The Daily Bike, March 29, 2012

San Andrés Itzapa is in the mountains of Guatemala at the center of the country. The district, San Andrés, is considered one of the poorest places on earth, with no electricity and only farming income, but that’s merely one way to measure the place: The Itzapecos have devised workarounds for some of the hard, slow, labor of their lives by creating bicycles that do the work more easily, from pumping water out of a well to running a blender to turn aloe into shampoo. Their organization, the Maya Pedal Asociación, is a cooperative that takes donated bikes and bike parts from around the globe and breaks them down to create a range of pedal-powered machines called Bicimáquinas (bicycle machines).

Volunteers also come to help build the machines, which have ranged beyond what you might imagine possible (and beyond what you see in the below film): including tile makers and nut shellers. It still leaves plenty of hard work in the fields harvesting coffee, wheat, cotton, and avocado, but takes some of the edge of production.

FYI, seeing the below YouTube has apparently inspired volunteers and cyclists worldwide, overwhelming Maya Pedal’s website. You can e-mail them instead (Spanish would be a good idea) at: [email protected]

Photo: Matteo de Mayda for World Cycling Atlas

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