The amazing bins of Ilhéus


Can you tell what it is yet?

The streets are nearly deserted as I gleefully photograph my eighth litter bin of the day.

After arriving in the town of Ilhéus late on Friday night, a nose around a colourful cathedral appeared to have exhausted all possible things to do by 10am on Saturday.

This small settlement, best known for being the childhood home of Brazilian author Jorge Amado, seemingly turns into a ghost town at weekends. Even the tourist information office is closed.

We’ve got three days to kill before we are able to visit a sloth sanctuary in the rainforest not far from here, so I’m on the hunt for something to do.

Then, I spot a litter bin in the design of a hairy monkey’s face.


King of the swingers: The monkey bin of Ilhéus

The plastic primate gobbles up my empty crisp packet in a flash and I try to raise Sophie’s beleaguered spirits… ‘Wow, how strange,’ I say. ‘A bin in the shape of a monkey. Crazy huh?’

She offers the type of desperately enthusiastic smile you give to a small child who is proudly showing mummy a terrible squiggle picture of an unrecognisable rainbow.

Undeterred, I whip out my camera to capture the marvellous monkey.


I think you’ve got a serious case of crabs there Sir…

The few people who have ventured out on this sunny Saturday stop and stare at the strange gringo taking a photo of a rubbish bin.

One local madman thinks I must be as far off my rocker as him and instantly tries to make friends by insisting I take a picture of him and the tub of stinking crabs he is carting around.


Wolf whistle: Sophie has a blow

So, you can imagine my delight when, after turning a corner, I stumble across another eye-catchingly designed bin. This time in the style of a whistle.

My pleasure becomes near orgasmic when further up the street I see a bin shaped like a seahorse and when I clock the one in the image of a watermelon, well, I’m shaking with excitement.


Seahorse-ing around

For the first time I understand the rush of adrenalin trainspotters experience when they finally see their first British Rail class 40 diesel locomotive. ‘Oh My God Sophie, this is so rare, look, a coconut bin!’

I can imagine how the brilliant bin idea was raised at the town council meeting…

‘Listen up,’ says the chairman. ‘Corruption is down .002 of a per cent this year, which means we’ve got 500 quid floating about to spend on something. Any ideas?’

A young radical councillor, keen to make a name for himself, pipes up: ‘What about litter bins that look like stuff?’


Bin there, done it: Me with bin shaped like a Brazilian pinha fruit

Eyebrows raise around the table, but no one can think of anything better to do with the money and so they nod approvingly. Thus the amazing ‘bins of Ilhéus’ are born…

And so for the next hour I happily wander the streets photographing these quirky features.

Sadly Sophie does not share my passion for bins-styled-as-stuff. Eventually she turns to me with a flustered look and says: `I’m going home now. This is rubbish.’


About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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3 Responses to The amazing bins of Ilhéus

  1. Steve Dyson says:

    Brilliant… animated bins should be the mantra for one of Birmingham’s elected mayor candidates! Anyway, what the hell you doing with that beard, PV?! And where is my video cameraman when I want one??

  2. Hi Steve,
    It would definitely get my vote! I was told that when you come travelling you have to have a tattoo, a leather bracelet or a beard… I’ve never worn jewellery and tattoos look crap on freckles…

  3. Pedro La Cruz says:

    It’s bin a while since I’ve read such colourful stuff!

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