Cancun Dispatch: 9/6

CANCUN CITY, MEXICO — A 9 a.m. meeting to coordinate actions is
a challenge on only four hours of sleep. I’m too tired to have
opinions, slipping into that place I call the Zone of Deadly Calm,
which is something like drifting out beyond the breakers of fear
and anxiety and passion into the deep waters where you just give up
trying to get back to shore, and accept that if you drown, you
drown. It’s a useful psychic state in actions — it’s what allows
you to walk calmly up to tanks or riot cops or general mayhem,
radiating inner peace because deep inside your soul is chanting
that powerful mantra: ‘Whatever . . . .’

After the meeting, Rodrigo and Delight and I work on putting
together the educational materials for the eco-village. I write
some text, Rodrigo translates and formats, we print it up and later
Delight and I take it and put it together with photographs to put
together displays. They look a bit like 10th grade science projects
to our critical eyes, but they will do the job and that’s what is
important. Delight takes them to get them laminated, and I decide
to duck out of all further meetings, which are continuing nonstop
throughout the afternoon, and go where I want to be, which is out
to the permaculture site.

Things are coming along beautifully. Abby and the punks are
cutting a slit in long pieces of corrugated pipe and fitting it to
the edge of the canopy to catch rain. Rio and Tim are carrying
buckets of gravel across the football field, pouring it into the
graywater barrels and placing the water plants, whose roots draw
oxygen down into the water and create pockets of habitat for
aerobic bacteria. Scotty, who designed the system, is feeling sick,
slumped into a roll of corrugated pipe, sweating and feverish. Erik
also woke up sick, and Rio’s fever only broke a few hours ago. I’m
beginning to think we’re in one of those doomed jungle expeditions,
with the crew dropping by the wayside, wracked with diarrhea and
strange tropical diseases, with each mile of upriver progress.
Dengue Fever is endemic here in Cancun, but our sick companero/as
think it’s mostly dehydration and heat exhaustion, and seem to
recover quickly with some rest and fluids.

A truck drives up and delivers the framework for the hand pump
Rodrigo has designed. It’s a simple system that uses a hand-cranked
bicycle wheel to pull a rope fitted with rubber pistons through
pipes. Passersby and press are fascinated. The punks are also
building a solar oven, and overall we are creating something that I
think will really inspire or at least amuse people.

An assembly at night. At last one of the Mexican lawyers comes
to speak to us and answer questions. He’s big and bearded and
cynical and somewhat reassuring. For one thing, he is clear that we
don’t have to fear torture in jail. Internationals will probably be
fined and pressured to immediately leave the country, or for more
serious charges, officially deported. ‘Can you ever come back if
you’re deported?’ someone asks. He shrugs and smiles. ‘Legally, no,
but everyone who wants to does.’

And now I’m writing this update at breakfast, interspersed with
12 Tarot readings about action plans, none of which look really
good. I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to admit that forces
controlling unlimited police and military forces can seal off an
island against unarmed demonstrators, but if we were rational we
wouldn’t be here anyway.

But Dana Lyons is singing ‘Dancing on the Ruins of Multinational
Corporations’ on our CD player and Erik is telling me that the
French delegation was reportedly saying that the WTO is shit, and
we aren’t giving up yet.

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