Sunday, June 28, 2009

6 weeks down

Sorry for the lack of updates, bridge construction has gone into high gear. We have spent the last two weeks busily pourig foundations to the best of our ability. We have managed to pour the footers and first lifts for both the piers, as well as the footer on one of the far sides. We have been getting around 5 volunteers per day from the village. The Bolivians are a great help and have made some great suggestions about form design and stability. We probably mixed over 700 cubic feet of concrete this past week- our mixer only makes 6 cubic feet per batch. It´s no surprise then that most of us check out at 9 pm every night. 

Many thanks to Dwayne Lee for his contributions to the project. After he left last Monday we brought a professional engineer from Engineers in Action, Milton, to work with us. He has definetly been a great help and we look forward to having him back. 

Last Tuesday was the festival of San Juan. All the families in the town sit around bonfires infront of their houses. It was very fun, but also scary because all the little kids were playing with fireworks!!!

We have alot on our plate this coming week, but Dr. Schaad will be arriving in Bolivia on Monday. He will definetly be a great help as we prepare this project for our departure from Obrajes next week. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Midway update

After weeks of being in Bolivia, we finally began construction little more than a week ago. The communities around Obrajes told us they desired a pier supported bridge at a new sight we previously hadn´t considered. Since this bridge belongs to the community, and since they will be doing the bulk of the construction after we leave, we decided to revise our design to suit their needs.  Dwayne Lee, a retired Engineer from the army, joined us two weeks ago and has been an amazing help in all of the project. 

The last week sure has been an experience. We have all been waking up early and getting to the site as soon as possible. We´ve all learned how to build rehbar cages, construct forms, and, most importantly, dig big holes. When we put the form in our meter deep hole earlier this week, most of us were up to our chests in cold water. 

On Thursday, the feast of Corpus Christi, the community members threw us a ¨Challa¨, or a religious festival where they blessed the ground the bridge is on. We had dinner with the mayor and had a huge soccer game with the kids. It was tons of fun. 

After today our numbers will drop to 6 students, Dwayne, and Dr. Beaule. We are expecting work to be much harder, but we also are anticipating more community involvment. Yesterday the communities had a huge (300 person) meeting where they put together a schedule for labor. They also want to dig the foundation deeper, 2 meters, to avoid soil erosion of the footers. We don´t know how to do this, but they insist it is possible.