Chile, From Santiago to Valparaíso
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

After Puerto Montt, the second half of the series of screenings in Chile unfolded at universities in Santiago and Valparaíso.  Although they shared the name, "Universidad Católica", there was no connection between the two.  We were in Santiago thanks to an invitation by Professor José M. Farina, showing the film in their downtown campus, a few minutes away from sadly famous since 1973 Palacio de la Moneda.  Had a most interesting conversation with Professor Farina where he let me know that Ocean Acidification is not one of the top priorities or concerns amongst the small oceanography and marine biology community in Chile and that, needless to say, the phenomenon is completely unknown by the general public. Things like climate change, pollution from salmon farms, green tides, the niño/niña phenomenon or water hypoxia rank much higher in the agenda.  I knew nothing about water hypoxia and was fascinated and terrified by the description.  It seems that along the Chilean coast there is a not too deep layer of water depleted of oxygen, a dead zone for marine fauna. Sometimes, for reasons they are studying, it slowly raises up to the surface like an silky vail of death and kills all life it touches.  
At the screening the attending students had organized an informal pre-screening informal gathering with coffee and pastries, so we got to meet and chat for a few minutes before, which was a great idea because I felt it broke the ice for later.  We had a small technical problem that turned images rather green (green tide!), but they all watched with great interest nonetheless and our conversation and q&a afterwards lasted longer than the film itself.  There were members of the Ecology, Biology, Oceanography and Environmental Sciences Departments and I learned a lot from them while also trying to emphasize the need society has of their work and our desire to bring changes to the world. Enthusiasm run high and I was promised screenings at schools around Santiago to educate kids about Ocean Acidification and the beginning by one of the students of a small college newspaper about marine science. I do not really know if any of it will actually happen, these were promises made in the heat of the moment, but their feelings and passion were so sincere that they alone would have made completely worth our efforts to fly to Chile this month.

The next morning I was on a bus to Valparaíso for our final showing in the country.  While in Santiago I had stayed a block away from Pablo Neruda's house "La Chascona", the one ransacked by Pinochet's hyenas, and upon my arrival into "Valpo" I discovered my accommodation was also five minutes from "La Sebastiana", his home sitting on a hill. Fresco detail in La Chascona
Neruda loved the oceans, he obsessed with ships and anything smelling of salt and iodine, evoking sea travel.  In the houses he built he always tried to replicate the interior of sailboats: the dining rooms are long, narrow, with low ceilings, the wooden floors crack, gently rocking below your feet, certain windows are portholes and most of furniture came from sea vessels, like the gorgeous bar where he entertained and prepared cocktails for friends, the office desk on the last floor that had once belonged to the captain of a merchant ship or the nightstands by the large bed. He amassed a vast collection of shells and several majestic figureheads.  Like a beachcomber, he was a collector of everything and anything, constantly thirsty for beauty and uniqueness.  The house in Valparaíso is in the perfect location to encompass the whole bay.  Beside one of its ample windows he placed his favorite armchair; it is there he wrote many of his poems, always using green ink, perching over the harbor, getting up every now and then to look into his spyglass at distant ships.  But, surprisingly, Pablo Neruda was also utterly terrified of being aboard a ship and in the few occasions he did he became terribly seasick.  A perfect epitome of the Chilean man, enveloped in the unequivocal presence of the Pacific Ocean, swirling in a game of love, fascination, dependence and fear, but a distant stranger to it all the same.

The pretty theater at the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso was full on both floors with kids and young adults, most in school uniforms. The screening went well, colors looked the way they should and our conversation at the end was extremely lengthy once again.  I might talk too much.  Professors complained about the lack of interest from Chilean students in science, marine science more in particular, and those young men and women asked some very good questions.  Several got carried away like in Santiago and offered to spread the word on Ocean Acidification in schools and amongst friends.  All that time we were less than a hundred meters from the water, but a road and a fence separated the bay from us, making it invisible.  Maybe that is why most of the attendants had never even seen Valparaíso and the seals living in the harbor from the water.  Ms. Marina Vivar, from the local Natural History Museum purchased a copy of the film and asked if it would be ok to have it loop-playing in their newly renovated facilities. Another lady, the head of science college programs in the region, purchased one as well and proposed further screenings at the university and to leave the documentary also available in the video library.  I was invited to lunch (fish soup, finally) by organizing Professor Sergio Palma, and walked from there to the harbor, where old fishing boats are now used to take tourists around the huge dock cranes, through the shipyard, the harems of seals around the blubbery male and the frightening gray muscle of the chilean navy, to the open view of tutti frutti Valparaíso, the city that draws itself on walls and doors, always facing the sea, seldom in it.

