Friday, May 30, 2008

Road work: one stone at a time

In all of “downtown” Boa Esperança there is only about 80 meters of road that is paved. Paved with paving stones, not concrete or asphalt. It makes for the de-facto plaza area where town celebrations are held.

On one end of the road is an area that had fallen into disrepair, making a deep rut now filled with dirt that we were told gets muddy and dangerous during the rainy season. Locals told us that finally, after years of petitioning the local municipality (three towns away in Nova Friburgo), it was being fixed.

Every day while we were in town a small crew of older men took basic tools (hammer, spade, a kind of leveling rake, pick, and wheel barrow) and worked one row of stones at a time. First digging up the dirt, then laying down a layer of fine gravel mixed with a type of mortar, then tapping into place appropriately-shaped paving stones. Then another layer of the mortar/gravel mixture is spread over everything. The final layer would be left to settle and pack down under car wheels. The true excess would be swept up days later. Then when the rain comes it would harden.

Back-breaking work. The men were clearly expert at what they were doing.

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