Merida Garbage

We live in centro, where the city collects trash daily. We put it out on the sidewalk in tied bags, and by mornings it’s gone. Sometimes the truck comes in the evening, but more often in the madrugada, the wee hours of the morning. The truck makes a lot of noise and the men are usually shouting and joking.

The trucks are, of course. filthy, as befits garbage trucks, and belch exhaust. They also stink to high heavens. Jim calls them “aroma trucks.” The men who operate the trucks are jovial and before Xmas, we watch for them so we can give them a tip.

The way garbage is handled here is a Mystery of Mexico to me. First of all, every once in a great while, a diligent young person with a book of receipts comes around to collect for the service. It is about $1.50 (US) per month, which we are happy to pay. It’s hard to understand how they provide this service for so little and collect the money so sporadically.

But my prevailing question is – where does all this stuff go? People say, “oh, there’s a landfill.” A landfill where? In the limestone shelf of the Yucatan Peninsula? What would they be filling? Cenotes? Or, “there’s a dump up toward Progreso.” Really? Where? How huge can it possibly be? If they are burning trash there, as people say, why isn’t the whole sky black and smelly?

Here’s another one. “Everything is recycled.” Do tell. Does that mean there are hundreds of people working round the clock somewhere to separate the trash? We aren’t asked to put paper or glass out separately, so this would mean that virtually everything would have to be gone through by hand. A disgusting thought. And the trash disposal department of the city must be the largest employer around.

Some of the businesses generate huge amounts of trash. A business office across the street puts out many bags a day, and the t-shirt manufacturer who moved out of the neighborhood recently, had a mountain of garbage every day. The system, whatever it is, is highly efficient.

Our streets are clean. And it’s a wonderful luxury to have trash picked up every single day for a buck and a half a month. I would like to know what happens to it. Anyone have any idea?

UPDATE: I located the city dump, on the outskirts of town, near the periferico. Just next to it is a town called Susula. Most of Susula’s residents go to the dump daily to pick through the refuse, separate plastics for recycling, and keeping things they think they can sell.

There is a mountain, presumably of trash, next to the current dump. It’s covered with vegetation. I understand there is a second mountain on the way.

There is security at the dump and I haven’t been able to get in to actually see it, but I’m working on it. Even the garbage mountain I can see represents nowhere near the amount of trash generated by Merida.

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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6 Responses to Merida Garbage

  1. lv says:

    Do you think it has something to do with the fact that you live near the headquarters of the political party that won the Municipal elections?

  2. Marianne says:

    We have pick-up six nights a week and have never paid a peso in almost 3 years. Recycle? – I can’t watch. Workers wearing flip-flops rip open the bags with their bare hands, looking for things to recycle. For where it goes next, contact someone at Merida Verde. They may have researched this.

  3. Rainie says:

    I want to know where the poop goes. When I first moved to Merida I was under the false impression that our feces traveled to a septic tank. It could be that the archetects are responsible for the septic tank lie as I’m sure they rightfully worry about the newcomers ability to handle the truth. Afterall, if we can’t handle the truth about how the toilet paper is resolvd, then how could we possibly handle the truth about the tons of poop going to nowhere.
    Rainie of Merida

  4. Barbara Bode says:

    I have some illustrations but I don’t know how to insert them here so I’ll send you the pix + comments by email.

  5. Alinde says:

    I just happened upon a diagram of Where the Mérida Trash goes, which was in the March 3, 2009 edition of the Diario de Yucatan. So far, though, I’ve been unable to open an issue this old on the Web site. I’ll give you my copy one of these days. All the questions aren’t answered, but much is. And incidentally, I recently saw a TV depiction of how trash is separated by a major USA management company–and they do people to do much of the sorting.

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