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The Crossing Of The Andes
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

You can fool and distract yourself in the days leading to a trip, go through the motions of packing, closing doors and taking cabs in hypnotic discipline, behave in such a drowsy way during the flight that the experience nears teletransportation, but when the captain's voice comes in the speaker commanding everyone to buckle up in preparation for crossing the Andes you immediately wake up with the strength of a pound of caffeine and Chile surfaces in your mind, solid and unequivocal.
I had never buckled up to go over mountains.  But then again, these were the Andes, daisy chaining in time everything from the Incas to "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors"and encompassing in space over 7,000 kilometers of mountains, high plateaus and volcanoes; the true backbone of the South American continent.  Sure, the Himalayas are the Himalayas, with all the 7000 and 8000 meter summits in the world, but when it comes to names nothing resonates higher or sounds steeper than the Andes.
The Chile I saw and walked on below was at times not what I expected.  Downtown Santiago could be in Madrid or even Paris and Southern Chile is at times a slightly poorer and much wilder mirror image of Germany and Switzerland.  City streets nationwide are taken by literally thousands of stray dogs.  They are so many and so large only after some time you come to accept none of them lives in a home.  Maybe as consequence, there are very few dog owners. Any city street corner in Chile
But reaching closer to our documentary and its subject, when looking at a map one would think that Chile and Chileans face the Pacific Ocean for over 4,500 kilometers of straight coastline, but the truth is that the country has its back to it and what they face are the wine valleys, fruit farms and mineral-rich soil before and into the striking Andean peaks.  Sure, you will find in its waters some of the best fishing grounds in the world, and they are the second producers of salmon worldwide, but culturally, historically, gastronomically and economically the Pacific is mostly ignored and taken as a frontier.  After arriving in Puerto Montt for our three scheduled screenings at the Diego Rivera theater I walked into a 30 aisle supermarket and found a plethora of kuchen and wurst, many of the smells from my Bavarian grandmother's kitchen, Argentinian veal steaks (some fed with Chilean fish meal!), but no fish section at all.  Nothing, not even salmon.  Ten steps away from waters filled with barnacles the size of your fist, "shoe mussels" (deservedly called so by locals) and fish farms that export worldwide, buying any of it fresh was not an option.
The two school screenings went very well, drawing kids from towns within a two hour radius.  Some had to even cross lakes on ferry boats to get to the theater those two mornings.  The students from a Puerto Varas school, a beautiful town sitting at the foot of lake Llanquihue, had been doing these past few months some lab experiments on Ocean Acidification, so they were the most knowledgeable and interested (measured by the number of questions raised at least) of all.  These events with students are not just about the specific problem of acidification, they are about nature, preservation, the environment, the threats to life and about having that become part of the school curriculum.  Living in such beautiful, almost unspoiled surroundings I felt I had to explain that in fact most of the world does not look that way and is not in such condition, that no matter how accustomed they might be they should not take any of it for granted. They are very fortunate to wake up every morning with wilderness at the doorstep, surrounded by clean water, fertile land, and glacier mountains tops. Idyllic, and it is very good to hear a foreigner praise and envy it.The youngest kids walking into the Diego Rivera Theater
The evening screening for adults usually shows where there is friction in the region, the cracks on the wall that go unnoticed to the mere visitor, so I am very lucky because this way of traveling puts me in a very privileged position. In the case of Puerto Montt the not so sunny side was primarily the environmental damage caused by the salmon industry.  There is a long, repeated history of pollution and abuse by salmon farms in the area, and also much resentment because the economic benefits have not stayed in the area either.  And the fishing fleet had not done things any better.  It seems to have historically been in the hands of Spanish and Japanese companies with little scruples and immense greed (those two, always going hand in hand).  Since I am a Spaniard, a local fisherman and a young historian both spoke about the atrocities my ancestors had done since the XVI Century and about the ones my fellow countrymen are still doing, obliterating the ocean bottoms, trawler fishing the waters empty.  It is hard to know what to say in these cases, when one becomes a forced representative of his country of origin or of the first world in general and I am told I have no right to defend preservation, to deprive their country's economy of developing and preach the opposite of what my nation has done and still does. No matter how much I despise flag waving and tribal chest pounding, it is not hard to also see how it can itch to have an "outsider" deliver certain messages, so my hope, I guess, is that soon the young audience from the morning screenings will be the one speaking and demanding changes everywhere.  Also in beautiful Southern Chile. View from Puerto Varas of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano
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President Obama And The Giant Pteropods
Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Daniel de la Calle


