May 14th, 2013
Bikes Fixed: 0
Bikes/Day Avg: 0
I have very few things left on my to-do list today, which is good, because my flight is at a nice, breezy 6:25 AM. Anyways, after biking across the country and leaving for India I’ve got this whole “leave home for a while” thing down pat, so all is well.
There are a couple Spanish things I need to work on. Or, not work on so much as remind myself of. I took a year of Spanish in college. It wasn’t required, I just figured I’d be visiting Latin America at some point in my life, so maybe I should brush up on the year I failed out of in elementary school (the get us so young, don’t they?). I also speak conversational French, which helps, as it is very similar to Spanish. The sentence structures are the same, and many of the words are similar.
So I really just need to get my reflexive pronouns down. Oh and also,
Me: Cómo escribes el signo de interrogación al revés?
[How do you type the question mark upside-down?]
Friend: Está en su teclado.
[It is on your keyboard.]
Me: No está en mi teclado.
[It is not on my keyboard.] (For the record, neither are the accented vowels. I use a copy-and-paste cheat sheet.)
Friend: Está en mi teclado. Ustedes necesita un nuevo teclado.
[It’s on my keyboard. You need a new keyboard.]
Me: No hay un atajo de teclado?
[There is not a keyboard shortcut?]
Friend: Debes comprar un nuevo teclado.
[You should buy a new keyboard.]
Me: Lo encontré! ¿Alt+0191?
[Found it! ¿Alt+0191?]
Friend: Muy bueno.
So… learning Spanish. I am totally just adding ¿ to my cheat sheet… the alt+# shortcuts are sketchy at best in a browser.
Aside from changing my language mentality, there have also been changes to… well, to the plan. See, I had bought a ticket to Guatemala under the idea I’d be volunteering for Maya Pedal. So about a month before heading back from India I sent Maya Pedal an e-mail confirming the dates, asking what tools I should bring, etc. No response.
A few weeks later I sent another e-mail, this time in English and in Spanish… no response. At this point I e-mailed my contact in Holland saying I might need a backup plan, but wasn’t sure yet. A bit confused and a bit worried, I used the direct e-mail of a previous volunteer at Maya Pedal I had on hand. This is the response I received:
Thanks for checking in. Maya Pedal is definitely shut down. Which is really for the best, since it had turned corrupt as I explained to you earlier. Carlos has started a new bicimaquina business called BiciTec. Right now it is still in Itzapa and is accepting volunteers. The website is under development: bicitec.org. BiciTec is supported by Bikes Not Bombs and has just received a huge shipment of bikes this week. So it will be a busy time, perfect for you to arrive!
You can contact Carlos directly at [address]. I will write to him as well to make sure he knows about you. Volunteers who have visited recently have had excellent experiences and very positive feedback.
So that was bittersweet news. Maya Pedal had worked a long time to gain the status and momentum that it had, and the end result is obviously a little disappointing. That being said, I believe that BiciTec has the capability to become something more than what Maya Pedal was, as it is run solely by Carlos and ex-volunteers who are devoted to the idea of bicimaquinas. Ideally there’s no more corruption, at the cost of starting over.
In short, volunteers are more needed than ever. My (terribly written) e-mail to Carlos was well received and he’s excited to have me. I’m excited to be there! Often when volunteering at co-ops in the states I feel as if there are too many volunteers and not enough organization. I’ve always wanted to catch something right at the beginning, when more people are actually needed, capacity hasn’t been reached, and I can do a lot of work and have a tangible impact.
I’m really looking forward to this.
Next post will be from Guatemala! ¡Adios amigos!