Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Exactly Resolutions

For the last three years I’ve spent my days at a desk, on my butt, in front of a screen. My partner Andrew is a health conscious guy and the two of us have been trying to figure out a way to exercise together for all three of these years. Finally, a month ago, we broke down and joined the local gym, I switched my work schedule to 8:30 and we made our goal to be out the door by 6:30.

I’m bad at routines. Which is part of the reason I’ve never successfully had an exercise regimen and is the main reason that I’ve never followed the one piece of universal writing advice: have a writing routine. My writing, like my exercise, has been hodge-podge, wherever I can fit it in.

But last week I deviated from the new exercise routine and left the gym a little early to go sit in a café and write for forty-five minutes. For the fiftieth time, I began the same chapter I’ve been working on for the last two months and in those forty-five minutes I busted through all that self-torture and finally wrote something I liked.

I altered the exercise schedule. Now we leave a half hour earlier for our physical exercise and then I go sit in a café for forty-five minutes of writing exercise. So far, things are looking good, and now that my day starts so productively, I end up on such a high I barely need a cup of coffee!

Being the dork that I am, I googled how to establish and maintain routines. Apparently it takes about three weeks for something to officially become a part of your life to the point where you feel obligated to maintain it.

I’ve got two weeks to go, but I’m feeling confident.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't Go Towards the Dynamite

Cerro Rico in Potosi - The Rich Mountain, currently a major co-operative silver mine and once the main source of Spain's silver.

Two pieces of advice when traveling in Bolivia:

1. If you hear a dynamite blast in the city - go the opposite direction.

2. If someone tells you that you should get out of town for a while because there will probably be riots - get out of town.
Usually I offer this advice directly after telling people that they should definitely go to Bolivia.

You’re probably wondering: how do you know what dynamite sounds like? The answer: you know as soon as you hear it.

While we were in the country the embassy advised all American citizens to leave. This may have had something to do with the fact that the president ejected the American Ambassador. Everywhere we went, and what felt like every day, we could hear people protesting. It was as if protesting were a national sport, and everyone got in on it. If buses weren’t running? It was a protest. If the store was closed? It was a strike.

If we had been aware that the country was in such flux, we probably wouldn’t have gone. Probably. But once we were there, it became a normal part of life. We kept our ears open and followed advice that was always generously given. We never once felt in danger and every person we spoke with was kind and helpful.

I would go back to Bolivia in a heartbeat. And after traveling there, I’ve begun considering traveling to many other places that I would normally shy away from. Because really, if you just stay away from the dynamite blasts and listen when people give you advice, you can probably make it through a lot of different countries.