It’s a cozy September night in Bamako, rainy season is still going strong and judging by the intensifying breeze coming through my window another storm may be on the way. The sweat soaked nights of dry season are a distant memory and this cool air doesn’t allow me to read for long before I start to doze off. My eyes are getting heavy and just as I drift off a flicker of light catches my eye. Is this soft strobe light a dream? No, the realization and disappointment set in before the stench, this night of sleep is going to be ushered in by the pungent choking bouquet of burning trash outside my window.
There are a number of paths that our trash takes here and all of them happen right before our eyes. It was during this most recent attempt to gas me out of my apartment that I realized I was holding back some intense eye/nostril opening experiences. So sit back and relax as we embark on this photographic trash trail.
The photo on the right was taken about 50 yards down the “road” from my apartment. Here you will notice some potpourri dishes similar to the ones sitting just outside my window. I believe the ones in the background have reached capacity. It truly is amazing what we as humans can adjust to. For example, in the beginning when the deadly aroma of burning trash wafted through my window I wasn’t sure if I should worry more about the blood coming out of my nose or the uncontrolable gag reflex that it was summoning, and now I'm in the final stages with Yankee Candle on a new fragrance. One man's trash is truly another man's chance to capitalize on a lucrative new product.
Possibility Number 2: Private Entrepreneurs
This is one of the four "trash recepticles" immediately below my window. The one these two boys are going through inspired the candle scent 'burnt plastic on a hot night' which has recently caused a rather viscious bidding war. I call these children entrepreneurs because they are just that. The big ticket item is plastic bottles. Small roadside shops, or even ladies with a cooler, will pay kids a pittance for these bottles as they will then wash them out and refill them with some incredibly sugary juices that they will sell for 10-20 cents.
So recycling in Mali was en vogue even before Cameron Diaz started Trippin' (That MTV show in 2005 where she was taking eco-friendly trips with her closest friends. Apparently there were no pilates instructors and they had to pack their own bags... It's truly amazing the strain these stars will put themselves under to help save mother earth!)
The Third Way: Donkey Cart Rubbish Removal
This is actually pretty cool. I'd say the closest thing there is here to a garbage truck that I've seen. I believe that apartment complexes or individual houses will pay these guys a small amount to come collect their trash every now and then. These two aren't actually in the garbage business but the elusive donkey garbage cart has proved too be too rare a phenomenon for me to catch on camera.
Hmmm. First, I'm a little upset because it looks like he didn't read my first post because that urine is marigold at best meaning he could be a good 2 litres short of his needed water intake for the day. And B, public water areas are used for many different reasons such as transport, washing clothes, cleaning pots and bathing so taking a wiz two feet from shore is a big slap in the face to everyone in the area. Not to mention the fish that is caught and served directly at all the local restaurants.