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January 30, 2006

photos from venezuela

lake atitlan in venezuela

tracy from ireland. she came to the forum to speak about how shell oil is trying to ruin her town.

james, tracy and orion.

playa choroni

i'm so lucky.

this lady was so awesome. from the opening ceremonies parade

jacob, one of my new friends. someday he and i will travel in s. east asia, we decided.

this guy was cruising around everywhere.

i love this one

weird christian peace activists. there were also several different cults around, including the one in which the members hugged each other for like 2 hours, every morning.

i tried to get one of these posters, but everyone else stole them first.

this sloth walked through a discussion about bolivia, and half the people got up to go check it out instead. sloth!

super socialist orion (hehe)

james the journalist

the poor barrio we visited.

houses stacked on houses.

presidente hugo chavez speaking to the forum participants. he only spoke for 2 hours (normally it's 5 hours or more)

the campamento de los jovenes (the youth camp)

new friends

the guy with the sign kept getting into the background of the shot. the cameraman was quite annoyed.

the hotel ribot in caracas, complete with pharoah heads as part of the facade

capoeira demonstration.

antonio from SF.

orion bought many shirts, including this one in which che has the pallor of a vampire.

the social forum was really interesting, though i think i learned more by talking to people then by attending conferences. The inclusiveness of organizing and activism in the left, to the point in which it becomes unwieldly and at times ineffectual, was well illustrated this week. at the same time, i am inspired to do more when return to the u.s. (in april that is).

in the end, i came to have some affection for caracas and venezuela as a whole. though i find the city sprawling and ugly, the people were amazingly friendly, continually asking me what i thought of their city, and what america thought of their country. I feel like i've had a hundred discussions about the bolivarian revolution, what can be done to thwart the "imperialistas" from up north, and how to build a worldwide movement towards real democracy. It's gonna be a long, tough road.

for now though, i may stay in venezuela a day or 2 more, but then it's next stop, Bogota.

Posted by bendan at 06:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

world social forum = fun, confusion, waiting around

First, i have been taking tons of photos, and will post them when i get time to hook my laptop up somewhere.

Highlights of the World Social Forum-
1. meeting 3 new friends, Jacob from N.Y, Orion from Boston, and Tracy from Ireland. together with James and myself, we´ve been having a lot of fun, wandering around the city, looking for vegetarian food, and drinking beer and scotch.
2. going to Choroni, a beach north of the city. even though it was 5 hours of busrides, it was worth it. I was so happy to get some caribbean salt water on my dirty skin.
3. doing some interpreting in some of the conferences. i helped my friend Tracy by doing all of the interpreting for her presentation about how Shell Oil is trying to run a high pressure pipeline through the backyards of her small fishing and farming community. I did ok, everyone was very appreciative, especially the scheduled interpreter who couldn´t understand Tracy´s Irish accent at all.
4. moving from the original youth camp, which was outside the city on top of a rainy, muddy hill, to the better youth camp, located in the center of the city.
5. wandering all over the city, since we can take the metro and citybusses for free during the Forum.
6. hanging out with Brazilians, which totally makes me want to go to Brazil and learn Portuguese. maybe later on this trip.

Lowlights of the World Social Forum-
1. it´s totally unorganized, conferences don´t happen when or where they are supposed to, musical acts cancel, there are tons or weirdo s. american cults, hippys, and hare krishnas all over the youth camp, playing drums until the sun comes up and building dreamcatchers between the poor trees.

all in all, it´s been fun and worth it to have come. i leave for Bogota on Monday, and plan 2 weeks there, a week in medellin, and then off towards the coast. if i time it right, i will get to attend Carnivales in Baranquilla, the second craziest party in S. america, after carnivales in Rio. anyone wanna come down and meet me for that one, i think it´s the 20th or so of Feb.? p.s. it´s gonna be absolute craziness. (andrew, go check travelocity or sta travel, hint hint).

Ok, gonna go look for vege restaurants. Hugo Chavez is speaking tonight, but i might pass on it, chances are slim that we´ll get into the stadium, and it´s sure to go really late.

Posted by bendan at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

Caracas, Venezuela (still have little love for this town)

Leaving the party at my house right as it was getting good, megan and her rob driving us to the airport, waiting in line, lucking out once we finally got on the plane to have the 2 seats next to me vacant, sleeping until el salvador, transfering airplanes and sleeping again, waking up in Costa Rica, james wanting to smoke and not having time, reading my book about the cold war and post nuclear apocalypse on the plane, landing in venezuela.
on exiting the airport, recognizing the smell of s. america again. ending up with a ton of other activists here for the same reason, getting herded around until finally getting on a bus. the normal 30 minute drive into caracas replaced by a 3 hour detour because a bridge was out. sleeping with my head against the window again. registering for the youth camp, while talking to a spaniard from the basque country and a mexico city woman at the same time. getting to the youth camp, meeting some good folks, and then bedding down, only to be awoken by rain. sleeping in the firefighter tent until 6 am, and then being kicked out. sleeping under a park bench shelter until 10 ,and still waking up groggy and achy. waiting 2 hours to catch a bus into caracas proper. Finding that all of the hostels are full, and realizing that the youth camp is our only option, albeit not a bad one, except for no showers. finally getting food and 2 graceful beers. trying to decide whether to go to the coast tonight. trying to like this country.

Posted by bendan at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

Instead of words, pictures

Posted by bendan at 07:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Instead of words, pictures!


went for a hike with mom when i was in reno over xmas holiday.


nevada landscape.


my mom's best friend gave her this xmas card. it rules!


stephanie's party.


the truth.


SF sunset.




more clouds.


mollie catching a marshmallow in her mouth at her dinner party.


these cops look like proud hunters standing over their kill.


a windstorm knocked over this tree.


me at work.

i'll start posting more things on here once i start my trip. i leave in a week from today, it's exciting, but of course i have so many many things to do before then. happy new year to all, hope everyone is happy.

Posted by bendan at 07:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack