Thursday, February 5, 2009

Taking Out the Trash

Trash. It's just a part of life, but handling trash has become a surprisingly complicated activity for us. I'll try to explain.

First, our family accumulates a fair amount of trash. Here in Honduras, the plumbing is not built to handle the flushing of used toilet paper, so all of our soiled paper has to go out with the trash. With eight people, that can be quite a bit of trash, right there. We also have all the regular household trash, plus trash from the other activites in our house: school, office, ministry center, and storage bodega.

Here in the city of Gracias, trash is officially collected three times each week. In both of our previous houses, we had trash pickup Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In our current house, the truck only seems to come by twice each week, and there isn't much of a regular schedule. In fact, as best we can figure it out, our trash pickup schedule is: Monday or Tuesday (almost always the truck will come on one of these days) and then one other time during the week (we really don't see any pattern to the second visit).

The trash truck travels throughout the city, continually blaring a siren (sort of a modified car alarm). When we hear the alarm, we know to run out to the gate and put out the trash. It would be nice if we could put out the trash in the morning, rather than waiting for the truck, but that hasn't been a good plan. Pretty much invariably, dogs will attack our garbage, rip open the bags, and spread our trash about on the street in front of our house. Remembering, if you will (and I'm thinking you probably are trying to forget this), that our disgusting bathroom trash makes up a good bit of our collection, you can especially see why we prefer not to have to pick our stray trash up from the street! Occasionally we even have people going through our trash, to see if we've thrown out anything good, and they leave a similar mess. So, we've learned to wait for the siren.

A former neighbor of ours purchased a large trash can (the big rolling kind often used in the US), so that she could put her trash out early, and not have dogs make a mess of it. Someone dumped out her trash and stole her can, so she was quickly back to waiting for the siren again.

Our current house is on a divided street, so the trash truck travels our street twice. We hear it coming, and it always comes the other direction (collecting on the far side of the street) first. Very often, upon hearing the siren, my children run out with the trash, and run across the street with it. The trash men always tell the kids to wait, that they will be coming right back to do our side of the street. But often enough, they don't come back, so the kids prefer to catch them when they can.

Usually, we try to make sure that all of the household trash cans have been emptied and the bags of trash carried out by the front gate before the trash truck arrives, but with our unpredictable schedule it often happens that we hear the siren, and our family drops everything to collect trash from all over the house, to run it out to the trash truck. Cries of "Basura, basura!" echoing through our house is the signal for everyone to scramble for the nearest trash can, and run with it toward the street. It's one of those strange things which has become a part of what it means to be a member of the Sowers family. It's a family tradition, I guess.


Sandy said...

We don't have your trash issues, obviously, but we *do* have a trash tradition of our own. The morning of trash pickup, we have to scurry out to collect our trash can after the truck has gone through. The trash collectors empty trash in to the truck and just toss the cans aside, leaving them where ever they may fall. They often end up in the street and if we don't collect them quickly, they are likely to be smashed by cars!

Laurie said...

Good discussion of trash, if that is possible. At least you don't have to burn your trash.

Randall and Rachel Beita said...

Here in our town we often scramble when we here the trash truck as well. We seem to have the same schedual as you either Monday or Tuesday and maybe another day usually Thursday if it happens. Of course we don´t have as much trash as a family of eight though. Tibas our town has the worst trash record in all of Costa Rica and sometimes the go on strike and it may be weeks. The other day our dog go into the trash bag waiting to be taken out. We do have a basket outside built up off the sidewalk but that doen´t help with cats or rats and with all the rain if they don´t get it for a week or more it gets pretty nasty.

Intresting the things traditions you do as a family in another country.

Karen (KayKay) said...

This is the stuff that is so interesting for those of us who live in places with regular trash pick-up to hear about. Of course, we live a little bit out of town so we do have to watch out for dogs, but not much worry of the neighbors going through our trash! ;-)