Right behind our house, a team of workers are making, as my friend Joel would have it, another medieval road! So far that ciprés is preserving its place within the new urban layout.
Unlike the Muni's road resurfacing project at the front of our home, this one a private job, paid for by the investors in the new residential zone taking shape in what, until just a couple of weeks ago, was a small finca specialising in the production of oranges and chuchos callejeros.
There's a better mix of volcanic stones being used here, V assures me, with far fewer of the bofos which were the primary raw material of our own empedrado. (I doubt whether these ones will largely disappear under a thin coating of concrete either.)
Periodically a smart new Range Rover turns up and offloads a group of what Felipe is wont to call fufurufos, who then proceed to stride around importantly. There's clearly a significant amount of money behind this development.
It has been interesting for me to observe the various patterns of work which prevail across the various projects now in motion. The main Muni team, paid on a project basis, have moved pretty fast and have generally worked very hard, starting at 7am each morning and often only finishing at dusk. They are far less prone to the kind of haraganeando that characterises the comparatively sluggish progress of the smaller, day-rate team tasked with completing the pavements alongside the cobbles. Both groups have occasionally suffered from shortages of material which have slowed up a project otherwise been undertaken with a mood of urgency.
It seems I will miss the grand inauguration of Panorama's new streets which Antigua's mayor Dr Vivar has planned as the culmination of the process he instigated back in 2007, when he first started knocking on doors round here promising a nice new cobbled road in return for votes. The street parallel to ours was done first and has been finished for almost a month. Yet it is as yet blocked off to traffic, and will remain so until the Mayor has had his chance to wallow in the gratitude of Panoramtecos.
There are rumours that the smaller plots in the new lotificación will be going for around $45,000, roughly equivalent to what the terrenos in Bosques de Antigua cost just over a decade ago. V is intrigued to know what it is going to be called ('Naranjales de Antigua'??), but my main curiosity surrounds the issue of whether it will be an open area like Jardines or a closed, gated community like Bosques. Remax Colonial would appear to be the construction firm in overall charge, which also leads me to wonder whether any pre-built homes will be marketed here or whether this will be a lots only affair.
I'm not sure what to make of the efficiency of the massive team of construction workers now deployed there. The heavy machinery was impressive...for a while at least. But during the last few days they appeared to be indulging in temporising tactics such as flattening and then re-ploughing up the recently-laid white sand surface, indicating perhaps that they had somewhat over-estimated the time needed to get things ready for the albañiles scheduled to start yesterday.
The switch from mechanised to manual labour saw a return to more familiar Guatemalan working practices. A lorry offloaded a stack of obviously heavy concrete blocks (the basis of the new kerb) which were then carried individually up the other end of the track by a small sub-group entrusted with this back-breaking task. With a wheelbarrow (which they do have because I've seen them using a couple today - look at the picture!) several blocks might have been transported at once and at greater speed...
Meanwhile Doña T, who had been providing free refreshments to Dr Vivar's cohorts has since enterprisingly lauched a small tortilla cafe, thus setting herself up to recuperate some of her earlier, socially-spirited investment from the pockets of the private army of labourers likely to be floating around these parts for many weeks to come.
The cobbles pictured above will be laid to around the halfway mark of the road. Such is the bend in it that anyone driving past on the main highway will probably not notice that the rest will, for the time being at least, remain a bumpy, rough-earth track. This is after all an exercise in cosmetics, designed to provide an attractive colonial driveway outside the main entrance of 'Naranjales' or whatever it is to be called.