Cobblestone Crew

97… The cobblestone crew in action…

Road is closed for repairs, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A rock blockade warns, do not continue on, there is road work ahead.

This is a cobblestone section of the old El Camino Real headed west out of Centro Alamos and then turning northwards. The airport runway is to the left and an open field is on the right. It would be interesting to learn when this important Spanish highway to the Californias went from dirt to cobble. Another time, another way exemplifies a grand human tradition of using materials at hand, and experienced intuitiveness, to create function and design.

Road repair crew working on road to San Bernardo by the Alamos, Sonora, Mexico airport.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

They are out early on the road to San Bernardo near the airport terminal.

This is a special crew, a few men selected to continue road building and repair customs that go back centuries. These men spend days, weeks, months and years digging rocks up and placing rocks down. My friend Chacho’s father can be seen with a hat, or wrap, under a hat.

Rock, dirt, hand-tools, hard labor and minds that enjoys solving puzzles.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Rock, dirt, hand-tools, hard labor and minds that enjoys solving puzzles.

This is an ultimate jig saw puzzle that when finished reveals no image or icon. Pieces, rocks, go where they fit, or are compatible, for a variety of reasons known only to those who position the rocks. I didn’t see any overweight men on this work detail, nor back-braces. It is hand labor: pick axes, shovels, wheel barrels, dirt, boulders and heavy lifting. There are percussive rhythms that come with their tools in repetitive action and layered human harmonies from their melodic conversation, singing and laughter.

Working being done on a dirt road along with power poles in the campo, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Two men with hats and a wagon load of dirt at work in the campo.

It is summer and dirt roads are quickly damaged by monsoon flash floods.. The hot sun and humidity is unavoidable but rural road repair goes – on fill the hole with dirt. Is it a special dirt or blend of dirts or…? The road looks like it is a good distance to the southeast of Alamos. I was probably returning from the Cuchujaqui River and asked the driver to stop so I could get out and take this photo.

Digging a trench on Guadalupe Hill to replace a waterline. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A large crew is busy digging a trench on a road going up Guadalupe Hill.

Municipal projects employ workers. Digging a trench by hand employs more workers than bringing on-site a fossil-fueled mechanical trencher. Employment grows with inefficiency and decreases with labor-saving-payroll-cutting devices. Alamos, like the all the world, needs job. Work crews are digging on Calle Maria Felix, a street that climbs a short distance up Guadalupe hill before coming to a stop at the front door of a cliff-backed house. This is as close to being a cul-de-sac as any road in Alamos. Calle Galeana, to the west, is in the background.

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