26 maart 2012

Durrell: dustmen ballet

Nadat Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) op het Kanaaleiland Jersey zijn eigen dierentuin was begonnen, maakte hij in 1958 een reis door Zuid-Amerika om zijn collectie aan te vullen. Meteen bij vertrek uit Buenos Aires vond een indrukwekkende ontmoeting met de inheemse fauna plaats.
On the outskirts of the city we rounded a corner and came upon the first sign of life we had seen since we had started, a covey of dustmen indulging in their early morning ballet. This was such an extraordinary sight that we drove slowly behind them for some way in order to watch. The great dustcart rumbled down the centre of the road at a steady five miles an hour, and standing in the back, up to his knees in rubbish, stood the emptier. Four other men loped alongside the cart like wolves, darting off suddenly into dark doorways to re-appear with dustbins full of trash balanced on their shoulders. They would run up alongside the cart and throw the dustbin effortlessly into the air, and the man on the cart would catch it and empty it and throw it back, all in one fluid movement. The timing of this was superb, for as the empty dustbin was hurtling downwards a full one would be sailing up. They would pass in mid air, and the full bin would be caught and emptied. Sometimes there would be four dustbins in the air at once. The whole action was performed in silence and with incredible speed.
(G. Durrell, The Whispering Land (1961), hst. 1, gecit. n. Penguin-ed. 1964, pp. 27-28.)

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