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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Forming of a Neighborhood Committee

The dirt road that serves us is again in terrible shape. The heavy rains of the wet season have taken their annual toll. The small rocks (not gravel) we purchased last year and spread on the mudiest areas are practically all washed away from the slopes and the nice filling and leveling that the men who live on this street did last year is ruined. Deep new ruts and holes have appeared. So once again, our neighborhood mover and shaker went to the city hall (the "muni") to talk to the man in charge of street repairs. A meeting for all the people living on this road was called for this afternoon. Despite heavy rains and a chill wind, eight of us managed to make it to the meeting. We all sat around on the lower wooden supports of a small shelter hugging ourselves to keep warm while we decided to get the city engineer out to assess the cost of the use of the leveling machine owned by the city and for the small rocks we would need to put down and then to take up a collection from all the residents. Again the men would meet to do the hard labor of spreading the rocks. The big news, though, was that there will be municipal money available in 2006 for community committees (comites) who apply for it in order to repair and maintain streets and for other community health and safety projects. So we formed ourselves into a comite. First we needed to decide on a name for our street. Because the whole area we all now live on was once part of a company called Hacienda El Cedro, we decided to call the street El Cedro. The cedro tree is a very large hardwood tree used in construction and in making furniture. The Calle El Cedro Comite needed five officers. I volunteered to be the vice president. I have to admit that I accepted that post because it seemed to be the one requiring the least work! Everyone at the meeting signed the membership list and we will go around to all the other residents getting them to sign up as well. The more, the merrier. Then one of the neighbors who works at the muni volunteered to take all the information and the list of names in to get the ball rolling toward making our comite official. Wow! A street name! What's next? Numbering the houses for street addresses? Naw! Too radical. But we were all thinking BIG when the meeting broke up. We have dreams of getting the street recognized by the national geographic institute to put us on the map. We even talked about getting drainage ditches in and keeping them weedfree as an anti-dengue fever measure. A couple of the men want the street measured and made consistent with the law for the minimum size of the street so we'll all know exactly where our property lines are along the road. Linda Vista is modernizing. Soon we may not even need a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the street. Wouldn't that be something?

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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