Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Just north of the city, a river cuts between two mountains.  A dirt path follows that river for over two miles.  I call that path "El Matador".
It is about a 4 mile out and back journey from my house and I haven't been taking it near enough.  Last Saturday, as soon as we gathered strength to get out of bed, we decided to take a hike starting with the Matador path.  I figured this was a perfect opportunity to take a couple pictures of my running path.  As you can see from the first picture, the path opens up to the city like a river opens to a delta but instead of sediment being deposited onto the delta, trash from the city is deposited before farmers go to work on the fields.  There is a serious lack of waste management in the city.  Trash is discarded wherever it is created instead of being thrown in a trash can ten feet away.  In the United States, we have a problem with overcrowded and overfilled landfills, but at least we can get the trash there.  Sometimes it seems like San Fancisco de la Paz IS one giant landfill.  The problem is that there is no infrastructure or incentive to put trash in the appropriate place.  I witness students finish a can of juice, a sucker, or a plate of tacos and drop it right on the ground as soon as they finish.  The sad part is that the trash can is right in front of them.  I started a recycling project because I want the kids to know that not only is there an aesthetic value to appropriate trash removal, there is also money in it.  I told them that I would double any money we make off of recycling and have a big party.  Unfortunately, it hasn't been going as well as I thought it would.  The younger students just don't understand how to recycle or why we are doing it.  I don't want to discourage them when they put trash in the wrong bin because the fact that they are putting trash in a trash can is a miracle in itself.  The burden to separate the trash falls mostly on the janitor and thar is unacceptable.
Someone needs to get a hold of a garbage truck and earn a contract with the city for trash removal.  No one would pay out of pocket to have their trash removed when they could either burn it or throw it on their neighbors lawn for free.  Unfortunately, the city doesn't have any resources because every single business transaction is done in cash with no paper trail--no taxes are paid.  I think this system is great in every aspect except for trash removal and paving the city streets.  Both of these services are non-existent right now.  Someone would have to convince the entire city that trash doesn't belong on the street and that they need to pay to have it removed.  Good luck with that...

A 5 hour hike scaling the rounded peaks of Olancho gets easier and easier each time we do it.  Though I always make a fatal mistake in the beginning.  No matter how hard I try, I always seem to get my feet wet crossing the first or second river.  It may be lack of concentration or maybe I need to warm up a bit, but usually during the first hour you can hear SPLASH as I lose my balance and my boot plunges ankle high into the river.  With soggy shoes I trudge through the brush looking for a beautiful view.  In this country, more often than not, you can find all the beauty you seek.  This past weekend that beauty came with a price.  A dry riverbed wound up a nearby mountain so steep that it could almost be classified as a waterfall.  We decided to scale it to reach the top of a mountain whose summit was obscured by the trees canopied over our head.  The dry river bed ended 3/4ths of the way up the mountain when we were already committed to reaching the top.  The top was guarded by bushes with thorns just as painful as a cactus spine.  Even still, we couldn't turn back.  We reached the top of the mountain and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the other peaks and the river that we had just followed.  Having already hiked for three hours, the clearing at the top of the mountain was a welcome rest.  I almost fell asleep with the breeze hitting my face, but I was too preoccupied by the impending three hour journey back.  Blood dripped down my arms from the cactus like pricks as we descended down the mountain often slipping completely off our feet tumbling ten feet until we found a route or tree to hang on to.  Every time someone took a big spill the mountain air was filled with an array of expletives and the laughter of the few who hadn't fallen.  We reached the riverbed in under an hour and cleaned our wounds off.  As always, the journey back is pretty quiet, as each of us silently wonders why we decided to walk so far in the first place.  When I reached the trash delta I decided that something had to be done about it.  When I got home I found a stick and a nail and made a trash stick.  My new project is to beautify the entrance to El Matador.

Quote of the Day: "Peculiar travel sessions are dancing lessons from God."
                                                                      Kurt Vonnegut (again)
In other words, don't lose your spontaneity.

Student Profile: No words this time, just a picture.  Bunch of trouble makers, but I love 'em.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Father's Day poem and how proud you are of your kids. Too bad about the trash, but it sounds like the whole town litters. It's ingrained in those students. I'm glad you are trying to change it.