Sunday, February 25, 2007

Climate Crisis Action Day

You can go to Washington for free on March 20th to talk to your representatives to encourage strong global warming legislation: click here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Current Plan

My current plan is to continue forward until my sister's wedding at the end of May, fly back offsetting the emissions with Native Energy, leave the bike where I end up, and come back after the wedding to finish the trip. Right now, I am waiting for my check card to come in the mail, I will get new glasses, a new camera, and set off.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Letter I sent to Bush a little while back

July 14, 2006

Dear Mr. President,

As I am sure you have heard and are aware, we stand at a critical time in our ability to preserve the amiability of our climate. I find that it is high time that we begin to take meaningful, decisive, and dramatic movements in the direction of reducing our emissions of CO2, methane, NOx, and other greenhouse gases. We have the technology, we have the ability and the know-how. America is the land of innovation and ingenuity--WE have the resourses and talents to take control of this increasing threat before it gets out of hand. We must take the lead, as we have in the past on so many issues--democracy, space exploration, human rights, gender equality, voting rights, etc., --and lead the world on a mission to tackle global warming before it tackles us with hurricanes, flooding, droughts, sea level rising, tornadoes, heat waves, and ecosystem destabilization.

We must take our automotive technologies off the shelves and dramatically increase the efficiency of our vehicles. This will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce our toll at the pump, and reduce our need to destroy precious wildlife preserves in the pursuit of oil. The time is now. The stakes are high. The excuses are unforgiveable. The benefits will be pervasive.

We must create power plants that use our vast resources of power generation without the production of greenhouse gases. We have the technology. We must act now to create a global transformation of our power generating methods and infrastructure. Solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, nuclear power, tidal power, wave power, ect. We must capitalize on the opportunity these resources provide us to power our society without destablilizing our climate.

Such a mission, such a mobilization of our forces and energy, will generate tremendous opportunity for jobs, growth, and economic expansion in the areas of hybrid vehicles, renewable energy, the green building industry, energy-efficient technology, and infrastructure transformation.

Mr. Bush, you have the opportunity to take an undeniable, inevitable challenge, capture the hearts and minds of the American people, and lead us and the world on a timely mission to preserve the clemency of our climate.

Every day, every minute, CO2 levels in our atmosphere are rising. Let us consider the future of our planet, the lives of our offspring, and the sustainability of the human project on our precious, unique home. Let us be heroes with the grace and determination with which we accept and conquer this challenge.

Sincerely, your fellow citizen and constituent,
Paul Joseph Park
4405 29th St.
Mount Rainier, MD 20712
Lots of partying over the weekend with the Carnaval. Lots of music, dancing, parades. Taking in some of the local culture. While in Brazil, most of the dancing at least in the Rio Carnival is samba, the dancing here in Veracruz is mostly salsa. They did have a group from Brazil in the parade to show the traditional Brazilian style samba, but all the rest were salsa. And like in Rio, they had a competition among the dancing troups.

Tonight plays one of the most popular singers in Mexico, Alejandra Guzman.

As far I concerns me and the trip, I am currently considering moving forward, flying back for the wedding, leaving my bike where I fly from, returning after the wedding to continue the trip. I will offset the emissions from flying with Native Energy.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Check in

I am in Veracruz, just came from dinner and watching dancing in a plaza--live music, normal people dancing, pretty well. The music is "Son", which means sound, and comes from the port of Veracruz. I had spaghetti with a side of refried beans. The restaurant at my hotel is very busy, so I decided to try and eat somewhere else. Also, my hotel is full, so they put me in a room on the sixth floor, not completely finished--still lacking water, but I cannot complain. I am smack dab in the middle of the action for carnival, being hosted by some great friends from Mexico City who run the hotel.

The parade of the Queen of Happiness is coming down the street and at nine pm will be a celebration/crowning of the Queen along with a concert by Diego Torres. Last night, I downloaded a bunch of music by him and listened to it last night and a couple times today. I pretty much like his music, and I like it more each time I listen to it. Looking forward to it.

At midnight, there is another concert by Gilberto Santa Rosa on the "Malecon" which is the platform bordering the water where the ships come in. The music will be salsa, it will give me a chance to dance, and right now I will download some music by the band to get to know it a bit before the concert. Last night, I danced a bit of "Son", which is very similar to salsa, in another town plaza to live music.