A couple news for the first half of the week:

»US President Barak Obama's weekly address this past Saturday was a remarkable attempt at pushing for a more environmental and alternative energy agenda while making it sound like the opposite.  Speaking from a jet-engine factory Mr. Obama seemed to be talking about aircraft manufacture on American soil, about national oil production being at an 8-year high and about the opening of millions of acres for oil drilling, but all that wrapping was the necessary "spoonful of sugar" to once again try to make the renewable, clean and efficient energy "medicine" go down the reluctant American public.  It is worth watching everywhere, here in Europe as well; we are talking about the place where 20% of the world's oil gets burned:

»Sculptor Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh recently created "The Pteropod Project: Charismatic Microfauna", a series of 12 sculptures enlarged over 3,000 times of our friend and co-protagonist in A Sea Change, the "winged foot" pteropod.  To make it come to life she collaborated with Dr. Gareth Lawson, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Read an essay by Ms. Kubler on The Pteropod Project HERE

If you live in NYC you will also have the chance to see the exhibit at the Blue Mountain Gallery May 22 - June 16 2012.

© 2011 Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh. All Rights Reserved


»A SEA CHANGE screening in Kansas City tonight (Tuesday March 13t) at 7PM, at the Bragg Auditorium (All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church).

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Reconsider Your Shrimp
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

» Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass. is hosting an Oceans Symposium and next Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m., Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer at The New Yorker, will lead a discussion following a showing of A Sea Change, Imagine a World Without Fish.

» Beautiful new documentary on the oceans is out this year: The Last Reef, Cities Beneath The Sea. Go to their website ( and read how this project, that started out as a 3D "macro movie based in Palau", turned into an alarm call on the biggest threat to coral reefs worldwide: Ocean Acidification.

» Reconsider your shrimp.  A one pound bag of frozen shrimp raised on a typical Asian fish farm produces an astounding one ton of CO2.  At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science biologist J. Boone Kauffman (Oregon State University) developed the comparison to help the public understand the environmental impact of land use decisions.  "The carbon footprint of the shrimp from this land use is about 10-fold greater than the land use carbon footprint of an equivalent amount of beef produced from a pasture formed from a tropical rainforest."
Mr. Kauffman said 50 to 60 percent of shrimp farms are located in tidal zones in Asian countries, mostly on cleared mangrove forests.  The farms are inefficient, producing just one kilogram of shrimp for 13.4 square meters of mangrove, while the ponds created are abandoned in just three to nine years because disease, soil acidification and contamination destroy them.  After abandonment, the soil takes 35 to 40 years to recover.
LINK to the original article, from Agence France Presse.

» Lecture on Ocean Acidification and the Future of Native Oysters in California Estuaries taking place tomorrow, February 24, at noon at Stanford University. It is sponsored by Hopkins Marine Station. More info HERE.

» And from the other side of the Atlantic, "Analyses of the effects of Ocean Acidification on the larval development of Crassostrea gigas", AKA Pacific oyster on Ms. Patrícia Barros Masters Theses. Info HERE.

» New video filled with European flair on Ocean Acidification, the EPOCA program and the public's awareness on the issue.

