Although we have been waiting for several years, we finally had our roads graded by the Ministry (MOPT) and the local roadways are back to normal. The roads were in horrid condition for walking or riding a bicycle, especially at night. Loose rocks, potholes, mud and waterfilled pits of unknown depths were the norm on many streets, some worse than others.
Of course it was after the rains ceased that MOPT decided to come in and grade the roads. They did a great job and did their best to try to clear ditches and culverts as well. Some of the dirt used to fillm in the potholes and gulleys came from clogged ditches along the side of the roadways. This dirt was then spread out with a grader. Unfortunately, in completing this endevour prior to the Papagayo season, and after the rains had ceased, we now find the whole community engulfed in a dust cloud that never ends.
The winds pick up the loose dirt, which is really a fine powder, and this powder finds its way into every household through even the finest screened windows. For those without AC it has become unbearable having to keep windows open for air circulation, while facing a never ending battle against the intruding dust.
The dust is so fine it is causing breathing problems for many locals, especially those who walk to work or to the store. It seems almost every second person has a cough or sinus condition during the past few weeks since the road work was completed.
Adding to the problem are the few lunatic drivers who find it mandatory to drive as fast as possible on local roads, whether they be paved or not. One only needs to glance out the rearview mirror to see the dust cloud in their wake. A dust cloud that makes its way into every home along the road, covers every plant in the garden and seems to seek out that newly washed car, golf cart or bike sitting in neighborhood driveways. If you wash it then you can be guaranteed you will see an increase in traffic in front of your home in the immediate hours that follow.
ATV tours are especially good at stirring up the dust, no matter how fast they drive, simply due to the number of wide uncovered tires that travel the road in a line snaking their way to the back of Surfside on their way to the Congo Trail. It's beyond me as to why this is an enjoyable activity unless you are in the front of the line, but hey, it's a business and a part of life in a tourist town.
Several homeowners have taken it upon themselves to install makeshift speed bumps on public roads in an attempt to get drivers to slow down, both as a deterrent to unnecessary speed and to reduce the dust clouds. People who are walking to the beach or to the store are now more often than not wearing dust masks or handkerchiefs covering their faces so they can breathe. Molasses is a prevalent smell as more homeowners try to mitigate the dust and preserve the much needed water supplies. While an effective solution once it dries, its a horror for bicycles and sandals when freshly sprayed. Fortunately it dries quickly and is only applied once or twice a season.
Since the roadways are under the public domain there is little we can do to reduce traffic in our communities, but it would be nice to see local residents show some concern for their neighbors by slowing down, especially on the dirt roads. There is no need to drive at 50 km just to get to the 911 speedway. Better yet, get out and walk or bike to the store, at least once a week so you can experience what many others have to do several times a day. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes and maybe you will appreciate how bad the dust problem is for them and for us all.