Cycling Through Coffee Country

Like most young men, Maximiliano Solorzano started out working in the coffee groves in San Miguel de Dueñas, 20 miles outside of San Andrés, Guatemala. Plantation work is a common occupation in this region that sits in the shadows of the volcano El Fuego and walking to these groves and traveling about this hilly region takes a physical toll on any strong individual. When Don Max was approaching his 20th birthday, an illness that almost took his life permanently took the strength from his legs. Climbing the steep slopes to work for the coffee growers was no longer an option. He still had his nimble hands and the desire to work and be productive so he began to take on basic repair jobs around the area even though these were not initially profitable or consistent.

summer2012guatemalaDonMaxA consignment of bicycles from FIDESMA transformed his small itinerant subsistence into a steady and relevant business. The bicycle sales and repair keep Don Max and his family quite busy. The bikes themselves are a lifeline for the many other people in the area who continue to work in the groves. These days, he buys one dozen or so at a time, coming in  to San Andrés twice during each container sale, looking for the much-prized and quite necessary mountain bikes. During any given day, Don Max may see numbers of clients coming in for more bikes and equipment such as new chains, spokes, and patches for tires. It is no easy feat to climb these hills; they slope so dangerously that one would expect the groves and gardens planted on them to simply slide down into a heap at the bottom. The travel is time-consuming on foot and the roads are nothing more than wide paths lacking maintenance. The road bikes that initially came to Don’s shop almost 27 years ago were still better than no wheels, but the influx of mountain bikes and their all-terrain wheels is what really turned this area into a “bicycle city” and created a demand for more bikes and an opportunity for new businesses to develop.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply