Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meet Enrique

Meet Enrique, the landscaper/garbageman at La Ventana Campground in La Ventana, Baja, Mexico.

Enrique arrives every day around 8:30am. He drives the community's white F150 pickup truck slowly, stopping and turning off the engine at each trash can. He throws bags of trash in the back of his truck. If there is unconsolidated trash, he dumps out the loose items -- cigarette butts, orange peels, wrappers, etc -- and then picks them up with a rake and homemade dustbin.

If a family has left its campsite, Enrique fastidiously cleans up the area, raking up leaves, sticks, and stray rocks. All materials get dumped into the back of the truck.

Not all trash is equal: Enrique places aluminum cans towards the front of the truckbed (aluminum is currently worth 6 pesos per kilo; 8 pesos per kilo if he drives into La Paz).

Around 12:30pm, Enrique drives his load up to the dump. He backs the truck into the center of the trash pile. The cows make room for him. He slings all of the bags out of the truck. Someone has thrown out an old kite. After he has pulled out most of the bags, he tugs on his white tarp tarp and dumps the contents on top of the heap. Enrique has a pair of gloves, but only uses them when he is working with prickly plants.

Flies buzz. Cows munch. Carcasses rot. Plastic melts. One cow has a bag of trash stuck on his horn. It looks like an earring.

After sweeping out the back of his truck and replacing the tarp, Enrique heads home. He is one of the older members of the hijo, the 118 members of the community that are in charge of this land.

Enrique has been doing this job for about a year. Before this, he was a fisherman. He says that in the winter (October-April), the campground is mostly filled with gringos who put their garbage in bags. In the summer (May-September), the campground mostly has Mexican campers. The Mexican clients party hard and throw their garbage everywhere.

Enrique gets paid out of the campground fees, which are US $8 per night, per campsite.

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