November 10, 2015
When I first moved to Mexico City, I was disheartened by the amount of garbage and graffiti I saw everywhere. At times it was hard to see the beauty of the city because your eyes would stop at the gutter or painted wall first. It has taken me awhile to see another perspective.
People living in Mexico City are very clean. I seldom see someone in dirty clothes unless it has to do with their line of work. I think at times the Mexican people might be cleaner than North Americans.
Every day I see hundreds of people sweeping the concrete in front of their homes. They sweep and then they wash it. I don’t know how they do it, but they take a bucket of water and with a “special” hand action, throw it across the concrete to clean it. Most things are cleaned with buckets down here – hoses are not seen too often. How often have I swept the concrete in front of my North American home?
Cars and buses are washed frequently – all using buckets. At most stop lights, there are people – sometimes many people - there washing windows and wiping down dusty cars. They do this for any amount of pesos you want to give them.
Trash collection is done by a system much different from the states. A man/woman walks down the street ringing a bell. It signals that someone will arrive soon with a cart, hand drawn or horse drawn, to collect the garbage. A residence doesn’t sign up for trash service - you give the trash collector a few pesos for taking your garbage. It later arrives at big garbage trucks where it is hand sorted for recyclable materials.
My home is covered with almost white tiles. Every drop of water causes footprints – and yet they don’t last long. Our housekeeper is here 10 hours a week, split over 2 days. Every tile throughout the house is cleaned twice a week. I have yet to walk into a home that is dirty or messy. They take pride in that. Note to self: Never put off white tiles in your American home – way too much work!
So why is there garbage catching your eye when you drive or walk around? It’s an infrastructure problem. There are not workers paid to clean it up. There are some around, but they have huge areas to cover. The Mexican people have simply learned to overlook it and keep their own little bits of heaven clean.