Thursday, April 07, 2011

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

It has been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure.
That is certainly true during Lomtalanítás (Spring Cleaning) in Hungary.

Lomtalanítás is the one day of the year in Hungary, when you can put as much garbage out on the street as you want, of any size, and the city will take it away - but before the city comes to take it away, they give people a chance to rummage through it and take what they can find.

I have heard one person call this "a form of socialized refuse distribution".

At this time of the year the streets are filled with garbage - everything from green waste to broken appliances to old clothes.

And there are groups, which almost qualify as gangs, for whom lomtalanítás is better than Christmas. They are fairly well organized, knowing when different parts of the city will have lomtalanítás, and they will mark their territory by putting their people at different piles of trash to guard them. They even spend the night out on the street guarding their "property" until morning. There are even some people parked on the pile of junk opposite our house right now.
When we lived in our old place, once we were bringing a broken fan out to the street when someone ran up and asked if they could have it. We gave it to them, and then the person who had been sitting in front of our building for hours on a bucket started yelling at him, and demanding that he give him the fan, because that was his territory!

I must admit that we have actually gone "shopping" during lomtalanítás - we went to a local kindergarten last year and found a dump truck toy for Nate to play with in the sand box. It was a good find.

Here are some pictures Rosemary took today of the people who are guarding our street's pile of junk:

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