Behind the Tourist Scenes on Ometepe Island

IMG_1121Surreal looking, isn’t it? We have lived on Ometepe Island for many years, and this morning was our first trip to the garbage dump. I have no words for our experience. It is an open air dump where horses and dogs scavenge for food, children work picking through the garbage, and putrid smells and flies infiltrate every part of our bodies.

Tourists NEVER see this. Yet, I feel that they need to see our dump. Awareness is the first step to changing the world. Yet, in creating an awareness of this atrocity, where do we go from here?

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.” —Mother Teresa
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson
“People would rather believe than know.”

― Edward O. Wilson
IMG_1120“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
― Pope John Paul II
IMG_1127Where DO we go from here?

16 thoughts on “Behind the Tourist Scenes on Ometepe Island

  1. that´s interesting. not everywhre it´s like that. depending on the consciousness of the people some burn it, some cover it, some just let it ly around and some bring it to the truck who takes it to moyogalpa I guess??

  2. In the 1960s movie The Graduate, a family friend offered one word to a young Dustin Hoffman, “Plastics.” Throughout my travels in Latin America, I have seen mountains of plastic trash and bottles everywhere. I’m no engineer but I’ve always thought that in light of an abundance of cheap labor, a solution could be separating and and at least compacting the plastic into a solid mass. Imagine amassing large bricks of plastic that might even be recycled. I hope this doesn’t sound too Polyanna-ish.

    • Haha, John. I loved that movie and remembered that line of Dustin Hoffman. I think this is a start of a great solution to the plastic bags and other plastic items littering the highways. We do have sorters in the dump who recycle the plastic water bottles, but that is all they do. I am not sure where they go or what they do with them. It is worth investigating. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. It will be many moons before this problem will be even ,,,focused on ,,a worldwide problem,,,
    the dumps and plastic problem throughout Asia is the same …… the oceans there ,,,disgusting,,
    its so sad ,,
    but people are the problem!!!!
    everyone is” responsible ” to do ,,,something,,,,,
    ,,,be the change ….do your small share ,,,however!

  4. Where do we go indeed. Dumps everywhere are a nightmare. Some countries can afford ways to use garbage to produce fuel for adjoining power plants but I don’t think Nicaragua is in a position to do so quite yet. As easy as it is to say ‘How awful!’ the reality is there is a worldwide excess of garbage that far overwhelms ways to deal with it. My favorite was the barge Mobro 4000 which went on a trip as far south as Belize in a futile effort to discharge its load of New York garbage.

    In Hawaii they fill valleys. The one near where I lived in North Shore Oahu spontaneously combusted and burned for years. In Los Angeles, Ca. they also filled valleys in the Sepulveda Pass making it now a featureless wall as seen from the San Diego Freeway.

    The situation in Moyogalpa, Las Piedras in Rivas (another must see), La Chureca in Managua and in every other city is the same and will be for a long time. We can do our little part- I buy maybe 2 glass bottles and 5 cans a year, but this is the price of ‘progress’. The most appalling thing about the dump here is that it begins so far west; seems that once people cross La Muñeca the trash starts getting discharged. The first time I went to the dump I thought the road was the dump, but persevered until I got to the real one. On the good side is once past the dump the road continues to La Concepcion and is a beautiful ride.

    Now think that for all points south of the airport there is no dump. Whoever has a lot in a neighborhood where they don’t live owns the local dump and not by choice. Sometimes acceptance is difficult.

    • La Chureca has been transformed and it is wonderful to see the progress there. We had to stop and ask a guy on a horse where the dump was because the road leading to it was filled with trash. I know what you mean, it is a mess. After we left the dump we took the loop back to Moyogalpa and it was a beautiful ride with a nice flat dirt road.
      Acceptance is difficult. Many people tell me that there is nothing I can do, but I cannot accept that. Every little thing we do, helps. When school starts again, we are having lessons in the library on environmental concerns and we’re going to take a field trip to the dump. 🙂

  5. It is pretty easy on an individual/household basis to produce little or no waste. I’ve come close to zero with a household including teenagers. Careful buying and reusing is the way to go.

  6. Unfortunately, same as everywhere in Central America, with no good solution in sight; burning it all, especially plastic, has problems too.

    Some could be composted; some could be recycled (isn’t there a women’s group in Altagracia doing that?), and some could be incorporated into building materials (e.g., the schoolroom in Merida), but ultimately, we all have to just use less, and produce less plastic waste (not easy to do).

    • I think they should ban plastic bottles coming to the island. I think they did that in San Juan del Sur. There is a woman’s group in Altagracia and Moyogalpa that recycle plastic bottles. It is getting better, but one look at our dump showed me that we have a long way to go.

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