Posted by: puebloman | September 9, 2013

How we build roads

Finished roadway with shallow steps featuring ladrillos and marble pebbles

Detail of finished roadway with shallow steps featuring ladrillos and marble pebbles

When you first come to live in a village like Cútar it’s easy  to sentimentalise the “olden days”. To imagine it to have been fairy tale – like Glocamorragh but there all the time – the pristine white buildings, their walls cascading geraniums, the prettily cobbled roadways, its chocolate box “vernacular” architecture.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Apart from blips of prosperity, these are impoverished villages with a long miserable history behind them.  They consisted of mud huts, lining stinking narrow donkey width streets. Cobbled streets yes, sporadic stoney lumps stuck together with mud hard as rough concrete until churned to sludge by the brief belts of pelting rain. The villages of course were white. The Moors, who ruled the region for seven hundred years had strict sanitation laws and the villages were obliged to lime wash their buildings once per year against disease. With the Christian reconquest in the sixteenth century, dirt once more became the order of the day.

There seems to have been a huge grant of concrete during Franco’s last days, in the 1970’s. Many villages including Cútar and Almáchar now have all their roads made of rough concrete At the time must have felt like a technological breakthrough – clean roads, effective “run off” for rainwater and the ability to run a car instead of just a donkey round the villages. Cars would have been a village fat cat asset in those days but “motos” too would have had a less hazardous ride than before.

These days concrete, like Franco, is very passé. The road surface plays hell with your “Campers”, and Moroccan shoes are out. Half a day and the soles are ripped clean off. The economic strategy of the Town Halls  – especially in Cútar, tends towards tourism and this requires exactly those geranium strewn cobbles that never were. No, not even under the Moors who we all know were benign, beautiful and altogether perfect.

So here is our main street in Cutar. The mayor has done about twenty metres every time there was a bit of money and now it is finished. I love it, and well done the mayor, who has managed a little change for good each year  that makes us all feel better, until, poco a poco (little by little) we have a brand new main street. Like English folk music, it harks back to a halcyon time that never existed. Nevertheless it uses traditional materials, flat bricks and marble cobbles plus village craftsmanship to create something impressive and very worthwhile.

Here’s how it’s done:

First strip out the old concrete and lay out the ladrillos (thin bricks). Get a team to fix the plumbing/drainage. Turn off the village water arbitrarily and with no notice

First strip out the old concrete and lay out the ladrillos (thin bricks). Get a team to fix the plumbing/drainage. Turn off the village water arbitrarily and with no notice

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Now use the ladrillos to build borders and beds. The square steel poles are to make sure at every stage that the road is level. Continue to turn the water on and off at your convenience. Ignore the complaints of old ladies

Here is the gaffer checking the levels after the central concrete slab has been put in place. Actually that slab had to be turned over because the elderly ladies went ar*e over t*t on the marble every time it rained. So the rough surface was put uppermost

Here is the gaffer checking the levels after the central concrete slab has been put in place. Actually that slab had to be turned over because the elderly ladies went ar*e over t*t on the marble every time it rained. So the rough surface was put uppermost

Decorative cobbles are used to fill the beds. Simple and complex patterns are combined to give the street that fashionable "Moorish" feel

Decorative cobbles are used to fill the beds. Simple and complex patterns are combined to give the street that fashionable “Moorish” feel

Simple moorish "knot" of ladrillos and cobbles

Simple moorish “knot” of ladrillos and cobbles

written from:  http://vivasiesta.com


Responses

  1. Yes, it ‘s not the way it was, but it’s a lot more beautiful than cracked concrete. It also gives craftsmen work in these troubled times, which is hugely important. They’ve done it in many towns and villages in Germany too. Tourism is vital to the Spanish economy, but it has the added benefit of improving the environment for the people who live there all year round. Investment like this is essential. Good for your mayor and thank you for your litte photo-essay here. It’s good to see something so positive happening 🙂

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    • Its a beautiful road and a proper use of public money. It puts cash into the local economy, gives vital work to village craftsmen and it cheers us all up. Fiestas and Ferias have the same effect!

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  2. Well done to the mayor of Cutar! Our mayor in Cómpeta (who used to be the village priest) is a good chap, too – with the good of the village at heart.

    I love the way these roads (or paths in some cases) are made and it’s a traditional craft I would like to see continued.

    Great photos, John 🙂

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    • Hello Marianne -thanks for your fantastic support – I wish I could blog and make links like you do! Although the Mayor’s of the partida popular persuasion – not a popular party at the moment – the villagers say they vote for the man not the party so we’ll see! I’ll put up some more photos as soon as word press fixes whatever’s broke on their site.

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  3. I live in Cutar and love the new part of the road. Unfortunately, it took over a month to do, with many days of no work at all, and, as you have already said, we were without water with no notice n several occasions. Good to see they used locals for the labour.

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