Garbage is not usually a topic one talks about in the US., however, the subject comes up frequently in Panama.  Whether it’s the tremendous amount of garbage on the streets of Panama City, if a location even has garbage collection or the lack of a responsible recycling program for all the plastic, Styrofoam and beer cans.  I don’t think I ever talked about garbage collection in Florida.  But This Is Panama.

Garbage collection is very different here than in the States.  In Florida we had two big, black cans with flip-top lids and everything inside got picked up twice a week.   My town  paid a little more so we didn’t even have to drag the cans out to the street.  And if were any big items, the garbage collectors would pick that up too if it was placed on the curb.  Once a week our recyclables were collected in the green can.  If needed, the free dump was only about 10 minutes away for all city residents.

In Boquete, garbage is picked up once a week – usually.  ‘Usually’, because when the one and only garbage truck broke down a few months ago, we got pick up about once every two weeks.  No garbage collection (or re-scheduling) if pick up day is a holiday.  Everyone (not in a gated community) has some type of individual garbage holder.  Many are big basket type things on top of a metal pole.  This prevents dogs, cats, and rodents from getting into the garbage during the week.

New Gate with Sasha inside

New Gate with Sasha inside

We have a ground-level collection bin that has a metal grate opening on the street side.  The garbage collectors open the grate and take everything that is bagged.  Not bagged and it will not get picked up.  Ours is really ugly.  So ugly that it was among the top five things to be replaced/remodeled when we moved in.  Today we had a side gate installed so we can toss our garbage from the front yard and do not have to go out to the street.

Boquete garbage collectors do not take large items like boxes.  Large items must go to the dump.  The dump is about 30-40 minutes each way.  We recently hired someone to make our dump runs for us.  One more run and we should have our trash under control.

Side entry being installed

Side entry being installed

Some garbage bins are quite attractive.  Ours is not but it will as soon as the concrete cures.  Once the iron grating is done, I will pressure clean the entire structure and put plants on the top. The mildew will be gone. You can see the original front gate on the left.  The new grating will be black and the rest will be the same as the house color.

One odd occurrence is that our neighbor seems to be using our bin.  The former tenant told us to expect it but I was still surprised.  Mostly because the woman who lives next door seems to go out of her way not to meet us.  Her kids are friendly and we have spoken to them (mostly because they also have dogs) but she will turn away or go inside as soon as we are nearby.  She does not have a garbage bin so her bags have to go somewhere.  It’s not like the two of us can fill the entire bin every week, but its weird to this gringa.


6 thoughts on “Garbage.

  1. I’m guessing your neighbor does not pay any garbage collection fee either. When I lived there it ws $1 a month – paid for a whole year at once at City Hall.

    • Update: I told the kids why they could not use the garbage. Since it only has a gate, and not the grating yet, dogs (theirs) can get through the bars and yank out garbage. They kind of snickered when I told them that David had to go out and pick up THEIR garbage that THEIR dog dragged out. So I put a lock on the outside. Problem solved but not as nicely as I had hoped.

      By law every house must have a garbage basket. So if it continues, a Panamanian friend told me to go to the mayor’s office.

  2. lol, when I had the owner of my commercial building in casco viejo clean it out prior to taking possession the whole Chorillo neighbourhood got on the bandwagon and dumped their waste of all descriptions (fridges, broken glass, furniture) on the footpath to add to the pile. All resolved in the end, luckily not by me.

  3. Thanks for the info! We move into a rental in Boquete at the end of this month and garbage is not something that’s been thought of or mentioned. Very grateful to have a head’s up.

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