These concepts, perhaps, do not seem to have much in common. And while Brazil might appear to be just a distant country, the situation in this land is indirectly influenced by us all.
When I was a child, I loved the movie Winnetou - a film about colonization of American continent by Europeans and impact on the native Americans. We were all on the side of Indians, The film ended relatively well - in some favor to native Americans. Although this film is not known in Americas, film's motives can be found in a harder form today. The New York Times has published an unflattering situation in the Amazon region of Brazil. The original inhabitants are being pushed out from their territories and this is a better case. In the worst case, they pay with their lives.
The interests of nature and indigenous people are extruded by the interests of soybean farmers (in most cases genetically modified), sugar cane proprietors or cattle breeders. Brazil is one of the world's leading exporters of meat.
According to Mighty Earth Environmental Association, each international seller of meat has a link to deforestation. An example is Burger King, which carries cattle feed from companies alike Cargill and Bunge.www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/burger-king-linked-whopping-million-plus-acres-deforestation These companies are responsible for deforestation of more than 4,000 square kilometers (over million of acres) of land in the Amazon region. "The destruction of tropical rainforests represents a fifth of total environmental pollution," says Glenn Hurowitz of the Mighty Earth organization.
The head of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe is currently touring Europe with a desperate effort to aim international support and awareness about the environmental destruction and killings of Brazilian Indians, according to the Guardian portal. The situation got worse under the governance of the current Brazilian President, Temer, who has been linked to agricultural companies involved in the rainforest damage.
CARNIVAL IN RIO
The problems of indigenous people were highlighted by several samba schools at this year's Carnival in Rio, which I was able to attend with my "Ministry of Humbleness."
The samba school Imperatriz Leopoldinense spread the message of Amazon and Brazilian Indians protection with creatively designed vehicles, colorfully imaginative costumes and majestic backdrops,
The accompaniment of Imperatriz Leopoldinense was amplified by the song "Xingu, about clamor que vem da floresta" (Xingu, cry coming from the forest) with a remarkable text:
"I'm a forgotten son of the world
My color is red from pain
My singing is pungent and strong
But it is the anthem of peace and love! "
The representatives of agro-industry criticized Imperatriz Leopoldinense on the grounds that they were only trying to bring food to the table for Brazilian families. But the question is: At this price?
The meat production (mainly beef) contributes greatly to environmental pollution and natural resource extraction (eg about 7,000 liters of water and lot of fuel is used to produce a pound of beef OR equivalent to a 32-kilometer drive with a smaller car).
Norway realized the need to protect the Amazon as the planet's lungs long time ago. As a result, Brazil has received a financial subsidy for forest protection. Norway has threatened to abolish subsidies for Brazil if it does not reduce the astonishi ng deforestation trend.
Brazil has many great things to offer to the world: tasty coffee, exotic fruits, kind and friendly people, a colorful landscape with rich culture. However, the Brazilian meat and cane sugar (uncertificated fair-trade) should be omitted in the current situation.
If the destiny of our Indiginous brothers in Brazil is not indifferent to you, plese sign the following petitions:
Chile is a country whose people have been going through a dark era; as a result, the current government is highly committed to promoting human rights and equality.
Chile is a country with one of the strongest economies in South América and the lowest corruption rate.
Visiting Santiago in the summer (December 2016), I felt almost like being in Las Vegas. The city was very dry, located in the desert and surrounded by the mountains.
Walking to the Metropolitan Park in the central-northern part of the city was na option, but in the midd-day heat, an uphill cable car ride felt like a better option. And the views from the park were outstanding.
However, there was visible smog in the city and luck of breeze made the pollution remain in the city. Additionally, the public transit buses were old; and thus, contributed to the level of pollution in the city.
There was a visible smoke coming out of majority of Santiago buses. Climate change make governments of many cities and countries come up with environmentally friendly policies. A fact that Santiago received the 2017 International Sustainable Transport Award is a big disappointment for me. I have visited many contries in Latin America, but I can assure you from my personal experience that countires like Colombia, Brazil, Argentina or Peru have better and more ecological transit options than Santiago.
I found metro in Santiago to be a better option than buses. Chile is a country with beautiful nature, nice and friendly people, rich history and high human rights standards. As far as environment protection, the country seems to be behind. I hope that this will change soon.
If you are gluten intolerant, there are several gluten-free options for meals and products in Colombia. There are also products for celiacs, but because they require more rigorous production rules, they are not as easily accessible.
Many products in Colombia include "arepas" which are corn tortillas (salty) or they come in the sweet form of "corn panckakes" (arepa de chocolo). Arepas in Colombia are usually eaten for breakfast - with a slice of soft cheese, butter and hot chocolate.
