Sunday, June 21, 2015
by Mark Beckwith
There is light at the end of the tunnel! Starting out this morning, there is only a little over 100 miles to go - 71 miles today and 30 miles tomorrow. Leaving McAlester Oklahoma behind, we set out for Poteau. We had been getting better and better at starting earlier and earlier. Today was no exception. It was to be our last early day, since Day 7 (tomorrow) is only 30 miles and we could practically knock that one out before breakfast.
As expected, we finished before noon. The weather was nice as we made our way across the green country of eastern Oklahoma.
Once we were in, fed and showered, I asked Agustin to tell me a little about the challenges he faces being the father of a child with a big nevus in Mexico.
"Where are the 40 or 50 kids born every year with a large nevus in Mexico? We don't see them. Do they just keep it inside, or what?
"In the USA you have diversity. In Mexico we do not. Where we live, our community is middle upper class. The society is very aspirational. Our values are a bit different. You need to be competitive, you need to be the first, the best, the coolest, the nicest. Society pushes a lot for you to be the best looking.
"Bullying in Mexico got to be such a problem that they passed a law against it." Agustin encounters belligerence when he tries to talk to the parents of kids who bully his daughter Mariabelen. He says they respond "I will raise my kid the way I want." He told me he expects the same is true throughout Latin America.
To be fair, he admits, "But when I read about what they do in some other countries, it's kind of extreme. I gotta be honest, there are more good people than bad people. Out of 100 people you may meet, you might have normal relations with 80 of them, like family and friends, but 20 will ask questions like, 'What did you do to your kid?' or, 'What happened to her?'"
Most interesting to me is that this sounds just about the same as what it's like in the USA. Truly. I don't know if that's any consolation to Agustin, or an indictment of our claims to be as enlightened as we say we are.
People are people, good and bad. Let's not give up quite yet!
Here's the last radio interview - I only did them on weekdays. There is not one for Day 7. Maybe next year :-)
On Day 7 we decided to sleep in! But then it turned out we were probably the last ones out of Poteau! Arkansas, here we come. We hustled to catch up with all our friends, and we managed to finish at about 9:30 in the morning. This was followed by a brief celebration - the Marriott Courtyard in Fort Smith realized we were pretty big stuff and allowed us to use their spa - thanks, Courtyard! All too soon we were taking bikes apart and getting them ready for the long trip south to Metepec, which, as Agustin and Jorge explain, is a suburb of Mexico City.
Rather than wax too poetic about the end of another fantastic Freewheel, instead, I would like to wonder if we can mount a truly big team for our 4th outing next year. Any cyclists out there want to get in on the fundraising? We can definitely use all the help we can get.
Massive kudos to a good old friend of Nevus Outreach - although he does not have a person with a nevus in his family, Ken Wright has worked for four of our conferences, and has been a champion of our cause for many years. We were so pleased when he agreed to be our man on the ground this year. It went great! Thanks again, Ken!
See you next year ... !