Almost Time…

Almost Time…

June 15, 2016

Authored by Dan Pickering, a project automation lead in the CH2M Bristol, England office. He will be one of 10 CH2M volunteers traveling to La Brisa, Nicaragua from June 18-July 2 to construct a suspension bridge for a community of 650 people in partnership with the non-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity.

There are things I expect to happen late on a Friday in the office. There’ll be discussions about what people are doing over the weekend, I’ll almost forget to submit my timesheet, and then maybe head downstairs to the bar with the usual suspects. Something I wouldn’t expect to happen late on a Friday is to receive a phone call from Denver asking if I would like to go to Nicaragua and build a 50-meter suspension bridge with Bridges to Prosperity, but that is exactly how my afternoon panned out around two and a half months ago. Of course I said yes, I had applied to be a part of it, just like I had applied for the Rwanda trip before it (unsuccessfully), so this was something I knew I wanted to do.

Planning Out The PackingBut applying for something from the comfort of your home and heading out on that adventure are two different things, and so immediately the fear of the unknown set in. Normally the unknown is a thrill to me, but admittedly the unknown is usually a place that has hotels and nightspots, here I am setting off into a remote construction site and base camp in a tropical country. I’m English, the only rural dangers here are getting stuck behind a tractor doing 15mph and falling on your face from too many homemade ciders. Spiders? About the size of a penny. Snakes? I once heard of a man getting bitten by a small Adder, I can’t even verify it. Mosquitos? Irritating at worst. This is five thousand miles out of my comfort zone.

Well, good! That’s what I signed up for after all!

The last ten or so weeks have been daunting, there’s no denying that, with considerations I’ve never had to make before in terms of health and security, the potential for being isolated from provisions I might take for granted, and with meetings on what to expect that reiterate “try to come into things with no expectations.” Now though, with just days to go until we leave, I feel a lot more confident, a lot more prepared. I’m now more focussed on the aim of this trip; to build a link for the locals to better healthcare, better education, and better access to necessities. I know that it is bigger than whatever reservations I have, and that those reservations are based on things I have no experience of, and so am unqualified to worry about them. I also know that in three weeks there will be a community with a brand new bridge and all that comes along with it, and a team of people that have shared an amazing experience.Indoor Tent Test

So I’ve broken in my work boots and gathered my equipment. I’ve done a trial run of setting up my tent in the living room thanks to the constant downpour that is British summertime. I’ve booked my train to the airport and my final vaccination is so fresh that the plaster is still on. In other words, I’m ready!

Go back to blog list

Share this article

nav_3 nav_1 nav_2 nav_4
June 2016


  1. Donna Burtch

    Best of luck to you and the rest of the team. Paul Barthel from my office will be there with you. You seem to have a great sense of humor and I especially liked your comments about having reservations - great attitude! :)

Leave a comment


contact us