The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

more bridge work

Under the gun and feeling guilty because it's been, well, probably months since I've written an update on what I (Alan) have been doing here. Both of our regular blog readers have now written and asked Faith if I'm dead.

In amongst delivering building materials to help rebuilding of houses destroyed in the recent earthquake and helping with the monthly pastor's training school here, I have spent quite a lot of time the past months helping with the design and construction of a few cable bridges. In a few cases this has involved spending the night in the local town while working multiple days on something.

One of the bridges is at a village named Monte de la Virgin, perched on the side of mount Celaque, an hour and a half away over a hideous road. There is an existing bridge on the site, a walk-bridge; women and children sometimes use the walk-bridge, and sometimes bypass the bridge and walk through the river, because using the bridge means hopping over broken spots and big holes 30 feet above the river, while the bridge itself sways and dips wildly. The new bridge here is big enough to support vehicle traffic, up to a point; the entrances to the bridge are built 8 feet by 8 feet square, to keep vehicles over the size limit off. The bridge is a suspension-type, and uses cables connected to the tops of 22-foot-tall towers to carry the weight. There are connection-points built into the abutments for the suspension cables on top of the towers, the cables under the deck and chain-link fencing down both sides. At this point, all the cement work for the bridge has been completed, and we will be working the rest of this week and those following on stringing and connecting the cables and installing the wood deck.

These odd-looking things are mounted in the tops of the towers, and are what the suspension cables connect to.

Starting to form the towers on the second side. The far side is complete in this picture. As is suggested in the picture, every pound of cement in these abutments and anchors was mixed on-site, by hand, with sand and gravel from the river, and carried in buckets to where it's needed, in the final case by bucket-brigade 25 feet up the scaffolding to the tops of the towers.

A closer view of the completed towers on the first side. I find this area fascinating in that on both sides of the river are piles of jumbled, river-smoothed, huge rocks, some as big as houses, and stacked 3 or 4 stories high. If the river ever gets high enough to move those rocks, I'm not betting any money on the bridge.

Another bridge we have been working on is a walk-bridge; there are now at least a couple of this design that are completed or nearing completion near a town called Mapulaca. We made a trip to the first of these a couple weeks ago to deliver and hang the cable.

This bridge entails 4 cables below the deck and two more at hand-rail height. The lower cables connect to a pipe with welded re-bar set into the cement, similar to the design of the vehicle bridge.

A top view of the lower cables and connecting bar.

One of very few pictures I have of myself actually doing anything. Fashion credits: muchisimas gracias to Fred for the donation of the waterproof boots - they came in handy, as I waded the river about 12 times that day. Also to Alex for the pants. Duct-tape work on the gloves courtesy of Red Green.

Cables in place and ready for the decking. This bridge is designed to support a couple of loaded pack animals.

Related to the bridge projects, Riley and I also recently spent a day dismantling and old walk-bridge that had been replaced. This was a spectacular trip as the work involved stripping all the usable wood off the bridge cables, and then cutting the cables and allowing the whole thing to fall into the river with a crash; this was Riley's favorite part. We salvaged all the cable to be used for other bridges, while all the wood was piled and left at the bridge site for the local people to use for themselves.


Live Simply Love Strongly said...

Cool! How neat to know that people will be travelling over this bridge and I am sure much safer because of you handywork.

TexasHeather said...

Okay, Alan, I find that absolutely fascinating! I love that you left the wood from the old bridge for the locals to use; and I can just picture your boy laughing or cheering with glee at the crash into the river. (not that I've met him; jsut, I have 3 boys of my own...)

The bridge work looks good; having been around similar old bridges, I know you guys are making a tremendous difference in the lives of the people there. Keep it up!

(ha! the work, and the bridge!)

Missus Wookie said...

Wookie says, "you gotta admire a man who can build a suspension bridge... I want a job like that when I grow up!"

We're both impressed with the engineering and thankful that you are leaving the place so much better equipped than when you found it.

Jamie Jo said...

Good to hear your take on life in Honduras these days. Speaking of bridges... do I have an offer for you! I'll write you via email.

We're sure praying for y'all with all the upheaval and uncertainty there. May God clearly direct your steps.

Beth said...

Friend of the Sowers here.
Thanks for the update on the bridge work. We are grateful for you and your family as you care for the people of Honduras. We (myself, my husband Mike, and our three sons) hope to meet you all one day when we come to see the Sowers.