In May 2011 I flew to Bali with my bicycle. Since September 2012 I am back in the Netherlands. On my way to Europe I conducted 32 workshop with over 600 participants, constructed 21 appropriate technologies, cycled 11329 km cycled and had 8 flat tires. Time for reflection. What did I learned? Here 25 new insights and lessons learned.
1. There is nothing more inspiring than inspiring people.
2. Development is about how people are connected to their social and natural environment – not about what kind of house, toilet or shower they have. However the kind of house, toilet or shower they have can connect people to their social and natural environment.
3. Cycling and conducting workshops is a cost-effective way to bridge local wisdom with modern know-how (and no multiple-management, administrative and bureaucratic layers in-between).
4. Everywhere around the world mobile internet is available however a much connection can be found with nature and local cultures.
5. Donations come in support of my efforts when I trust and don’t crave for them.
6. People everywhere around the world are amazingly friendly of which we can learn in Western Europe a lot. I couldn’t recognize anything what is shown in the the news everyday.
7. When local people cannot pay for the construction materials, the technology is not appropriate.
8. Children are smart: “Mister, What if solar water heaters would are installed everywhere would that cause global warming because all the collected heat?”
9. Riding a bicycle is like life: Environments are constantly changing, I have to keep moving in order to keep the balance in mind and on my path, it is only me who decide which direction I go.
10. It is about the road not the goal but in order to have a road we need a goal.
11. Almost every house in South-China has a solar collector. Autocracy can be very effective!
12. Poverty is very visible in urban areas but less so in rural areas even though they have less property.
13. It is not permitted to cross the border of China by bicycle but you can put the bicycle in a taxi.
14. Nomads, living in Gers, Mongolia do not need a toilet.
15. Solar water heaters are more popular than ecological toilets, even in tropical climates.
16. Self-made solar dryers can dry tomatoes in one day.
17. It is possible to heat water to 80oCelsius simply by using glass bottles, drinking tins, copper and screes.
18. As tourist, I pay 3 times the local price but, as a guest, I am not allowed to pay anything.
19. There are still remote villages where barter trade is the main survival strategy.
20. Zài nǎlǐ wǒ kěyǐ bǎ wǒ de zhàngpéng? Means: ‘Where can I put my tent?’ in Chinese.
21. After constructing many solar water heaters still the best warm shower is from the sky when cycling uphill near the equator.
22. A luxury resort is likely to give less financial support than an organic rice farmer.
23. It is good to stay calm when a drunk person threatens with a knife. Such a incident gives an amazing feeling of being alive.
24. Don’t put PVC pipe collectors in the sun without water.
25. It takes 3 hours to make a solar cooker. Using the solar cooker at noon produced a boiled egg within 2 hours, rice in 3 hours and bread in 4 hours. However, the rice did not fulfil the expectations of the refugees from Myanmar.
P.s. I am still in contact most of with the people where objects are constructed. As far as I know almost all constructed objects are working. If I am mistaken I will be glad to hear this for further improvements.