Thursday, March 24, 2011

Street repair Costa Rican style

The street near our house is made of dirt and rocks. It's so steep and rutted in one place that even Costa Ricans with four-wheel drive vehicles avoid it. It's a favorite route for dune buggy type vehicles and all-terrain vehicles that sometimes roar past on weekends, a phenomenon that I find very annoying if I'm walking to the store. It's not a playground, people,  it's our neighborhood street, so please go back to San Jose or where ever you came from. We have enough all-terrain vehicles without having racing models come here.
  If has been raining we walk a long way to avoid the section of the street downhill from our driveway out of fear of falling on the slippery and steep mud. So it was a nice surprise that the municipality did some work on the street this week. First they graded it with this big machine.
Only recently does our town have any machinery this impressive.
 Then they brought several dump truck loads of fill. Just in case you visit Costa Rica and want to talk about road construction, fill is called lastre here, although in other parts of the Spanish speaking world that means ballast.
By local standards this is pretty good lastre, without a lot of dirt in it. Dirt turns into mud when it rains so rocks are much better. Some of the rocks are a bit big—being much larger than shoe boxes; average size of rocks in good lastre is about fist-sized.
  Next step was to spread the lastre around.
We thought it was finished, but perhaps it is a universal of road repair that some things get done in the wrong order. A couple of days later they were back with more heavy equipment and seriously widened the street by making big cuts into the earth banks along the side.
They spread the dirt on top of the lastre, where is will make a lot of mud when it rains. Many people had their driveways dug into and will need to repair them. The street is now wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other and the steep corner is considerably better. Until we go through a rainy season it's not going to be nearly as fun for the ATVs.

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