[NOMADE DES MERS] Maya Pedal presents its bicimaquinas

Carnet de bord

Date of publication : January 18th, 2021
Writers : Guénolé Conrad
Place : Guatemala

This new Guatemalan stopover takes us to the small town of San Andres Itzapa. Although it may not seem very remarkable, the place has been attracting travelers and volunteers from all over the world for more than 20 years. The village owes its fame to the ingenuity of its inhabitants and in particular to the Maya Pedal project where they build “bicimaquinas”.

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© Low-tech Lab

Viva los bicimaquinas !

The Cakchiquel Maya, the majority ethnic group in the region, live mainly off the land and, like many indigenous communities in the country, with very few resources.
Mario Juarez, one of the founders of the Maya Pedal project:

“Our idea was born in the face of a very concrete problem: the price of the ground corn that our community was buying from agro-industrial companies became unattainable. However, it was a long and tedious process to grain and grind the corn by hand. So one day we came up with the idea of using our old bicycles to try to run a mill. As you can imagine, the first prototype was very shaky… But it made us see the enormous potential of these pedal machines! From improvements to improvements, we perfected our grain mill and a multitude of other machines followed. They worked so well that everyone wanted them!We named them “Bicimaquinas”.”

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© Maya Pedal

One systeme, a dozen machines

Today, Mario and his team have designed bicimaquinas as diverse as water pumps, mixers, washing machines, saws and coffee pulpers. They developed and built more than 3000 machines with a local team and the many international volunteers who come to their center for training. Donations of old bicycles are pouring in and the whole town benefits from them.

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Water pumping © Low-tech Lab

easily repaired and economical

According to Mario, the advantages of bicimaquinas are multiple:

“First of all, these machines are economical, in the sense that they are cheap to build and allow users to avoid spending money on fuel, for example. They can also be repaired very simply, without the help of a specialized technician, and this, with bicycle parts available everywhere.They build and develop these machines to order with a local team and the many international volunteers who come to their center for training. Donations of old bicycles are pouring in and the whole town benefits.”

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© Low-tech Lab

We are pleased to see that the younger generation and especially women are very involved in the project. We especially met 2 of them, Melody and Marisol. Since she was 14 years old, Melody has been trained in metallurgy and welding and participates in the construction of bicimaquinas:

“I would like to show that these activities, which are considered masculine, are also for women!”

Marisol has recently joined Maya Pedal. She also wishes to become an actor of change:

“I am convinced that bicimaquinas can create economic opportunities for our communities and all this while respecting the environment!”.

Their energy, maturity and commitment already give us a glimpse of the future leaders they will be for their community!

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© Low-tech Lab
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© Low-tech Lab

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