Friday, December 28, 2007

Oxfam Trailwalker Japan

I have started to volunteer for Oxfam Japan this year, and now they are starting to make the preparations necessary for next years Trailwalker event, probably one of the biggest fundraising events organized by Oxfam in different parts around the world.

It challenges groups of 4 persons to complete a 100km trail in 48 hours, with the support of many people and companies who donate their money to support Oxfam's various poverty alleviation and emergency relief projects around the world.

I remember I love to watch the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge (which involved many disciplines to complete a 500km course) and thinking I would like to do that some day (specially the on in NZ, cause the landscapes were amazing!)

Now the Trailwalker is just hiking, but its still 100km, and the best part, is that all the fundraising goes to a great cause. So this year I will be volunteer to organize the event, and who knows maybe next year I can make a team and participate as well.

If anyone is interested in volunteering or participating do check the HP! and let me know if you have any questions~

Next years event will take place in May 16~18, and the course starts in Odawara, going through Hakone, and finishes in the foot of Mt Fuji. The landscape seems to be really beautiful. I found these pics from last years event.

"Oxfam Trailwalker is an event that involves significant commitment, endurance and at the end of it all, a wonderful sense of achievement. Whatever role you play, by participating in this ultimate life changing event, you'll be helping to make a real difference by raising funds for some of the poorest communities in the world"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

Gano Venezuela

Despues de haber estado preocupado por Venezuela por las ultimas dos semanas, es dificil creer que Chavez alla aceptado la derrota de su reforma, con tan solo 2% de diferencia. Me alegra poder pensar que por fin Chavez se dio cuenta de que crear mas division no es bueno, pero sobretodo que la opocision en Venezuela por fin parece tener de verdad una idea de lo que quiere, y me alegra que ese cambio sea liderado por los jovenes estudiantes que muchas veces parecerian tan poco interesados en politica y tan alejados de la realidad de su pais.

Segun entiendo esto quiere decir que Chavez no puede ser reelegido mas (a menos que quien sabe que se le ocurra), pero aun lo tendremos por unos largos 5 anhos, que espero la opocision logre usar para crear (junto con los simpatizantes de Chavez) un programa de pais mas igualitario que incluya a todos los Venezolanos.

Me siento extranho diciendo esto cuando ya me siento tan alejado de Venezuela, pero aun asi, sigue siendo el pais donde naci, y sobretodo donde muchos de mis amigos y parte de mi familia viven, y simplemente es triste ver a un pais tan dividido sea donde sea.

Por ahora me podre sentir feliz y tranquilo por Venezuela~

...y volver a mi trabajo de disenho todas las noches sin tener que estar preocupado por lo que podria pasar.

Abrazos a todos mis amigotes en (o de) Venezuela, los quiero mucho! y me alegra que las cosas por ahora se vean un poco mejor~
~Viva Venezuela~

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dennis Kucinich

I remember 3 years ago, many people around the world saying how since the USA government seems to affect so many people around the world, all the people in the world should be able to have the right to elect it. Well, we may not have the right to vote since we are not USA citizens, but as long as the USA government wants to get involved in every countries' issues, we all have a say in its elections.

But anyway, in this post I dont want to talk about the big ones... (according to the media at least)

I just want to say I find it so relieving to see a candidate in there that seems for once to be embracing peace, within the USA, with other nations, with the environment, and even with animals. Who seems true to his principles and not the corporations' ones. And who gives a voice to so many people that are just disappointed with the way politics is done in the USA and pretty much all around the world.

I dont know how much chance he has to get to win this elections. I just dont think the USA's corporations are willing to accept such a candidate as president, or that the people is mature enough to take a decision based on their own opinions (without getting so influenced by the media), or to elect someone who because of the peace he embraces in all matters of his life (including his eating habits), may not seem "strong" enough to govern the USA.

But just seeing him there, gives me hope that people is actually realizing that politics dont have to be the same as always, and that there is people out there representing the so called "alternative" ideas. Which we are starting to see, more than "alternative" are plain simple and logic, when you think about the people, the environment, and life itself, and not the profits and the big corporations.

Dennis Kucinich '08

Saturday, November 24, 2007


It is sad to see how the country I was born, where many friends live, full of beauty and resources, seems to be on its way to be totally controlled by one man hungry of power, and with oil money in his pockets...
Like I was talking with an Irish guy early in the morning after a night of clubbing, an equality of opportunities and justice in the society (or socialism) is obviously something to be pursue by today's society, but not by one man, oppressing any opposition, taking away liberties, and creating division, cause that is quite simply a dictatorship, and no good can come out of it.
I just can but hope that the opposition and rational supporters of socialism have actually a chance to stop the actual government to continue its way, or that I am actually mistaken, and Chavez actually has good intentions, and a clear mind to realize nothing good comes out of division, oppression and insults...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hoppy Bday to me~

My bday has already finished here in Japan, but I still have 13 hours left in Colombia :)

This weekend I just got to think, hear, realize, doubt, learn, talk, rethink, notice, feel... so many things right now I am having a very hard time trying to organize my mind.

