Thursday, February 19, 2009

Its been a while since i´ve had to hide my nose ring

Bienvenidos al parte final,
This is the last segment of my epic mini-series on our run up to Rainbow Cafe.
I hope you´ve enjoyed the ride, thank you for choosing bike blender blog, and please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a complete and full stop.

By mid afternoon, day of the presentation, this is what my bike looked like. Allllllmost there... just a few finishing touches.

I made the mistake of attaching the donut to the table before i put the base of the blender on it. Allow me to explain.

The blender needed to sit perfectly above the hub (the part that spins from contact with the bike´s wheel). So by attaching the red circular part first, without the base of the blender, i got it slightly off. Thus when the base and blender sat exactly where they needed to they hung off to one side of the red piece ever-so-noticably. Carlos assured me it was fine, but my perfectionism contended that, in fact, it was not. I insisted on fixing it and Carlos had a good suggestion.

The silver-painted plastic base of the blender has four holes in which to screw. He said that i could cut four screw tips off, place them facing down in the holes and then imprint the necessary predill points into the circle. Good call.

I did this then pre drilled. But after trying to get the second screw in, and it didn´t go, i knew that i had to widen the holes so tht i could see them lining up. I re-drilled the holes to be just slightly smaller than the head of the screw, this way the screw would pass through the wood, catch in the plastic and act as a clamp. It worked perfectly.

The next challenge was to get the red/silver apparatus perfectly alligned with the hub so that all would allign as it needed to. To do this i placed the augmented base on the blender, locked it in place, flipped it upside down and then put the hub and table on top. This way the puzzle pieces were all together and i could screw, from underneath, the whole thing together.

It came out just right, everything lined up nice and neat.

I set the table on the bike and got to fastening it down. Carlos had said we would use rivets, like the other liquadoras have, but in the time crunch he said just use normal screws. Not nearly as pretty, but faster yes.

One thing that i wish i had forseen was that the table had to be put on before the handle bars could be welded on. At first i didn´t think it was a big deal, but when molten bits of metal scarred my careful paint job i was a little displeased. It still looks really nice, just not up close.

And here it is all finished up. (If i were to do it again, i think i´d paint the table candy stripes)

While i was working away on the bike, Carlos was putting the finishing touches on a little project he´s been working on for a while- a yarn spinner, that could be bike powered but isn´t, its motorized and just happens to utilize a lot of bike parts. (When he was working on it i asked him why not a bike, he said they wanted a motor, i said bikes were better, he agreed, i said we cant count on electricity and fuel into the future, he said i know, that´s why this- maya pedal- is so important)

With the bike machines all finished up it was time to pack up and go. I was down at the internet cafe checking a few things out before we left. The ladies loaded the truck and came down to claim me.

Carlos, Ana Maria, and Johana looking like superstars.

Me running out of the internet cafe with my nice pants on my head, and we were off! (Except for a pit stop at the lavenderia to pick up a fresh shirt and socks for me).

After getting changed and flipping my nose ring up I was ready to present. We waited for a little bit to give people time to come in. Not very many people to start with, in large part because the literature said both 5:00 and 5:30, depending on which flier you saw. But at about 5:15 we started up.

In hindsight i wish that i had taken some shots of our venue, Rainbow Cafe. Its a charming little restaurant with an open air inner courtyard, brick walls and ceramic tiled roof. All of antigua is really beautiful and charming, its easy to see why the tourists flock there.

I spoke for a few minutes about the history of Maya Pedal, how it was started up inconjunction with a Canadian group- PEDAL. How it was incorporated in 2001, its relationships with other internationl NGO´s. I talked about the variety of bike machines that they make, what a magician Carlos is, the importance of this kind of work, and how one can help out with the mission and vision of MP. During the presentation i passed out photocopies of all of the bike machines, with their names and descriptions.

To highlight one of Maya Pedal´s specific projects, Anneliese talked some about las Mujeres en Accion. She passed around an aloe blade, chamomile and, ah, umm, another herb (sorry Anneliese) that the women use in their shampoo making process. There to represent the Mujeres was Ana Maria, who sold 90 quetzal worth of shampoo that night! (We also did pretty well in donations, over 300 Q)

Next, i invited Erin to come up and demonstrate the machines to the crowd. She seemed a little surprised at first, apparently when she offered to play Vanna White she was joking. But she got up all the same and did a terrific job, she´s a natural presenter. Good projection.

First was the desgranadora- the corn de-kerneler. It was a huge hit, the crowd cheered when the corn popped down and back up. Its a funny process to watch, it amuses local kids for hours at a time. I´ll have to post a video of it sometime.

Next was the liquadora, which got some calls from the crowd for margaritas. Its funny, most people over forty look at it and think, booze! But us interns look at it and think, while drooling in a homer simpson voice, ooooh, smooooothies...

And then the electricity generator. Which actually generated too much electricity and burned out the bulb. During the Q&A it was not surprising that most people were curious about generating electricity by bike, specifically, what they could power with it. I could see the train of thought barrelling through their minds- thinking of all the appliances and gizmos that they would like to run by getting their daily dose of exercise. Biking electricity is pretty inefficient, most of them were unimpressed by the many hours of biking it takes just to power three tenty watt bulbs (3 hours of biking to 9 hours of light). I´m sorry to say this is the kind of mentality we need to begin letting go off- we´re not going to be able to bike our way into energy independence, not even on a personal level. In my mind it seems more prudent to ask, not how can i keep my gizmos running, but do i really need my gizmos? But i digress.

After Erin demonstrated we asked if anyone in the crowd would like to try ou the machines, several were pretty excited to come up and check them out.

There were some really terrific people in the crowd, we got several offers of donations of bike parts and tools, someone offered to screen print us shirts that we could sell. Two women from texas took time to explain internet fundraising to Anneliese, and we enlisted some volunteers in the process. All in all it was a good night, Johana and Carlos were very pleased with how it went.

After the talk we packed up and headed home, most of us riding in the back of the truck. With a better view and less stuff, this ride was a lot more fun than my first back o´the truck excursion. Carlos was happy to make it as exciting as possible, we all screamed in terror/joy a few times.

From the truck Johana spotted a man pedaling a bike by hand, she recognized it as one of Carlos´designs and jumped up and down for us to take pictures. But doing thirty made it hard to catch. I think i´m the only one who, kind of, got him.

Earlier in the night i had suggested that we stick around in Antigua for dinner, but Johana said it would be too expensive. Instead we stopped for roaside food in Paramos. I couldn´t figure out why, but i had a real hankering for meat. So i had four hotdogs, which turned out to be eight. I called them Chuchos (which means dog) and everyone died laughing, what are they called in spanish, i asked? They´re called hotdogs.

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