» Post Doctoral position at IMR.  The Institute of Marine Research has a 3 year position as postdoctoral researcher on the effects of Ocean Acidification on marine zoooplankton, with special emphasis on krill. The position is located in Bergen, Norway. Find out about qualifications and further details HERE.

» The Second UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme annual science meeting will take place at the University of Exeter from Monday, April 16th to Wednesday, April 18th.  If you are a UKOARP particiant you can register online HERE.  For further reading, click HERE.
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Screening at the Oil Company
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle
from Ipanema Beach, Brazil

This past Friday the 28th A Sea Change screened at the CENPES center in Rio de Janeiro.  It is a massive 25 acre complex that employs over 1,500 biologists, chemists, marine ecologists and engineers working in interdisciplinary groups at the Petrobras headquarters, one of the leading research centers of its kind in the world. Here »

they are studying all renewable energy sources, from wind to geothermal, from cell batteries to biodiesel (Brazil is arguably the leading nation on sugarcane biodiesel tech).
Heading up Guanabara Bay from downtown Ipanema Beach I had two reasons for concern about the morning ahead:
first, I wondered how many of these scientists would show up for a 9AM screening made public via internal emails in these empty and distracted weeks before Carnival, and second, what their response to a film so openly opposed to the use of fossil fuels would be.  Fortunately, my friend Suzana Sattamini had once again done a fantastic job and the results were simply outstanding.  We had an almost full house watching our documentary and half the audience stayed throughout the 40 minutes of fruitful Q&A (see picture).

My overall impression is that everyone devoting time and attention into the current environmental situation is more or less under a similar frame of mind: our impact on nature is too obvious to go unnoticed; we are all concerned and looking for answers, for ways of improving and moving away from a technology that has been fruitful in uncountable ways, but that is finite and has had tremendous impact on the planet. During most of the XXth century we were not aware of just how serious that poisoning was, partly thanks to the natural CO2 sequestration the oceans were doing for the atmosphere, but out of knowledge comes responsibility and to continue following the same path is simply unacceptable.  I am not stating that this is the way Petrobras as a stately run company sees the industry it is a part of, but, putting aside possible twisted interpretations of PR work, the fact that companies like Petrobras are investing so heavily on clean tech, on research and into other sources of power is a clear indicator that they are aware and looking ahead.

After the screening we went to visit a sculpture Suzana and other Brazilian artists have created and that was recently inaugurated inside Cenpes last year. It is a spiral of life that chronologically shows all eras of life in this planet. Each one is represented by an animal that at some point inhabited the land that we now call Brazil:

from Precambrian, through Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous (with the only life sized creature, a 5 ft wing spanned dragonfly), Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary all the way to "our" Quaternary with some human footprints (Suzana's husband Paulo's).
Let's aim for a "Quinternary" that does not have a shameful human footprint.

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When You Reach Maturity
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

A couple blog entries ago I mentioned A Sea Change has been present so far at more than fifty film festivals worldwide.  We have a saying in Spanish that goes: "life is but a sigh", partly to show our tragic sense of life, but mainly to stress its brevity.  The documentary that Barbara finished not long ago is reaching maturity and quietly beginning a new life, one where film festival attendances become a bit more apart, where we, the Niijii Films crew, can witness how it's firmly established itself as the filmic source of reference in all matters ocean acidification.  This is by no means a sign of decay but, quite on the contrary, an indication of its health and the natural progress of things.  And you could be of so much help in the weeks, months and years to come.  How?:
Just two days ago a person that attended our April screening in Sao Paulo wrote asking permission to organize one himself at local MAUA School of Technology.  It fills me with pride to know that that event and the after talk about individual initiatives stayed with Alberto Galvão Branco and now that he sees a chance to do something he has not wasted a minute to contact us.  You could do the very same thing, whether it is at a local college, and environmental organization near your home, a municipal auditorium or space that sits empty most days.  Read HERE, it is quite simple.  It will become the perfect excuse to see friends, build your community, eat something together afterward, become actively engaged in solving the problems that concern you, feel so so helpful.  Plus, it releases lots of endorphins.
If you have any questions that are not answered on our website, do not hesitate to email me:
Thank you.

I cycle by the shore every morning,
the Mediterranean there was, the Mediterranean there is

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We Need Your Help!
Saturday, June 10, 2017
We've just received word from Netflix that A Sea Change is officially a 'saved' film in their terminology. This means that they're waiting to see how many people put it in their queue before they decide if they'll carry it. With over 50 film festivals worldwide, a national broadcast on Planet Green and hundreds of community screenings we're curious what it takes to get accepted outright. But Netflix has a big audience and we want more people to see the film and learn about ocean acidification, so we see this as a challenge to our network of  If you have a Netflix account or know someone who does, please take a minute to put us in your queue and to ask your friends to do the same thing. It's free, it's easy and it will make a difference. Here's our link

Speaking of documentary film festivals, Barbara and Sven just returned (briefly) home after attending the screening of their film at the Chesapeake Film Festival, while here at the virtual office we were informed that the film had been selected for the Festival du Film de L'environnement in Kairouan, Tunisia, in early December. How nice is that?
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Back to Brazil, back to FICA
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

I really wanted to visit some of the cerrado National Parks during the screening tour in Brazil in March and April, but it was not possible.  The dates did not leave a window of time big enough to "escape" to the countryside between each city.   I thought it would be a long time before I had another chance to fly to South America and fulfill this desire, but I was so wrong.  Not even a week after my return to the US the production company received an invitation to take part in FICA again, the film festival that A Sea Change won last year, this time as part of a series of films to be screened for school children from the State of Goias.  I wrote to the organizers and suggested we did a little more than just show the film; I wanted to go down there and meet them, talk to them about ocean acidification and do a simple chemistry experiment to exemplify what an acidic ocean does to shell forming organisms.  They liked the idea and so it was that, barely a month after leaving Río, that I was heading South again on an early June night.

My expectations were very high, but even so the cerrado did not disappoint me at all. It is wild, it is pure, it is extremely beautiful, bizarre and surprising. Animals, birds and plants seem to have come out of a Dr. Seuss book.  The giant anteater with its long hairs, nose and tongue, the toucans and parrots, the palms, sticky plants, fragrant leaves, thorny bushes. Everything was new and unique to me.  And for good reason, forty some percent of all I saw was endemic;  this ecosystem is so important that, in a country like Brazil that holds the Amazon jungle, the cerrado still counts for over thirty percent of all the biodiversity in the nation.  The big threat to these gorgeous savannas and bushy areas are the dry season fires and the clearings done for soy and cattle farming.  Fires are strictly forbidden, but one would think that they are actually encouraged. Everywhere I went people were burning grass and low bush by the side of the road, in farms, in the forests.  This practice could not be more dangerous.  The dry season lasts half of the year and usually, once a fire gets out of control during these months there is absolutely no way people will manage to stop it. Some plants have adapted to fires and have the most ingenious ways of "escaping" or surviving fires, but many others and all animals caught in it perish and take an awful long time to repopulate the area because conditions in the cerrado are extreme and hard (six months of rain, six months of "seca", the dry season).  I came to realize that legislation is not going to do much to discourage "winter" burnings, that the only way to dissuade Brazilians from eradicating the mato is to educate them, to teach them to love this magnificent environment that they take for granted and to teach them about the consequences of fires. The cerrado, as I have already mentioned on previous posts in this blog, is the most threatened environment in all Brazil, way above the Amazonia.

Education has always looked to me like the only true key to hope and change in all matters, including the way we treat the planet, so I was elated to have the opportunity to show the film to 500 kids and talk to them for a couple minutes. There were children and teenagers of all ages, from 5 to 17. They were loud, they were having fun, they were nervous. The room was huge, it is the same one used for the Festival's closing ceremony, but in less than five minutes it filled up. They were making so much noise during the opening scene that you could not hear a thing. How loud were they? About this LOUD

