Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Brazil and Chile 2005
My next trip was the Scallywags Brazil Servant Team. Our focus was to work on the streets with Project Touch. They work with Drug addicted Street children, prostitutes, and transvestites. I thought this would be a good place to bring the bike especially when we spent time with the homeless kids on the street. Their lives are filled with drugs, violence, and abuse from the Police and I found it very hard to take in. In the midst of this modern city of Sao Paulo there are kids that forgotten and have to exist alone on the streets. We met a lot of kids over the course of our few weeks there and we spent a lot of time playing board games, coloring pictures, playing soccer among other activities to remind them of what it's like to be a kid having good clean fun. One day I brought the bike out and a group of about ten kids gathered around with the plastic bags that are filled with shoe repair glue that they huff all day to stay high. We found a park nearby with some space to ride. All the kids took turns riding and there were a few times that I wondered if I would see the bike again but every time they returned with huge smiles on their face. All was well until the a couple police officers showed up with their guns drawn on us telling to put our hands up. Immediately the kids split out of fear and we were left there to sort this all out. Long story short is that they thought we were selling drugs to the kids and that's why they approached us with such seriousness so after we explained what we were doing they settled down. After all that commotion we left cause all the kids were gone anyway. Too bad.
Next stop was Santiago, Chile for ten days of concerts with NLM. One interesting moment I had with the bike here was one day when I was taking some time off for the afternoon. I decided to ride around the city and get to know it a little. I always enjoy seeing a city from the tallbike perspective. There are a lot of things you can't see or smell when you’re in a car. At one point in the ride I decided to get off the bike and walk since I was in an area where there were lots of crowded people and didn't want to crash into people in a foreign land. As I walked along with the bike a lady came and got my attention. Her English was better than my Spanish and she wanted me to come meet her brother. I walked over to him to say hi. He was a blind man selling sunglasses and I thought that was kind of ironic. Anyway, she explained to him what the bike was like and he asked if he could feel the bike. I thought that would be ok and I watched him discover the tallbike without sight but by touch. It was very fascinating to watch him grasp the height of the bike and he just shook his head with amazement and then a few others came over to look it over and ask questions. This was very special to me. This was one of the reasons I put this bike together.