19 January 2016

Will I Get In Trouble For That?

Let’s talk trash. Once upon a time I took for granted the fact that little (or burly) elves arrived at our curb twice-weekly to remove trash. Then arrived this pesky save-the-planet era when something called recycling began. No longer could trash be hauled to the curb in a willy-nilly fashion. 

But think of recycling this way: how many jobs would be lost if someone wasn’t required to cull through my garbage at a landfill located in some unknown part of my world? Are you getting the impression that I rebelled?
But wait . . . those elves were not Superman, endowed with x-ray vision. They and could not possibly see through our opaque plastic trash bags to determine contents. 

Then I moved to Africa . . . a land where little black plastic shopping bags are everywhere . . . sachets, they were called. Sure, you could place that tiny packet of soap in a purse; but in the third poorest country in the world, a woman with a sachet was a woman who could afford to spend money. It was the Burkina Faso version of carrying a Barneys bag. Sadly, these little sachets found their way to tree tops, blown there by wind. They were under foot on every inch of the earth, en masse in gutters in cities. It was horrifying. 


Think of any movie you’ve ever seen set in 20th or 21st century Africa. Sanitized. I guarantee it. You never see all that trash in films. Almost all of West Africa is covered with these little bags. Much of South Africa, too; and I’ve even seen them in parts of other Southern Africa countries. Well if this explosion of plastics won’t make one jump on the recycle band-wagon, nothing will. So count me in.

I returned to Texas in 2012 to discover that our city was providing recycle bins. Glass, paper & cardboard (but not glossy paper), metals. Again, I dug in my heels and found myself occasionally tossing an empty glass jar of pickles in with ordinary trash. Come on . . . it’s a glass jar, not a dirty diaper. 

Here at Mil Colinas we have no trash pick-up. No elves. Recycling is an absolute must. Tins and plastics can intermarry in the same bag, but glass must be separated. And believe me, we produce dozens of glass bottles. Yes, it’s a world of segregation here on the mountain. Rusty scolds, or at least give me the look, should he find a piece of paper in with the tins. 

The paper. We burn our paper. Imagine everything in your home that must leave as garbage and is made of paper. Well, that trash is burnable. I enjoy burning trash, which is fortunate because I rarely see Rusty rushing down the hill with paper to burn. It's a little escape . . . late afternoon down on level IV, cocktail, cigarette, and a little trash fire in the waning light . . . always followed by a plunge into the pool.  

We have guests arriving tomorrow. And the perfect man . . . that non-paper-burner man is preparing. Preparing without being asked. He is carving, with a jig-saw, Costa Rican animals to be painted by our guests, should they choose. Frogs, chameleons, all manner of birds, etc.. He’ll install the new sun shades for the pool, assuming that they arrive by UPS as anticipated. Think of all that cardboard shipping material to be burned and plastic wrapping for recycling. Think of the wood shavings to be recycled. I'm wringing my hands with excitement, said no woman ever.

We awoke to such strong winds this morning that plants had blown out of their containers. No joke. Recycling cans blew over, spilling their recyclables everywhere. Guests at Mil Colinas are always fun, especially non-RPCV gringa gals (this is to you, Sally) who might not embrace the dust, the sustained 40-mile-per-hour winds, insects, lizards, and other wildlife that come with the dry season. Still, our Jennifer seems spunky enough to tackle anything . . . even the dreaded recycling. As for the snakes, scorpions, lizards, and bats . . . lo que hay, Jen!