Unfortunately, some of them had to leave before it was over because they had come by bus from distant towns and villages and had to begin their way back, but a good number of them stayed until the end.  I had promised to ask a few simple questions about the film and reward those that knew the answers with some of our merchandise, so the kids (and quite many adults) were pretty excited.  I also asked the younger children to please make a drawing with whatever part of the documentary or animal shown in it that they liked and we quickly assembled an informal jury to reward the best five or six with a Niijii Films baseball cap as well.  I wished I had brought 100 and not just a handful, it was heartbreaking to see some of those disappointed eyes. The most difficult question I asked seemed to be to name in an understandable way the little shell with wings that appears several times throughout the film.  The word "pteropod" is not the easiest one to pronounce for a 12 year old Brazilian kid; some pretty comical and unintelligible replies, formed mostly by the urge to own a baseball cap, came out of those mouths.  Finally, I told them all to come close to the stage and hold two cups in their hands, one filled with water and one filled with vinegar. Then we gave each one of them several pieces of chalk while I explained that they should imagine the acidic ocean being the cup of vinegar and the shell forming organism being the pieces of chalk. There was some initial confusion because the chalk was bubbling in the water as well as in the vinegar, but once the air inside it had come out they could see the vinegar getting all murky and the chalk stick slowly dissolving. I knew all this was quite a stretch for a little girl that has never seen the ocean or eaten shellfish and is at the beginning of her school years, but I think they got the essence of the message and both students and teachers were absolutely fascinated by the chemistry behind the terrible problem of ocean acidification. I believe and hope the experiment is going to be replicated in classrooms during the next few months.

Here are a few of the drawings I took with me, all of them winners of the Niijii Films cap that is now often seen around the State of Goias:

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Bicycle Interview
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Barbara and Sven returned from the West Coast a few days back and this past Thursday Sven and I had a chance to go on a morning ride, discuss how Liquigas was doing in the Giro de Italia and talk about the 2010 NOAA Environmental Hero Award ceremony in La Jolla, CA.
"Thanks" to some stomach problems this spring (or so he claims) Sven is looking lean and mean and was able to talk even when the road got steep.

"It was exciting to be out there," he said.  "Obviously, it is a delight when you work hard and try to pull the best team together to make a film to in the end get this kind of recognition.  We are lucky to have Barbara as a director.  She is a good storyteller so the rest of us did what we were told and tried to do it well."

From left to right, Tony Haymet, Dick Feely, Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby

"The evening started with a slideshow with clips from the film and Youtube pieces related to the history of the film, television shows where it had appeared and those sort of things. There was a major buffet and soon after the ceremony.
Dick Feely came down from the Seattle office of NOAA to present the award on behalf of Doctor Jane Lubchenko, the Administrative Director of NOAA. She is a woman with deep knowledge of ocean acidification as a result of her work at Oregon State University," said Sven.  
"After the award ceremony we had a screening of the full 83 minute version of the documentary for the 250 attendees and finally a q&a with Barbara and myself, Andrew Dickson, Tony Haymet and Victoria Fabry."

I did not recognize a couple of the names, so Sven, water bottle in his hand, explained: "Tony Haymet is the president of Scripps. Andrew Dickson is known as the man who came up with a standardized way of calibrating instruments to measure pH levels around the world seas, whether it is Japan, Norway, Australia or the United States. And Victoria Fabry, or Vicky Fabry as we know her, is the scientist who was originally interviewed by Elizabeth Kolbert in her seminal article for the November 2006 issue of the New Yorker titled "The Darkening Sea".  It is always a treat to catch up with Vicky."

"The best part of getting an award like this is you can leverage it into more publicity and greater milage for the film," he concluded.

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Sao Paulo de Janeiro
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

It is 60 degrees, cloudy and windy at times and I am listening to the National's new record surrounded by maple, oak and pine tress in my office.  No more Tim Maia, Marisa Monte, funky carioca or forró.  No more Os Mutantes.  I will need to close my eyes really tight to remember what it was and felt like 5,000 miles further South, over in Brazil.  Right now Barbara and Sven are on the West Coast receiving their Environmental Hero Award from NOAA and visiting Elias and his family while back here in NY we received this past week news of three broadcasts on Norwegian national television, NRK (which made Sven particularly happy), and of the screening at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver.  The Vancouver Observer did a nice little piece about it that you can read here.