Tomorrow will be the first grand parade, and another concert, this time Kumbia Kings. I also downloaded some of their music, and I like most of it.

Some hippies I met in Tlacotalpan also came to Veracruz for Carnival, and I saw a few of them yesterday. One of the plazas next to the parade route has a bunch of tents set up and hippies are hanging out there, doing their hippie thing.

My camera is in a shop and the guy there is trying to fix it in an offering to the cause of action on global warming. I still think legislation in Congress is the most important thing we need right now to deal with the problem. Legislation can redirect our economy to internalize the problem of global warming and use the power of the market to harness the many technological and systematic solutions that exist.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Zocalo (written Monday night, 2-12; btw, Happy Valentine's Day!)

It is not everywhere you can sit in a town plaza at a table outside at a restaurant and be surrounded with live mariachi music from multiple bands playing one after the other. The 69 degree air here in Veracruz wafts of fresh bread and other delicious local cuisine. Behind me a solo guitarist sings to a gathering of three friends, seated at the table with them. To my right a band plays loud and confidently a traditional mariachi song to a party of Mexicans in from Mexico City passing the evening before Carnaval kicks off tomorrow with the children’s parade.

Behind me, the light and sound technicians are fine-tuning the main-stage of the zocalo, or colonial plaza, where the main presentations, such as the crowning of the Carnaval Queen, will take place. Lining the zocalo are “portales”, or restaurants, bars and hotels, whose tables spill out into the open air of the plaza for patrons to enjoy the atmosphere in the plaza--music, vendors, perfect weather and all.
The city of Veracruz is winding up for the main event. Visitors arrive from all corners of the republic, and from the US, and Europe to enjoy Veracruz’s Carnaval, the best one north of Rio. Vendors cruise the portales pedaling selections of watches, nuts, DVDs, credit for your cellphone, shirts, belts, bracelets, and even the chance to pass a bit of electricity through your arms and chest to invigorate yourself.
One of the bands plays a popular “nortenho” tune called “On my knees I plead you” (De rodillas te pido by Alegres de la Sierra), about how he had an “adventure” with a woman, and now he asks forgiveness of his girlfriend, describing how he thinks about her all the time, he misses her kisses, and he wakes up in the middle of the night terrified, calling her name, hoping she is not with some other man.
A girl comes up to me and starts singing a song, almost just saying the song. I recognize her before I even lift my head from the screen to look at her. She came up to me a couple weeks ago when I was here, and I had her sing me “La Bamba”. I thoroughly enjoyed that and paid her peso for it. This time I asked her to sing me “On my knees I plead you”. She smiled, said that she did not know it, and asked for a peso. I told her I loved the song and I would pay her twenty or even thirty pesos ($2-$3) if she learned it and sang it to me. She was amused, and eventually moved on.
Now the band plays another hit favorite of mine, “To not see you” ("A no verte," K-paz de la Sierra), how the guy would die if he could not see her. This song is of the style Duranguense, similar to nortenho, but with more drumming (and originating in the northern state of Durango). The music just goes on and on. When one band stops, the next one starts. If they are far enough apart, two or three bands, or more, will be playing all at once, tableside for their delighted audience.
This place is like no other I have been to. I will enjoy my time here while it lasts. As an aside, I will enjoy it more knowing I biked here from my house.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Veracruz: Carnaval

Estoy en Veracruz y la ciudad esta preparando para el gran evento de Carnaval. La calle Camacho en la playa está barrancada con sillas para asistir los desfiles, el programa de actividades esta destribuida, y están poniendo los decoraciones. Voy a reparar mi camara para sacar mas fotos, y necesito comprar una nueva hierramienta para quebrar la cadena. Mi cadena quebró anoche, y un mechanico me ayudó--mi hierramienta quebró tambien cuando intenté usar la para reparar la cadena. El mechánico no tuvo la hierramienta correcta, pero usamos otros hierramientas que nos sirvieron.