As I lived in Medellín, I will describe the gluten-free options in this city. Gluten-free products can be found in the healthy stores /"tiendas naturistas"/ and many vegetarian restaurnats serve gluten-free meals. Here are my five favorite places in Medellín:
1. Vita Integral - tienda naturista, Avenida Nutibara Tr. 39B # 77-40, Medellín (barrio Laureles)
Vita Integral is a healthy food store with gluten-free bread, buns, arepas, snacks, natural yogurts, artesanal peanut butters, jams and other products.
The staff is very pleasant and I appreciated their good prices. They also sell organic produce at the store on Fridays and Saturdays.
2. ColyFlor - Calle 48 #65-58, Medellín (right next to the metro station Suramericana)
ColyFlor is a local produce market selling organic fruits and veggetables as well as other food items (eggs, rice, coffee, cocoa, panela, household and personal care products, etc.). The essential benefit of this store is that its drivers visit farmers in the countryside of Antioquia and buy eco-produce from them (produce free of agro-chemicals).
3. Salud Pan - Cirqular 4 # 70-84, Medellín (neighborhood Laureles)
This healthy restaurant and market offers daily (except Sundays) vegetarian and raw dishes (there is an option for animal protein as well).
A special aspect about this restaurant is that it has its own eco-farm where their produce is grown. They sell some of their produce on Saturdays - right at the restaurant. Salud Pan also has a bakery where they prepare both gluten-free and gluten-full options.
4. Veg Station - Calle 10 # 35-14, Medellín
This vegetarian restaurant offers daily menu (Mon-Fri) that is tasty and for affordable price (compared to other venues in Poblado neighborhood).
5. Verdeo - Calle 12 #43D-77, Medellín (neighborhood Manila/Poblado)
This is a highly regarded restaurant for its quality produce and in my opinion, the most flavorful taste. Their culinary is a piece of art and as I am writing this review, I would be pleased to come back to that restaurant.
I hope that you enjoy these options during your visit in Medellín.
Because we live in era of climate change and decline of natural resources, it should be our primary responsability to care more about the environment. Harsh chemicals in household products contribute to environmental contamination and can cause or trigger allergies in sensitive people. When my roommate switched to the ecological washing powder, his frequent sneezes after doing laundry suddenly disappeared..
I was pleased to see that most of the Colombian supermarkets offer household products that are environmentally friendly. And although they represent a minority in the competition of chemically potent detergants and cleaners, the ecological ones are competitive with prices.
GENERAL STORE PRODUCTS
Many products in the grocery stores can be used as effective cleaners. For eandxample, baking soda can help to whiten the clothes (if left overnight with little bit of soap) and can be used as a scrub to release greesy spots in the kitchen as well as for cleaning the sink.
Vinegar mixed with orange or lemon peals can make an effective home cleaner as well. You can check this link for more ideas.
The Top Terra brand uses biodegradable ingredients in its variety of washing powders, washing detergents, soap for cleaning dishes and cleaning soaps for clothes. They can be found in the supermarkets like Exito, Jumbo or Metro (among others).
Ecoflora products include liquids for cleaning windows, soap for washing dishes, multi-purpose cleaner (for floors and surfaces, but I used it as a washing liquid to my laundry as well, as it contains essential oils (essential oils as cleaning means have been used by indigenous people for centuries).
This product contains essential oil from pine trees and is manufactured for cleaning of the floors and other types of surfaces.
It comes in various sizes and can be found in various supermakets.
Industrias Cory company is located in the city of Medellin and near by is located their only store. They pack products to whole Colombia and also offer home delivery. The sortiment covers products of personal care and also household products. For instance, this is the natural cream paste to clean the greasy and oily surfaces. The products by Cory are biodegradable (although I saw that some of them contain parfume scents).
Thank you for reading this blog and I hope that you got inspired to protect our environment as well as your health.
On the night of June 18, 2016, I came to the bus terminal in Bogota (Salitre) and was happy to buy a ticket for 40,000 COP to destination El Cocuy, a close entry point to the National Park El Cocuy. I checked the park´s website few weeks prior to planning my trip and the website indicated that the park was open.
Howerver, after traveling ten hours on curvey and bumpy unpaved roads, I found out that the park is closed. Well, "the park is open, but the access is blocked", the park ranger clarified. He explained that the local farmers have been blocking all three entrances to the park since february - as a result of few youngsters from Bogota who played soccer on one of the glaciers and even posted a video about it. The local people found it disrespectful as the glacier is used as a source of drinking water and plus, they consider the mountains to be a special place that deserves lots of respect and highest level of protection.
But this fact is still not enough to change the status of the park on the national park´s website, unfortunately.
So if you plan to visit El Cocuy - I recommend to contact one of the local business or the best - one of the lodges in the park - to find out an up-dated status.
The ranger in the village El Cocuy recommended to make a local hike with a view of the park, but I was not interested and left the village the same day.
Couple years ago, a woman drove in her car with kids and her husband in another car in front of her. At one point, the motorbike passed by and the guys on it shot the husband in his car – all witnessed by wife. The killers were the youngsters trying to enter the cartel. You had to kill someone to get in.
