When we moved in I asked, what do we do with our trash? Our landlady said, just give it to Danny (our gardener) or your guard, they’ll take care of it. Well, I’m perfectly capable of taking the trash out myself, as long as it wasn’t dangerous to do so. The first two weeks (while we were unpacking) I handed off the trash to Bernard (our guard here).
When I’d go out for my morning run I’d occasionally see remnants of what I knew was our trash — a large water bottle used by the Phiris up front to transport their water, coke cans used by children as play toys, an old extra large imported olive oil bottle laying by the side of the road.
By our third week here I was ready to dispose of our trash myself, so one day I followed Bernard. I tried to be stealthy because I wanted to see if trash was treated in some special Zambia-like way. I had noticed that when I threw some boxes and/or large plastic containers away (like ice cream containers) they often ended up at the guard’s table and he took them home. So, I wanted to see if at some point along the route our garbage was sifted through and recycled. (I actually kind of hoped it was — I could find no place in town to recycle at this time and it really bothered me to throw away soda cans, as in Michigan they had a 10 cent deposit on them so they were valuable to me.)
Up to this point, this was the last I would see of our trash — swinging in someone’s hand as they walked out the remote-control gate.
This time, I tip-toed behind Bernard as he walked down our driveway with the trash, but he suspected someone was following him (after all, he is a security guard). I ducked behind an evergreen tree.
Then he turned a sharp left towards Yvonne’s home. Hmmmm….I wondered, is her house a clearing station where they sort the trash into recyclables? (I was holding on to that recycling fantasy.)
But no, Bernard suddenly veered to the right of her house and walked across a field.
What’s this? Bernard picked up some other trash along the way. I knew he was a good guy because he plays with the dogs and they like to sit next to him when they’re outside, and dogs as you know are good judges of character.
Suddenly a big hole opened up in front of Bernard and in one motion he dropped the bag and turned to come back to the house.
Uh-oh, my cover was blown but Bernard gave me permission to use these photos anyways
So, here is where our trash goes — a huge 10 ft x 10 ft by 8 ft deep hole in the ground. Bernard told me that when the trash gets about a foot from the top they set the pit on fire and the things that don’t burn just settle at the bottom. Eventually, the pit will fill up, they’ll close it, and dig another pit. But, that will take years he said.
So, nothing earth-shattering here, probably the exact same system they use on farms in the states. Some things are the same all over the world.
p.s. I’ve now found a place where they recycle soda cans — at the American commissary. Also, now that we have chickens I have a place for all of our table scraps. Still working on the plastic bottles and paper.