Blind, autistic man and brother travel the world on a tandem bike

  • Carla Trivino
  • Mundo Hispánico Palm Beach
11:19 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 Homepage
Photo provided by Juan Manuel Aznárez Rosado

Sergio Aznárez Rosado was born blind and autistic. But that didn’t stop him from traveling more than 800 miles on a bicycle from Spain to Morocco and documenting it.

Sergio was born with severe microphthalmia. His eyes, no bigger than the size of pinholes, were surgically removed before he left the hospital. During his childhood, Sergio would suffer from violent panic attacks, it wasn’t until he was six that he was diagnosed with autism.

At age 11, his uncle and aunt gifted him a tandem bike for the beach. It was heavy and difficult to pedal.

“Sergio couldn’t event reach the pedals,” his older brother Juan Manuel Aznárez Rosado laughed.

But it was an activity the brothers found they could enjoy together.

Years later, in 2013, the brothers left their hometown in Cuenca, Spain on the tandem bike to visit a friend in a village from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. They crossed deserts and mountains on the  journey that lasted more than 30 days.

It would be the first time Sergio would travel without his parents and only with the help of a bike and his older brother. 

Sergio’s parents, who are journalists, wanted to document Sergio’s story and commissioned Juan Rayos to create the film “La Sonrisa Verdadera” or A True Smile.

The idea came after the brothers and their mother, Mari Ros Rosado, visited Thailand during their Christmas vacation for 20 days.

They were surprised to see how well Sergio dealt with traveling away from his home and daily routine for so many days. Instead of worrying about assisting Sergio, the family found him adapting well and enjoying the trip as much as them. 

“It was a beautiful journey of three,” Rosado said.

When they got back home, Juan Manuel wanted to take another trip but this time only with his brother and the documentary would be a glimpse into traveling with someone like Sergio.

“We wanted to show the person Sergio is and talk about him,” Rosado said. “To show him on the daily move.”

The documentary is Sergio’s proof that people with disabilities can still enjoy life and be a part of society.

“Slowly, he’s getting used to the world and how big it is,” she said.

During their travels, they met fellow West Palm Beach bikers who invited the brothers to present their documentary in downtown Thursday night.

The film, which won numerous film awards at festivals like the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival and ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, will play at The Palm Beach Tech in Spanish with English subtitles. At the end of the screening, the brothers will discuss the film and answer questions from the audience.

“It a story that amazes people and helps them understand disabilities and situations like Sergio’s,” his brother said.

Together, they biked from San Francisco to San Diego. Then, they traveled by plane to New Orleans where they picked up their bikes again to pedal all the way down both Florida coasts. 

So far, Sergio’s favorite city in Florida is Miami, he said.

Sergio’s disability poses challenges in his daily life. Although he doesn’t interact much outside his inner circle, he stays active by practicing yoga, kayaking and surfing, among other things. But biking has stimulated him to be socially active. 

“Life doesn’t end when you run into a person like Sergio. Instead, he teaches you about life and to see the world in a different way,” Juan Manuel said.

Details:  

What: Movie Screening “La Sonrisa Verdadera”

When: 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: Palm Beach Tech: 313 Datura St Suite #100

Cost: Free with a suggested $10 donation. Tickets

Notes: The movie will play in Spanish with English subtitles. Free drinks and popcorn will be served.

Carla Trivino is a Mundo Hispánico reporter working out of The Palm Beach Post. For the latest news from Mundo Hispánico click here and to see what’s going on in the county follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

View full experience