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Friday, June 18, 2010

Town Meeting-Trash Talk, Part 2

 I previously promised/warned you that I would be making a 3 part blog on the subject of trash here in Uruguay. This blog entry is the second part of that series.

The only reason I'm covering the subject at all is because it was brought to my attention. Several newly installed signs were put around my neighborhood (see last post) announcing a change in trash management. Reading them in my limited Spanish made me wonder, ¿qué pasa? Then a number of local emails were sent to me, inviting me to come to a community meeting to discuss the subject.

  In case you were wondering Uruguay has internet, not lightening fast, but decent.  To also remind you, Uruguay youths have their ears glued to cell phones and make full use of facebook as well. I have been slowly adding my new Spanish speaking friends to my friends list on facebook. It's been a new experience for me to try and figure out their chistes (jokes).

Many of the coastal towns now have their own websites. The town of Salinas has one to promote it's history and businesses. Salinas is only 1 1/2 kilometers away from us and we use it as our support system. Post office, police station and medical clinic etc...are all located there.  My local restaurant also has a website to discuss issues involving Marindia. The restaurant emailed me of the up-coming event. I was also tagged on facebook as a tree under a local save the park banner, who knew?  The restaurant has a party/meeting room and so that is where the local community (town Meeting) met.

It seems that the acting members of City Hall (the intendencia) were invited to explain their part in keeping Marindia clean. A local park called "Parque de Los Pajores" (Bird Park) and the trench (Zanjon) is being used as a dumping ground. The trench in particular leads out to the sea and foul (not fowl, hahaha) water is reaching the beach. The debate was about who's responsibility is this mess. It seemed not really known, if this area is public land or private. If public, they owe the public to safety do something about it, but is this land privately owned? By the city? Or a little bit of both? Can you imagine, Wally and I trying to figure out this heated controversy in Spanish? We just nodded and smiled a lot. We heard the words, neighbors and neighborhood and the sentence "we must all work together" a lot!

The restaurant had seats set up, a long table for the Authorities to sit at and a projection screen. We didn't know what to expect as a few protesters quietly came in with gas masks on. Several full protection suits were laid out on the floor before the projection screen.
We saw a short slide show with music showing trash and tractors around the neighborhood encouraging cleanup. The title photo showing bags of trash is what I shot from the slides.

Eventually as our Spanish challenged brains fried from, over input, we focused instead on the interesting way peace was kept. They allowed all who wanted to, to speak their minds but you had to raise your hand, be acknowledged and then you were given a painted staff ( un palo de mano) to hold while you said all that you wanted to say. No one was allowed the floor except, when holding the staff! Even the authorities needed the stick to talk!!! (SEE the Picture of the 3 counsel men?)

 I'm sorry, (lo siento) for all the blurry pictures! I didn't feel totally comfortable, obnoxiously shooting people as they spoke. Wally tends to be embarrassed by my taking photos of people.

So how did the subject turn out? Unfortunately even with the stick, not much was accomplished. The suits on the floor just laid there. Wally and I had thought, that they were going to ask for volunteers to clean the park up, on a set date. We came to the meeting in order to sign up for such a event (no Spanish needed to clean) but no. No volunteers were ask for. Several older gentlemen were disgusted that the meeting seem to be about politics and blame. One protester blamed all of Capitalism for the worlds pollution problems. The authorities said they couldn't handle the world, just Marindia. The protester later came up to us to say he was sorry,  just in case he offended us by his remarks (Do we look like Capitalists?) We said we were not offended!  He never knew how little, we really understood.  We left our phone number on a roster in case they come to some decision. No Attendance was taken. People started to leave. We were some of the last to go. Afterward we went next door to eat some pizza in the restaurant, they were smart to sponsor such an event. So for now, awareness is being raised at least. Meanwhile, we will do our part to help keep trash contained!


Not a rockstar said...

Leí en un post lo siguiente: "(can you believe that I am being read by someone who doesn't know me?)" y me quedé "shockeado", pensando "wow, me siento como si estuviese invadiendo su privacidad". Me parece realmente interesante leer tus experiencias viviendo acá en Uruguay, aparte he visto y leído algunas cosas que ni siquiera yo sabía.
En fin, ¡suerte! espero que no te haya molestado este comentario (y que hayas podido entenderlo)

Denise said...

Está bien,no te inquietas,me gusta leer sus comentarios aunque no conozco usted, y no me siento invadiendo. Leo(y entiendo) mejor que yo,escribo o hablo.(como mostrado por esta repuesta,jajaja) Estoy contento Y me quedé pasmado que,te gusta leer nuestras experiencas, muchas gracias! Lo siento pero,thank you,for letting me practice my little bit of Spanish on you by writing my reply to you,in Spanish. You obviously write better in English,than I'm able to in Spanish. Feel free to help me practice anytime. Ciao