Thursday, 6 November 2008

The travel writing boot camp so far ― and
These little things that make your day

Oaxaca, (Monday 3 through) Thursday 6 November

'Intensive' is the first word that comes to mind. It is interesting, inspiring, sometimes slightly frightening but in any case motivating and exciting. One thing is what we learn, not many surprises there, apart from my English not being quite as good as even I thought. Another thing is getting out there in the afternoons and actually do the research, visit places, jot down notes and then write. And re-write, cut down on words, re-read, and finally submit. And then receiving critique, or useful feedback for improvement as I experience it.

Apart from what I submitted in yesterday's blogpost, here's what I've written so far:
Two blocks south of Zocalo, Hotel Casa Cue is close to everything and yet on a spot not overrun by tourists. There is free and reliable wifi in the lobby but do bring a sweater if you get carried away surfing, as the main door is always open. If only rooms facing the street are available, try to get one facing Aldama rather than noisier Miguel Cabrera. And superstitious souls need not worry - instead of a room 13, there is a room Y2K. Good value, especially as prices are not higher during peak season.

If you like art, Parador Monte Carmelo might be your choice. The restored mansion has spacious rooms with rustic wooden doors and furniture, including the king-size beds. Ornamented iron chairs and tables furbish both the large patio with its stone fountains, and the even larger terrace with a view on the Santo Domingo temple, just two blocks away. There is even a gallery shop presenting local art. Service is smiling and very friendly. Only hatches: Unstable wifi and blown-up prices during peak season.

These are the texts as I submitted them. I link to the improved ones once I publish them on V!VA Travel Guides' website. The concept is actually better than for any other travel guide I know: As each book is printed on demand, meaning it does not physically exist when you order it on but is printed specially for you, guides are updated every 6 months!! Plus it's based on the experiences of many contributors, and only companies actually recommended by V!VA are offered to advertise. In other words, those who get good reviews can advertise ― not the other way round… A good way to run and finance a product on a market with fierce competition.

Competition must be fierce among travel writers as well. A lot of people dream of that: see the World, and earn money by doing so. Therefore, it is a buyer's market, and especially two or three of my fellow boot camp students are really good. I mean, they're all good, but some really should earn their living this way. What's funny is that two of the other students are half Danish (without speaking it though), and another one is from former Danish colony Saint Croix in what is now the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And there's another European as well, from the Isle of Man! When I heard, my reflex was to say: 'You know Rick Wakeman then!?'. And she does, almost, she knows his daughter! To add to the coincidence, I was wearing my Yes T-shirt (the one I'm gonna get rid of, as it is too used, like all the clothes I brought) today, of all days, when I meet someone who knows my favourite band's keyboard player's daughter.

That's the little big thing that made my day.

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