Thursday, December 16, 2010
Playa del Carmen; Bike Shop Experience; Route Reflections
I am in Playa del Carmen now, a very pleasant place, cozy with a very nice beach and some pedestrian exclusive streets. Yesterday, I went out to find some work. I went to a bike shop and they asked me if I knew how to build a wheel. I said yes. They gave me the materials and I went to work. I knew the basic idea and technique, but I had never built a wheel from start to finish. In about an hour to an hour and half, I had built my first wheel, with a bit of guidance looking on as a co-worker built a similar wheel. They inspected my product and offered me a job starting the next morning! The terms were: 8am to 8pm M-Sat, and 8am-1pm Sunday, payday. 1200 pesos/week plus one meal daily. That is 77 hours/week for $100, or $1.30/hour! Wow. Even though it was a paltry sum, I decided to try it for the experience. I came in this morning, and the boss said that after speaking with the owner, he could not hire another worker. Oh, well. So today I turn to the web to try to make some money--via this blog, and also through writing articles for eHow.com. Any other ideas?
At this point I plan to stay in Playa through Christmas to celebrate with some friends, and then continue the journey. Last night I met with old friend David Kroodsma and his co-Stanford alum friend Kate Larsen, who both work in the climate field--David as a blogger for the Huffington Post and Kate as a climate negotiator for the US Department of State. Both were in Cancun at the climate summit and hung around afterwards for some touring and relaxing. David did "Ride for Climate" 5 years ago, which was a self-supported bike tour from California to Tierra del Fuego, educating about impending local impacts of climate change. At the end of our visit last night, David suggested I take the island hopping route of Cuba, Haiti, DR, Jamaica, etc. instead of Central America, which he said is probably the least desirable place in Latin America to bike through. I am considering it; food for thought. I have a couple weeks to think about that. I have considered the island route before and this would probably be the best place to switch tracks. Or perhaps in Belize. I am not decided yet if I still want to do Central America, the "Island-hopping route", or skip straight to Colombia, which by all accounts of recent visitors--cyclers and backpackers alike--is one of the most wonderful and exciting places on my route. Any comments or suggestions from folks who have recently traveled to Central America, Cuba, Haiti, DR, Jamaica, Colombia? What have you seen and experienced? What do you like? I have been looking forward to Central America, but I am open to route variations. I am not married to using the bike exclusively--all modes of travel are on the table. What about Venezuela? I hear it is a bit tumultuous, but I always take fear-mongering with a grain of salt; some first hand reports would be instructive.
at 9:43 AM