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September 21, 2003

mexico entry #7 i think, san cristobal

so weve been in this city for 4 or 5 days now, i lost count. this happened to me last time i was here, its such an easy town to be in, and really good to walk and wander around, that we ditched our plans to try and sneak into chichen itza and just stayed here. aaron says he could easily live here, i dont think i could, unless i had a good and meaningful job, otherwise id get bored.
staying at posada dona rositas again, fun as ever, aaron pointed out that one of the best things about her is her laugh, which is at the same time mischevious and adorable.
not yesterday but the day before we went to oventic, the closest zapatista aguas calientes/caracol, i.e. decision making meeting place. it is way bigger then the village i was in last time, more construction and no paramilitares to contend with. we waited around, then got to meet the welcoming committee, who informed us on the decisions that were made in august, in which the zapatistas mainly affirmed their struggle and made organizational changes to help it as it grows. they were very pleased to see us and see that we had made the effort to come visit and observe, it made me feel good. their comunidad is high in the mountains, which are green and jagged as broken glass pointing to the sky, low hanging clouds nestling between them on by. aaron was inspired, and he says he will come and work as an acampamentista (intl observer) when he comes back down here.

guess i should say something about the reno news and review article about aaron and i and the wto. i felt bummed that deidre pike chose to use mainly my less serious quotes, though its not a big deal. its funny that i made that comment about the dilemna of protesting in these times, about having to cater to the media, and then i do just that, and end up reading the article and wishing i could have directed the quotes more, or something. not a big deal, my big hope is that people will read the article and want to become more informed about these issues and organizations. if even one person comes up to me and asks about it, then it was all worth it.
i do await some amount of ribbing when i return as well, but what can you do?

so tomorrow we head out, heading north. i plan to use this handy website to tell me about where we plan to sleep the night before we fly out. looks like some of the other travelers hated it, aaron says they were probably weak.

Posted by bendan at 01:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 16, 2003

mexico entry: tulum

so after the protest aaron and i booked down here, todays the third day but we head out to san cristobal de las casas at 4, were going swimming till then. last night was the independence day celebration here in mexico, there were fireworks and local bands and tons of food in the square next to the bital bank. the fireworks looked better then the ones you see in the u.s., probably cause they exploded so much lower then is allowed back home, there were bits of flaming debre floating down onto the crowd, who nimbly stepped aside. aaron and i ate nopal tacos, nopal is a kind of cactus, so amazingly good, and a buck fifty for 3. aaron says that he doesnt know how he will eat when he gets back to the u.s., the food here is so good, and were been pondering making our own hot sauce when we get back home, using some techniques weve observed here.
tomorrow at 8 we will alight from the bus in san cristobal, the city i spent the most time in on my last trip here, in a way it will be like returning to san sebastian, but not really, i spent a year there and when i do return there the memory overflow will be staggering.
had a chance yesterday to write to all my friends i met on my last trip, not to run in their faces that im back at all, just to say hi.
i fall back into the backpacker lifestyle rather easily, lounging on the beach and reading books, but im secretly glad it will only be for a week more or so. i look forward very much to beginning the interpreting volunteering when i get back.
ok, thats enough, oh yeah, there will be an article about me and aaron being down here in the reno weekly, ill link to it on thursday. should be good, the lady, deidra pike, whos writing it, is good people.