But I just want to say how happy and thankful I feel for having (so many) so special persons around me. It is just actually overwhelming to realize all the people I have met in this 21 years., all the things I have lived with them, but specially all I mean for them and all they mean for me.
I really wonder if I deserve so much, and if I really can give back (and forward) all what I have received. I really dont think I can even get close.

Thank you so much for everything, every person, every animal I have (and haven't) had a connection with, every moment, every feeling, every smile... all the little details that make life great.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Car vs Bike

On wednesday, I met with Alisa, Ayaka, and some couchsurfers for dinner. Jasper, from Holland, is travelling around visiting different eco-villages, and learning from the places he visits, for him to go back to Holland (or somewhere else?) and build his own house. Jiji, came to study his PhD in Japan, and is now teaching english, but he is also interested in eco-villages and natural living, and he will be going to NZ next year as well with a working-holiday visa to visit some of the ecovillages there.

Lately I have been thinking about my thesis project, and last time I was talking about it with my sister, we end up talking about a self-sustainable community in Colombia that her Yoga teacher just visited. Which was one of the reasons I was so eager to meet Jasper this time. Since a 2 years ago I got really interested in permaculture, self-sustainability and so on, but as with many other things, I just didn't give it enough time or importance, because it just seems to be an idea that would send me to an alternative living, away from the normal society, which has been something I have been wondering a lot since I came to Japan:
What do I want to do when I go back to Colombia...
Whether to go somewhere and live a more natural life, growing my food, making things by my own, OR stay in the city, working (either a normal job, in my own design office, as a teacher...) and trying to change society itself, but having to live with all the rush and problems of the society.

But lately I have started to realize it doesn't have to be one OR the other, and I have really started to think about the kind of life I would like to have, and the way I can include most of the things I am interested in, and I would like to do in it. And I have even get to think how I could even use my studies right now to bring those two together. I guess that's why I decided to study Landscape Architecture in the first place, but somewhere in between I kind of lost my way, but I am glad I am finding it again, and maybe even more clearly.

I just really need to organize my life (spending less time in facebook and more time learning , thinking and reflecting), study more of those things that most probably you cant learn at uni, and bringing those things into my life.

Well... I just thought I would put up next quote when I started the blog (hence the title) but it kind of got long :) It's an interesting statement I found in the British Permaculture Association site...

"The average American's involvement with their automobile is an astonishing 1600 hours a year. Working in order to buy it, actually driving it, getting it repaired and so on. This means that when all car mileage in a given year is divided by the time spent supporting the car, the average car owner is travelling at an average speed of 5 miles per hour. To attain the speed of a bicycle we are devastating our cities, air, lungs and lives."
Ivan Illich, social commentator

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happi Haro-win!

Last weekend I had the best halloween ever! Well being the first time I actually celebrate halloween, dressing up and going out, its pretty understandable, but it was definitely an incredible halloween I'm sure. What can compare to a loop around Tokyo's Yamanote Line, in a train full of people in costumes, having fun, chatting, chanting, and meeting new friends.

Our first plan was to have an outdoor party at Yoyogi Park, and then head to some club for the rest of the night. But a Typhoon decided to visit Tokyo for the weekend, so an outdoor party was out of question. For our luck, Alisa found out about this crazy unofficial mob halloween event held every year in Osaka and Tokyo, so after seeing some videos from previous events, and wondering whether it was safe or right to join or not, I decided to give it a try with some friends,and judge by myself.

So our night started at Alisa's place, where I finished dressing up (putting some leaves around my feet and arms, putting green make up in my face, and getting ready to go~) and then head out to Tokyo! In our first stop, a convenience store for some food and drinks, we couldnt stop smiling to each other seeing the reaction of the people who saw us, or the cashier who avoid to look at my eyes all the time! (though that is actually usual in Japan, but I guess it was reinforced by the fact she wouldnt like to look at my eyes and laugh, cause it would be seen as "shiturei" by japanese standards... but come on! I am wearing a costume, the idea is to make you laugh!)

After that we head to Shibuya to meet other friends, so there we were a tree, a pirate and the devil, in the middle of Tokyo's world famous crossing, under the eyes of all these people. Happily after a short wait, we ran up into another tree! and had a nice chat while waiting for our friends. Meanwhile, Japanese people will simply look at us, and a group of boys actually came to say "otsukaresama desu" to me... (otsukaresama is an expression "used to acknowledge someone's efforts or show your appreciation for the trouble that they have gone though" (I had to google that cause I always have trouble explaining japanese expressions :p) but its an expression that is usually used when you finish work instead of saying "goodbye" or when go back home after doing some work or meeting at the uni or even with some friends) which then again felt weird at the moment, cause "tsukare" actually literally me
ans "tired", but know that I see it as "acknowleding someone's efforts" actually doesnt sound too bad.... :p
anyway, after a while my friend Mone arrived, with her in-pajamas ladies friends, so NOW we were being stared. lol

After going for some drinks in a cafe (inside a bookstore! just imagine 8 people in costume walking along the corridors of a bookstore with people reading books around, and you may understand how funny the whole experience was) we headed to Shinjuku, were the infamous Yamanote Halloween Train Party starts... we were there 10 minutes before the scheduled (by who knows who?) departure time, and there was already around 20 people in costume waiting in the platform. So we made our way to them, met some, then again looking for other friends who were joining us from Shinjuku, and so, in the next 10 minutes the platform went from 20 people in costume, to be completely FULL of people in costume, chatting, drinking, making noise, while waiting for the right train to arrive.

and so, there it was, "densha mairimaaaaaasssss gochui kudasai", the Yamanote Halloween Train welcoming us, for the only time in the year where you actually can totally enjoy a full-train. Remember the famous images of train station staff pushing people so that doors can close during the rush hours? well that's just how full our train was... and the train staff actually was ready to push us all in, in order to let the trains run smoothly on time (though they were already deleted because of the typhoon) which seemed to be their only concern (not the fact that there was around 500 crazy people in costume having a party in the train...).

