On Sunday, we needed a day off, but the deck boards were not completely screwed in yet. That meant that we spent the first half of the day working.
By one o’clock, it was all finished and lunch was ready. While eating lunch, people from the community came to invite us to a soccer game against the neighboring community of San Francisco. I was extremely tired, so I decided to stay behind at the school doing laundry with Anthony and Natalie.
The rest of the group went to play soccer. Here is Colin’s explanation of the soccer game:
“The hike to San Francisco was a twenty minute hike up a mountain. Along the way, there were plenty of fantastic sights, including a view of the school in the distance. Once we made it to San Francisco, we stopped at our friend Walter’s house to gather our breath before heading to the soccer game. The soccer field was a field on top of a mountain with an amazing view of the surrounding mountain range. It felt like we were on top of the world.
“Then we got into our teams and positions. Quinn, Aaron, and Soley were on defense. Chepe, Justin, and I were on attack. The kids from Cínta Verde were dispersed among defense, attack, and goalie.
“The people from San Francisco were well-organized and had obviously spent a lot of time practicing. Their passing and spacing was so much better than ours that they had to have spent a lifetime working and practicing together.
“They ended up squishing us into the ground like a bug. They won 13-0, but we kept our heads held high. Regardless of winning or losing, being a part of a team with the community was a memory we will all treasure forever.”
“On the hike back, we were able to cross the river using the bridge. It involved climbing the tiers to cross, but still the first of many successful river crossings!”
Monday, work continued on the approach ramps. As work continued, the volume of rocks we would need became horrifically apparent. All of the rocks we had been collecting over the weeks were used on one day… and less than half of one single approach ramp wall was completed. During the rock carrying and cement mixing, Dr. Karl Barth arrived in Cínta Verde. Dr. Barth, a professor of civil engineering at West Virginia University, is our final travel mentor for our trip.
Tuesday was the worst day of the trip thus far because it was a day full of rock collecting. Not only is rock collecting boring, it is also hard. All I can say about Tuesday is that I carried a lot of rocks, became really tired, but felt like I had done nothing productive for the bridge. Here are some numbers to put it into perspective. The near side of the river’s approach ramp will require about 100 cubic meters of rock. In one day of only rock collecting with the community, we were able to collect around 15 cubic meters. This does not include the rock required for the far side of the approach ramp.
At the end of the day, Justin, Soley, and I talked to Eduard from the Alcaldia (mayor’s office) about finding a better solution for the problem of collecting rocks. He decided that he would try to contract the rock collecting out so that the Alcaldia would not have their trucks tied up with our project and we would not be behind schedule. He said that he would begin discussing this option with the Alcaldia the next day, but it could take up to a week to figure out all the details.
The next day, we continued work on the approach ramps. It was a pretty long and boring day. At the end of the day, Eduard stopped by to pick up Soley, Justin, and I. We were going to look at potential rock sites and other materials that could replace rocks in the ramps. Some of the teenagers in the community jumped in the back of the truck as we were leaving despite us telling them that they could not come with us. Once we got to Esquipulas, we had to tell them that they had to get out because Eduard said they could not come with us. We told them that they could wait for us in Esquipulas or walk back to Cínta Verde. We ended up going all the way to Jícaro and then to a quarry on the way back. Eduard said that they would be able to start sending materials out to Cínta Verde on Friday. The entire trip took about two hours so that by the time we picked up the teenagers from Cínta Verde again, they were very upset with us for wasting two hours of their time. They said that they did not want to help us build the bridge anymore. This upset me because threatening to not work on the bridge will only have a negative impact on them and it showed that perhaps they did not understand why we were there. We are only there to help them build their bridge. If they did not understand that, then why have they been helping us so far? How was that not communicated clearly? I think they may have said that because they had nothing else to threaten us with. We told them not to come with us to begin with and they argued they were never told that. I do not know if I really believe that, but we should have been clearer before we left and stayed until they left the truck. In the end, we apologized for not being clearer and they agreed to work the following day.
There are exactly three weeks left to our trip and the current plan is to have the opening ceremony on August 3, then travel to Boaco for our site assessment of next year’s bridge site in for the community of Las Lagunas.