My favourite writing place

Over the years I have written in many different places, depending on where I was living or travelling at the time. But my favourite writing time was at Coroico, Bolivia in mid 1995.

Coroico was a small town down the hill from La Paz amongst some very steep hills called los Yungas, which normally you risked your life to get to because the only way for vehicles was via the Death Road, but I had hiked down instead along the choro trail. There amongst a beautiful garden and general greenery was the Hostal Sol y Luna, which was quite a hike out of town, but worth the walk because it was paradise.

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The place had a wonderful scent, but it was a frustrating one because it reminded me of some indefinable place I could not quite remember, but I knew I’d smelt that smell somewhere.

For about five days I sat in a little room, happily scribbling my heart out. There was no phone, no internet, no day job, no children and no frickin Facebook games. Just me and a supply of pens and lined paper working at a little wooden table that was in the room. There were no other worries – even meals were taken care of and the meals at that place were some of the best that I’d eaten in that country, mainly as it catered for gringo tastes. My favourite meal was pasta served with a salsa verde.

The writing itself was also fun. I wasn’t sitting there defeated thinking, “no one wants to read this shit”, but was flat out working away pleasing only myself. I would love to get a little bit of what I had then back.

What I was writing was a travelogue, the story of what I had been up to as I backpacked around South America. That story came to an end when I met my husband, but when I started writing it, that meeting was still a few months away.

So far what I wrote has not seen the light of day, initially because I did not want my parents to read it, so the draft sits in a box whilst my parents live on.

Since then I have also had children, and some are now at an age that I would not want them to read what I’d been up to either. I’m probably safe on that one – after all, my mother is still waiting for me to read her thesis – but I’m not really wanting to take that chance.

I guess the only option is to start all over again, maybe have a quick look at how things unfolded, but start afresh as I’m sure what I wrote will seem rather clumsy now. And I must try not to worry about whether taking out the ‘good stuff’ will only leave boring stuff, because my job now will be to turn what’s left into something living.

(Originally published 22 Aug 2013 on ABC Open.)

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