They came, they saw, they picked up trash.
As we gathered in front of the Paradise Cinema, as we have on first Fridays for half a year now, the students came walking out of the nearby school, one form at a time. Soon we had three grades, eagerly grabbing rubber gloves and black plastic trash bags.
The youngest students stayed around the bridge area, off the busy road. They cleaned from the bridge, along the waterfront, to the entrance to the San Mateo neighborhood and right up to the entrance to their school.
The next older group walked up to The Cloisters and began cleaning along the road and beach. The oldest kids were driven up to the Marbucks/Palapa Bar area on a fleet of golf carts and worked their way south along the beach and road.
Our regular group of volunteers fanned out, some working with the students and their teachers, some just walking the road picking up beer bottles, plastic bags and water bottles and sundry castoffs.
Some of the students recognized me from the short stint that I did volunteer teaching in summer school. It was so great to hear “Hi Mr. Bob! Remember me?”
Sometimes you have to look hard to see signs that we are winning the war on trash but they are there. For example, the San Pedro Town Council’s recently placed roadside trash barrels are generally full to overflowing. And the number of trash cleanup events on the island seem to be increasing. The number of local residents on their way to work who shout out “thank you” or stop to compliment volunteers is also on the increase.
Some things are beyond our immediate control — like the volumes of plastic and Styrofoam that float in with the winds and tide.
The other day, some visitors to the island commented on how clean they thought the island looked. That was a first. True enough, the Sargasso no longer inundates our beaches and they are looking cleaner for sure. The roads, too, seem cleaner.
Sure, there is so much more that needs to be done. I took a long walk up the coast a couple of weeks ago and it was a bizarre mix of pristine resort beaches, side-by-side with vacant lots piled high with rotting Sargasso and plastic.
For now, I’ll hang on to the images of laughing children working along side us old codgers with a single purpose — to make the Ambergris Caye we all love so much as beautiful as we can. And hey, we made a difference. I’m told that we and the student volunteers filled 60 trash bags!
Here are some more photos from Friday’s cleanup campaign:
More pictures and stories on First Friday:
- Check out some more great photos from our First Friday Tres Cocos Trash Pickup, from organizer Sue Blair.
- San Pedro Scoop looks at the big pictures
By the way, this event cleaned us out of rubber gloves, plastic trash bags, trash pickup sticks and water. If you would like to help supply our volunteers next month contact me at email@example.com or Sue Blair via Facebook. Thank you!