Adventures in Bonn Or, The Descent into Climate Change Madness at the Maratim Hotel

Blog post 5/31/10

By Anne Petermann

Today is my father’s birthday.  It is the first birthday that he isn’t around to celebrate.  So I will dedicate today’s blog post in his memory.  He would have been 69.

The train ride from Oxford—where Fiu, Camila and I had taken a brief detour from the GE trees and Agroenergy Tour for a meeting to discuss the international campaign against genetically engineered trees—was a long one.  First the Oxford to London train—a slower local train, then the train from London to Brussels, during which—in the middle of the chunnel—the train’s electrical system fried my computer charger, then the leg from Brussels to Cologne (at 300 kilometers per hour), and the final short leg from Cologne (Köln) to Bonn.

We arrived at around 10:30pm finally at the hotel, ravenous—a slightly difficult position on a Sunday night in Germany.  Our hunger had to be put on hold, however, while we had a very frustrating time with the Hotel staff person whose English was about as good as my Spanish.  That is, barely comprehensible.  Of course the hotel used an ancient non-computerized system of reservations that involved giant grids of paper marked with pencil.  AND the reservation was not in our names so our reservations could not be located.  Naturally.  But all was not lost.  I finally located the handwritten name of our colleague in whose name the reservation had been made.  Redemption!

So off Camila and I went (Fiu sensibly retired) to attempt the task of finding an open restaurant.

We indeed found an open restaurant right around the corner—located a table and proceeded to peruse the menu.  When the waitress finally arrived, Camila asked about their delicious-sounding spargel specials—this being prime spargel season.  No, she wagged her head, the kitchen is closed.  After the next similar encounter, we asked if we would be able to find a place that was open.  Yes, was the reply, near the university.  So 10 or 12 blocks later we finally found the elusive hot meal we were so desperately seeking.  We shared a baked gnocchi with mozzarella in red sauce.  Not particulary German, but it worked.

The next day (today) started the descent into hell—that is the Maratim Hotel in Bonn.  We were all too familiar with the particular sulfuric aroma of the Maratim from our previous foray into its bowels in 2008 when we fought the good fight for a global ban on genetically engineered trees at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Conference of the Parties.  But that’s a whole ‘nother story.  This time, the fight is to stop the rampaging corporados and their henchmen from shoving false market-based solutions to climate change down the throats of the rest of the world, while the temperature slowly rises…

I escaped the asylum long enough to find a new computer charger (2 doors down from the hotel!) and a new pair of black dress shoes to replace the ones I forgot in London (my hiking shoes just didn’t quite go with my suit).  I also got the new Earth Minute recorded for KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show, which will be aired tomorrow and subsequently posted on this blog.

I did finally return to the Maratim when I could procrastinate no more, and worked on the press release that will accompany Wednesday’s launch of the report on the social and ecological impacts of wood-based agroenergy that was jointly produced by Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and BiofuelWatch.

I begged out of the official reception that took place after the finish of the day’s negotiations.  Just couldn’t bear the idea of standing around on my sore feet, eating greasy food, and watching megalomaniacal beaurocrats sip wine while the forests burn.  Been there.  Done that.

Stay tuned to this blog for more adventures from Bonn…

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, GE Trees, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann

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