The leaves in my head appear somewhere around the middle of this video... :p

and so in we went, for the best round-the-loop ride of the year, chanting station names (there is a lot of fans of ikebukuro, akihabara, tokyo (of course!), and even gotanda?), taking pics, going around meeting new people and so on. We actually changed cars (in the same train) once and it was so surprising cause after being in such a crazy full of people one, this one seems so empty, even when there was quite a few people in costume chatting and all... :)

And so after a little bit longer than an hour, we were back in Shinjuku, saying goodbye to our lovely Halloween train, the crowd dispersing (very slowly cause everyone (specially usual commuters waiting for their train) wanted to take pictures with everyone) and heading to clubs around Tokyo for the rest of the night...

now, I know there is a lot of conflicting views on this train party, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go and see it for myself, before bashing it out as some crazy gaijins (infamous foreigners here in Japan) abusing the japanese system. And I can say after living it by myself, that even when a few people might do obviously go too far, the whole event in itself is just a great way of celebrating halloween, creating bounds between Japanese and Foreigner participants (and even non-participants who mostly are either so surprised they cant even react, or who enjoy the surprise in a usually monotonous train ride), thanking Yamanote line, the japanese train system, and Japan in itself for being soooo wonderful! and in the end just having an out of the ordinary fun time (something really necessary in Japan).

and to prove that... here is a video for you to compare...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gotta be Japan!

I just got a link from a CSer (read that couchsurfer) friend from NY, about the new Japanese "against crime clothing design." But the first thing that came to my mind when I actually realized that there was someone inside that last vending machine was: Halloween costume... :)

Remember the shower costume from Karate Kid, I think it could actually make a great costume for Halloween! Just imagine a vending machine walking around Tokyo streets... and someone running behind trying to buy a drink :p

Being 20 I feel so funny for being so excited about halloween this year. Since the first time I refused to dress up when I was like 10 years old and didnt want to wear the Peter Pan costume they had for me I havent really like halloween or at least I wasn't too fond of it. But this year, I just have been thinking of halloween party at Yoyogi park, my tree/ent costume (pic to the right is just an image of what I was thinking that I found in the net), and so on, even when I have been really busy with design works and the internship at the NGO.

And it kind of made me realize how much I have changed in the last year, kind of coming out of my shell, being much more extroverted (though I still like to look at things from a distance (or a corner) from time to time) and enjoying so much more partying, meeting new people, and just doing crazy stuff. I do have to thank Hospitality Club and Couchsurfing for that once again, cause meeting new people from all around the world with such an open mind and heart, kind of give me some new impressions about people, and has helped me make wonderful friends who I would have never had the chance to meet in other ways. And, it has helped me know more about myself as well.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Global Festa

Well, just like I wrote in the last post it would only take a couple of days for me overcome the "back in Japan" crisis, and get back to the fun, and appreciate how much I enjoy it here. School has already started, but last week we didnt really do much, anyhow I am just taking 10 credits
this semester, which means I only have to go there monday, tuesday and (just because 2 days is too few) friday.
On Saturday I went to work as tutor at the science class for kids nearby my university, which is always something I enjoy lots. It was really amazing though that after almost 3 months not going there the kids still remembered us, and this kid who always likes to play with us after the class finish, came to say hi, and the first thing he asks me is "have you buy a TV already?" Yeap, I really didnt know what to say... but it made me feel welcome. :)

After finishing work, I headed to Tokyo to meet Yuri at the Global Festa in Hibiya Park. It was this really nice festival with many NGO's and embassy stands, and food from every corner of the world. I had a really nice time chatting with people from Oxfam which is just starting here in Japan, and I decided I will participate in next year's Trailwalker. And also had a really nice chat with a Canadian Architect working with Habitat for Humanity, who got me really interested in their projects, and made me think about my thesis. Other than that there was so many stands and so many interesting things, so many things I want to get involved, but in the end there is only a small bit that you can do.

From there I headed to Inage, to my old dormitory. I hadnt been there since really long time ago, so it was really great to meet Javier, Jose, Fran, Ahmed, Louay, Angel, Antonio and meet some other people, and had a lots of laughs together. Definitely that's probably what latin-american people do better... joking and laughing.

