Small steps towards progress

Remember when China would proudly announce a Great Leap Forward? Whether the programs worked or not, the phrase sounded wonderful. However, great leaps in any direction would be a bit much for a small village like Daglan. We do keep making progress, but our approach is more like Baby Steps Forward. In this posting, I’ll provide two examples.

I begin with the state of the garbage collection points in and around the village, and the state of the footing around the bins. Here’s a bit of what I wrote in “Trash Talk 4: The earth beneath our feet,” posted on July 5, as I described how a couple of men had worked to improve conditions and reduce the risk of stumbling over large, loose rocks:

The workmen had smoothed the ground around the bins, put down a layer of black tar (or similar material), and then covered the area with finely crushed grey rocks. So unloading my garbage and recyclables this morning was a relative breeze — and much safer. (I expect that the other two main collection points will get the same treatment, although I haven’t checked yet.)

Now, what about that final sentence up above? Typically I use les poubelles (the bins) near the village’s rugby pitch. But over the past couple of days, I visited the other collection points, one located next to our community hall, and the other near the village cemetery. And now I can report that the footing at all three places is up to standard, like this:

A nice, smooth surface around the bins.

The other bit of progress has been the repair of a stone wall that stands at a turn in a main road leading into and out of Daglan, and separates the road from a ditch.

I suppose the idea is that drivers are less likely to wind up in the ditch if they’re aware of the wall. Good idea, but several months ago, it pretty much tumbled down. Whether a vehicle hit it, or it collapsed through old age and erosion, I don’t know. In any case, it was marked off with red-and-white tape, and continued to sit there in its tumbled-down state, leaving me to wonder if the village workers would tackle the repair in the near future. Here’s how it looked on Wednesday, as work on the repair finally got started:

Wednesday: The fallen wall.

The work began with just one young man, operating a digging machine, and cleaning up the ditch, as you’ll see in the first photo below. Then on Thursday, he was back at the job, as the following photo shows:

Wednesday work: Can you dig it?

Thursday work: Yet more digging.

Yesterday we had the grand finale — the workforce expanded to two young men, and new stones were being cemented into place.  In this photo, one man is in the digger and the other is balanced on a beam, washing down the new stones after they were cemented into place:

Friday work: Laying down the stones.

Today, the three-day project was complete, the caution signs had been removed, the traffic light  had disappeared, and the wall was done. Here’s the final product:

Saturday, and the wall is as good as new.

It would be good to end this posting on a completely positive note, but I’m afraid I cannot. This morning, when I went to the garbage bins next to the community hall, this was the state of the bin meant to hold glass products like jars and bottles for recycling:


Because the bin was jammed to the top with glass items, people had to place their bottles and jars at its base. Clearly, the company responsible for carting away the contents of the bins needs to adjust its schedule.

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