I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Peddle Day 40: West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Contrasts - The Poor and the Rich

Palms alongPalm Beach.  What a concept!
Headed out to kayak, but a flat tire on our truck took up most of the day.  Biked instead.  A study in contrasts of pedaling through decrepit looking neighborhoods full of pawn shops and the homeless, and then past massive, elaborate mansions on the beach.
Today's change in plans didn't involve weather or injury or kayak or bike repairs just a simple flat tire.  We went to the closest Toyota dealer to have it fixed and entered a new culture of load voices and high energy.  Chris couldn't even understand the technician, and I, with my southern background, had to translate for him.  I do miss diversity in Maine.  By the time we were out of the dealership, there was not enough daylight left to kayak.  So once again I mounted my trusty folding bicycle.

The ride began with a huge hill - a high bridge.  I was so pleased I was able to get to the top without stopping.  My cycling legs are getting used to the small range of gears in the folder.  Then down the other side into a neighborhood where I had the wrong color skin.  But I did have the right transportation mode, and found my fellow cyclists exceedingly friendly and helpful, and a little surprised to see me there.
One of many pawn shops
I passed lots of pawn shops, fortunetellers, street food venders, chained link fences and vacant lots covered with cracked concrete.  I passed large apartment blocks, and small houses.  The sidewalks were cracked, and there was gang related spray painting on them and on the streets.

As I passed bus stops shelters I was going slow enough to notice the blankets of the homeless tucked up into the rafters.  When traveling by bike or kayaking under bridges, it is so much easier to notice the evedence of homelessness.  At boat ramps the homeless use the restrooms, and there were signs noting when there would be distributions of free soap, etc. At one public ramp, an older man came up to us asking if the exciting item he had just found was a "Kodak or radio?"  His smile widened when Chris showed him it was not only a radio, but also a flashlight, and that the batteries still worked.   In central Florida, when I passed through the Ocala national Forest, I was told about the homeless veterans who live there.   At the Rotary Club in the Villages they were collecting those little hotel shampoos and soaps, as well as plastic grocery bags for those homeless veterans.  The bags can be crocheted into sleeping mats, such as these I saw on Yahoo Makers.
Sleeping mats for the homeless made out of plastic bags.

During my usual rural or suburban travels the homeless are much more invisible.

After passing east over the next bridge, I descended into the different world of Palm Beach, with lovely large mansions and complexly manicured tropical hedges  The  spray paint markings on the well maintained roads now were made by the municipality to indicate spots that needed repair.
Palm Beach street
Again I had the wrong color skin - too pale compared to the perfectly tanned.  But worst of all, I was literally a red neck from all the days in the sun on kayak and bike.  To make matters worse, I was using the wrong mode of transportation.  People heading to the beach would step off of the sidewalk into the road right in front of me, causing me to screech on the brakes.  Maybe it's just another case of women my age being invisible.  At one intersection on a fast road, I walked my bike across using the pedestrian signals.  The driver of a BMW turning left onto the street I was crossing felt she had the right of way and headed straight for me, gesturing to her green light.  I held my ground pointing to the white "cross now" light I had.  She seemed amazed I wouldn't get out of her way.  Not the smartest move on my part, but I was getting a little tired of the general entitled attitude around me.

I was so tired that I crossed back on the next bridge and finished my day riding through the much rougher neighborhoods.  I was glad to arrive right before sunset at the public boat ramp where Chris had just arrived to pick me up

Gratitude List:
  • Tire sensors that warn you when you have a screw in your tire
  • Trains whistling as they pass alongside our suburban campground
  • A tail wind on the bike
  • Cooler weather
  • Chris showing up at all the right places!
Date: January 2, 2016                                                 Restart Paddle Day: 40
Start location: Riviera Beach, FL                                  Launch time: 2:10 pm
End location:  Delray Beach                                         Land time: 5:20 pm
Average speed: 9.6 mph                                              Max Speed: 20 mph
Miles: 26.9
Total expedition miles with kayak and bike: 2238         Motor-portage miles: 404
Kayak Storage:  Easterlin Broward County Park
Host: Chris Percival

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