I arrived in Nicaragua at 8:30 on Wednesday night. The rest of the team will arrive next Wednesday after I have (hopefully) worked out all the logistical details. My ride was over an hour late to pick me up, the first of many reminders that I am now on Nica-time, but I was very grateful to have a ride at all and avoid navigating the streets of the capitol city of Managua at night.
I have spent the past two days in Equipulas. It is a town of about 15,000 and is the closest urban center to our site at the village of Jicaro, about a 30 minute drive away. On Thursday morning I met with Juan (the mayor of Esquipulas, who is also responsible for taking care of Jicaro) and Eduard (the town engineer) to discuss where to buy materials and plans for the next few days.
Thursday afternoon Juan drove me to the bridge site for a prearranged meeting with the community. Upon arriving at the site I laughed out loud with joy to see a MASSIVE pile of rocks waiting for us. After spending half of every day last summer collecting rocks for the Jucuapa Occidental bridge, there are few things I detest more than carrying rocks. My next pleasant surpise was how much progress they had made on the anchor excavations. They busted through rock until the excavations were almost twice the size I had ordered! That´s hard work! It might take a little more work to fill the holes back in once we have the anchors in place, but they have already sold me on their committment to this project and their ability to work like crazy.
We also hashed out a plan for our living and eating situation while our team is here. The family who volunteered their house for us to sleep in happens to be one of the closest to our site (maybe a 20 minute walk) as well as the only house in the entire village with electricity! They get it from solar panels. There is definitely plenty of sun here. Families from the village will take turns preparing our meals. Rice with beans for breakfast. Beans with rice for lunch. And gallo pinto (rice and beans) for dinner. They all laughed when I made this joke, but seriously, it probably isn´t a joke.
Today is Friday and I took the bus to Matagalpa (about 2.5 hours away) to meet with the Rotary Club there. They will help me buy materials here that are not available in Esquipulas. Sorry if this update and the ones to come have a ton of spelling errors. The language on the computers down here is obviously set to Spanish so it underlines every word I type in red and I can´t tell when one is spelled wrong. This is fairly long and I´m not sure if we will be able to post so many details in the future, but we will try to get in to Esquipulas at least once a week to keep you all informed on our progress. We will also hopefully be able to send pictures once the rest of the team comes and we have a camera that can transfer them to a computer.
Thoughts and prayers are appreciated, as always.
Until next time,