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September 14, 2003

WTO entry 5: heading out

so i have to apologize for slacking off on these entries, it became harder to get time on the computers here at indymedia, and i was busy cruising around. i could pick up where i left off, but in reality all that happened was on thursday evening the youthful mexicans and internationals had a cacerolazo, which meant banging pots and pans and drums and buckets and dancing around. meanwhile there were prolly 50 riot cops nearby, cause someone broke out the windows of a pizza hut and a local foto shop. some blamed police provocateurs, but i think it was some of us.
friday we sat around, everyone sharpening weapons, getting ready for the battle to come the next day. i slept a hot and sweaty night in my tent, one leg hanging out the door, drenched and head aching from the loud music at my side.
yesterday, saturday, broke with drumming and shouts of get up, get up, as the manifestantes readied their weapons. i met up with deidra pike from the reno news and review, and she accompanied aaron and i to the march. there were all the different groups represented, including the maoists, sporting bright red tshirts with pictures of mao on the back, all of them very serious looking, which was kinda curious since we never saw them once we got to the actual fence.
the evening before aaron had the wise idea to make forearm guards of cardboard and styrofoam. there were no shortage of youths eager to have one of the 20 escudos, translated as shields, attached to their arm with ducktape. aaron even had time to draw skulls on the cardboard, which seemed to make the kids even happier.
the march down the fence took a really long time. many stopped on the way where the previous demonstration had taken place to make speeches, which might have been nice to hear but it split up the groups and killed some of the energy. aaron, deidra and i walked around, fairly amazed at the arsenals being toted, including a huge dead tree dragged from the nearby jungle and placed atop a shopping cart as a battering ram.
the korean contingent had managed to find long thick ropes, which they tied to the fence, which was probably 10 feet high, and 3 layers deep, making it at least as wide,barbed wire and chains held it together. aaron and i jumped into the crowd of people helping to pull it down, and when finally the word came to pull, we pulled with all of our might and it began to bend and come apart.
after what must have been 2 hours of tying, pulling and retying, finally the fence came down. the riot police were waiting on the other side, row after row of them, tense but patient.
then came the anticlimax. when it looks as if the crowd was to pour through and a street battle of pretty scary proportions would erupt, the korean contingent got someone on a microfone and pleaded with everyone to sit down and have a moment of silent and a burning of an image icon of the WTO. it took the wind entirely out of our sails, all the energy bled off and people started to trickle back towards the center of town, to the tent cities. aaron said these liberals have no spine, lets go eat some beans and rice,so we headed back as well, disappointed but at the same time happy that no one was hurt or killed.

for me, after hearing how little press our protest got in the mainstream media, i must say that i am still glad i came down for this, to see and be a part of it, and am heartened at reading that the WTO seems to be crumbling from the inside, what with the Group of 21 causing blockage of agricultural decisions that would in the end be very harmful to farmers the world over.
heres indymedias report on the protest.
now aaron and i barrel out of this town, which i still believe has little of any soul. we are heading for tulum, for beaches and swimming and mayan ruins, then maybe towards chiapas.
oh yeah, the tattoos i mentioned the other other day that we saw on that guys arm included:
che guevara
emiliano zapata
felix the cat
and last but not least

gene simmons from kiss, in full make up and tongue reaching down towards his elbow. fucking fantastic.

adios.

Posted by bendan at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 13, 2003

WTO entry 4: distracted by the death of mr cash

went to the final protest today, i will write more about it, right now i am in a funk on hearing that johnny cash passed away. god bless the man in black.
more later when i am not so sad.

Posted by bendan at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2003

WTO entry 3: cacerolazo and observing the enemy

we awoke yesterday to a hot sun baking our tents. quickly up, aaron and i got some food, and headed down to the convergence center. we sat and read and observed what was going on, enjoying the air conditioning. at 2 oclock we went to a meeting of the zapatista supporters of the world, in the baseball stadium, under a huge tent.
now, aaron and i have agreed that this whole event has been quite disorganized, and the zapatista meeting, though not as bad as others in terms of organization, highlighted one of the problems with activism such as all of ours here. it took 45 minutes to discuss and decide what we would be discussing. granted, there were 120 of us, but the give and take and wishy washyness was demoralizing, and halfway through i walked off to a corner to sleep a pile of the cool 350 ml bags of water that every drinks here. aaron later pointed out that that is a problem with the left, that while we have meeting after meeting to decide what we are going to meet about, the right wakes up, decides to screw over a bunch of poor people, does it, then goes to sizzler.
at the meeting i ran into a friend named sara who i met when i was in mexico the last time. very chance, but then again the activist world is very small. her, aaron and i decided to go swimming, but on route the the hotel zone, which we planned to scout as we were swimming, it began to rain, and i realized that i am stupid and left the rain fly on my tent partially open. knowing that the bus ride would be 40 minutes back, i resigned myself to moldy clothes and we cracked into our cawambas, or liters of beer.
on arriving back, we saw the cacerolazo parade departing, but were too hungry to immediately follow. eating in one of the little tiny kitchens, aaron and i found perfection in the habanero salsa the lady served us with our beans and rice. we are currently contemplating kidnapping her and holding her for ransom for the recipe.
ok i am getting booted from this computer, later i will add what took place in the evening, including a huge pots and pans banging party, dozens of riot police standing waiting to kick our asses, and the greatest cluster of tattoos ever seen on one arm.

