The Garbage Man and The Fight for Sleep

by admin

We love living in Lisbon. LOVE IT. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, im sure you’ve guessed that already.

Our neighbourhood is old, it’s authentic, it’s diverse, and it’s interesting. The combination of old and decrepit, mixed with innovative and artistic, makes even the most crumbling areas seem charming in their own way. The medieval layout of Mouraria is what I love about this neighbourhood… however, it does have one downside.

In a medieval European neighbourhood, the buildings are tightly packed, so much so that sometimes you feel like you can reach out to the window across from you. This gives the area charm… yes… but it also means that sound is amplified in the streets and alleyways! That, paired with all ground surfaces (streets and stairways) covered with calçada cobblestones, makes garbage time very loud and distracting.

Garage pick-up is EVERY DAMN NIGHT.

Ok, so one good thing about nightly garbage pick-up is that you don’t have to stock-pile your trash until a specific day. Besides, there’s just no space to do that kind of thing like back home in Toronto. In our area, we have one central location where everyone piles their garbage, with one large collection bin (like the restaurant sized bins in North America). The problem? That collection area is right under our window. On top of that… it’s in a calçadinha (small stairway), which means more banging and clanging as the bins are rolled down the steps…. sometimes even falling over, causing the collector to have to scoop things up… with a metal shovel on stones. Yep. Noisy.

So, every night at around 12:30am, the garbage truck stops at the end of our street and idles loudly (as it can’t drive into our area), and the garbage man rolls a couple large bins over the cobbled street with a thunderous sound. The first night this happened, I got up to see what was going on because I thought that someone was stealing construction materials from a nearby renovation project!

The garbage man collects the bin and trash from the stairway under our window, and then heads up the stairs and around the corner to another little street… slowly making his way to all the hidden corners in our area. Maybe about 20 minutes of this goes on, all the while, the enormous echo startling us awake if we’re asleep at that time. I really haven’t figured out yet, why no one else in the neighbourhood seems to mind this. I mean, really, waking up every single night?

It’s been almost 2 weeks of living in Lisbon now, and this was definitely an annoyance at the beginning… which it still is, but now we’re used to it, and it’s become one of the strange little charms of this place. Given all the other things we love about living here, we really can’t complain about anything!

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