The penultimate screening was at the Cineclube Socioambiental Crisantempo in Vila Madalena.  Vila Madalena fools you into thinking that the gigantic city that envelops it does not exist.  It is a beautiful neighborhood with posh restaurants, bars with terraces, boutiques, artists' studios, bakeries.  If you are rich in Sao Paulo, you want to hang out around Vila Madalena and forget about the traffic jams, the hectic Avenida Paulista, the putrid Pinheiros River, the more than 20 million people around. Crisantempo offers a fantastic space in which to host film, theatre, dance and music performances.  It is all very well organized and cared for, all extremely professional.  Everybody talks about the city being the engine of South America, more cosmopolitan, faster paced and wealthier than anywhere else in the continent and I guess it is true.  For me it was a relief to have the last screenings being a little less stressful and unpredictable.  In preparation for our night the organizers had contacted Leandra Gonçalves from Greenpeace Brasil to be present during the Q&A.  That gave me the opportunity to not have to listen so much to myself again and learn some very interesting things about the attempts (or lack thereof) in Brazil to preserve coastal waters and marine ecosystems.  Although I had already noticed how much meat is eaten everywhere, I was surprised to know that the average consumption per capita of fish in Brazil barely reaches 8 kilograms (it is 58 kilograms over in Spain, but we might only be beat by Japan in our dependency and love for fish).  It is a bit of a paradox that a country so associated with sandy beaches and coconut groves, surfing, water and nature can literally have its back turned in another direction if we just look at their national policies and their diet.  Ms Gonçalves was very keen to talk about whales (a symbol for Greenpeace), so took the opportunity to tell the audience that one of the possible future lines of research in regards to ocean acidification and marine life could be  the impact a more acidic ocean will have on animals that communicate through sound underwater.  One of the lesser known facts about acidification is that a decrease of 0.3 in the PH equals a 40% decrease in the sound absorption coefficient.  Yes, there could be acoustic contamination in the oceans as well.

100 different types of fruit at the Municipal Market in Sao Paulo.

In a city like Sao Paulo some of the favelas are vertical. Outside the Municipal Market.

Then it was time to go back to Río, catch a few more waves on Ipanema beach, watch the city at sunset from Sugar Loaf, buy a kilo of powdered guaraná and go to the final screening, at the Solar da Imperatriz in the Jardim Botanico;  no less!

 The place was also known as Facenda dos Macacos, after the river that passes through it, but either macaques really liked the name or I want to believe their profusion had something to do with it as well.  They run up and down electric wires, roll on roofs, feed along the fences, curious and nervous, mothers carrying several offspring on the backs. With those curled up tails, hanging at different heights, they looked like musical notes on a score to the Mata Atlântica.

The somewhat long drive up to this lush location in the outskirts of Rio did not prevent the screening form going really well.  Cecilia Herzog from Inverde and her husband Alex (Amigos do Parque) were in charge of the whole thing and through their hard work, devotion and energy made sure that it all run smoothly, in a brilliant manner.  The most positive thing about this trip has certainly been meeting people like them and like Fabiana Duarte de Paula, Eudaldo Guimaraes, Ana Arruda, Suzana Sattamini, Pedro Cavalcanti, Natalia Ribeiro, Andrea Palatnik, Luciano Mariz, Gina Boemer or so many other amazing folks that I am surely forgetting now and have shown to me such conviction and hope in change, such great generosity and will to help, sharing their energy and intelligence for this project.  They have restored my at times damaged faith in human kind.

This time at the end we had a panel discussion with journalist Amélia Gonzales from O Globo and oceanographer David Zee from the University Veiga de Almeida and the collaboration from members of the audience, like Trajano Paiva, who runs a website devoted to the oceans called
What a great aftertaste to six fantastic weeks in Brazil.  And now for something completely different.

This post is dedicated to my good friend Miguel Gil, who helped me throughout the whole trip, shared the laughter, joys and miseries that come from traveling and just yesterday experienced the tragedy of his half of the cupuaçu cracking in the dry Granada air.  We will go and get some more, Miguel.

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