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September 10, 2003

WTO protest entry 2: arrival and harikari

so we last left you before going to have a beer, err beers, ended up at the freakin frog, a mediocre and semi despisable place except for the bubble wrap on the windows, used to shield the place from its strip mall surroundings. we got the 1 dollar per beer backpacker special on icehouse, and had to listen to some effete college wanker prattle on about how we need to be careful down here, mixed in with atrocious spanish that i gave up correcting.
after some beers and shitty but tasty fast food burritos, we walked off to the airport. it was a good walk, reminded us of missing our stop on the bus to madrid airport and having to walk a few miles back, in the process getting to hop and fence and almost get arrested for trespassing.
i slept in the airport, then on the plane, then in the houston airport, then on the plane to cancun. it equalled a full nights sleep but didnt feel so much like it.
exited the plane in cancun, walked out into the parking lot, and bartered the busdriver down to 5 bucks for both of us to ride into the city. on the bus we met some other activists, from mexico city and france, and all piled off the bus in the city center, just in time to meet up with the march of the peasants (via campesina).
the march had prolly more then 2000 people, and wound for a mile or so, to the blockaded entrance to the bridge to the zona hotelera, the hotel zone, a spit that extends out from the coast and is covered with puke and vomit, err actually western hotels and gringos and outback steakhouses.
the cops were behind the barricade, in full riot gear, teargas at the ready. for the last day or so the police were prohibiting locals and nationals from entering the hotel district, where the meetings are taking place. the objective was to break through and get to the convention center, to shut it down.
i must say that the march was pretty disorganized, but before long people were banging away at the fence, trying to tear it apart. there were slogans being chanted in every language you can imagine, though mainly in spanish, i recognized many from the zapatista events i went to last time i was here.
after maybe 25 minutes a section of the fence was torn way. the police popped some teargas, but not very much, all it made me do was sneeze. the crowd kept at it, jumping on the fences like angry monkeys, throwing huge chunks of concrete at the cops, who deflected with plastic shields. the cops began throwing the rocks back, which was scary as hell, cause none of us had shields. the koreans burned a wooden float/battering ram, along with some flags, and then the thing that still amazes and terrifies me came to pass.
aaron and i watched a korean man, prolly in his 40s but who knows, climb up onto the fence. next thing you knew, he wasnt up there, and there were shouts of socorro! and calls for medics and ambulances. we didnt find out until later, but it turns out that he commited hari kari, the ritual suicide, right there on the fence. we saw the whole act on mexican television, the blood welling up and the expression on his face. and we were maybe 20 yards away. it baffles me, and aaron, and its hard to stop thinking about it, that this was important enough to him, or the time he chose for who knows what reasons, but he ended it all sitting on a fence, surrounded by protesters and riot cops, by pushing a knife into his own heart.
the event was at a bit of a standstill after that, some wanted to push through and fight to the meetings, some wanted a paficifistic approach, and in the end everyone pulled back to assess the situation. aaron and i were drenched with sweat, and left in search of water and food.
we pitched tents in the anti-imperialist campsite, next to some college students from the university of mexico in mexico city, the unam. good folks all, we became fast friends, planning on meeting later on to talk and maybe drink some cawambas, mexican for liter beers.
aaron had never had a chance to swim in the carribean, so we took the detour route out to the hotel zone, to jump in the water. on the bus we met a bartender from mexico city, she thought it novel that i spoke spanish, and told me she had no interest in moving to the u.s., but was looking onto going to canada instead.
after our swim we came back to eat beans and rice. aaron and i surprised the restaurant owners by eating habanero peppers, the hottest peppers known in the world, raw with our meal. that was more then 1 hour ago, and my lips have finally stopped burning, but another activist was astounded by our feat, and aaron hazarded that he could join a mexican circus as the gringo with the mexican tongue. i agree, he could.
our campmates lit up when we brought beer back to camp, and quickly shared half of my bottle. we took this as a lesson, drink as fast as you can when drinking with mexico city anti-imperialists. they bought the second round, and we returned the favor.
the sound of a mexican band playing guns and roses is tickling my ears in the background, so i will take my leave, more tomorrow. they say by saturday it should get really really confrontational, and aaron and i have pretty much resigned ourselves to getting at least pepper sprayed, if not beaten a little. but just a little everyone, no need to worry.

la tierra para quien la trabaja!

