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Amazon Watch Rainforest Delegation and other overdue news…

First Amazon Watch Rainforest Delegation
Also exciting in March…. Amazon Watch, had a small delegation come from the US, a few people who are interested in the organization’s work and the Amazon and a few people who work for Amazon Watch in the USA.  We took them on a Toxi-Tour much like the one I did and then to an amazingggg jungle lodge near Yasuni national park. The toxic-tour was as disgusting as ever, and can you believe we went to mostly places that I didn’t go the first time?!  There is so much destruction its horrifying.  We got the pleasure of seeing a dead bird in an oil pile.

Donald the amazing and.........

Donald the amazing and.........

dead oily bird
dead oily bird

One really exciting part for me was traveling to Dureno – the once home of the indigenous Cofan people that was also home to one of the first drill sights for Texaco.  The really special part was that Emergildo Criollo, an indigenous Cofan leader who has become one of the faces of the trial came with us and told us his whole story as we stood in the middle of the jungle by the sign for what used to be his people’s village.

Emergildo and the sign for where his community, Dureno, WAS beofre Texaco came in and started drilling without any notice

Emergildo and the sign for where his community, Dureno, WAS beofre Texaco came in and started drilling without any notice

His story is very powerful, as he recounts (and did so in front of the judge during the judicial inspections – see video!) how the company came in without warning on helicopters, started drilling and made no precautionary steps for the environment or the people.  Two of his sons died directly resulting from drinking the water that oil pollution was freely dumped into.  Hearing all of this in the exact place where it happened was remarkable and depressing.  But Emergildo is doing everything he can to represent and fight for the rights of his people who have suffered so much at the hands of the ruthless oil company.

Emergildo telling us all his story

Emergildo telling us all his story

walking back from the first area Texaco trashed, the beautiful jungle sunset

walking back from the first area Texaco trashed, the beautiful jungle sunset

smelling oily earth... why are they laughing?! ;)

smelling oily earth... why are they laughing?! 😉

they wanted their photo taken.... Petroecuador workers

they wanted their photo taken.... Petroecuador workers

We were visiting a NASTY huge abandoned oil pit when this guy found us in the woods and started talking to Donald, who has been there a million times but never met him.  Apparently this guy and his brothers recently bought the land all around this pit, and they only just discovered it, as their cows were getting sick and dying and they couldn't figure out why.  How could they buy land without being told that it was useless and poisonous?!?

We were visiting a NASTY huge abandoned oil pit when this guy found us in the woods and started talking to Donald, who has been there a million times but never met him. Apparently this guy and his brothers recently bought the land all around this pit, and they only just discovered it, as their cows were getting sick and dying and they couldn't figure out why. How could they buy land without being told that it was useless and poisonous?!?

pit of nasty oil, normal attire of rubber boots and machete

pit of nasty oil, normal attire of rubber boots and machete

pretty!

pretty!

As I said, we were lucky enough to go to travel down the Napo river 2.5 hours, walk 25 minutes, and then another 25 minutes in canoa to a secluded fantastic jungle lodge right by the Yasuni National Park. It is really hard to put this all into words,  so as usual check out the photos if you want a real feel for how incredible this place was.   But yeah the jungle lodge was so super duper fancy – I wasn’t going to go because it was too expensive but then someone couldn´t come and I was the luckiest person ever because this place was a jungle heaven! The nature was different than the other part of the jungle I went – much more ridiculously cool vines and humongous trees and yeah just  serene and green.  We also saw monkeys, bugs, birds, and tons and tons of parrots and yeah it was pretty neat but very different!

at times, we made for an interestingly hilarious crew

at times, we made for an interestingly hilarious crew

the walk from the riverboat to the canoes to the lodge

the walk from the riverboat to the canoes to the lodge

the boat ride to the lodge

the boat ride to the lodge

But really the best part of this for me was the incredibly interesting people on the trip. . . I had an amazing time getting to know them and have to say a little bitty about two that stood out…

Antoine came along to take professional photos and video for Amazon Watch – and his presense by far made the trip triple in excitement and laughter for everyone.  I already told a few people about him because he really had a huge impact on me … He was just seriously the happiest man ever in a completely non-annoying way.  And he is an incredible photographer… not just in the photos he takes but he also just has a way of talking to people and spreading his great energy.  His life was also beyond exciting – having grown up in Italy and France, lived in the USA and Brazil and Venezuela and now has a studio he runs out of Santa Monica… and had ridiculous stories from all of these adventures. A really great example of a truly inspired and successful artist (his record is so impressive, having done work for shows like Baywatch and 24 just to name a few of my faves 😉

Antoine the hilarious
Antoine the hilarious

Now quickly on the others – my other favorite was Christy, also another perfect example of a truly inspired and amazingly successful artist, however, she was more on the wacky side.. which I loved!! She is pretty much an environmental artist which is sweet too.  She told me about her wedding and how she had people make their own bracelets and broches out of sea shells and how she made her dress out of plastic. Pretty crazy cool. Oh and she also lives in the heart of NYC, has a house in upstate NY, has has huge art installations in the city, and was also 60 though I thought the whole time she was 40ish.

Everyone else was very very cool too, there was a guy named Milan from San Francisco and his son Alex who goes to NYU who were funny and very interesting and then another other lady from NY who was so interested in learning everything and very nice.  And then two people from Amazon Watch in San Francisco who were also super super cool and great to get to know.

the group chillin on what I like to call the way up high jungle canopy tree fort!

the group chillin on what I like to call the way up high jungle canopy tree fort!

