Finally, our project has begun! After two months of planning and fundraising, it´s great to be in country and see what we´re working for. Today is Wednesday, and we return to the United States tomorrow, but we´ve packed quite a bit into this last week.
After landing in the capital city of Managua on Saturday, we met Rodrigo and María, both of whom volunteered to help our project through the Rotary Club of Managua (they are secretary and president, respectively). They picked us up from the airport, and arranged for a ride to Estelí on Sunday morning. Manuel, a 40-year-old father of three who studies architecture part-time, took us to Estelí and brought us back to Managua today. Just before leaving, we saw an article in "La Prensa," the daily newspaper, detailing the flooding affecting all of Nicaragua. October is the height of the rainy season, and this one seems particularly bad. The article broke the damages down by region, and Estelí, the region containing our site (San Francisco), suffered the worst of it. Thanks to flooding, 10 bridges had collapsed, 20 communities were isolated, nearly 500 families were evacuated, and over 2500 were affected. We saw evidence of this ourselves in the city of Estelí, where one bridge crossing Rio Estelí had partially collapsed, and a second had water flowing over it.
On Monday, we saw our site for the first time. Milocz, our Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) contact, took Rachel, Jacqueline, Eric, and Steve to the site. They took pictures of the site but immediately concluded it was too dangerous to cross. According to the local community, about 500 families had been stranded on the other side of the river for about 4 days, without access to food, medicine, and other vital supplies. Though the weather made surveying impossible, Milocz already took a detailed survey of the site, so we will have the needed information.
Later in the day, with the help of our driver José, we went to various hardware stores to compare prices for materials we will need such as concrete, wood, paint, screws, rebar, etc. We should not have a problem finding supplies locally.
Now we are about to go out and find something to eat, but afterwards we will finish our account of this preface to our major trip next summer. We hope to have some pictures of our site up soon!