This blog is really for our grandsons Seth, Will, Logan, and Flynn, as well as for our son in law Brian. Trucks, diggers, bulldozers, graders, and picks and shovels. Over recent weeks we have watched with fascination the progress of road works to widen the road that runs past our house and the Area Office. In front of our house is two lane divided road with a large park area in the wide median strip. It narrows to a single lane each way past our chapel, the Missionary Training Centre, and the Area Office. It then joins a busy main road causing a lot of traffic congestion.
So, we were surprised when suddenly large banners appeared everywhere announcing that soon roadworks would begin to widen the narrow bit into a divided two lane road each way. The locals said it wouldn’t happen for years. However, within two months the workers started digging up the road….literally digging it up by hand with picks and shovels and wheel barrows and sledgehammers. We would watch in interest each day as we walked past one place in the morning to see workers digging a hole, and it was filled in by the end of the day. The next day we would walk past and see the same workmen digging out the same hole (which they filled in the day before) only to fill it in again. Later they dug it up and laid plastic pipes, which we think contained electricity wires and whatever else. The tangled mess we saw on the poles remained and we came to understand that these are cable television and telephone wires from different telephone companies and whatever else.
The workers work hard, all by hand, all day in the hot sun and humidity. In fact our friends who recently went home felt so sorry for them in the week before they left that they started delivering bottles of drink to them. They were a bit upset when the supervisors took the drink for themselves when they were not the ones doing all the hard work. So they delivered more.
As would be expected only half the road is being done first, allowing a single lane of traffic to go on the other side (separated by red plastic mesh). We are not actually sure where the other half of the traffic goes. The usual collection of vehicles go along including a motorbike and tray with a person lying or sitting in it, or a dog, or the mother in law. Taxis and busses stop whenever they feel like it. One time a worker decided to have a conversation with one car, backing up all the traffic, causing the ones behind to drive up on to the side of the road to get past.
After about a month we saw the first lot of heavy machinery come in. They started to clear the rubble and plan to grade the road. One digger, one grader, and more recently one steam roller. Occasionally a water truck appears to continually dampen down the dust and the dirt. Some tip trucks arrive to take away the dirt as well. So whilst one very skilled driver works in close proximity to cars (no minimum space between workers and traffic or speed limits occurs here) there are still 20 or 30 workers digging by hand and collecting rocks that the grader spits out and marking the sides of the road with chalk dust thrown by hand out of a plastic shopping bag.. They put the rocks in a plastic bag they have in one hand, whilst holding a plastic bag of chalk dust in the other hand.
We have watched with serious concern as the front of our favourite Italian restaurant is being dug away for the road works. We wonder if it will still be there by the time they finish. Also a cause of trepidation is the continual rumbling we feel in the office from the steam roller and grader. It feels just like the start of an earthquake (which ismore than a remote possibility here). So occasionally we pause to see if the rumbling gets worse, but we are soon distracted by the continual beeping as the vehicles reverse and the screaming and shouting and waving from the workers on the ground to make them stop. It has afforded us some entertainment during the day from our second storey window that overlooks the road.
Back to the telephone poles. We have noticed that despite repeated grading of the road over the last couple of weeks, the poles that were on the edge of the narrower road have remained. The grader grades around them, the workers dig around them, the road is ready to be laid. New poles appeared almost overnight a few weeks ago, but it has taken awhile for the other workers responsible for moving the wires to start moving the wires to the new poles. It is a high tech process. The worker carries a long ladder and either leans it up against the pole, or just the wires themselves. Sometimes another stands at the bottom of the ladder. Sometimes they use a belt to attach them to the pole, although yesterday we saw a worker at the top of the ladder leaning against the wires, not the pole, with his belt attached to the ladder. If it went down so would he. Thereis obviously no bush fire risk here in Lima as the wires are threaded through eucalyptus trees lining the edge of the road (some wires are even tied around the tree, saving the need for another pole).
All in all they work hard in hot conditions, with lots of manual labour and few machines to help. There have been no accidents from what we have seen despite the occupational health and safety concerns we have. We wonder how many times you dig the same hole, fill it in and cover with concrete, then smash the concrete and dig it out again.
We have some photos that we actually took with our own phone (not from a website) in recent weeks. We acknowledge a comment to our last blog from Brian (a wonderful photographer) in which he correctly stated that he could get take better photos than those on the internet. However, the wording was that WE could get better photos from the internet. Hopefully these photos give an idea of what we have been witnessing. Maybe it will be finished before we leave …. or not!