I’ve been trying to understand the use of sidewalks here in my town since I arrived. Generally they are made of paving blocks. Depending where you are in town, they may be plain concrete squares, or quite decorative ones in patterns. Most of the center of town is a pedestrian way with various kinds of blocks, stones and bricks. It is well maintained and there has been an extensive project underway extending this pedestrian way another block. Along the walkway are many benches, flower gardens and of course the shops and restaurants and outdoor cafes. This area is lovely and well used by both residents and tourists.
Away from this pedestrian way most of the streets are tree lined. The roots have heaved many a block over the years, making the footing quite uneven. The older sidewalks along the adjoining and parallel streets to the center also seem to provide many a crevice for growth of all kinds.
When we arrived in May many of the sidewalks away from the center were impassable with weeds dominating the space. But little by little residents came out with hoes, and bent in half attacked the weeds, clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes. A pile of debris would be left by the curb and disappear within the week following with the appearance of a dump truck manned by several town workers with pitchforks. I learned the practice of clearing/cleaning the sidewalk in front of your home is a carryover of a mandated during Communist times .It was an individuals responsibility to keep the sidewalk in front of their residence clear and clean. Even those living in the block housing would work together on Saturdays to tidy the area in front of their building.
As some portions of sidewalks here in town have been cleared others have become blocked with piles of logs, stacked awaiting the maul. Some have been chopped, split and stacked into the many nooks and crannies around the houses, but not all.
The weeds and stacks of wood create barriers for walkers. They however are not the worst interference to forward movement. Sidewalks also act as parking places, so it is not unusual when trying to make it from one end of the block to the other to have to circumvent 3, 4 or 5 cars parked on the sidewalk. Not all of them operational.
Along with the obstacles to circumnavigate are the big and little animal “bombs” one must tiptoe around. Depending in which direction from the center you travel, you may be sharing the sidewalk with cats, dogs, goats or occasionally a cow. There are no paths dedicated to animals.
So…….what you most often see is people walking in the streets, sometimes opting to step onto the sidewalk when they have a clear (but not always clean) shot of making it to the next corner, or when dodging the occassional car.
Just a little something to think about the next time your walking on a sidewalk!!!!