Temple in Spain Temple Summer

Keeping Oviedo Clean

All of us Temple students and faculty went to dinner at the Tennis Club of Oviedo on Wednesday night. The dining room overlooked a few tennis courts which appeared to be made of clay. I only say that because of the color of the courts, that red-orange color you see on TV when watching the French Open. While there were people playing on them when I came into the restaurant I didn’t watch to see if they had the characteristic sliding action that playing tennis on clay appears to give. We finished dinner around midnight and went out to the street to talk about what was happening next. I decided to go home and I want to describe what happens at night in Oviedo. I read on the internet before I came to Oviedo that it is one of the cleanest cities in Europe. The city has a four pronged approach to having that reputation. The first part of the equation is the people who sweep the sidewalks. Los barreradores is what I think they are called, the sweepers. They are out in city both day and night sweeping the sidewalks and plazas. They have a steel framed cart on what appears to be bicycle wheels that carry two medium sized trash cans, a shovel, and at least two brooms. The broom I always see them use is one that looks homemade. It is a long pole with bristles attached that look like twigs. These brooms look like antiques but all the sweepers have them, both here in Oviedo and in Madrid. It is rare to see trash on the streets. The second part of the equation are the workers who wash the street. I have heard that every night the streets and sidewalks are washed in Oviedo. Out in front of the tennis club a guy was washing the sidewalk with a powerful stream of water coming from a large nozzle connected to a thick, long, industrial looking hose. The hose and nozzle are bigger than a typical garden hose many of us are familiar with but smaller than a fire hose. The hoses are fairly long and the people who wash the sidewalks have small trucks that house, what I am guessing, is a pump to give the water a higher pressure. Sidre, the alcoholic beverage made from apples famous in Asturias, is poured in such a manner that often much is spilled or at least splashed onto the street so it is a smart idea to wash the streets and sidewalks. Type “pouring sidre” into Google images and see what I’m talking about. Another part of the equation is the trucks that wash the streets. The truck is a large tank of water on wheels with nozzles on the front bumper that are controlled from the cab of the truck. The driver can spray either side of the street or in front. They spray a strong fan of water at tire height at the gutters to wash any trash into the sewer system. The final part of the system are the trash collection people. I haven’t yet figured out how the system works. What I can guess is that trash cans are delivered the night before and then people fill them on a certain day. The cans are emptied of their trash into large trucks like in the US and then the empty trash cans are picked up and delivered to another part of the city to be used by those citizens. Virtually everyone lives in apartments in this densely populated city and there is no room for large trash dumpsters for apartment buildings. Walking home the other night I saw all four parts of the system that helps to keep this city amazingly clean.


One of the many small trucks that workers use to wash the sidewalks of Oviedo.

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