Well again Jane has comprehensively described the shambles that we merrily taxied into on Monday. It was shocking in so many ways, taking “taking the piss to new levels”. We found ourselves in a concrete and corrugated tin (oddly lacking the charm I felt in Antigua!) barn containing a small workshop area and some anterooms opening on to a central corridor.
Jane’s face was a picture to behold, outwardly appearing calm and serene but inwardly more Munch than Renoir! It was clear that as things stood this was not a viable proposition for us (and in my opinion for Maya Pedal). As we later agreed, the absolute worst thing about the whole experience was the total deflation that we felt. We had gone there to do a good job and to try and make some improvement in the lives of these bloody hard working, tenacious and stoic people. What we met was a fucking Spiv named Mario, obviously squeezing the last knockings out of other people’s creativity and endeavour.
After stowing our bags in the cell, sorry bedroom! I took a walk about the place to appraise what was being done. Pedro was working on a bike powered blender chassis, filling weld blow holes caused by poor welding and crimps caused by bad tube bending. Oddly I found this bit comforting, it has been a long time since I last did any welding or fabricating but was comfortable that I could do better than that. In another room there were about a dozen chassis awaiting the rest of the parts to be fitted, so far so good I thought.
Next I went to look and try the “finished” article that was proudly displayed at the entrance door. My first impression was that this was a very clever, well thought out solution that would provide years of service that would enable some local person to make a reasonable and sustainable living. Actually that was not my first impression, which was that this was an underdeveloped, flakey and inefficient piece of shit! I quickly concluded that all R&D had stopped and the creatives in this outfit had flown a long time ago. The machines I saw were just crude pastiches of what we thought we were here to build.
Two hundred bucks poorer, but much wiser we decided to bail. Our plans now back in the cooking pot. So what to do now? We have rented a small bungalow at lake Atitlan for a week, maybe stay longer if we like it. It will be good to have our own space again and maybe even unpack! We have a couple of other places to visit in Guatemala and then we shall go to Copan in Honduras to spend a week amidst some amazing Mayan ruins, hot springs and macaws.
As a post script, in light of our experience with Mario and suspecting there may have been some sort of coup D’etat we took to the internet to investigate. What we found more or less matched our assessment, the real prime mover and originator Carlos Marroquin had left Maya Pedal a while back following some disagreement and had set up on his own, taking the real backers with him. We have now emailed him and it is possible that we may end up back in San Andreas Itzapa working for him, giving me the chance to use the bike tools I’ve lugged halfway around the world and maybe as a bonus the opportunity to stick one on that smug little tosser Mario 🙂