Saturday, 21 August 2010

What a Day...The Lost World Expedition is GO!

What a Day...

All the hard work, twenty hour working days (including weekends) and endless telephone calls has all come to a head as the ten participants, film crew and doctor flew out of London Heathrow at around 6.45am yesterday morning, on what proved to be an incredibly hectic, sometimes stressful but thoroughly rewarding day. Here's what happened...

If you've been following these blogs you will know that The Lost World Project is an innovative initiative that looks to make a conservation documentary about the plateau that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his famous novel 'The Lost World'. It is Ibex Earth's first major project and has seen ten students from the UK selected to travel to Mount Roraima, Venezuela to join a critically acclaimed film crew and help shoot the documentary!

Friday 20th of August was the date that the participants and film crew jetted off, but nothing ever quite goes to plan with these things!

The Lost World Team met at the airport at the delightful hour of 2.45am, well in advance of our scheduled departure - it was fantastic to see how excited the whole group were and that all of their hard work and fundraising was going to be rewarded in such a great way (to be honest both myself, and fellow Ibex Earth Director Ronald Ndoro, were very jealous that they got to go on the trip!). It took over an hour for the unnamed airline to open their gates and off we went to check in - or so we thought.

The airline had for some reason overbooked the flight and the whole team was on the waiting list - disaster! The airline had made a huge error and it looked as though we were going to have to wait for 24 hours (at the earliest) before we got to send the group to Caracas. An hour went by and the airline were frantically looking at what had gone wrong, it soon got to 5am and we were still no closer to getting onboard the plane - it wasn't looking good!

Then we got our break and the Team was upgraded to business class and then began the check in process, only to find out that the airline closed the baggage gate for the plane!!! Unbelievable - £100,000 worth of camera equipment wasn't going to get onto the plane...

Whilst all this was happening I was having to plead and beg with UK customs to come across the airport and sign some of our papers to get the equipment through UK customs - we were very lucky that a fantastic customs worker decided to take pity on me (it could have been the tears, the nervous shaking...but it was probably the tears) and he stamped all of the papers to get us through customs! Then the race began - a quick sprint across the terminal (some have described this as a waddle, but I would have rivalled Usain Bolt that morning) and on production of the document we were away and the baggage started loading as the airline very kindly agreed to hold up the entire plane for us as our equipment was loaded up!

This probably made the whole team the least popular people on the plane scheduled for Lisbon and then Caracas, but we did it! All the participants, film crew etc were onboard safely and were off in the direction of Mount Roraima. A few high-fives later and it was back to bed, as the flight went over the hotel to begin the expedition.

This really does promise to be something special and I will try and keep you all updated via this blog - fingers crossed the Team will be able to send back some photographs for us very soon.