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Son of More Drivel From Doc


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Somebody told me my last post was a re-post (isn't that a fencing term?) If so, then it really WAS drivel.

Here's the second installment:


19 January


So, Dianna (Jah-NAH) showed up with a new pump his brother sent him from The Gambia. Things are much cheaper there. He had to sell his other pump. He'd been fishing and his wife dried the fish. A man came and took the dried fish to Guinea Conakry and when it was time for him to return with the proceeds, the border had been closed because of Ebola. So, no money, and he had to sell his pump to make ends meet. Things are always marginal here. Touch-and-go. Unpredictable.

Money may not buy happiness and it may not buy predictability, but it does buy a certain amount of insulation from life's vagaries. It is a luxury in scarce supply here.


It took about two hours to assemble the required piping and knock a hole in the side of the well surround with a pickaxe. Pump primed, started and water poured out and the level in the well gradually diminished revealing blackened sticks, palm ribs, and some broken concrete left over from the construction. “Small boys!” Malang explains. “When there is nobody here the small boys come and they throw things inside.”

Sol, who dug the well, looks a bit tubby but despite the belly and his 50+ years, he is all muscle. He lowered himself and began sending the trash up in the bucket, retrieved by his son. Then he scoured some bad-smelling dirt from the bottom.

He showed me how the water is coming in actively. The well is apparently right on the water source. He says it will always have adequate supply.

From his mouth to Allah's ear!


Talking Trash


Riding my bike around the village, or traveling the roads by local transport, I've grown almost blind to the incredible amount of litter – OK, let's call a spade a spade! Trash! It is everywhere. Universal, ubiquitous. And it looks like hell.


There is no refuse collection. If there was, there is no central dump to put it in. Many compounds have a hole somewhere on the property into which junk is thrown, but more often, it is just tossed. Anywhere.


When I was living and sailing in the Caribbean I was the same sort of thing. Entire beaches befouled by rubbish. And I heard fellow cruisers and tourists bitching about “Why don't they....etc.” And I thought the same thing until I started paying attention to the makeup of all the trash and the history and economy of the people dumping all that stuff.


Not so long ago, these folks generated trash that returned to the environment. Everything was essentially biodegradable. Wood, ash, animal remains, vegetable leavings; all rotted and returned to the soil sooner or later, creating better soil.


When I look at the composition of the refuse making a mess of this place, better than 90% of it is plastic or other industrially-created waste; stuff that doesn't decompose quickly and that doesn't enrich the soil it returns to. So, essentially, this unsightly mess is a “gift” of the industrialized world to societies that lack the infrastructure or finances or even the tradition to deal with it. Heck, dealing with our waste is enough of a problem even in a rich country like America, let alone dirt-poor places like West Africa and the Caribbean islands. And being litter-conscious is pretty recent in America. I'm pretty sure it was a creature of my childhood (the '50s) and being environmentally conscious is even more recent. It's a bit out of place to get self-righteous about these folks.


I guess, what I'm thinking is, that industries have to have the foresight and responsibility to provide an “out” for the products they produce. Actually, government has to compel them to do it, since asking them to do it voluntarily is whistling down the wind. The computer and electronics industries need to be able to deal with the toxic waste they produce, and so should industries that provide non-biodegradable and toxic products to the Third World be responsible for their eventual disposal.



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That is a fencing term - and a good one - and while your other post, and I think this one too, was a repost, I didn't mind reading it a second time one bit; looking very much forward to any future installments. I imagine many here appreciate your taking the time to share these with those of us who aren't connected with you through other media.


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