Sunday I spent the morning cleaning my room, washing clothes, buying food, and then headed to the CouchSurfing gathering at Shibuya. One of the many amazing things about CSing is that everytime you dont really know what to expect from the people you will be meeting. They always have amazing backgrounds, great stories, experiences, and things to share. And they are always so friendly, open-minded, and easy-going. So there I was in Hachiko, meeting great people and starting a great night. After going for some food, and waiting for other members who joined later on, we headed to Shinjuku's Nichome, the gay area in Tokyo, to meet other CSers, have some drinks, and of course for some dancing and fun. After having a "beer blast" (all the beer you want from 7 to 9 pm for 1000 yen) and getting to know more about everyone, some went back, and we headed to Artys for a all-nighter of clubbing~ Definitely Artys is the best club ever, its so small, but the people is so friendly, and the music is great.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back in Japan

Well, finally I have overcome the jetlag, and get ready to life in Japan again. Actually today after finishing the internship at ECOPLUS, I decided to take a walk around, and end up at the temple near Tokyo Tower, were I welcomed the year 2007 with my mum and friends, and somehow it made me realize I was "back in Japan". Not really sure if it was in a simple "wow, I am back in Japan" kind of way, a more cheerful "yay, I am back in Japan" or a more dreadful "what am I doing back in Japan" kind of way, but anyhow, it was a moment that made me think about the fact that I am back in Japan. Back to trains full of people, people avoiding to look at each other, publicity all around me, vegetable sushi and breads that somehow manage to have chicken or pig ingredients in them, back to scheduling one month in advance, talking a language that doesnt allow you to communicate all your feelings and going far from your house just to find a park with some grass and trees in it where to have a peaceful moment.

I guess it will take me sometime, meeting some friends, and going back to some of my favorite places, and eating some nice food, to feel better and happy of being back in Japan. I mean, I guess I am already, but it is just what I was thinking today.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

BPE - Switzerland

Sept 4

After an early start packing our tent, we were ready to start our trip around Switzerland, using the train pass our brother gave us, and our backpackable house to visit some of the most wonderful landscapes in Europe~
On our first day we visited St Gallen and the funny bears around its streets. Everything was still closed, and then we headed to Mainfield, by petition of my sister who couldn't miss visiting Heidi's hometown~ So we visited the house, and went up the mountain just like Heidi did, and there we were surrounded by cows with a spectacular view of the valley before us and the sound of the cow's bells. In such a european landscape there was no other choice but to eat "Bocadillo" Coombiano to gain strenght and start our way down to the train station, from where we headed to St Moritz, our camping site for the day.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

BPE - Austria (+ Neuwastein Castle)

Sept 2

After a night of rest in the hotel, and an early walk around town watching sheep, we met with Libor and Heidi for a one day tour towards Neuwastein Castle. On the way we went up this really crazy road that was kind of carved into the mountain's side with a great view of the valley down below. After going up we stopped at Lech, the royal winter resort town where all the European families spend their winter holydays... A really nice town in summer!
We went our way, ate lunch at an Italian restaurant, watched a caravan of very old trucks, and then arrived to Neuwastein Castle, which is supposed to be the inspiration behing Disney's castle~ so see by yourselves!
After that we went back towards their place and our camping site in Switzerland running at about 180 kmh along german highways... if it wasnt because I could see the car's board, I would never imagine how fast we were running, the ride was so soft, and the few cars around were driving pretty much at the same speed!

BPE - Konstanz

I'll definitely never finish the BPE (Backpacking Europe) posts... so I'll be very lazy and just paste some pics. cause I still have Taiwan's trip to post about, and soon I'll be back in Colombia and all around North America's west coast (and not so coast...)

Sept 1

After leaving my brother's place at Offenburg we head south to Konstanz to visit the flower garden at Meinau Island full of beautiful flowers, a giant gnome and bird, and some really nice sculptures. After a short walk around the gardens we continue our way to Lindau, were we met Libor, our father's Austrian friend who had invite us for dinner and a day trip around west Austria. We went to his place on the bottom of the alps, with a great view of some of the mountains, and had a very nice veggie dinner prepared by his wife, Heidi, and then had a nice chat in the "winter garden" under the light of candles. They were really special with us, and it definitely didnt feel like it was the first time we met them, its always great to meet people you can feel like that. After dinner we went to the hotel he had book for us, with a spectacular view of the snowy peaks, and really comfortable beds! :)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hey You! Answer the Call~

"Hey You" by Madonna (LIVE EARTH THEME)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fuerza Colombia!

This was Colombia at 12 m on July 5, 2007.
I cannot stop crying seeing this and thinking of all the suffering Colombia has had to endure for so many years just because of a small group of crazy people who care only about I have no idea what. But the one thing that made me cry was seeing all these many people out in the streets claiming for peace and the freedom of all persons kidnapped by the guerrilla right now.
It's sad that 11 lives had to be lost in order to create such a reaction from Colombians, but I really hope that it wont stop here, and we realize that we are the majority, and we cannot let a small group of people cause all that suffering and fear (even when they have drugs as their money maker).
I love Colombia! Viva Colombia! Viva la Paz!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer rain

Summer is here, an so is the rainy season... hot and humid, that's Japanese Summer, and it is just from now that it starts to become really humid. It just got to 30 degrees this week, and it will certainly get higher, and the worst thing is when you go out (in?) to the city it can feel almost like 40 degrees because of the heat island effect (caused by all the cars, air conditioning, buildings, pavement, and lack of greenery and wind). There is actually this thing called something like "summer nights record" that has been going up recently which is the number of nights in Tokyo when the temperature doesnt go below 30 degrees... horrible!

