September 27, 2007

Potholes in the streets and sidewalks

road washed away, HondurasPhoto: La Prensa, Honduras

It is very difficult to stroll around the streets of La Ceiba sightseeing. The problem is that there are so many holes and mismatched levels of concrete in the sidewalks that you risk breaking your neck or at least your ankle if you aren't looking down at the ground the whole time.

sidewalk, La CiebaApparently in better days some store owners tried to beautify the areas in front of their stores by putting tiles down. Now those tiles are all broken and missing pieces and it's often a couple of inches higher than the surrounding sidewalks − so easy to trip over.

Layers of concrete made at different times in sidewalks have shifted resulting in toe-stubbing havens for those not keeping their eyes glued to the ground. Some of the curbs on corners where pedestrians cross are a full 18" to 24" (.46-.61 m.) above the street. Don't ask me why or how this happened. Poor street planning on someone's part, I guess.

open sewer, La CeibaSewer clean-out boxes in the sidewalks often are missing covers, resulting in a 2' deep hole (.61 m.) that small children could fall into if they aren't paying attention, not to mention the sometimes horrendous odors emitted from them. Unlike in the U.S., store owners feel no obligation to maintain a safe area in front of their stores.

sidewalk blocked, La Ceiba, HondurasSidewalks are often blocked for months or years with construction materials, sometimes even long after the construction is finished as the owners or contractors don't make arrangements to have the debris picked up. Sometimes the city makes an issue of this but most often the piles of debris are just left and eventually weeds cover the piles which are regularly trimmed as if it is a part of the landscaping.

La Ceiba, HondurasBecause of the narrowness of some of the sidewalks and the danger of walking on them, many people have developed the custom of walking in the street, even when the sidewalk is in good shape.

The streets are even worse. Because of the heavy rains and flooding, when a pot hole develops in the street it can grow to enormous proportions, 2 or 3 feet deep (.61-1.0 m.) is not unusual. Sometimes the entire street is washed away. Some enterprising people, men and women, will fill a hole in the highway or other busy road with dirt and stand there with a shovel all day accepting donations from the drivers passing by.

road washed away, HondurasSome of these potholes are so big that people put tree branches inside them to warn drivers. Other times they put big rocks around them or a big pile of dirt in front of them which can be really dangerous when you are driving on a dark highway at night. (Photo: La Prensa)

open sewer, HondurasFor some reason, people steal the metal or concrete covers of the street sewers leaving giant holes just waiting for a car tire to fall into. The covers, as heavy as they are, also wash away from the force of the flood waters surging out of the sewers into the streets.

sewer geyser, HondurasThis is when it is really dangerous because everything you need to see is under water. Unless the sewer geyser is visible, you won't know about the hole until it's too late. (Photo: La Prensa)

At one time, it was said that Honduras had the best highways in Central America. It seems that those days are long past. (Photo below: La Prensa)

road washed away, Honduras
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