Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Some thoughts on sweeping
Since last week I
pay one of the neighbourhood kids to sweep the street in front of my house every
Saturday morning, because if there’s one thing I absolutely hate it’s sweeping
the street. It’s not so much the sweeping nor is it the public humiliation of
standing in plain view in the dust. I do sweep tons (I’m one of the rare
foreigners in Honduras
without domestic help) and I don’t care what people think of me, so that’s not
it. I just don’t like it and for that
reason never do it, which makes me feel guilty towards the neighbour on the
right who sweeps the sidewalk every, if not twice a day. She also devoutly sprinkles
the street with water so the dust settles down. The neighbours on the left are
way worse than I am, so at least that’s a comfort.
Sweeping is such
a part of daily life here. Every morning around seven, when the kids are off to
school and men off to work, the housewives of Copán swarm out of their houses
armed with brooms and often still in their night attire. And then they sweep.
Of course it’s a social event too, in which the latest news and gossip is being
exchanged. Not long after, the municipal ladies come by and sweep the street
Does that mean
that Copán is the tidiest place on earth?
It’s true that a
lot of the dust on the streets is just sand or whatever dust is made of. And
that the street dogs open trash bags and drag garbage all over. But a lot of it
is trash is deposited by people of every age and gender, shamelessly dropped
wherever it drops, 24 hours a day. So my reasonably logic mind thinks: if mothers
teach their children not to throw garbage on the street (and keep their dogs at
home), there will be much less to sweep up. The women will save up dozens of
hours a year and can dedicate that time to do something else.
But when I
proposed this to a few women, they looked at me as if I were crazy. So I gave
in and now pay Chepito 20 Lempiras ( more than a dollar, but less than a euro)
to sweep “my” part of the street. Not every day, but still.
The neighbour on
the right should be happy. Or happier.