CRUDE the movie craziness has officially commenced, and I got to watch the movie finally with everyone in it at work last week.  Okay, I´m already ahead of myself. An extremely powerful documentary directed by Joe Berlinger with an inside look at this case  premeired at Sundance this January and is on its way to other festivals around the world right now!  The film explains every aspect of the case, and is also all about the people I work with, especially the two main lawyers (Pablo Fajardo in Ecuador and Steven Donziger in the USA). It also has heart-wrenching stories from some of the people who have been affected by the contamination.  What´s more, it follows Trudy Styler (Sting´s wife!) and her journey to the Amazon and how it affected her. But the important part is also that it definitely looks at both sides and there are many interviews from the Chevron lawyers.  I really encourage anyone who can to try and get to one of the festivals to see the film. At the premiere at Sundance and when it showed at the Human Rights Watch festival in London, all the sreenings were completely sold out and received standing ovations.

So now, I am in the process of helping with promotion for the Boston screening (done –  HUGE props to Tara, Tiff, Laura, Dan and Mom for making the screening:)!) and alsooo the premiere here in Quito is in less than a month.  So we are all going crazy trying to get organized, create advertising, preparing a press screening, preparing a photo exhibit for the premier, and then also for the screenings in all the other big cities in Ecuador. TONS going on.  But the funny catch is, now part of my job entails helping with a graffiti campaign! Apparently that’s a big thing here, super sweet, can´t wait to see what the designers come up with and to learn about how it works to bombard a city with propaganda!

[This has since happened…I also went to help with the premier in Guayaquil and Cuenca .. two huge cities,  news to come!]

Thanks and hooorahs at the end of the festival :)

Thanks and hooorahs at the end of the festival 🙂

CRUDE's premeir in Ecuador at the edoc film festival in Quito
CRUDE’s premeir in Ecuador at the edoc film festival in Quito

–the case against ChevronTexaco is getting a lot of press attention – articles in the WSJ and WashingtonPost and NPR with titles such as ”

Pension Funds Fret as Chevron Faces Ecuador Ruling”

and

In Ecuador, High Stakes in Case Against Chevron

60 minutes is aired a program aout the Amazon Chernobyl (we’ve been waiting and frantically helping them with this!)

HERE it is, you can watch the whole 13 minute clip:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/05/01/60minutes/main4983549.shtml

We are all SOOOO pleased with how this came out. honestly, could not have gone any better.  Horrifically for Chevron, their spokeswoman wore her nerves on her face throughout each interview, and fumbled big time… even comparing the oil in the make-up on her face to the oil polluted water that comes from drilling and was dumped into the Amazon.

Random other news

–I went to my boss´s wedding which he had in my neighborhood at this beautiful restaurant called El Mirador (means the lookout – because it has a beautiful view of all of Guapulo and mountains). It was really really fun and nice to hang out with work people in such a joyful setting.

office crew at kevins wedding!  Pablo, Juanpa, Kevin, Julio, Lupita

office crew at kevins wedding! Pablo, Juanpa, Kevin, Julio, Lupita

Pablo and I at Kevin's wedding :)

Pablo and I at Kevin's wedding 🙂

los abogados
los abogados

–Went to the world cup trial games… bummer though no wins for Ecuador. really fun games but yeah no one is happy.

–my neighborhood has been having a rough time – a plane crashed into two buildings.  I was in the jungle but my roommies heard it and ran the two blocks up hill and caught video of the hysterics and explosion, really really sad and unbelievable, a bunch of people died.  Super scary especially considering I can look up the hill from my balcony and see the damage.

a plane crashed into a building in the hood/on the hill where i live. really freaky.  2 months later, and it still looks like this
a plane crashed into a building in the hood/on the hill where i live. really freaky. 2 months later, and it still looks like this

Also, a hugeeee wall fell down one night, one of the most shocking things i’ve ever seen.  they were building the wall when i got here and then woops a landslide and no road – but no one got hurt so all good.

wall-slide... one of the most shocking things to see/climb over.

AND I still love my beautiful neighborhood and house…

our little orange home in Guapulo... and to the left is the Spanish embassy!
our little orange home in Guapulo… and to the left is the Spanish embassy!

–I like all of my roommates, but I really LOVE my Regina – she is such a lovely, genuine, generous and friendly loving person.  She has seriosuly been so great to me and always talks to me in her great Spanish too which is nice because she speaks English too.

-My cool neighbors moved, my two other neighbor friends went back to the US and my dutch roommates went home for a while.. sad! but I am hanging out with new people now, yay! only sucky part is things always seem to start falling together right around this point and I only have about 6 weeks left 🙁
indescribably enchanting Quilotoa lake (its a crater lake!)

indescribably enchanting Quilotoa lake (its a crater lake!)

-Went to the beach for Easter!!! MOST amazing setting every imaginable. small small beach, beautiful sunsets every night… and HOT water. perfect, minus the weekend madness of tons of people!
Canoa - every night is like this...

Canoa - every night is like this...

obligatory cliche palm tree sunset beach photo
obligatory cliche palm tree sunset beach photo
WOW i always end up writing way way way too much! SORRY!  If you made it this far, my deepest congrats and thanks 😉 love hearing news from home… weird time right now because many people are getting back from study abroad and i’m a lil bit jealous! buttt soon enough i promise to return 😉

Abrazos y besos!!  (hugs and kisses!!)
Kayla

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