That's probably the reason why I have run away from Japan every summer holydays in August and September, but I still have to bear the heat during the test season in July... at least I can go through it looking forward to going (back?) to Colombia after two years and meeting my family, friends and my dogs! (yeah of course, the dogs are as important as the rest of the family... :p and the most importan thing: I cannot talk with them by phone or by mail)

I was actually planning to spend August in Japan travelling to Hokkaido or something but my sis is getting marry so no way I would miss the wedding (or my sis would forgive me if I do :p). So after going to summersonic on August 11, dancing and jumping to BEP's, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani, Sum41, etc, and spending the weekend with Yuri (for those not updated, Yuri is my girlfriend since around one month ago - yeah I know what I used to say about Japanese girls, but I always talked about the "typical superficial Japanese girls", and there is always exceptions, specially for someone who is just as environmetalist, pacifist, naturalist and other ist's (idealist?) as I am), anyway, after that I will depart to Colombia, making a 2 nights stop in Caracas to meet some friends and see by myself the probably not so nice reality of Venezuela.

And then back to Colombia. I was reading Andrew's blog about his travel to Malaysia after 2 years without going and it make me realize it will also be 2 years for me, and it does actually feel more like a trip than a going back. At least it will probably help me think about what I want to do after I graduate, wether to continue studying the Master here in Japan, or going back to Colombia. It probably depends on lots of things in the end, but it is kind of confusing not to know where I'll be in 2 years...

Anyway, going to eat now. Wil write later about more recent stuff~

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Las de la Intuicion - Shakira

If she wasnt singing in Spanish I will swear this video is Japanese Pop... what is happening with Shakira?!?!?! haha

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Long time~

Hadnt post for quite a long time already... busy going around, playing, meeting people, participating in peace walks, meetings, studying and learning lots of things that somehow they dont really teach you in school.
Today I had the design presentation I had been working in during last week, so now I have free time back again. But already with lots of things to do. Yesterday I went to an interview with Conservation International for an internship offered by Sonpo Japan, and tomorrow I'll have another one with Ecoplus (a small environmental NGO working with kids around the world), so hopefully I'll be going there to help out with all the work for 8 months until January. It will be great if I get the opportunity to work with CI, since they are also working in Colombia, and its the kind of NGO I'll like to work/create when I get back to Colombia (among many other things I'll like to do). The woman from CI was really nice, and seem to be interested in what I had to say, so I hope I get accepted. It was funny though cause it was somehow an informal interview, with 4 students, the CI staff, and a woman from Sonpo Japan, and they asked us to talk about our interests, and things we are doing and all... so I end up talking about GOGO project, Candle Night, Capoeira, and even Free Hugs... at least I made them laugh with all the crazy things I was talking about, but I realized I'm being involved in so many things that when someone asks me what I'm interested in, I just dont know where to begin, and probably wont stop talking... :p
I still could talk about Peace Walks, Animal Rights Activism, Couchsurfing, GNH, etc etc...

The good thing is, that thanks to all of these things I have not only learned so many new things, but I've also met great people, and it has even become a good way to become closer to my friends at uni, and see things in a more positive way, cause I've been able to meet people who share my own ideals, and have really understood that in the end change, peace and love starts within us, and lately it really seems to be spreading around.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The young can't wait

Rio Summit 1992's speech by Severn Suzuki (12 years old at the time)

Article by Severn Suzuki (2002) taken from

”When you are little, it's not hard to believe you can change the world. I remember my enthusiasm when, at the age of 12, I addressed the delegates at the Rio Earth Summit. "I am only a child," I told them. "Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words."

I spoke for six minutes and received a standing ovation. Some of the delegates even cried. I thought that maybe I had reached some of them, that my speech might actually spur action. Now, a decade from Rio, after I've sat through many more conferences, I'm not sure what has been accomplished. My confidence in the people in power and in the power of an individual's voice to reach them has been deeply shaken.

Sure, I've seen some improvements since Rio. In my home city of Vancouver, most people put out their recycling boxes. The organic grocery and cafĂ© on Fourth Avenue is flourishing. Bikes are popular, and there are a few gas-electric hybrid cars gliding around. But as this new century begins, my twentysomething generation is becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. We buy our drinking water in bottles. We eat genetically modified organisms. We drive the biggest cars ever. At the same time, we are a generation aware of the world—of poverty and social imbalance, the loss of biodiversity, climate change and the consequences of globalization—but many of us feel we have inherited problems too great to do anything about.

When I was little, the world was simple. But as a young adult, I'm learning that as we have to make choices—education, career, lifestyle—life gets more and more complicated. We are beginning to feel pressure to produce and be successful. We are learning a shortsighted way of looking at the future, focusing on four-year government terms and quarterly business reports. We are taught that economic growth is progress, but we aren't taught how to pursue a happy, healthy or sustainable way of living. And we are learning that what we wanted for our future when we were 12 was idealistic and naive.

