Cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta lend to the charm of the historic city center. Although some would call them dangerous due in part to their uneven surface and ability to form potholes, the original use of cobblestones during the early days was quite practical.
Paving with cobblestones allowed a road to be heavily used all year long. It prevented the build-up of ruts often found in dirt roads. It had the additional advantage of not getting muddy in wet weather or dusty in dry weather. Shod horses or mules were also able to get better traction on stone cobbles. The natural materials or “cobbles,” a geological term, originally referred to any small stone having dimensions between 2.5 and 10 inches (6.4 and 25.4 cm) and rounded by the flow of water; essentially, a large pebble. Although the noise of riding over cobbles may seem annoying, it was actually considered good as it warned pedestrians of oncoming traffic….horse, mule or automobile!
Cobblestones are typically either set in sand or similar material, or are bound together with cement or asphalt. Cobblestones set in sand have the environmental advantage of being permeable paving and of moving rather than cracking with movements in the ground.
In Vallarta, the making or remaking of a cobblestone street begins with the leveling of the underlying dirt. Then comes sand. Next parallel lines of larger stones are laid in rows, sometimes with cement holding them in place. Rows are them filled in with the smaller stones. Finally, sand or cement is packed around all the stones and left to settle with gaps filled in as needed. Repair of potholes tends to be a mixture of stones, sand, cement, pulverized terra cotta, or asphalt. In the historic area, the original streets are required to remain in keeping with the original construction, the stones having come from either the Rio Cuale, beach, or nearby quarries.
Today, walking on cobblestones has been considered good exercise depending on the distance, frequency, surface and grade. Author Via Anderson in a recent article in the Vallarta Daily News (November 4, 2014) wrote, “Find and walk on the many cobblestone walks here (in Vallarta). Walking on cobblestones a few times daily with bare feet (preferred) or minimal shoes (to protect from debris) provides stimulation to the foot musculature that in turn adapts by becoming stronger and better able to handle these forces for longer periods of time…. and may be significant in reversing aging.”
A little back round on the origin of the word cobblestone is needed here.
The word ‘cobblestone ‘ derives from the English word ‘cob’, which means a small, round lumpen shape. Stones of a similar shape were taken from streams and rivers and referred to as cobbles. Eventually these stones were called cobble stones. Recorded history has all this happening around the beginning of the 15th century.
Later ‘cobble’ came to mean any rounded stone between 2.5″ and 10″ inches across. But, no real measurements were taken. The laying of the stones was all done by eye and fitted together like a jigsaw.
So lets go back a little further. Apparently the Romans were using this method of road construction as early as 250 B.C., where over 50,000 miles were layed down. More info can be found at steptoesyard.co.uk/history-cobbles.
This weeks photo challenge is The Road Taken
. During our stay in Puerto Vallarta we have had the opportunity to walk many of the cobblestone streets and roads; it has become part of our journey.
Time has shown us that life’s journey can be taken on a smooth or a rocky road. The course travelled depends on ones attitude, take on life, and how well we play with others. Do you approach life with a positive attitude, or do you let it beat you down; blaming others for your lot in life.
We only pass this way once, so why screw it up, hurting yourself and others close to you. Life is not fair or a walk in the park. We will fall on rough ground; we will make mistakes. It is how we deal with it that will make a difference – to yourself and others. I speak personally, I’ve been there.
Making an effort to be positive, though not always attainable is the healthy choice. You will be rewarded, not overnight, not just when you would expect it, but over time your life will be enriched and also the lives of others close to you. According to Dale Carnegie, “attitude is everything”.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff”. If we choose to, and, the choice is ours, the effect can mire,and bog us down. If that path is taken, we carry the pain and bitterness around inside, and that can have a bad effect on those closest to you.
Look around you. Life is to be experienced, not just endured. As we weave our way around the potholes, it is important to keep a grip on what is honest and true. The world is still a beautiful place. Smile at it, laugh at it and embrace it. It will feel your “joie de vivre”, and smile back. Cheers.