Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Ugly Side of Eleuthera

This is a post about garbage.  Yep.  Stinky, fly-infested, stray dog eating, poor-people rifling, mounds of refuse. 

If garbage does not interest you, leave now.

But in case you're curious about how most of the world deals with it's garbage, you know, from a dorky anthropomorphic point of view, please carry on.....

For much of the island there is no trash service.  Live on the highway and have a lot of trash?  Sure.  You can hire a trash service.  Live on a side street and only generate a few bags a week?  Nope.

So then what?  You've got to take your garbage to the dump yourself.

Raise your hand if you know where your closest dump is.  OK.  Quite a few.  Now, keep your hand up if you can bring all of your garbage to the same place, unsorted, no matter what:  Batteries, car oil, glass, plastic, cars, furniture, boxes, fish guts, etc.

I find only my hand up.  (And my Eleuthera friends.)

This, above, is the entrance to our dump.  It's only a mile up the street, surrounded by farmland, and at the end of this road is the cool, blue, gorgeous waters of the Bahamian Sea.

Our trash has one heck of a view.

But what do we do?  How do we drop off our trash?  Does someone meet us at the gate and tell us where to drop off our refuse?

Can we sort our own recycling or is there someone there to sort it for us? 

Here is a step-by-step instruction manual for bringing your trash to an Eleutheran dump:

Step 1:  Load your garbage in your vehicle, preferably a pickup or something that doesn't get filled with flies.  Oh, man.  The flies.

Step 2:  Drive to the dump.  Keep driving until you find a pile of crap you think looks the best and come to a stop.

Step 3:  Remove your trash as quickly as possible before your children in the car are eaten alive by flies.  Oh, man.  The flies. 

Step 4:  Chuck your garbage into the pile.  Preferably far into the pile so anything nasty or personal is lost amongst the masses. 

Step 5:  Watch with a weird sense of satisfaction as your junk returns to it's home, The Land of Garbage.

Step 6:  Continue with steps 3-5, as quickly as possible because of the flies.  Oh, man.  The flies.

Step 7:  Get back in your car with all 1,876 flies that entered your vehicle.  Turn around and drive to the highway.  Quickly.  Watch out for strays and poor people rifling through the garbage.  Yes.  We regularly see both.

Step 8:  Get on the highway.  Open all of your windows and flap and swish all of the flies back out.

Step 9:  Go home, or to the store, or wherever, to make more trash.

Like I mentioned before, everything, EVERYTHING is brought to the dump.  There is no recycling.  There is no NOTHING.

Wanna know what they do when the dump gets full?  Are you sure?  Are you really, really sure?  (All my environmentally focused friends may want to close your eyes for this next part.)

They burn it.

Once a week or so, a bulldozer comes in and pushes all of the trash into manageable piles, then the entire thing is set on fire.  Pallets and plastics, cars and cans, diapers and dog poop.  It all burns.  And the resulting flame is so hot that even the metal melts and the glass shatters into nothingness.

Yes.  I know.  That is a LOT of soot and debris and coarse particulates added to the atmosphere.  Al Gore is cringing somewhere with his Nobel Prize.

But you know what?  The above photo, that I borrowed from Google images, is a slightly over-exaggerated view of some of our beaches here on the island.

Trash washes up in TONS onto all beaches.  Small, large, plastic, glass, shoes, lighters, caps, and an inordinate number of glowsticks wash up onto our shores.  The nicer beaches, and those more frequented are cleaner as tourists and expats do a cursory beach clean-up every now and then.  But walk around the corner, just past where the beachcombers go, and the above photo is pretty accurate.

Miles of beautiful pink sand, crashing waves, sea kelp, and hundreds of tons of garbage.

Do we take it all to the dump where it is burned, thus polluting our precious air?

Or leave it on the beach where it is picked up in the ebb and flow of tides to choke, strangle, and kill millions of air and sea life all over the world?

Man.  That's a tough one.


Alright.  That's enough of the heavy.  I will end with this:  If you have a recycling program, please use it.  We find 10 to 1 plastic bottles and caps.  Also, if you take a cruise, please keep a close eye on your shoes.  For real.  We find dozens of shoes on our favorite beaches each day.  Weird.

Reuse, if you can.  We keep all cardboard, most plastic bottles, ALL plastic bags, and many aluminum cans, and re-purpose them though eventually they too end up at the dump and the inferno.

Use refillable water bottles, rechargeable batteries, hand-me-downs, etc.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Then come for a visit and we'll take you on a dump tour.  It's something.  

1 comment:

  1. I have to tell you that I read "The Desert Chronicles"... the whole thing... beginning to end... every post... Oh, I was sick and had to stay home from work a couple of days during the end of the week, and... it was kind of like a good novel that I just couldn't put down... about this family... 3 kids filled with life who you watch grow up... a mom (the author) with a wicked snarky sense of humor... a dad who loves them, plays with them, and by the way serves us and our country (thank him for that)... they take advantage of everything there might be to do in the Texas desert... they dream of moving to a tropical island... then... spoiler alert... their dream comes true!
    Anyway... I know that blog ran its course and is "closed" now, but I wanted to thank you for a good weekend read.
    Love your style.