dan

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September 09, 2003

WTO protest entry 1: hitching to vegas

aaron and i were dropped off by the lovely shannen at 7:30 this morning, in beautiful (sic) fernley nevada. there was barely enough time for me to pee on a bush and a young navy officer with hippy stickers all over the back window of his truck picked us up, taking us to the south end of fallon, where all the converging roads lead to vegas.
a scant 20 minutes later, barely enough time to poop in the bushes, one mario from reno pulled up in his sport utility machine. at first he was wary, asking if we were going to give him gas money, but once underway, he found that i spoke the spanish as well, and had good conversations about mexico, delivery driving (he drives for some UPS type company), and the oscar de la hoya fight he was driving down to see. he lit up when i mentioned that i enjoyed narcocorridos, mexican ranchera ballads singing the praises of drug traffickers. he introduced me to a group called los originales de san juan, who, between ballads about lost loves and how love is crappy, mainly sang about wanting to "split the ass" of a certain so and so, soaking the floor with his blood, and other songs about cars and airplanes full of drugs and flooding chicago with cocaine. good stuff.
mario drove really quick, so much so that we arrived in vegas around 3. as he drove away, we waved, and aaron said that his favorite bit of mario wisdom was when mario was telling of this brothel he visited, that "200 dollars is too much for a blowjob. I'll just jack off and save the money."
we took a bus across the strip to maryland parkway, the street best known to college students and indigents. after visiting my friend frank, who owns balcony lights record store, we were unable to get in contact with sara or regan, old friends from the shit town. unperturbed, we sauntered down maryland and got excellent falafels at basha's restaurant (aaron and i agreed on a strong 8 on the falafel rating scale).
this brings us to the present, in which sitting in the university, using a computer to check with our contacts in cancun. hitching into town may be more difficult then i'd expected, apparently there are roadblocks into the city.
aaron informs me that he is thirsty for beer and pool, so i'll digress, but stay tuned, more to come.

Posted by bendan at 08:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2003

why i'm going to mexico

read this link off global exchange, it's a sort of primer about the wto and the world bank.

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September 04, 2003

less links, more thoughts

so something made me realize the other day that for a while all i've been posting on here are links and quick quips. which is fine, but i also think that in the future, if i ever go back and read all this electronic babble, that i'll hope to see some of my thoughts about what was going on in my life at this time.

burning man was good this year, for several reasons the group dynamic or whatever you call it was off, and i must say that i wasn't as fun as last year. i had some good moments though, starting with me and the ohio boys' covert entry into the event, then watching and cheering for the sunsets, listening to people read excerpts from day of the locust by nathaniel west and the grapes of wrath by steinbeck, taking introductory dancing lessons with shannen at dusk and learning some steps from the waltzh and the tango, and having a debate with the weasily guy in our camp who must have been ayn rand's love child and getting to listen to some old and new friends voice their own opinions on the subject. every time i watch the man burn and i take stock of the year a bit, someone asked me what the meaning of the man burning is, i think it's personal for everyone, but for me it's about rebirth and taking stock of perspectives.

i really enjoyed getting to meet aaron's friends from ohio, he has been out west and been able to meet many of mine, someday i will head out to the midwest and see his part of the world. it will be good to see matt, rick and jim again, they're good people.

got my ticket for mexico, not superexcited yet but it's building, it will be so amazing to be in cancun when the protest goes down, my plan is to film a bunch and not get arrested. after that aaron and i may head down to chiapas, i have a strong desire to get back there, not certain if time will allow.

it's been fun having steven back here, in a way he's grown, but mostly he's the same guy, still gets excited about food like i do, still picking away at his guitar, but now terribly in love with a sweet young thing named carola who's still in chili. he gets props for trying the long distance thing out, it's so difficult in ways that everyone knows but are hard to say.

after i get back from mexico i have plans to go visit drew in portland, hoping shannen can come along, we might go for halloween. it's always excellent having drew in town, it's nice when you get some years into a friendship, and even though you don't live in the same city, when one or the other visits it picks up right where it left off.

aaron and i have been talking about all our plans these days. since i graduated i always seem to have something cooking in terms of travelling. i hope that never goes away.

alright, tomorrow i'll link up some fotos from the rest of burningman. right now i'll link to the trogdor video, after you watch it play the game. TROGDOR!! this reminds me, good luck to owen down in l.a., giant sorry's for flaking out before you took off, hope all is well and you get to fleece hollywood and excape.

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September 02, 2003

back from burningman, leaving again soon

we got back into reno last night late, i didn't go to sleep till 3. all in all it was a good year, last year was a little better, better camp mood and less wind and sandstorms. drew has some fotos up already, including aaron's wine bottle holder, my favorite art piece from last year, the galleon, steve and friends going big on the carlo rossi, team ohio, and me and shannen standing on the bowliards table we made.
i'll link to the rest of the fotos when drew gets them up.
i leave in 7 days to hitch to vegas to fly to cancun for the wto meeting, will be in mexico with aaron for 2 weeks, then back in reno, with plans to drive up to portland and visit drew and some other bros.
all in all, life is good. watching all the kids wandering around the university neighborhood where shannen lives, i do not envy them. hehe. i'm reading tons too, so i'm still keeping the brain well, and i'm running out of things to say so i'll stop. look at the fotos above!

Posted by bendan at 03:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack