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help music people

La hora del planeta

Earth hour receives a lot of valid criticism. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t created solely for the benefit that one hour without the use of electricity would have on our planet. It will just have an effect if people change their behavior after this hour in the long run. In Xela the lights of the central park were switched off and we met an hour earlier with around a hundred cyclist to go for a ride through the city. We met at seven thirty at the municipal theatre where only last week we witnessed the Jazz Festival.

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The route was explained to the riders as well as the hope expressed that Xela one day might turn into a bicycle friendly city.

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We even had a guy from the municipal traffic police on his scooter with us, who blocked off the street as we started and held back the traffic on junctions we crossed, so that we felt quite safe and could ride without need to halt at traffic lights. Thus even the kids in our group could enjoy the ride and most car drivers took the involuntary delay well and some people along the streets waved at us or started applauding when we passed.

Starting at eight thirty, there were no lights in the “Parque a Centro America” and artists were performing in different locations without the aid of electric amplification. The concert was illuminated with candles but around the square was still enough light coming from the buildings around the parque to keep the night away.

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The music was excellent and soon the empty space in front of the musicians was filled with people dancing. A really nice evening that changed the atmosphere of Xela. Although i didn’t feel alarmed after nightfall, there usually was not a crowd to be seen like this after dark: children happily chewing away on some candy, students from the university handing out glow sticks and grandma taking grandpa to the dancefloor.

Categories
equipment help locations people

Maya Pedal

It was quite difficult to find the place as everybody in town seemed to know the organization, but not many its current location. As they moved quarters a couple of times within recent years, i received five different directions before being set on the right path. I was greeted by the three girls volunteering at Maya Pedal almost as i was an expected guest and soon after was walking through the yard among the newly constructed bici-maquinas. Here the newest addition: the washing machine.

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The workshop has most of the tools to transform a pile of old parts into a bicycle again or into pedal powered machines for daily uses, like blenders or grinders.

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The day i arrived turned out to be a special day for Emma and Diana, as they planned to slaughter a chicken for the first time in their lifes. It was a rather quiet affair, at least on the side from the chickens. But the girls grew rather upset with the knife in their hands and it once being on the throat of the animal realizing, that it is more difficult to cut than an onion. But after some crying and some help from the neighbours, the two chickens were soon bled dry before being put into hot water to make it easier to pluck the feathers.

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With Mario, the guy running Maya Pedal, i rode to the city the next day to buy some tools for the workshop. Later i ended up helping at a nearby village to shred the corn before it was fed to the chickens.

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The machine is doing its work since more than twelve years without the need of much maintainance, a time during which Mario was still a volunteer himself. He invited me to his house for lunch before showing me the newly aquired site where the organization will find a new home this year. It is considerably bigger than the current one and comes even with spaces for camping for the occasinaly passing cyclist. The bulding on the right will host the office, kitchen, bathrooms and accommodations for the volunteers.

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If you feel like helping them with a donation or some spare parts or tools you are willing to send to Guatemala you can contact me through the contact page or directly contact maya pedal through their website.

Categories
help locations people

into belize

the immigration procedure is straight forward and i was in belize in no time. the first kilometers i wasn’t that impressed by belize. like many developing countries there were not many places along the road which invited to stay or to take a closer look. the first place which did was orange walk. it was after my first night of wild camping and this was a good place for a late breakfast. i got some delicious sweat bread at a bakery and some cocoa butter to protect my lips against the sun before taking a rest at the central plaza.

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this is the first time i saw a couple of mennonites, immediately recognizable by their way of dressing and their fair skin. i later learnt that they are highly respected in belize because of their craftsmanship and though living their own lives within their communities are integrated because of the work they do for and together with the other locals. apart from that, most agricultural produce come from these communities and many belizeans are happy that the laborious work on the fields is done by the mennonites these days.

after breakfast i went on to change my remaining pesos. no bank is willing to do so but i heard about a place which changed small amounts. when i asked around for it, i found out it was closed and replaced by the chinese store i just went to and was directed towards a mayan tortilla manufactory instead. this place is great. machinery that looks like out of a museum is humming away in this busy place even hotter then the outside and produces corn tortillas in different sizes which is packed right out of the machine into small packages before being weighed and sold for a small amount to the waiting customers. while making a purchase i could change my pesos and happily returned to the bearable heat outside.

making my way out of town by noon, i continued towards the crooked tree sanctuary. after the turn off and a bumpy three mile ride, the road just ended and where it once continued the lagoon had spread out, making the small village an island. i was about to turn back when i met a mason coming back from work in belize city. he told me the coast guard came in providing emergency relief and is running a boat shuttle that was to arrive soon and we made our way jpast the parked cars and school buses to a makeshift pier out of wooden pallets. to bring the school bus over from the village to the road not effected by the flooding was one of the first concerns of the people and now every morning between five and seven, school children, teachers and workers make their way across the lagoon before continuing by road and life just goes on. with one exception: the tourists stay away. it takes at least two weeks of dry weather before the lagoon will fall back to its normal level.

Categories
help locations people

R.D.T.

at the beginning of february a lot of people were leaving. this helped to say goodbye to this wonderful place after almost two weeks. since my teammate anna and i were both heading towards chennai we decided to cycle together.

we plotted our route along the smaller roads with just two fixed points. one was the r.d.t. center (rural development trust) in anantapur which was recommended to us as a place to stay for the night. r.d.t offers schools, hospitals, a family planing center and helps building watertowers and accomodations for villages in karnataka.

when we arrived we were surprised to find out that we should have made a reservation and plan on staying for 3 or 4 days to visit some of the different projects in and around anantapur. as anna was supposed to start teaching in chennai the following week we agreed on a compromise of staying at least one full day to see some of the projects. we got a lovely room and all the food we could eat. after dinner we were shown a movie about the organization from its very beginning and made plans what places we’d like to see the next day.

we first visited the general hospital where every patient gets a treatment no matter what. which isn’t that common in other hospitals in india where you have to pay first. additionally people from r.d.t. visit villages in the surrounding areas and pick up sick people who otherwise would stay away from the hospital out of fear or the lack of money.

with totally different architecture from hospitals i’ve seen so far…

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…there is a breeze going through the building because of its open structure. almost every health center from r.d.t. has a similar concept.

to save money the organization produces some of the products they need themselves and thus providing jobs for the otherwise unemployed local population. here the production of schoolbooks…

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the resting place of father ferrer the founder who died in 2009.

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we then went to see the family planing center which tries to educate people in family matters and is also a place for the becoming mother…¬†only the mothers¬†stay with their daughters in the last days of their pregnancy, while giving birth and later take care of preparing the food and washing their grandchildren.

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