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Documentarian Josh Fox travels to the Peruvian Amazon for a first-hand look at the fight to save the forest from Big Oil.

The survival of the world’s biggest rainforest is critical to the survival of life on Earth. The fossil fuel industry is hell-bent on drilling in it

I was trying to do something I never do: take a two-day vacation.

I had been in Peru for a month, deep in the Amazon, documenting the Achuar Tribe’s epic battle against the oil industry for my new HBO Documentary on climate refugees. I was exhausted, but I listened to that little voice of impending regret: “If you don’t see some Incan ruins, you’ll be sorry!” So I did it. I bought the ticket, got up at 4 a.m. and flew down to Cusco.

I was going to see the city sights, pop down to Machu Picchu for a few hours on Tuesday, and scramble back in time for my Wednesday morning flight back home.

Within 24 hours I was completely trapped.


A good friend of mine back home in New Orleans had suggested I book a shamanic ceremony when I got to Cusco. Nothing too intense — no “plant medicines” involved — just a humble thanking of the Earth and nature up on a hill with a shaman and a guide named Coco. My friend gave a slight warning: “The elevation is intense, but they will give you coca leaves to chew, so it will be OK.” We were to meet at the Plaza de Armas at 9 a.m. and head up the mountain, just me, Coco, and an Incan shaman and a bag full of coca leaves.


But as soon as I got to the Cusco airport, my heart started to race. I was dizzy and I couldn’t breathe. I could barely walk up the block, my feet and hands were tingling, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I hadn’t done my research. Cusco is at nearly 12,000 feet elevation. The air felt like a veil that passed over your face and vanished. I couldn’t suck enough of it into my lungs to lose this queasy vertigo.

At the Plaza, Coco took one look at me and canceled the shamanic ceremony. He said, “You can’t go further up the mountain. I’ve seen this happen before, I’m going to rush you down to the Sacred Valley, from there you can rest and go to Machu Picchu tomorrow morning on the 5 a.m. train.” A mild panic was setting in. I had to get lower. I had elevation sickness before — at the Sundance film festival in Utah, which was at 7,000 feet, and it lasted more than a week. And yet the lowest I could get was the 9,000-foot high village of Ollantaytambo. Panic is never a friend to any illness. Anxiety, exhaustion, and paranoia don’t make it any easier to breathe. I was cold-sweating gobs of fear. At this point I had no idea why I wanted to go to Machu Picchu in the first place.


Sorgente: Inside the Fight to Save the Peruvian Amazon From Big Oil – Rolling Stone

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