Today I'm no longer a child, but I'm worried about what kind of environment my children will grow up in. In Johannesburg the delegates will discuss the adoption and implementation of documents by governments. Yes, important stuff. But they did that at Rio. What this meeting must really be about is responsibility—not only government responsibility but personal responsibility. We are not cleaning up our own mess. We are not facing up to the price of our lifestyles. In Canada we know we are wiping out the salmon of the West Coast, just as we wiped out cod from the East Coast, but we continue overfishing. We keep driving our SUVs in the city, even though we are starting to feel the effects of climate change—a direct result of burning too much fossil fuel.

Real environmental change depends on us. We can't wait for our leaders. We have to focus on what our own responsibilities are and how we can make the change happen.

Before graduating from college last spring I worked with the Yale Student Environmental Coalition to draft a pledge for young people to sign. Called the Recognition of Responsibility, the pledge is a commitment from our generation to be accountable and a challenge to our elders to help us achieve this goal and to lead by example. It includes a list of ways to live more sustainably—simple but fundamental things like reducing household garbage, consuming less, not relying on cars so much, eating locally grown food, carrying a reusable cup and, most important, getting out into nature. (For the full text, go to Three friends and I will take the Recognition of Responsibility to Johannesburg, where we will meet with South African students and then present the pledge to the World Summit as a demonstration of personal commitment.

But in the 10 years since Rio, I have learned that addressing our leaders is not enough. As Gandhi said many years ago, "We must become the change we want to see." I know change is possible, because I am changing, still figuring out what I think. I am still deciding how to live my life. The challenges are great, but if we accept individual responsibility and make sustainable choices, we will rise to the challenges, and we will become part of the positive tide of change.”

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Octavo DIa - Shakira (Mangoose Tour)

Watch this video, listen to her words, and check the video in the backgroung...
5 years later and the world doesn't seem to have changed much...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Down with capitalism, Long live the worms!

Yeap, just like that... long live the worms, and naturalism~
why? well... simple. Cause if there is no worms, there is no fertile soil, if there is no fertile soil, there is no vegetables, and if there is no vegetables there is no food... and yeap, we cannot eat money, our new jacket, or our new tv, that's why.

So, yesterday I went to this "talk" by Satish Kumar about "Soil and Peace's GNH" Even when I hadnt hear about him before, it was great to hear him talking about how everyone should become an artist, and enjoy their lives without worrying so much about work and money. About how society, by being dominated by the science, technology, money and economy that was supposed to help us find our goal: happiness, has forgotten that end, and lost its true potential. About how we have being pursuing "economy" (management of our home) without trying to actually know, understand and enjoy what nature has to give us, or in other words, without thinking about "ecology" (knowledge of our home/earth). When it is certainly more important to get to know your home if you want to actually manage it without destroying it.

He also talked about the myth of "land ownership", and how because of capitalism we have got to try to "own" everything, but we have forgotten about our actual "relationship" with friends, family, animals, soil, earth. He also talked about "economic growth" (which obviously by itself is not enough, and certainly it doesnt bring justice nor equity) vs "spirtitual growth". He also talked about food and energy security, about Japanese Article 9, Peace among many other things.
He seems to be a really wise person, and i'm really enjoying his autobiography "No Destination", which has also remind me about reading Gandhi's autobiography (among others)... and has made me think about new ideas, and remind of things I had already in my mind. Which I will have to digest during my free time, now that I have lots of it.

And well, for now, I just ask you to think about these things by yourselves, and please go this webpage to show your support for Japanese Article 9 renouncing war as a means of settling disputes, so that it is not the Japanese constitution the one that has to change, but all the other countries the ones that should create a similar article in their own constitution~

Monday, April 23, 2007

Couchsurfing ~ Earth Day

Wow, I havent updated for almost 2 eventful weeks...
Last weekend I went to my first Couchsurfers' gathering, down south in Chigasaki, a surfer city one hour southwest from Tokyo. I was really wondering if there was actually a surfer city in Japan but just after going out of the station and heading to the beach I was surrounded by surfer shops, and a really peculiar japanese surfer town atmosphere. And then when I got close to the beach there was definitely no doubt it was a surfer beach with all the people carrying their boards, and wearing wetsuits, and even bycycles with a special device to carry surfing boards. And then the beach... it was beautiful (for japanese standards I have to say...), much cleaner than other japanese beaches I've been to, and with an amazing view of Mt Fuji, specially in such a wonderful day. Then I joined other couchsurfers and their friends for a BBQ-picnic next to the beach, chatting with many people, eating nice food, salads, fruits and grilled veggies and tofu! :)
I got to meet really nice people, and then we end up going to karaoke, where a small box became a very lively disco full of gaijin's singing, dancing and drinking all around. I was feeling really comfortable in such a good company, and they asked for spanish songs, so after singing a few latin songs, and english songs everyone was standing on their feet. It was a really great karaoke night, including me singing Avril's new song "Girlfriend", that got completely recorded in my camera, but which I'm just too ashamed to show... :p
Lots of nice people joined, and it was great to meet them and have fun with them. After karaoke we stayed at our hostess place. A really nice surfer's japanese house!

