Cake,candles and expeditions

People often say that babies born earlier in the year do better in many ways. I must dispute this (not only based on both my May babies being very bright and engaging boys already – but I am biased) because had I not been a July baby, none of the following would apply.

This week saw another birthday pass and I realised that in the last decade (and probably further back than that) more of my birthdays than not have been spent on some sort of expedition – often but not always DofE. Here are three of the ones that have stuck – I’m afraid that the DofE ones have merged into a cake/tent/supervision filled blob in my brain!

2004 Costa Rica – My 30th, on a school expedition with 15 students, 2 other staff. Birthday treat was a visit to the Buttercup Sloth Rescue Centre, and actually got to hold a sloth – amazing animals in every way, not least for their once a week ‘descent from tree for a poo’ habit, and their symbiotic relationship
with a green algae in their fur. highly recommended visit if you’re ever there.
Birthday meal : Rice and beans (staple in CR) and large sloppy cake.

2006 Cuzco, Peru. School expedition with 20 students and four other staff. I think we were still a bit woozy with the newly acquired 3300m altitude, so I don’t recall the meal or any celebrations (the fact it was my birthday did not even feature in my husband’s expedition diary!) although I did get taken to a market and bought a fetching rainbow alpaca wool hat with flaps, which I still have. However this was the day that we first visited our link community of Lucre, in the Valle Sur, and it was a very emotional afternoon meeting everyone in the schools and in particular the boys in the hacienda run by the local police as a home for street children from Cuzco. A game of high altitude football sealed the relationship, and we’re back there next summer for a rematch!

2013 – on Bronze DofE, in a bell tent on Dartmoor. No sloths, just an overly waggy black lab. 24 Bronzes, 2 other staff and some bunting.
Birthday meal: Rice and beans! Mexican style, Uncle Ben’s. Quite nice but not as authentic as 2004.

2014 – the eagle eyed will have spotted from the Costa Rica date that next year’s birthday is a big one. And we have managed to persuade the school leadership team that we need to leave the UK to go to Peru on the 5/6 of July. Which means that I will be spending my 40th in Cuzco, with 19 expeditioners, two other staff, and ‘our men in Peru’ -Tom Jolly of GlobalEd and Andy ‘bear’ Dare (aka Oso) who lives in Cuzco, but happens to be an ex-student of our school. Quite what that birthday will bring I don’t yet know, but I hope it’ll involve blue sky, mountains, teamwork, llamas and bartering for a new poncho.

We have a birthday amongst our Golds next week, on the final day of expedition. I can’t say too much because they’ve recently discovered this blog, but it will certainly involve a bunkhouse meal, possibly some custard based mess (tradition started last year for the same person’s Silver birthday) and a lot of tired people!


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