The final two days in Nicaragua we spent continuing our search for materials and learning about the country. We also met with the mayor of San Francisco, who appreciates the impact our project will have. In our meeting, we came to an agreement that certain things will be done before NDSEED's return in late May. The community will excavate the sites where the towers will be built, and the towers themselves will be started. Luckily, everyone is on the same page, because the community will take ownership of the bridge, and we will work alongside them.
On Tuesday, the whole team returned to San Francisco, and Maria, Luis, and Dan all got their first sight of the bridge location. While we were there, one man crossed the river on horseback, while another began to ford the river and was turned back when the horse waded in too deep. The bridge will definitely be of great help next year, when rainy season returns. Because the site is so flat, the challenges involved will be to lift the towers to keep the deck of the bridge above the current during its highest stages, and to prevent erosion with the current pounding away at the north tower. Gabion baskets filled with river rocks will be used, forming a gabion wall over 70 feet long. This will add significant cost to our project.
Seeing the effects of a bridge on its local community was an unexpected bonus of our trip. Milocz took us to a bridge built by the University of Iowa near Matigalpa, northeast of Managua. In barely ten minutes of being there, nearly a dozen people passed; men, women, and children.
Heading back to Managua, Manuel again was our driver. He took us for typical Nicaraguan food, a kind of corn-meal pancake, and showed us an overlook over a national forest.
Now we return to the groundwork of our project, trying to raise the money to build this bridge, and completing the design work required. We can't wait to return to such a beautiful country! This week made us even more sure that this bridge is such a vital need for the people of San Francisco, Nicaragua.