Embracing Life in Rancheria, Nicaragua

Embracing Life in Rancheria, Nicaragua

August 13, 2015

Authored by Bridges to Prosperity volunteer Nathan Murdoch on day 3 of the 12-day build. Note the bridge is scheduled to be inaugurated on the afternoon of August 13.

Pulling cable

Pulling cable

In spite of the technical struggle and the lack of large-scale construction equipment, one of the biggest challenges our team faces in Rancheria is the heat. Pacing yourself and constantly remembering to drink fluids is difficult when everyone is eager to contribute. I had my own personal encounter with heat exhaustion yesterday. After spending part of the day up on the first scaffold tower with limited access to water, I woke up to new/old new friends: nausea and a headache. Thankfully, Kenny gladly stepped in to take my spot on the scaffold, leaving me to recouping some of my strength on a lighter task in the shade. After helping Ksenia finish marking and cutting the rebar for the suspenders, I spent the majority of the day “bending” the bars into shape with our B2P Construction Manager Leonel. I say bending in quote because it was mostly Leonel doing the bending with me holding the bars steady. While we worked, we practiced our language skills (English for Leonel and Spanish for me). Through somewhat simple phrases, we joked about the subtle differences between the two languages. One particular incident occurred when I referred to my girlfriend as my boyfriend we make our way through most of the bars (I did eventually manage to bend a few, though Leonel is muy mas fuerte) and called it a day just as a thunderstorm bit.

Kenny, Helena, Mohammed and Tim starting to lay the decking.

Kenny, Helena, Mohammed and Tim starting to lay the decking.

Three days into construction it’s surprising how easily we’ve settled into our temporary way of life. We’re welcomed each morning by a warm breakfast, prepared fresh by our two amazing cocineras, Lorena and Marie Jose. Somehow these amazing women transform rice, beans, and meat into different dishes three times a day. From there Javier runs us through the plan for the day and we entertain each other with our morning stretches. Work typically runs from about 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a break for lunch around noon. In addition to our team of 10, we are joined by members of the community who are eager to learn and at the same time teach us how to build a bridge in Nicaragua (like how to clear a field of sugar cane with a machete without breaking a sweat). For the most part, our conversations are limited to simple sentences and lots of gesturing, but there’s a great feeling of camaraderie amongst everyone involved. Once we finish work for the day we relax by playing soccer with the locals, taking a swim or shower in the river or settling in for a beer or Flur de Cana (rum) around the common area. It’s a simple life, yet if feels more familiar than something we just started doing three days ago. Hopefully, that is one of the important lessons I can take home with me from this trip: to slow down and take pleasure in the simple things and the company of good friends.

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August 2015


  1. HS2 GI Team & Matteo

    Looks like you're doing a fantastic job so far guys! Glad to hear Javier is behaving himself. Happy bridge building! :)

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