Después de Veracruz, quizás voy a ir a DF en bici, Querétaro, Monterrey, Matamoros, Houston, St. Louis, DC. Quizás voy a continuar a Brasil. Pero una cosa que quiero hacer, por lo menos en el futuro, es empezar un programa en que los ciclistas levantan dinero, como un dolar para cada milla para comprar créditos de carbon que crecen proyectos que hacen electricidad en maneras que no contribuyen a calentamiento global. Por ejemplo, hacen panales solares o turbinas de viento para hacer electricidad, o juntan la mierda de ranchos de vacas o cerdos, atrapan el gas métano y lo quema para hacer electricidad. Una organización que hace esto es Native Energy/Energía Nativo. Voy a contactar a ellos para hacer un plan funcional de tranferir el dinero que recibimos. Otros ciclistas o otros viajes de ciclismo pueden usar el mismo plan. Tenemos que empezar ahora. No hay tiempo para perder.

I am in Veracruz now and the city is preparing for the great event of Carnaval. Camacho street along the shore is lined with bleachers to watch the parades, the program of activities has been distributed, and they are putting up decorations. I am going to get my camera repaired, and I also need to get another chain tool. My chain broke last night, and a mechanic helped me out--my chain tool broke when I was trying to fix the chain; we used other tools and fixed the chain.

After Veracruz, I may bike to Mexico City, Queretaro, Monterrey, Matamoros, St. Louis, DC. Or I may continue south towards Brazil. But one thing I really want to do is start a program in which cyclists raise money to buy carbon credits--one dollar per mile--where the money for the carbon credits goes to create new projects that create electricity in ways that do not contribute to global warming such as solar power plants and wind turbine power plants, or those on cattle or pig farms in which they collect the manure and trap the methane gas emitted from the decomposition, and burn it to create electricity. Methane when burned creates CO2, but methane itself is a heat-trapping gas twenty-two times more potent than CO2, so it makes sense to burn it. One organization that facilitates this exchange of carbon credits and formation of new green power is
Native Energy. I plan to contact them and work out a system of transfering the funds we raise for the miles we bike. Cyclists everywhere can use this plan. We need to start now; there is no time to lose.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


So I am in Tlacotalpan now and the festivities have basically come to an end. They released two more bulls in the streets today, and then two vaquitas (two cows, with horns). We had more fun running around with the bulls and the cows in the streets, pulling them, dodging them, mounting them, caring for them when they get tired or thirsty, lassoing them, directing them, etc. Was quite fun.

So at this point in my journey, I have a few things to consider in deciding where to go, how to move forward. At the beginning of the journey, I was hoping to make it to Recife, Brazil, ambitious as it was, by carnaval (word derives from ¨carne¨-¨valle¨, or farewell to meat, since during lent, consumption of meat is forbidden in the Catholic tradition.) Well, as it is, after 3800 miles and almost five months, trying to hook up with Canadians to join my trip, enjoying different places as I go, going solo and trying to work out logistics on a first long-distance bicycle journey--I am near Veracruz as carnaval starts. But, turns out, word has it that Veracruz has the best carnaval north of Rio, AND I have friends at a four-star hotel who will put me up and dine me and provide friends and company for the carnaval, AND the hotel is right at the main stage of the carnaval--seems like a no-brainer, or the best thing without burning fossil fuels or spending money on a flight to Rio.

By the way, the reason for going to Brazil in the first place was not to go to carnival, though I did want to make it in time as I have never been to one. I want to bike to brazil to live and work there--I want to commute there, and see Mexico and Central America. I have been there twice (to Brazil, never to Mexico or Central America before this trip), I have good friends there I stay in touch with, and I speak portuguese, play soccer, enjoy brazilian people and culture, warm weather and beaches. I intended to work teaching english, work at hotels in Natal, and go back to school in urban planning and transportation engineering there in Natal or Recife. I intended to live in Brazil--and of course still may.

Things on my plate now include the following: my sister´s wedding is at the end of May (many of you reading will probably be there, and perhaps some of you will bike there), my brother Tommy will graduate from U Mary Washington, and my brother Timmy will graduate from Harbour High School in Anapolis. I will not be able to make it to Brazil on bike by the time these come to pass, so I am having to decide if I will bike back now, after the Carnival, (by a different route to see other things) which would probably give me enough time to make it back in time purely on bike...or continue forward back for the wedding round trip from whereever I am...or ?just keep going till I make it???

