridge as the tremendous storm lashed the team. Using a Swiss Army Penknife she cut the tape of "Manzano Bridge" named after a wild apple tree growing nearby. Out at sea a towering water spout rose out of the ocean but fortunately did not strike the shore.
Earlier in the day the turtle study had found a freshly hatched baby Hawksbill turtle, the first seen in this area. It was guided safely to the sea.
Chris Kershaw our reptile man, has been overjoyed to find numerous snakes and frogs. The area is crawling with them and several snakes, have been encountered in our camp.
Our dentist Sqn Ldr Ian McGarty has handled 55 patients and Dr. Jane Orr has helped 115 local people.
Some of our team had an interesting visit to the gold panners working nearby and saw the minute grains of precious metal being won from the gravel by hand held pans
On challenging treks in the dense forest a wide variety of wildlife has been catalogued. Deer, monkey and a tapir have visited our camp, unworried by us. The bird.life is prolific.
Surveyor Mark Entwistle is designing a new community centre for the people of Carate.
Frequent storms have swept through the area as the intensity of the rainy season grows. The expedition ended with the traditional Burns Supper using the Stahlys tin haggis. Local people are most impressed by this tasty dish. In Highland dress Tom Gallagher addressed the " Wee Beastie" in traditional style.
The local Council has expressed grateful thanks for the medical aid and school material for the children.
Perry McGee of the UK based National Tracking School has being instructing local youngsters on sign awareness.
The people especially appreciated the reading glasses and the turtle puppets given out by Shirley Critchley who collected them in Dorset.
On 18 July we joined the local community on their annual clean up of the debris being brought in on to the beach by the sea. Several tons of plastic items were removed.
Catering by a Carate cook, Señora Daisy Cubillos and the SES Latin American Representative Yolima Cipagauta have being delicious and few has lost weight!
On 19th July we will move to La Palma and onto San Jose the next day.