My Time in Honduras: How to Mix Concrete by Hand

Tamara MannellyAll Articles5 Comments

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com
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This spring was a busy one with travel.  In fact from early March through early April, I was home only 3 1/2 days!  I went to Vegas for the new Young Living Infused 7 product launch, travelled throughout Greece on a family vacation and spent a week in Honduras on a humanitarian trip. 

This was my 3rd trip to the Agalta Valley in Honduras. I have been fortunate enough to travel with the HAVE Foundation for the past few years and this year my husband and two friends were able to join our ragtag group! It was, as always, such a rewarding experience!

There is always a lot of work to be done on the trip each year. Generally there are half a dozen activities to choose from ranging from heavy manual labor to crafting with the children. This year, there was less to choose from as we were preparing for a visit from the President (more on that in a future post!)  

So the theme of the week was concrete mixing…concrete mixing and more concrete mixing.

Our group, along with some local laborers, mixed approximately 100,000 pounds of concrete over a 3 day period…by hand. It was insane. It seriously felt like an insurmountable task on Day 1 but by Day 3, we had completed it all!

Our Main Concrete Tasks

  • Mixing concrete for a larger walkway/sidewalk that would connect the Middle School’s main building area to the library.
  • Mixing concrete (50,000 lbs in one day) for 2 bridge footings. This is a really cool project done by Lipscomb University engineering students.  The bridge, which will be installed later this year, will help connect the elementary and middle schools across a busy road.
    Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

    Photo by Daniel Toon

    Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

    Photo by Daniel Toon

     

  • Mixing concrete for people’s homes in the villages. Most of the homes have dirt floors, so we took on the task of putting down floors for many local villagers.
    Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

    Photo by Katie Pace

You may be wondering why I am writing about concrete mixing on Oh Lardy. What does that have to do with health and wellness? Don't we usually talk about fermenting foods, drinking bone broth, raising chickens and using essential oils?

Actually, in places like rural Honduras, concrete is all about maintaining health and wellness.

We take a lot for granted.  Our homes, our running water, our access to health care, our access to food.  One thing we take for granted is floors…we have floors in our homes whether they are concrete, carpet, tile or wood. However, in the poor villages of the Agalta Valley, dirt floors are the norm.

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Photo by Dina Nanberg

The animals that roam the homesteads (dogs, chickens, horses, cows, to name a few) wander throughout the homes and yards, leaving droppings everywhere. Animal waste carries all kinds of parasites and disease and keeping a dirt floor clean is near impossible.

Also, during the rainy season, the dirt floors become a mass of mud, creating more problems. Parasites are a huge cause of diarrhea in the 3rd world, with diarrhea being a leading cause of death. Doing something so simple as mixing a concrete floor for a family, can be life changing for them!

We were able to pour concrete on many houses in the villages!  What a great feeling!

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Photo by Laurie Willing

 

 

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Photo by Dina Nanberg

I never thought I would mix pounds and pounds and pounds of concrete and really don’t intend to again (except when I am in Honduras next year!) but it was really fascinating!

At home, all I know about concrete is that a mixer truck shows up and pours it out. However, in Honduras, we had to mix it all by hand.  So, if you ever find yourself needing to mix concrete without a mixer…here ya go!! 🙂

How to Mix Concrete by Hand

The locals gave us the directions, which were pretty flexible. We basically needed six ‘wheelbarrow loads’ of ‘gravel’ (The gravel varied from sand to large rocks) and four 100 pound bags of cement. We mixed all of that together and then formed a little volcano. (In fact, the term volcano was how we kept track of how much concrete we mixed….You mixed 6 volcanoes? Wow!).

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com
Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Then over came about 4 or 5 5-gallon Home Depot buckets of water. I was never clear on how much water to use; it seemed to be more of an eyeballing type thing. But we would slowly scoop the concrete/gravel mixture into the volcano, being very careful not to break the sides (lest, the water come pouring out!).  It became almost like a dance.  Slowly turning the cement into the water, while moving around the ‘volcano'.  

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Then when a nice pancake was mixed, we turned and turned and turned the concrete, adding more water if necessary.  This was exhausting work, folks.  Very, very exhausting.  

 

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.comWet concrete is very heavy.  Once the concrete was properly mixed (I never had a clue when this actually happened, but the locals would sort of nod and tell us to stop), we would shovel loads and loads of concrete into wheelbarrows to be spread in the area we were working on. 

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Then we would start all over again for another batch!

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Photo by Katie Pace

 

The finished product of the school sidewalk/walkway turned out great!!

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

Photo by Laurie Willing

 

This trip was so unbelievably rewarding and I was so happy to be able to share the experience with my husband.  Beyond the concrete mixing, we interacted with the people, which really is what the trip is all about.

I loved seeing Cristina, the student we sponsor to attend the private middle school each year.  She is in 9th grade and we intend to see her through high school, if that is her plan.  

Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com

We are already marking our calendars for next year!  Hopefully there won't be as much concrete mixing next year!  

If you would like to learn more about supporting the HAVE Foundation and sponsoring a student, please check out their website!

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Mixing Concrete in Honduras - www.ohlardy.com 

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5 Comments on “My Time in Honduras: How to Mix Concrete by Hand”

  1. Wow, it’s interesting to see how much concrete can make a difference in people’s lives! Concrete is just not something I even really think about on a regular basis. Reading this was really eye opening and helped me realize how much I do take simple things like a sidewalk for granted!

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