After three weeks at Ducuale, we are almost halfway done with the foundation work, and I hope we can keep up this pace despite the increasing rain.
Every day this week, except Friday, was cut short around three each afternoon when heavy rains and thunderstorms started. At least six men from the community volunteer daily—taking time from their regular jobs to contribute to the bridge. They farm tobacco, collect clay from the nearby hills and make bricks, own cattle and horses, or farm corn.
READY TO POUR
The river has risen and is currently still crossable, but staying dry is no longer an option. Earlier in the week, we finished the concrete masonry unit (CMU) blocks that act as the formwork for the tower pedestal concrete, excavated the tower transition beams, and tied the rebar within the CMU towers. Afterwards, we tied the west anchor beam rebar cage at the bridge site and then lowered it into place.
All week we hauled materials from the community center to the bridge site in preparation for the 80 batches of concrete we placed Friday and Saturday. Each batch included nine cubic meters of cement, gravel, sand, and water. While I was filling buckets with sand, a tarantula ran out of the sand pile between my feet. I chased it down to get a better look at what it. Nicaraguans call them Pica Caballo (horse biter).
THE NEED FOR A BRIDGE
The vehicular bridge to Ducuale Grande is upriver of the pedestrian bridge and acts as a weir, widening and slowing the river upstream, especially when debris clogs the holes in the bridge. Water runs over the vehicular bridge for most of October and November, and this is when the foot bridge will get most of its use.
I have received a lot of positive feedback on the need for the bridge as I talk with the residents of Ducuale. They tell stories of men swimming across to get to work and families calling loved ones to hurry home when the river starts to rise. The only negative feedback was from one of the little girls helping with the rebar—she wants the bridge to be yellow instead of blue.
Adios, until next week!