Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Today I woke up at 6:00 am to meet up with my Toxi-Tour Guide and began our tour of all the terrible destruction to these once beautiful lands. A Toxi-Tour is an ecological excursion throughout Lago Agrio in which we trekked to different polluted sites, contaminated by ChevronTexaco, and observed the reality of the pollution in this area of the jungle. I understood that a Toxi-Tour could be really depressing and scary to see first hand since all the crude oil has left a terrible scar in the once beautiful environment. But I never could have been prepared for the reality of this horrid abuse and its gloomy effect of not only leaving a toxic garbage dump but causing much illness to these once healthy peoples.
I met up with Donald, another employee of El Frente, and he showed me some oil pits and other ridiculously polluted areas. The first thing I saw was a 25 foot oil pit, the size of a city bus, that had been there since the 1960s, and Chevron said they had already cleaned it up. There was an orchard of coffee beans next to the pit with their roots growing directly into the oil lake and, this coffee got shipped and exported all over the world. The farmer we ran into even said that some of the beans get sent to Starbucks! Donald went out into the middle of the lake on a little raft and started to pick up the crude oil with a stick. I leaned against a tree and got oil all over my clothes and hands and I couldn’t get it off. I started tot think what if you had to live like this everyday?
And then a local farmer cut his way out of the bush with a machete, fully covered in oil and gunk as he chased his oil covered pig. He stopped when he saw us and started wailing and complaining about how his family didn’t have anything to eat, everything tastes like oil and he is losing his vision. He was right, the waft of oil fumes was ridiculous and it felt like you were in a jungle oil tank. I had raging headache that I could not imagine living with every moment in my home.
We spent several hours visiting other oil drilling sites, oil contaminated rivers, people living in the area, oil wells, oil refinement stations, oil fire torches, spoke with workers of Chevron and just breathed in the oil in the deadly environment. I am so glad I went but it was ridiculously heart breaking.
I said goodbye to my tour guide and took the bus back to Quito. For the next seven hours, I thought about how I could help make a positive change in this violated part of our world…
Here is the trailer for the documentary Crude and it shows the places I've been visiting and what I have been working for:
Posted by Boyes' at 9:37 PM