During the era of Escobar, a youngster who killed the police officer fighting for justice (against Escobar) would receive 1,000,000 COP. He corrupted a large part of Medellin's city - and would have an access to information such as police officers' personal data, addresses, shifts worked... Escobar´s sexual taste inclined towards 14 and 15 year old girls. Does this person deserve our attention? It is up to you to decide. The church liked that he build hospitals and helped poor - but at what price? He considered to be himself rather a rebel, but if he criticized the government for the corruption, he was not doing anything better...as his system caused lots of chaos, innocent deaths and injustice.
We live in a capitalistic times when many things are possible for money. And now - there are the tours being offered to see where and how Escobar lived. But I would personally not want to visit the site where this person lived, and evenless his grave. There are many more positive figures in the world who deserve their honor.
In Medellín, there is a very nice and modern museum - Museo Casa de la Memoria - with extensive materials, photographs and video recordings about Colombian history of violence - including Escobar´s cartel, FARC and Paramilitary. It offers objective and comprehensive look at the history of this hardly-examined nation. The entrance to Museo Casa de la Memoria is free.
Today, April, 24 - was a very touching day. Over ththousand people participated in an event organized by Arboles Pa'l Morro to plant trees in the nearby hill of Cerro de las tres cruces in Medellín's Belén neighborhood.
Most of the participants arranged and carried their trees (which they purchased).
The volunteers from Arboles Pa´l Morro will be returtning to the site in next few weeks to monitor the condition of planted trees.
I would like to thank and express my great gratitude to all environmental enthusiasts who showed their care for the Earth today.
La Guajira is becoming a popular travel destination in Colombia for its roustic atmosphere and unique environment.
Blue water of Carribean Sea make Cabo de la Vela an attractive destination. And similarly, the orange colored soil, interesting landscape and sand dunes make Punta Gallinas a not to be missed stop in the La Guajira region.
While the nature offers us its beauty and peaceful setting, the human behavior has a visible impact on the local environment - the most visible being the amount of trash released around, especially the plastic waste.
And even though some sites seem to collect the trash, the inconvenient truth is that such trash is being burned nearby - polluting the air second time (the first time during the production of plastic), leaving trash around and threatening local fauna and flora (many animals confuse plastic with food which may be fatal for them).
What can we do? Please try to eliminate your plastic use in everyday life. When visiting La Guajira, please take your plastic waste to a nearby big city (Riohacha) or buy drinks in returnable glass bottles (for purchase on sites).
If you travel to Cancun Airport and need to get to the city of Cancun or Playa del Carmen, your most economic - yet comfortable option - is to travel by a mexican national bus company ADO. Once you leave the Cancun Airport International terminal, you will pass by numerous guys offering you expensive private van rides. You can ignore them (politely, perhaps) and walk to the right. You will see the ADO station at the right edge of the open platform. Note: the ADO bus company does not have a booth inside the airport. You can buy the ticket at the platform - with the ADO staff.
There are two routes from the Cancun Airport. One leaving to the city of Playa del Carmen (the ride takes 1 hour and the bus drops you at the either station in Playa del Carmen - in the city's downtown. The second bus from the airport goes to Cancun (takes about 30 min, you would have to take a taxi or switch to another bus if traveling to Zona Hoteliera in Cancun).
For more information, visit www.ado.com.mx
Disclaimer: I do not have any association with ADO bus company and did not receive any compensation for this promotion. It is a public service and they may not have funds to promote their services, actually. I support public transit as oppose to car rental for environmental reasons.
If you made your way to Medellín, you will find various options for public transit here.
Medellín is the only Colombian city (as of 2016) with a metro system - which operates two routes.
The one-way ticket costs COP 2150; however, if you arrange a "tarjeta civica" at one of the metro administrative offices (there is one at San Antonio station, another at Niquia, San Javier and possibly at La Estrella as well) - with your photo ID - you can ride the system for COP 1880 plus you can use free transfer to Metro Plus system (a bus-run system with a separate road lanes). You can see the current fare table here.
Metro system in Medellin also operates three cable services (MetroCable). Two are part of Metro system and offer free transfers, the third one is a commercial line to Parque Arví from Santo Domingo and a separate fare applies (almost COP 5000 in 2016). The current fare table can be found here: https://www.metrodemedellin.gov.co/Viajeconnosotros/Tarifas.aspx. Please note that the service to Parque Arví does not operate on Mondays. MetroCable system uses combination of electricity and solar power from the panels installed on the roof of cabines.
Metro Medellín also operates several buses that connect metro stations with various neighborhoods. You can buy an integrated bus ticket at each metro station. The cost of such ticket is COP2150-3050 and allows for a metro ride and a transfer to a bus ride (or vice-versa).
For mor information, visit www.metrodedellin.gov.co.
I like to travel by bus and would like to share my experience from airport transfers to long distance bus travels as well as practical information from inspiring destinations. If you would like to support this page, you can do so through paypal. Thank you.