The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barthélemy film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    February '03
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    WHAT A MESS!
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    Since late December, when the likes of Mick Jagger and Mariah Carey were hip-hopping across the island, I've been out trash picking. And I don't mean the fun kind of trash picking like in New York where you find all sorts of wonderful things that people just plain don't want anymore (I know of entire apartments furnished with great finds off the streets!) But here, on this beautiful piece of paradise, the amount of trash that accumulates along the roadsides is simply appalling. My original intention was to go out early in the morning and get some exercise (since the only exercise I usually get is jumping to conclusions...). So I set out empty-handed and headed toward Saline Beach. A nice, flat walk of about ten or fifteen minutes from my house. I had already been known to pick up trash along the way, on other short walks, and I had often stopped my car to pick up large pieces of flotsam and jetsam marring the landscape. But I was amazing at what I found. Plastic cups, beer bottles by the hundreds, soda cans, cigarette packs, and worst of all, hundreds of flyers that enterprising businesses had left under the windshield wipers of cars. So the next time I set out prepared. A few trash bags for paper, and a few clear plastic bags for bottle and cans. Whew! A hot, unthankful job. Some people look at me as if I'm out of my mind. Others says Bravo! Great job! Or thanks, as they jog by. The guys at Grain de Sel offered water and extra trash bags. Once my friend Martine showed up on vacation from France, I got here into the act as well, and we started off toward JoJo's supermarket, bags in hand. Same scenario. Papers, bottles, cans, and worse yet, hillsides covered with discarded household items: everything from ironing boards to old fans. We contained our efforts to the sides of the road, laughing along the way, getting wet if it raining, stopping to chat with people who asked what we were doing (and if we were getting paid to do it!) The biggest dangers are reckless drivers who come pretty close to running us down, and nasty cactus. I mean there are cactus out there with thorns like fish-hooks, just waiting to grab on to you. Not to mention the barbed wire. I figure if I take my cell phone along, I could always call my husband to come get me unhooked from a cactus if need be. But I can't tell you how many little spiny things I'll pulled out of my hands and ankles. Our efforts reached a crescendo yesterday when we brought along reinforcements. A Frenchman who has recently moved to the island. We sent him down into the ravine by the side of the road and watched in amazement as he threw us bottle after bottle, can after can, and parts of a car including the seat belts, spare tire, and license plates. All because if costs a few "sou" to take these things to the dump. So as you drive around the island, please be careful not to litter. And I see you doing it, watch out!
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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