Saturday 25 April 2009


The main street in Faja Grande is cobbled and late last year they pulled the cobbles up. At first I was fearful that this was going to be another example of "modernisation" by the Camara Municipal and the street was going to be replaced with asphalt. But, no, the cobbles were duly replaced. They weren't laying new drains or water pipes or anything - apparently, the cobbles get relaid at 50 year intervals.

The road was finished last November but at the same time as taking up the cobbles they also drilled up the pavements, mostly concrete. We have been waiting ever since to see how they were going to be replaced and, in the meantime, the village has been looking a bit of a state.

It was the usual story - waiting for the pavement cobbles to arrive on the island - pode ser no proximo barco - "maybe on the next ship" as is said so often on this island.

Anyway, they're now here and work has started.

Work proceeds by some sort of grey sand stuff - I imagine it has some proprietory qualities - being spread and then two lads tap the cobbles into this surface one by one with hammers. So the village resounds to the sound of plink plink - just as it did when they were re-laying the road last year except the road cobbles were bigger so it was plunk plunk.

Here is a picture of a pavement cobble which I picked up as a souvenir:-

There's a container full of these down in the car park. Which makes me think about two things - 1. what sort of machine chops rock into nice small chunks like that (don't know); and 2. how do you transport large quantities of them around (now I do know - in a container like everything else).

This is one of the lads tapping the pavement cobbles into place:-

He crouches tapping away from about 8 in the morning to past 7 at night with only about an hour break at lunch. Being in that position for longer than 3 or 4 minutes wrecks my knees and back!

The final stage of the process is that cement powder is thrown over the cobbles by the spadeful and then the whole is hosed with water so that the cement between the cobbles will set and the excess is washed away. 24 hours later, you have a fully set pavement!

The progress is such that they started work at the top of the village on Monday on the opposite side of the road from us and worked their way down to the village square on that side. We were a bit fearful they'd go the whole way down to the sea on the other side before working their way back up our side meaning we'd be about the last in the whole place to get our pavement done - not the greatest hardship except it's a bit of a hole outside our front door (a health and safety nightmare which wouldn't be allowed further north in Europe). Anyway, I'm pleased to say they've stopped at the village square and are now working their way up our side. So they should be plink-plinking outside us by about Monday or Tuesday, I reckon.

I'll keep you posted and also let you know about the other great excitement which overtook Faja Grande recently - street names and house numbers. We are being dragged kicking and screaming into 19th century!

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