Barbara Smit is the producer of a Dutch television travel show for kids. She lives and works in Nicaragua and she travels by bike; on the very same Dutch bicycle she used in the streets of Amsterdam.
Barbara has been working in Nicaragua for over two years. Together with director Stef Biemans, she first worked on a series for children called ‘Letters from Nicaragua’. That series showed what it’s like to live in a foreign culture and raise a child (Stef’s wife is from Nicaragua, and their son Camilo was born there).
In their current production, Barbara and Stef travel the world to meet special kids in special places (preview of the new show below). So far, Stef has met a fisherman’s son from Ghana who wants to become a famous boxer, a snake charmer child from India, and a young priest in Rome who has fallen madly in love. As producer, Barbara was responsible for locating each one of those characters.
Barbara lives in Nicaragua’s capital: Managua. Managua’s infrastructure is designed exclusively for motorists, so even a seasoned cyclist like Barbara doesn’t cycle there. But, on a brighter note, a small group of local cyclists recently did protest against the poor cycling infrastructure. For an hour, they rode their bikes in countless rounds on the same roundabout; stopping all traffic in an attempt to get interest for their cycling cause. Barbara was in India at the time, otherwise she would have joined in.
Barbara works in Masaya, where – unlike in Managua – cycling is part of everyday life. Masayan parents will have children sitting on their bike’s crossbar or steering wheel, while their pannier bags will be packed with papaya’s, chicken or cassava. It is here, amongst the Nicaraguan city bikes, bike taxi’s and donkey carts, that Barbara keeps her Dutch bike stalled. She uses it for getting to meetings, for shopping, or for teaching colleagues how to cycle.
Occasionally, she will take her Dutch bike and cycle to the petrol station on the town’s border – the only place selling decent chocolate. On the way back to the office, Barbara will hardly notice the looks local men give her. The speed of her bike takes her past them before they can make a comment.
Besides, Barbara is too absorbed in her chocolate anyway.