Ok so I thought I knew how to use the ‘Guia’ – the incredible bus route map for the whole of the city. I was getting impatient and decided that we had to meet with some more cartoneros. We had contacts and I decided to call them up despite my horrible Spanish. After the call I partially believed I had made an arrangement for 3pm and I thought I knew the address. The bus, however had a different idea and decided to go West at a very crucial point. Another bus and a long walk later, we were in an extremely poor area, with private police seemingly patrolling a kids’ football game. Large cameras and American/British accents were bad ideas. I was trying very hard to locate an address which appeared not to exist, amongst many stray dogs (and I didn’t have that $600 rabies jab) and rubbish dumps. Finally I asked a woman who didn’t really know so I called the host and he explained to her and a growing throng of local kindly souls.
[QUICKTIME https://www.wasteforlife.org/movies/caroline_instructions1.mov 320 196]
Several phone calls later we were in a small and very unreliable van driving over lots of holes to a totally different area of the ‘favela’. We were told on the way that this whole area was supported by collecting rubbish. We were at the heart of the Dock Sur cartoneros patch. Our kind saviours deposited us at the right location, home of Carlos Perini’s Cooperativa de Trabajo Avellaneda Limitada. We were shown around the Galpon (warehouse) which included bottle stripping and weaving with a basic weaving machine. They also had equipment that could have, were they to have the funds to finish the machine, chop up plastic crates into small pieces which could be sold at a much higher price. Carlos told us they bought plastic waste from the local cartoneros and sold it – having washed it, dried it and packaged it. If they were to have the funds to support equipment they could create a greater value for the plastic they sold. This small, ridiculously under-funded facility supported 50 families.