The option of returning by bike for the wedding would not eliminate biking to brazil. On the contrary, I have a plan to come back with more experience, of course, more people, more organization, with a different approach: raise one dollar per mile biked, and the money would go to purchasing carbon credits which in effect stimulate the creation of new wind farms and solar power plants, and projects on hog and cattle ranches that collect the manure, trap the methane released and burn it to create electricity--all which keep heat-trapping gases out of our atmosphere.

It is about ten thousand miles by bike to brazil, so the ten thousand dollars (or more, since more riders will be going) could be presented in a singular event covered by the media, sort of encapsulating the trip. This trip would take place in the next two or three years. Sponsors, media attention, riders, fundraising, etc. could build from this trip and up through the next trip. So that´s kind of my big exciting idea. Could be the next trip, or the idea could start right from where I am now, whether I go forward or backward, southward or northward.

As for pictures right now, my camera is not functioning well--the monitor no longer works--so I cannot take any pictures right now. Sorry--I know, you wanted to see the bulls in the streets. Well, I can put some pics from the web up to give you an idea. As for the rest of the trip, wherever I go, I met a guy on the road who works for a tech company that makes digital cameras (Steren). Perhaps they can sponsor me with a cam--and perhaps one that mounts on the head like a headlamp.

Well, that is kind of where I am at now. A return trip could include Xalapa, Mexico City, Queretaro, Monterrey, Matamoros, Houston, maybe St. Louis and DC. If I go for the bike to brazil trip after the wedding, perhaps you know someone interested in doing something about global warming who wants to raise money for alternative energy, see more of America (North, Central, South), and have an adventure, let em know, and have em contact me at There you are welcome also to send me comments and feedback on trip, blog, global warming, etc. Hasta pronto.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I did a google news search on global warming. Nearly all of the articles refer to the recent UN climate panel report that details the certainty global warming exists, the 90 to 99 percent likelihood it is due mainly to human burning of fossil fuels, and the likely effects over the next decades, centries and millenia. After reading many articles, this quote struck me:
(Taken from article by Alan Dupont, Wed. Feb 7, 2007, ¨Scorched Earth an Insecure Place¨, Online Opinion,, first published in The Australian on February 5, 2007)
¨Although these sobering statistics should be a wake-up call for action, complacency should not be replaced by alarmism or defeatism.

¨If climate change is human-induced, then the solutions can and must be found within our collective resources and wisdom.

¨As a first step, the Government needs to take a more comprehensive approach by developing a national strategy on climate change that considers all the consequences of a rapidly warming planet. For this is an issue that transcends the environment and goes to the heart of national and international security.¨

For complete article, see Scorched Earth an Insecure Place

The main things in this quote that strike me are that the issue is not just an environmental issue, but it transends that and it is fundamentally an issue of international security.

The second thing that strikes me is that we need to neither become alarmists or defeatists, but rather we need to face the issue with creativity and cooperation.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fiesta de la Candelaria

Estoy en Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico. Aqui todos los años hay una fiesta grande en que sueltan seis toros en la calle, y las personas tienen que correr para evitar el toro, o cuando el toro para, las personas provocan el toro atacar mas. Tambien hay mucha musica folklorica de los jaraneros, una tradición jarocha (del estado de Veracruz). Además hay muchas presentaciónes, actividades y comida tradicional de la región. Todo el mundo me dijeron que no perder esta fiesta. Por eso, regresé del Catemaco a Tlacotalpan en un dia. Corrí cien kilometros para llegar en el mismo dia para ver los toros en el dia siguiente.
I am in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico. Every year here there is a great festival in which they set loose six bulls in the streets, and people have to run to avoid the charging bulls, and when the bull stops, people provoke the bull to charge and run again. Also, the festival includes a coming together of hundreds of jaraneros and dicimistas, which are guitar folk bands and people who recite rhyming verses. In addition, throughout the festival, which runs from Jan 31 to Feb 9, there are many cultural presentations, activities and food representative of the region. I came back for the festival from Catemaco, biking 62 miles in one day through the hills of this region to arrive the day before they set loose the bulls.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friends I met in Santiago Tuxtla--Orlando, Andrea, and I. We had a good time together.

Procession through streets of Tlacotalpan antes de la fiesta de la candelaria.