How we stayed 12 days instead of just 2 and felt like at home
Izabel invites us inside and Cezar shows us a place where to put bicycles and tells us what is the organization about.
Maya Pedal is NGO funded 15years ago with the goal of helping people make their work easier by using old bicycles. They cooperate with Boston university MIT and other Canadian organization which send them old bicycles. They repair and sell some of them with their original function, others are transformed to “bicimachines”. They offer peeler (peanut, coffee), degrainer and grinder of corn, mixer (fruit juices, cocktails, shampoo) and “bicibomba” (water pump). They are designing a washing machine and dough maker. Students and volunteers help them. They can live (if there is enough room) together with them in their house in this welcoming atmosphere.
They are happy about what they do and they believe they help changing the world to better place. Because of all visitors this idea “respect to the nature and world and health for the user” spreads to the whole world. Last month they moved to another place and now is everything in phase of ordering, sorting, and tidying up and meanwhile also ordered machines are being constructed.
After answering Cezar’s questions how long we want to stay and in which relationship we are (2 days, marriage) we get one room with a bigger bed and go to see the workshop. It’s really full of different bicycle parts there – for a Cuban repair man it would be like a golden treasure here (Jan feels the same:)). Later we have dinner together – Isabel and Cezar, son Bradley and daughter Yeiri. All of them are really nice and friendly and after having here so many volunteers they are really patient and tolerant to our Spanish and they speak slow.
We wake up on exploding “bombas” during the whole night (for people in Guatemala is this a communication with God – the louder the better He can hear it ?!). The bed is also not very comfortable (to put a bigger mattress on a small frame doesn’t make it double bed) and there are around 150 flies disturbing. We finally get up around 6am when a local trumpet music group starts to play – they are the alarm for the whole village today.
During the day we move around the workshop and try to help somehow. Around 2500 bicimachines have been built till now. Afternoon we wash our clothes in the public village laundry – a big pool with many sinks around. At the beginning it is fun and we enjoy it. Later Jan realizes that loundry is here pure woman job and he’s probably the only man in the village doing it so he starts to behave like he’s not here :D. But I think that he is a good example for all men in the village and greet and try to communicate with everybody passing by :). For the dinner we prepare “harula” (potato pancakes – typical Slovak dish) and everybody likes it.
Sunday – day when we’ll climb the volcano and watch the lava of the next volcano. We do food shopping, boil eggs and at 11am we go “just around the corner” to see the bicibomba live. At the end of village we realize we forgot the memory card for the camera but we don’t want to return when we are almost there (oh, we are so naive!). After pedaling around 1 hour in steep hills we finally reach the village at the top. It’s surrounded by neat fields of different gigantic vegetables (in this altitude some plants grow really good). We pass the last house and continue further (this is because for a few seconds we start to think we are on the place). Up, up, down, village, up, up, … it takes next 30minutes till we finally see it – “a waterbike” which is “just around the corner”.
Water pump is able with really simple and nice mechanism get water from the well (up to 30m deep) with efectivity of 20liters per minute. The technical drawing is possible to see at the webpage . This family has owned it for 4 years (used daily) and during the time they just needed to replace the chain and the rope :)
We continue – how surprisingly uphill! Cezar mentioned before something with a chilly air in mountains, but we thought he’s speaking about the volcano. All around us are rolling clouds, cold wind is blowing and I’m freezing in my top.
Finally way down! Or? … road is really steep, full of rocks and with bad surface (now I don’t know which is worse – uphill or downhill). Jan and Branley go fast like crazy, I break hard to save my life. We reach normal paved road after 25minutes of fear (my feeling) and Branley’s fall. We are totally exhausted! How we should climb a volcano after this “short trip”? WE won’t :( Maybe different time (or it is not meant for us). We have dinner with the family and we really feel we belong to them. We decide to stay couple days more and to help a little bit in the organization.
In the morning we meet Bjorn in the workshop – perfect guy from Canada who is for one month in Antigua and also wants to help here. We get big boxes with different things you can and cannot imagine and our mission is to order it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know where it should go… this is description of half of the parts I see in the first hours. In the afternoon it gets better and I even see the bottom of the “impossible to process” box :). In the evening we are eating Slovak beans soup and having a good feeling from the job done…
Next days we mostly just walk around the workshop and not to help much. Jan tries to weld, we repair my fork, cyclists from Argentina come, we meet Bjorn’s wife Evelyn, we prepare dumplings with some local cheese which tastes like our bryndza, with Izabel we prepare tamales (dough from corn with some filling packed in a palm leaf) for a celebration of a beauty contest and we go to see Antigua – the historical town between volcanos.
There we say goodbye to Argentinians (they have been 1 year on the way from Alaska and their destination is at home… they are perfect, funny and talkative and we really hope we’ll meet them on the way again). We meet the Canadian couple and walk in the streets. During lunch we first try to talk in Spanish but very soon we switch to English again.
Jan is kicking my chair. I don’t understand – do I speak too much? But because everybody is shaking we get it – our first earthquake.
We bicycle as fast we can back home to do it before it gets dark because we didn’t watch the time and left too late.
The plan for tomorrow “climb of the volcano” is questionable because Jan’s throat is sore and he cannot swallow. Izabel juices 4 limes and the medicine is ready. Clean, natural and even after hard negotiations without sugar :). The patient doesn’t want it, makes funny faces but at the end uses the whole glass.
It’s morning and the throat doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s time to defeat our first almost 4000m high volcano Acatenango . The reward are then 2 days of suffering. We wanted to leave on Monday morning but we have to postpone it for two days because of worst muscle ache we’ve had since the marathon. We have time to tune our bicycles, tidy, do laundry, send package (after this we have last Q90 for surviving in Guatemala), clean our mattresses and bake pineapple pie and banana bread.
We say goodbyes to all Maya Pedal and are very thankful for this 12 days. We move to the border. The way goes more or less downhill but after 110km we are destroyed at the end of that day (like always, we pushed it too much the first day), we find the firemen station in Taxisco where we want to sleep this night. They are really nice and agree. We hear till midnight counting of the knee-bends (one-two-one, one-two-two, one-two-three, …, one-two-500), which the young firemen have to do as a punishment for not learning one page of the principles. We spend all our money for new tires (our were just about to explode), we slide down the pole (without music ;)) and with one Quetzal in the pocket we go for the last 60km to El Salvador.