A World On A Bike




Choking heat in Brazil through Rio Grande do Sul, endless straight roads, the red of the earth and sand that sticks to the skin, inanimate forests with millions of trees lined up like disciplined soldiers and destined to sacrifice for the benefit of the capitalist world, they call it monoculture, this type of extensive cultivation accompanies me since the beginning of my trip in Uruguay, now also with endless fields of soybeans.

I go at a good pace in my journey, the pedaling is entertaining despite these straights that are lost in the horizon, until a sign tells me that I am very close to Cacequi.

I am struck by the name of the town that has a historical symbolism and in my retina are the stories of the native populations. The use in America of the word Cacique was actively promoted by the Spanish monarchy in order to unify in one word the enormous diversity that existed, standardizing and forgetting the enormous cultural richness that was presented to them. 

I arrive to the small town in the afternoon, it has more of a village character, by the time it is time to look for a place to sleep, the usual option of the gas station is unfeasible because they have no space to put the tent, so the firefighters are left, but passing through a municipal park I see that there is a police station. 

I ask if I can sleep right there in the square and they tell me that it is no problem and that they will talk to the park guard to make sure that I am well, I am among kind and hospitable people.

The park caretaker is also a beekeeper and this fact awakens in me the feeling that there is nothing casual. 

This person will lead me to meet someone very important in this trip and in my life, once again, but above all I am fascinated by a direct relationship with an event that happened to me two days before arriving in this city. 

I tell you how this chain of emotions arises and why I do this reading and why I say that there is a causality or relationship that are connected in some way. 

It comes from a couple of days before, when I received a kilo of honey from a child at my entrance to Brazil and already in the state of Rio Grande. I pause to tell you this story.

In full route by Santana de Libramento on the border with Uruguay, a woman who was with her son and was leaving the market where they did their shopping and seeing me with the bike full of saddlebags, bulky and so bulky started talking to me and started asking me why I was traveling by bike and that along with the rest of the usual questions that I usually do on the trip tried to clear his uncertainty of how someone can travel like that.

Next to him the son of this woman was listening attentively holding his mother’s arm, in silence and with his eyes open, and when I was about to leave and I advanced a few meters I heard him shouting at me, hey, sir, sir! When I turned around I saw him running towards me with a big jar of honey. 

He looked at me, smiled and said, “I have asked my mother to give you this honey to give you strength to fulfill your dream”.

I got excited and hugged him, and I looked at my mother who smiled at me while waving goodbye.

Now in Cacequi I meet a beekeeper the day I arrive and I feel an impulse to meet, mingle and learn from what is offered to me along the way as a natural sequence. It is surprising to see how nothing is chance, rather a causality that will be very enriching.

But this is not the beekeeper who will show me and reveal to me the dimension and the fascinating world of bees. His hives are far away and he travels by motorcycle and he warns me that it is difficult to access them, I will never know if that was the real reason but thanks to him and the good people of the government of Cacique I was able to meet a wonderful person, Mauricio de Aguiar, another beekeeper! 

The days before meeting Mauricio and thanks to a first call to the tourism council, by the police, I can sleep in a covered place with light and bathroom, it is an assembly hall for the community. I explain my intentions of documenting the life of a beekeeper and how honey is produced. They offer me to stay as long as I want and also take me to the Emater office in the city, this is a governmental entity and is dedicated among other things to guide family farmers in the development of production systems to be sustainable and generate sufficient income to confer competitiveness.

I drive with Walter, councilman of the prefecture (city council) of the city, where I am introduced to Mauricio. I meet him drinking mate with Victor, who works as an agronomist at Emater. In the following days I will realize that the two are great friends in spite of their differences.

Walter introduces us and I tell them the reason for my trip, my project focused on documenting the different professions, social problems and lives of the people I meet along the way and that this is also my idea for those days in Cacequi.

 At all times they are willing to help me as each of the people I have been meeting in the city and Mauricio offers to visit his beehives and also to visit for a few days someone very special, his name is Miguel and he is a farmer who works the field in a sustainable way applying ecological systems to his crops with only one problem, he is surrounded by soybeans.

I spend two more days in the shed offered by the municipality until Mauricio offers me to sleep in his house. This is how I meet his wonderful family who make me feel at home for the rest of my stay in the city and who will become family. 

The following days I not only discover the incredible world of the bees and with it also the inner world of Marcelo, I have that feeling that happens sometimes of having met him some time ago and having lived something important with that person and that makes you feel comfortable with him, as if the underlying friendship relationship was actually something consolidated for a long time at some point.

The following days are filled with intense conversations about as many topics as life has to offer, conversations that usually take place in the middle of nature on the way to the beehives of his family business and his cooperative. 

The days with Marcelo and his family were like being in a family, a generous family with the community, it was not uncommon to see Marcelo helping people living on the street. Marcelo’s father, also a beekeeper, had a stroke, and since then Marcelo has been in charge of running the honey production cooperative. 

The bees remind us that we are more disconnected than ever from appreciating the connectivity that every living being has with every other living being. The view of bees in ancient times and in Egyptian mythology was that bees are the tears shed on the earth by the solar god, the giver of life. Today we forget that they are the main polarizers of the planet.

Marcelo is worried about the future of his bee panels, there is an important decrease in the population and everything indicates that it comes from the chemicals used for soybean plantations. The view is lost in the horizon with these plantations and from time to time you can hear the planes dropping the dreaded glyphosate. 

Soon I will be living with a farmer who is determined to farm sustainably surrounded by soybeans, but that is another story. 

-conozcamonos mejor-