22 July 2009

Abuelos en Xela con bicis

Dianonal 2

Older men were the cyclists I saw most, followed by boys. I can count on one hand the number of women and girls I saw riding a bike.

Guatemala, as with most Central and Latin American countries is plagued with machismo. I believe this plays out in many aspects of a female's life, from family life, who raises the children, who supports the family, to even being able to ride a bike. Each week, la escuela gave us a paycheck to pass along to la familia we were staying with. We were told to give it directly to la mujer - the woman of the household, and not el hombre (if there was even un hombre in the house).

I'm reminded how far ahead our culture is compared to many in terms of the freedoms afforded to women. Last year a couple of my female students from Afghanistan would tell me how their father allowed their brother to have a bicycle, but not them. And this was coming from a family considered quite progressive, i.e. the girls were allowed to NOT wear their burqas to school, and wear jeans, t-shirts, etc. I tried researching to find out more about Muslim girls and bikes, but came up empty-handed, though I did find an interesting blog that posted info about a Muslim Ladies' Cycling Club in London. How fab!


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