13 October, 2012

Learning To Hate Bulldozers and Dump Trucks

So, how much do I dislike bulldozers and dump trucks? Well, probably about this much (I guess you'll have to visualize a lot. This is after having to listen to them just about every day for well over a year now - all day long, every day. Most days, it starts around 7:00 AM and frequently goes till 5:30 or 6:00 PM. Just shy of twelve hours in a twenty-four hour period.

We always knew that our living in the bush on the outskirts of Corozal would end some day, but we sort of figured that it would happen one plot of land at a time. We certainly never dreamed that everything would happen all at the same time, all around us, all day long, every day.

There are bulldozers and then there's a bulldozer. Most of the dozers have adequate muffling of their incessant droning but one that works the development right next door either has no muffler or the one it wore out a long time ago. Believe me, an unmuffled diesel engine on a dozer is a killer.

Not to say that I totally hate dozers. I still have a fond memory of Ed Sosa, who delivered the fill for our lot and also provided the dozer to level and compact it. Keeping track of trucks delivering the marl fill was a pain. But, then we only had three or four trucks to worry about… and no neighbors who would be getting upset.

One thing I remember was the difference between watching a dozer work and riding one. I had been taking photos of the progress as Ed worked his dozer around. I got the bright idea to hitch a ride on the behemoth and snap a few pictures. Which I did. It was simply amazing. What an incredibly rough and jarring ride. There's no, repeat, no suspension on those things and you feel every bump and pebble in its path. It certainly looks different from the ground level, because once you're aboard, wow! 

Then there's the dump trucks. They go right past our house less than 30-feet away from our back porch. They're either slowing as they pass our house, with brakes squeaking and screaming, loud rattles and bangs, or they're accelerating in the opposite direction, with their diesel engines revving up extremely loud each time they go by. Try watching TV with all that racket. You'd best keep the remote at hand and your thumb on the volume control as you're sure to miss every key bit of dialog or the punchline of each joke. It's uncanny, but they never seem to make noise during commercials - of course.

Of course, there's also other vehicles - the odd buses, delivery trucks, and assorted other conveyances. And before I forget, Fruta Bomba, Ltd. (Fruta bomba, in Spanish means papaya, which is one of the crops they grow here) has opened a couple of new fields somewhere to the west of us, so there is a big increase in agricultural traffic, trucks and tractors, caused by those folks. Fruta Bomba is a part of Brooks Tropicals (http://www.brookstropicals.com).

It's amazing how chemically intensive commercial papaya growing apparently is, judging by the amount of chemicals, sprayers, and applicators, etc., that pass our house almost daily. And I guess I should also include the seasonal traffic of the cane trucks as they come and go with the sugar cane harvest, but by comparison with the dump trucks, Fruta Bomba's trucks and tractors and the cane trucks are all relatively minor irritants.

The fortunate thing about all this is that after roughly 6:00 or 6:30 PM, traffic pretty much goes away for most of the night, with the odd exception every now and then of some very heavy-sounding vehicles that pass by at 'oh-dark-thirty' as you're trying to sleep.

The one saving grace with all the construction happening at the same time is that somewhere down the road, this too shall pass. All the dozers and dump trucks will go away and relative peace and quiet will return.

Oh, before I forget… I didn't mention how our road itself is doing with all this traffic. The dump trucks especially, have been very hard on it. The intersection just to the north of us has become a veritable roller coaster on days that it's dry. On the rainy days, it usually becomes a bottomless quagmire thanks to the heavy weight of the filled dump trucks converting the marl base into a sticky, glutinous muck.

Today's a good example. After attempting to walk the doggies into town this morning, Twyla and I reversed course and walked the girls south toward Mike and Mary's house a mile or so past our place. While there, we took the opportunity to inspect George and Sue's place on the waterfront. They've actually got some steel going up and a great big pile of concrete blocks. There's also a lot nearby that will be starting construction very soon. One of the Mennonite well drilling rigs was still on their place. It looks to be in the final stages of getting a water well punched through.

After walkies was done, I got a call from Twyla regarding one of the folks working at the house that Mae and Craig are building across the street from us. Apparently, he got his vehicle stuck in the goo of the intersection. Of course, dump trucks are still running, so that is going to get chewed up even worse, and the ever-present rain is still with us, threatening at any time to dump a load, making the intersection just that much worse.

At Least Four Vehicles Got Stuck Here Yesterday
Dianna and I decided that, instead of allowing our friends to try and come through all that mess for this afternoon's happy hour (our Friday afternoon informal get-together at our pool) that we would opt on the side of safety and just cancel this afternoon's soiree, much to the consternation of one of our friends who greatly enjoy the time spent in the pool - not our company, mind you, just the pool.

The real concern here is that if the intersection gets bad enough, we're stuck. Everyone who comes this way has virtually only one other way to get to town. And that involves a ferry ride and about a three-hour trip to Orange Walk Town and around to Corozal. There is no other road. Medical and fire transport would be facing the same issues, so it's potentially a bigger deal than just someone getting stuck for a few minutes.

Maybe it's time for government (Corozal Town Council, Ranchito Village Board, and Department of Transport?) to consider installing a culvert and constructing a drainage ditch to the canal. That would be a permanent solution to a problem that only seems to be getting worse as more development occurs and with each rainy season.

Additionally, the trucks create create clouds of dust and great gaping potholes that are amazingly hard-edged. This makes for holes that can literally jerk the steering wheel right out of your hands (and that's at less than 10-15 miles per hour) if you're not expecting it - especially when the potholes are filled with water, so that they become invisible.

There is one good thing about the potholes - they force everyone to slow down. That is wonderful, because when the road is freshly graded, Katy bar the door. The rule seems to be enforced that you must go as fast as your vehicle is capable of going, which often is more noise than speed, due to the dilapidated state of repair of many local vehicles (ours included, although I rarely get over 15-20 MPH on our road). So, potholes can be a good thing.

Someday, all this will be looked back on fondly through the rose-colored specs of remembrance. Till then, it's tempting to think about cheerfully monkey-wrenching (thanks Edward Abbey) each and every dump truck and dozer that comes our way. At least dreaming about it is satisfying.

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