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The Inspiring Recycle Lady

Many people believe that the educated are the only privileged persons in society today; that is not true. You don’t need to be educated to get a job, get paid and live a happy life. The solution is simple; use your talent, be creative, reach out, keep positive and make a living. As many say, “where there is a will there is a way.”

Case in point, in San Pedro by the San Telmo Area lives a humble hard working lady that is very dedicated to her job. We have all seen her walking up and down the streets of town and along the long stretch of roads on Coconut Drive and Sea Grape Drive. She is either carrying a large sack on her back or pushing a wheelbarrow filled with empty bottles.

No matter what Mother Nature brings, in the rain she puts on her raincoat and she hits the streets. Sometimes at 3a.m. when I am leaving the night club there she is, roaming the streets searching garbage bins collecting empty bottles of Coca Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Crystal Water and Caribbean White Rum to sell to the Bowen and Bowen Distributors Company for her daily income.

Fifty seven year old Mrs. Julia Martinez has been living on La Isla Bonita for 18 years now. There are many other people doing the same work as Mrs. Martinez, but after spending some time with her I came to realize how outstanding this lady is for her dedication and appreciation towards her job and family.

I came to know that these people are known as “Los Penados” (“The Suffering” in English), but Mrs. Martinez is popularly known as the “Recycle Lady”. Collecting bottles may be a hobby for many persons on the island just to make a little extra cash, but for Mrs. Martinez it’s her livelihood that keeps food on the table and pays the rent for her happy family in Paradise.

A huge pile of empty bottles in sacks caught my attention as I drove by the San Telmo Area, where Mrs. Martinez lives. I got closer to investigate and I found her yard full of stock piled plastic and glass bottles in large flour sacks and garbage bags. She welcomed me with a smile and gracefully invited me to check out her “operation”.

She explains that after having collected enough bottles, weeks at a time, she hires a truck to help her deliver the bottles to the Bowen and Bowen Distributors here in San Pedro. They purchase the plastic bottles each at .05cents (pint), .10cents (liter) and the glass bottles at .25cents each.

She used to sell empty Caribbean White Rum bottles back to Cuellos Distillery, but just recently they changed their bottling company and will no longer accept recycled empties. This is sad news for Mrs. Martinez as the west wall of her yard is full of empty Caribbean White bottles, a task that probably took her months to collect. Now she has no choice but to destroy them, as they are useless to her.

* Get This: 10,000 is the number of plastic pint bottles the Mrs. Julia has to collect per month just to pay rent. She would need to collect approximately another 10,000 for her other living expenses. Gets you thinking…right?

But she does not seem to dwell on the negative; she simply moves on. The day I met her, she got on the back of a pickup truck ready to go sell her bottles. Mrs. Martinez is a hero and a role model for the hard work and dedication she puts everyday and the happiness she gives to her grandchildren in paying and pushing them in getting their education to be someone in life.

A job is a very important factor in a person’s life, and getting paid is even greater. It helps you move forward and become more independent and stable. But how dedicated are you to your job and do you appreciate it?

Is having a job very important? Definitely! There are many people in San Pedro that are jobless because they choose to be or they just don’t want to work.  Therefore, being jobless leads the unemployed into crime, drugs and mischief. Cheer up and make something of yourself and be happy; the world is large and has many opportunities for everybody. As for Mrs. Julia Martinez, I have much respect for the beautiful lady and I tip my hat off to her.

Julia Martinez

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