Recycling, Colombian-Style

Barranquilla is a very modern city. Nonetheless, it’s still common to see horse-drawn carts on city streets. The guys with the carts (I have yet to see a woman with this job) are usually buying or selling something, which they announce via  megaphone — that way, you can hear it from your apartment and come down to meet them (think ice cream truck in the U.S.).

The odd thing is that they always announce what they’re buying/selling in this nearly unintelligible monotone with no pauses between words. The following 7-second video will show you what I mean. The only word I can understand in the string is “bateria”, which means the guy is buying, among other things, car batteries. This is one of the main ways that items get recycled in Colombia. Let me tell you, the cardboard boxes that we used to ship items from the U.S. to Colombia were gone from the street in no time, despite the fact that they were completely dilapidated.

If you can understand any other word besides “bateria” in this video, then by all means, comment and let the rest of us know!

During my short stint in Mexico City (el D.F.) years back, street vendors similarly used megaphones to announce their wares. There, the only one I could understand was the guy who sold refills for home propane tanks. “El gaaaaaaaaas. El gaaaaaaaaaaas.” At least I understand a little more now!


6 responses to “Recycling, Colombian-Style

  1. In England here we get a similar thing, but they have trucks now and say in a monotone voice, over and over.. “something unintelligible .. scrap iron” They have a megaphone too and collect any metal, not just iron..


  2. Oh, that’s interesting. Apparently the “unintelligible megaphone monotone” is fairly universal!


  3. Saw a picture but no video.

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  4. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t embed in the email that is sent to email subscribers. You’ll have to click on the hyperlink to go to the website itself ( to see the video. It is a little confusing, because the video just looks like a photo in the email you receive.


  5. Couldn’t get the first word, but got Bateria y Chatara (scrap metal)…oh my, the best one is when they go about selling food, Tammmaaaleeeessss….maaassssamorrraaaaaa…coooccaaadddaaaasss. At least in Barranquilla, they don’t wake you up at 6 am with “Elllllll Peeeeriiiioooooddiiiicooooooooooo” just have to love it….lol


  6. Bocachicoooooooooo!


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