Thursday, 29 November 2018

Unusual Friends - The sweeper

I have quite a few very unusual ‘friends’ in Laredo.
The other day when I was taking the customary morning paseo with Marisol, this very thought occured to me after I walked into the local newspaper shop which goes by the name of Libreria Arte, run by the very friendly and efficient Carlos and his wife. The event that prompted this thought was that the previous customer as he walked past me, said ‘Buenos Dias’. I responded with the same as local custom demands.
Now this in itself is not unusual except I knew him too and he happened to be the Town Hall employee who is often to be seen sweeping the streets around where I live.
This got me thinking that there were a few very unusual people who all seemed to know me.
A list would have to include
The afore mentioned Sweeper
The entire population of slightly mad people in Laredo
The Peruvian barman of the Lido bar, and a few others of the same profession around town
The porters of two buildings near our home
The post delivery woman
And the driver from the courier company SEUR, who delivers many of our Amazon packages.

I will slowly post some stories from each of these in the coming days, but let me start with an interesting story about the sweeper.
Apart from the occasional Good Morning or similar I don’t have much interaction with this man except that his department is tasked with cleaning the streets yet one frequently comes across  the most intriguing pieces of litter to be found on the sidewalks of our town. The residents of Laredo might be forgiven to jump to the conclusion that I refer to dog poop, but that is hardly intriguing except in the identification of the culprits. These are something else.

They consist of strips of metal as in the photo, and they can be found everywhere in town, but only on the sidewalks (or pavements as they are known in England). The pen in the photo is to give an idea of scale.
We racked our brains for what they could be, but our best guess was along the lines of cosmic fallout. We spent months trying to figure this out, and in the end someone else who had probably seen it happening enlightened us. Before I reveal the source I might add that all our friends and visitors enjoyed immensely the intrigue of trying to guess what they were.
Now to answer the question we have to imagine the street cleaning equipment used in Laredo. A machine is driven down the sidewalks which sprays water and scrapes the sidewalk with a metal brush. The brush consists of hundreds of these ‘bristles’.

Mystery solved, and I should be the first to say buenos dias to the humble sweeper for his part in bringing such entertaining intrigue to our lives.