Posted by: standing_baba | April 17, 2010

Bike Brotherhood

Argentine cyclists Ariel (left) & Jose Luis (middle)

It was cinema night in the plaza when I met Argentine cyclists Axel & Jose Luis. Near the main fountain a crowd had already gathered around the projector; the sheet draped between two trees was whitewashed by lamplight, making the actors move ghost-like on the screen. An Eastern European short moved across the flapping cloth, in and out of silence, as the bearded projectionist twisted speaker wires in an attempt to fix the audio. I decided to walk the square until the main film, The Girl in the Cafe, was flickering smoothly.

Plaza 14 de Septiembre, Cochabamba, Bolivia

A capoeira roda pulsed in the background; old men debated in a semi-circle as one held a thick book in the air to emphasize an opinion; little girls chased balloons around the fountain, the helium light in the heavy tropical air. A stack of bikes leaned against the wire fence that protected manicured gardens from deadly footsteps. When I approached the apparent bike owners they immediately recognized me as “the guy with the trailer.” Just as I spotted them in a crowd, they had seen me touring the city with Bob in tow.

Connection made.

There is a bike brotherhood that defies borders, language, race, creed, and boils them down to the truly important: love of two-wheel freedom. This may seem overly poetic to non-bikers but I’ve found it to be true over and over again throughout my South American travels.

Axel and Jose Luis left Buenos Aires last December. Their plan is to circle South America clockwise, up through Peru, rounding the bend in Colombia and Venezuela, then back home down the Brazilian coast. They and I happened casually upon the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth but found meaning in the coincidence. As car honks interrupted the movie Alex noted, “What better way to exemplify change than the bike?” while stealing a glance at his Wiphala-stickered ride.

We swapped contact information to later share tour tips via internet and will likely bike to the various activities together during the conference.


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