A day out with Maya Pedal

(read the whole post here)

On Thursday, the crew from Maya Pedal piled into Carlos’s ageing Toyota pickup and took to the dirt roads that corkscrew their way up and down this rugged countryside. After a month in the workshop, we were heading to San Martin Jilo Tepeque, hour and a half into the mountains, to see some of the bicimaquinas in action that Mayapedal has been building…

A desgranadora, a machine that seperates the corn from the cob. Twenty families share this one – previously, the process was far more labour intensive, using a piece of wood and wire to scrape off the corn.

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Cobs stripped bare. Plump corn is fed into the top, and the petals come spitting out into the basket.

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Lots of different varieties. This is corn country, after all.

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We were visiting with a film crew from Berkeley University – Isaac, Jacob and Ian – making a documentary on similar pedal driven projects around the world. It’s called With My Own Two Wheels, and will be available online at some point.

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The kids were curious…

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And the puppies oblivious…

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Here’s a despulpadora de cafe, which strips the fruit from the seeds – the coffee beans.

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In action, wellington boots and all.

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Organic coffee growing on the farm, exported to the US. Coffee is an important part of the local economy for Guatemala; the country is known to produce some of the richest varieties in the world. The acidity and taste depends on a whole bunch of factors, including the altitude of the finca and local micro climates – which can vary even within a field.

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And baked dry coffee beans, yet to be peeled and roasted.

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Lumps of obsidian by the roadside, a remnant of naturally occurring volcanic glass.

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And here’s a bicibomba de lazo – a bicycle powered water pump in action.

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And a women’s co-op in Iztapa preparing natural shampoo made from the flesh within the massive, spikey leaves of local aloe vera plants.

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And lastly, some of those colourful Guatemalan textiles...

Get more info on With My Own Two Wheels, the documentary on pedal driven projects around the world, here.

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