Hello everyone! If you don’t know me yet, I’m Amelia.
I’m a former newspaper journalist (Boston Globe, Detroit News, Minneapolis Star Tribune), who left my home, my job, my belongings and my safety net in the spring of 2018 to travel full-time and tell the kinds of stories that motivate me to keep studying, reporting and exploring.
I’m a SLOW traveler who has spent the last year and a half in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and now El Salvador, where I have been living and working for the last five months.
Here, I’m launching a new independent docu-series called WATCHED POT that will explore food, culture and U.S. imperialism around the world.
Those first two themes are obvious — food and culture are two of the main reasons most of us love to travel and adventure, to eat new things and learn new traditions.
But for me, especially as a U.S. native, travel comes with a deeper motivation as well — the opportunity to examine the current and historical influence and intervention of my own country in all of these places, and the sometimes disastrous results.
It’s something that we don’t like to talk about much in the U.S., which is why many of us don’t even know the tales of U.S. involvement in and instigation of secret conflicts, economic warfare, regime change and vast human rights abuses all around the globe.
But this, as much as what happens inside of our own borders, is part of our history, too. And whatever political side you land on, I think it’s important that at the very least we all try to understand where we have been and what we have done.
This series will probe those lesser told stories and the catalysts behind them, while also offering a wider portrait of each country, its people and customs, its beauty and pain, and of course, its rich cultures of food. Think something in the vein of what Anthony Bourdain did — but with a younger, female protagonist (HI THERE) at the helm.
Why am I calling it Watched Pot? It’s short for that age-old phrase “a watched pot never boils,” a statement about the progress of a meal not advancing if one is too impatient or attending — and a nod to all of the cooking and eating you’ll see in my series. But for me, the adage also hints to a different meaning, something more sinister: the idea of the U.S. keeping all of the globe in its purview, knowing that under it’s watchful, meddling eye that the world will never bubble into something that threatens its own interest and stake in power.
Episode One (release coming this Spring) takes place in El Salvador, where massive U.S. government influence during the civil war (1980-92) created dire results, the lasting effects of which contribute to the current-day gang crisis and stream of migration.
For the last five months, I have been embedded here, studying the history and meeting people with incredible stories to tell. I hired a small Salvadoran crew, and together, we have traveled all over the country, filming both the heartbreak and the resilience of those who were affected most by the war, while also cooking with locals and learning their traditional recipes, hiking into abandoned villages and discovering decades-old artifacts still lying, untouched, on the earth.
The El Salvador episode will look at life across the country, but the historical narrative will focus on the massacre in El Mozote and the surrounding villages in northeastern El Salvador.
If you don’t know much about this tragedy, you’re not alone. Awareness about the U.S.’ involvement in the Salvadoran civil war — in fact, our largest counter-insurgency campaign after Vietnam and before Afghanistan — is very low. Even here, many people who are my age are only just learning about it, a consequence of the history not being taught in local schools and being all but illegal to discuss until the first FMLN presidency in 2010.
In Dec. 1981, more than 1,500 civilians, most of them children, were killed in the El Mozote area by the Salvadoran army in the span of three days — making this one of the worst massacres and human rights abuses in modern Latin American history.
Here’s the kicker: the government soldiers who committed this atrocity were trained by, armed by, funded by and took orders from the U.S. government.
Filming this project has required hiring my small team as well extensive travel, equipment rental and on-the-ground-assistance costs approaching $10,000. Right now, because this project is independent and free of corporate sponsorships, I rely on my own funds (hello fake credit card money!) and public fundraising from folks like yourself to make this happen. If you’re interested in sponsoring this project for $50, please click this link to do so.
Production will continue when I return to El Salvador in mid-January. In the meantime, I hope this narrative piques your interest, and I hope you follow this project through the final production.
Thoughts? Comments? Message me below!