Photos tell this story best

August 09, 2012

Before we ate lunch, we drove to the cemetery.  Why the cemetery? Because from the cemetery we could walk to an overlook and see the garbage dump from above– it was inside a crater-esque area.  For our bus to enter the cemetery, Juan Carlos had to pay as we drove through a gate.  We navigated to a spot far back, and he parked the bus.  All of us hustled out and followed Andres and Juan Carlos, police officer in front and police officer behind.  I meandered.  It was easier to take pictures. that way, but one of the officers, Carlos, then stayed back so that I wasn’t alone.

There was beauty there and history as well. I noticed, as I looked up, that there were hundreds of birds in the sky.  I felt like someone in The Birds: totally creepy.

We could smell burning and there was trash littered throughout our path to get to the overlook.  Our group spread out, single file, as they walked through the thigh-high grass.

The section of the cemetery that we passed through had been closed and people weren’t buried there anymore:

I wondered whose bodies had been removed.  How did their families feel? Did they even know? So many stories in those boxes.

And then, we were at the overlook. Years before, I had been in JustFaith and they showed us a video of a garbage dump community.  I’ve done community service and worked in impoverished areas for 15 years. I thought I knew. I thought I was prepared.  I was wrong.

This is an overview. Zoom in for a better sense of the people.

Here’s a wide shot of the whole thing.  What you can’t see is the road that leads in and the trucks all coming through.

You can see people in this picture, up close. The trash is also pretty visible.  People rummage through the trash and collect things that are valuable for recycling.  They only receive payment for what they gather.  Sometimes people are in such a hurry to gather, that they end up behind the trucks as they unload.

In this picture, you can’t miss the people in the front, walking next to the truck. They’re staking their claim.  As each truck came in, this process was repeated.

Once people collected their wares, they sold them to the people along the edges of the dump.  These people would then sell the trash to someone else, and so on and so on, until they finally were sold to their final destination.

There was a waterfall and a small river in the vicinity.

These two men were walking near the waterfall. The one with the bag on his head was leaving, and I guess that the one with the backpack was arriving to work.  For all of the work that they do, the people, if they’re lucky, earn about $5 a day for their families and their needs.

I left, overwhelmed.  Although we were high up, my professional quality camera and telephoto lens allowed me to see the people in the garbage dump very closely.  It wasn’t yet 1 o’clock.  Next stop, grocery store to buy lunch supplies for the week.

7 Responses to “Photos tell this story best”

  1. mcfeinics says:

    So what exactly is a garbage dump community?

  2. It’s so hard to imagine living like that. Are there any other ways to make money around there?

  3. […] dump communities. There are several places where I’ve written about life in the garbage dump: here, and here, and here are some of them.  When I left, I knew that more than the effect I would have […]

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