Me, Alice and Kenji
My Chilean new mum: Ines :p
The marshmallows and sunset crowd~ :)

Everyone! Pose for the group picture!!!
Before the sun sets behind Mt Fuji leaving beautiful colors in the sky

Next day, after having breakfast and chatting a little bit more with the people who stayed, I went for the first time to Yokohama to meet Kim, and we had a really nice time eating Indian food, strolling around the Port Area, buying crazy stuff at Lush store, and finally having a long chat over coffee in very comfortables armchairs in Starbucks. We actually tried to catch a boat to anywhere from the International Port of Yokohama... but we didnt see anyplace to ask. :p

This weekend, after getting sick since wednesday with a bit of everything... cold, cough, headache, fever, sore throat, etc... I went to the doctor on sat and got a test for influenza, which was negative, so I have no idea why I got so bad, but well at least I was already feeling a little bit better and I got some medicine. So after going to the doctor, I just didnt want to stay home specially cause I wanted to go to Earth Day's celebration event in Tokyo, so I headed to Tokyo Sat and Sunday, for a great atmosphere, full of hippie energy, love and peace~ but now I got lazy to write about it... :p
In short, it was a great weekend, meeting old friends, not so old friends, and meeting new people, and learning new things about our earth, the way we treat it, and the way we treat each other. It was also great to see how this year there were much more veggie food stands, which means even in Japan people is gaining more conscience on the environmental impacts of animal farming, and on the fact that animals should also be part of our circle of compassion along all other humans and living beings, and earth itself... and which meant I could have yummy veggie food! :D

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DIrty Little Secret - The All-American Rejects

This video shows some postcards from the Post-Secret project (which I had put in my links before). It is a really great idea. I mean really, almost all humans at some time of our lives have secrets, whether about something that happened, something we have in our minds, something we'll like to do, or we did, or we dont feel like doing, that we feel afraid of sharing with other people, afraid of being judged, or not accepted, and even if it is not such a big deal having to keep it inside can become quite a big load. So I really liked the idea of this project when I first found out about it, letting people share their secrets anonymously, and somehow putting it out there so that they dont have to carry it all the time, feeling bad, sad, or something about it... and you can find some interesting, some times funny sometimes not so nice things that people actually do or think. and I guess it is also nice to see it is not only your secret sometimes...

"Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world" from Post-Secret Site

We Believe - Good Charlotte

I want to go to Good Charlotte's concert next month... but dont want to go by myself to a concert... Laila want to join? :p or anyone else? May 7 Monday at Odaiba~ Now I wonder if they may organize a PETA tabling at their concert since three of them are veggie, and they've done protests against KFC, but i dont think they do it... it would be great though!
maybe I can meet them... just dreaming. :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring Break

Well now I am formally in Spring Break... yes, according to the University Calendar the Spring Break is only from March 1~8, so I dont know how they call all the holydays we had from February till now... :p

Yes, it has been definitely a long holyday... probably the first long holyday I've actually spent without going to math olympics, travelling, or working, except for the half a year long break I took after graduating from high school before coming to Japan. So I cannot say it hasn't been great to have free time, sleep until late, go out or just stay at my room all day long, but somehow I feel I've lost the impulse and the motivation to do things, I had like this long list of things I wanted to do during my free four weeks (studying german, portuguese, doing some vegan advocacy leafleting, working out, reading some books, etc etc...) but in the end the four weeks went by without me even noticing and I end up doing nothing, which doesnt make me feel very good... hummmm. Definitely not good.

I dont know, I guess the last months I have been trying to figure out myself too much and I kind of forgot to figure out my life as well... I guess I need to have a balance of both. Have to have more control over my time and the things I do. But then it all starts with having somewhere I want to go, which I guess I've lost while I've been here in Japan. I really need more motivation for my career, my studies, I remember how enthusiastic I was about it when I was back in Colombia, going to help out at seminars, reading things by myself and stuff, but I guess being in Japan makes me feel so far from what I want to do that all those dreams started to feel too far away as well. I really want classes to start again, maybe that way I'll get some more motivation to think about my goals again. Cause it will be only two years till I graduate and I kind of have to figure out what I want to do after that... stay in Japan for the Master degree, go somewhere else to study (probably NZ?), or going back to Colombia... well I guess I kind of know what I want to do... but at the same time there is so many things I'll like to do back in Colombia that I really dont think I can figure it out by myself. It does depend on other things as well I guess.

Anyway I think like they say "too much play..." I have just kind of lost my destination during this four weeks holydays. And I guess I should start writing again all my thoughts, it really helps (not in the blog of course...).
It is not like I regret this last 4 weeks, I've really enjoyed them, going out with friends, meeting new people, thinking more about myself, experiencing and feeling new things, talking with old friends and all, I really needed to enjoy each moment more and be more open, but like I said I guess I also need balance, and need to remember what my dreams and goals are. And I definitely need to go back to be more active because I really feel I'm not doing anything for the causes I believe in. Go out and do some free-hugging, some vegan advocacy leafleting, do some environmental work, I really need to feel I'm using my life to help a cause, I guess it's the best way to make you enjoy every day even more.

One thing I have learned during this four weeks I guess is the value and importance of friendship and being there for each other, and I really have to thank my friends for being who they are, and being there for me, listening to me, understanding me, making me feel more comfortable and be more open, for trusting me, sharing their life with me, sharing experiences, moments and making me laugh. It is kind of sad to think that all of my friends are or will be all around the world, far away, and it will be difficult to see each other, so once again I feel the importance of enjoying every moment I can share with them, and try not to think so much about how our roads will propably go different ways in the future... It is really hard to study abroad when you think about this, but then I wouldnt have met all this great people or experience all the things I have, so it is in the end a great opportunity we have to take out the most of, not letting the distance or the lack of motivation forget why we end up coming here, and where do we want to go...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Random questionaries

You Are 56% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

You Are 4% Republican

If you have anything in common with the Republican party, it's by sheer chance.
You're a staunch liberal, and nothing is going to change that!

Your Birth Month is November

Tolerant and inspirational, you are wise beyond your years.
You are universally sympathetic and a great humanitarian.

Your soul reflects: Compassion, friendship, and secret love

Your gemstone: Citrine

Your flower: Chrysanthemum

Your colors: Dark blue, red, and yellow

Your World View

You are a fairly broadminded romantic and reasonably content.
You value kindness and try to live by your ideals.
You have strong need for security, which may be either emotional or material.

You respect truth and are flexible.
You like people, and they can readily make friends with you.
You are not very adventurous, but this does not bother you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Franco un-american - NOFX

Yesterday I got an email from a friend asking me again if I could help out at a punk concert handing out PETA leaflets this Sunday cause NOFX a PETA supporter band is coming. Unluckily, I am joining other Capeoristas for hanami so I cannot go, but I was checking the band's music and I found this video I thought was interesting so I just thought I would post it. I've got to say I like USA as a country, I like American TV, many of its products, and I've met many Americans who are really great people, so no, I'm not anti-American. But there is plenty of things I dont like about the government or the society, and well, sadly about "the majority" of Americans that are pretty much ignorant about everything that happens outside their lives, that voted for Bush and support war in Iraq, creating a wall between Mexico and USA, not supporting any ecological measures, creating laws that make peace and animal rights activist be considered terrorist (the so-called Patriot act), while they are out there looking for oil, killing innocent people, and creating more conflicts between different cultures and religions, among other things... so I thought this was an interesting and somehow funny video made by an American Punk band.
I realized since the last time I went to help out at Frenzal Rhomb's concert that there is a really interesting philisophy behind Punk culture, and even when I dont like most of the punk songs because they are just too loud, there is many ideas which I kind of share.
There is this other song of NOFX called "You're wrong" that even when I think it goes a little too far, by saying simply "you're wrong" which I guess it was just the short way of saying "I think it's not right and you should think about it" and making it fit into a song, and even when I definitely dont share all the ideas they have there I do agree with many of what they say (I feel more close to straight-edge ideals I guess, so I still dont know whether legalizing drugs is really a good option... for now I just know that by using cocaine you are supporting the war and the guerrilla in Colombia and all the suffering it causes to families living in the countryside. And I dont agree with denying all religions, but then they do have a point) Specially when you see all these extremist Christians in the TV talking all this crazy things against evolution, against other religions, against LGBT's, that is just amazing that they can be so convinced about their interpretation of the bible, and have so much hate for other humans. And the fact that they seem to be becoming the leading force inside the Republican party is just scary~ (and yeah I really wonder why I know so much about USA politics, but hey, it is the country that turns the whole world around, so yeah I think it is important to know more about it, and I'm not sure all the info I know is correct so please correct me if I'm wrong...)

BPE - Offenburg & Black Forest

Wow, I had forgotten about my BPE (Backpacking Europe) posts... So now I have to go back 6 months in time, and start off from Offenburg, Germany, where we went after meeting my brother and my cousin in Heidelberg.

Aug 28~31
Offenburg is a really nice city (town?), with nice pedestrian streets, a nice market, and beautiful countryside at a walk distance. The best attraction is probably all the wineries where you can go for a walk and eat all the grapes you want (you are just not allowed to take them back with you, but if you eat them while you are there... no prob! (at least that was what our brother told us... :p)).
We stayed here in Offenburg for around 4 days, at our brother's apartment, taking a holyday from our travel holyday, sleeping in a nice bed, cooking and eating nice warm food, walking around, and preparing ourselves for the rest of our trip heading south to Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Also while being here, we got an email from my dad telling us about an Austrian friend who wanted to meet us, and show us around, so even when we had no plans to go to Austria we were able to go to Austria's western region as well! :) and we also got in touch with an Italian friend who invited us to stay with his family. Yay! :D

Offenburg's pets... these were lovely crows, you can turn them around and all. Not like the noisy messy ones here in Japan. :>
Even in such a small city (town?) they had a vegetarian, organic supermarket with a fridge full of tofu, soy cheese, soy yogurt, vegan raviolis!!!, fake meats, burgers, sausages... wonderful! :p and even now many people think vegetarians can only it salads!?!?
I want to have a supermarket like this wherever I go! :p But for now fresh vegetables and fruits will do it~

Open air museum showing old houses from all around the Black Forest in the same place. Below, a town famous for its cuckoo clocks~ Lots of them!

Taking a walk around the countryside... there were apple trees everywhere, lots of grapes, and other crops
free food and free dinner :p including 2 delicious sheaves of corn. (is this the right way of counting corn in english?)