Writing, Paris or Barichara?

Dear friends and family,

I’ve written earlier about being a dreamer and modeling my dreams off either an experience or books.

Early on in my life I started to read Hemingway novels and about his life. There was little separation as he did quite a job portraying himself as the hero from his books. Actually, his novels were based on his life experiences somewhat enhanced. 

As a young man ( or aspiring to be a proper man) I was impressed with his acts of manliness as he explored boxing, bullfighting, hunting and fishing, and skiing and hiking, and drinking. I had zero exposure to any of those “manly” activities, but was interested in this definition of manhood. 

What really caught my interest was the fact that he could participate in these activities, then sit and create novels based on them, make a good living from it, and even become famous.

The fact that he had some skill ( humor intended) in stringing words together, well, I paid  that little attention. 

Growing up I knew there was a job or a business that you worked at and then there was leisure time for your version of these type activities. Combining them and making a job out of it was completely a foreign concept to me. But, damn, did it get my attention!

So, as I mentioned in an old post, I went to Paris to sit at a cafe in the Latin Quarter to be Hemingway. I neither knew anything about writing nor did I have any life experiences to write about, so that seemed to stop that dream short. The empty notebook.

You could say “He went to Paris, looking for answers to questions that bothered him so. He was impressive, young and aggressive…” 

Someday some great songwriter will make a hit out of those thoughts. 

Now, after a long career as  time  “ slipped away” I get to retry that Paris scene again, only in another way.

Long after Paris, Hemingway had his Key West house with the studio building for his disciplined writing space.. Visiting it a few times over the years has always rekindled that  dream: having  adventures and writing about them.

I no longer believe most of Hemingway’s type adventures are either manly or positive. I get to define my own adventures at this point in my life and now choose bike touring, sailing, rowing, and hiking. Seems like all are done at a relatively slow speed, allowing for enjoyment along the way.

With a history of some pretty serious mountaineering, sailing halfway round the world, and now some bike tours, I’ve finally got something to write about.

What about place? The Latin Quarter in Paris? Key West? Cuba?

How about Barichara, Colombia?

My hotel there, El Cogollo, had it all: an upstairs open porch with a thatched roof. Even a desk and comfy chair. A view above the city where you could stay cool with the breeze up high. No interruptions. Decent WiFi.

Downstairs: My cozy room with an outside, but private shower, hot coffee early , followed by whatever breakfast I order. Three demanding-to -be-belly -rubbed cats ( none with six toes, like the Key West cats. If they had that I might be freaked out.) only a ten minute walk to several great restaurants, and a helado ( ice cream) stand on every third corner.

Made me feel like a real writer in my own “Key West”.  Twice, I extended my stay for another day each. My German friends Melina and Laurena sensed my attachment to the place as I dined and enjoyed ice cream with them. They mentioned that if/when they returned next year they would see me living here and establishing Colombian residency.  I laughed with them, but wondered if they were maybe soothsayers and could predict the future.

At $25 USD per night, including breakfast , and a couple of other nice meals for $25 more ( total) , the $50 daily budget for this lifestyle sure is comfortably affordable. It could be half that price for a long term rental situation. 

I do think the proper place for writing can help the discipline and creativity, especially  if you’ve got that dream idea of a writing place  imprinted in your brain. And, no more empty notebook. 

Earlier in the trip, I thought I would enjoy this country for its different culture and natural beauty ( people and scenery). The heat, the traffic and the noise were definitely a turn-off for even thinking about extended living.

My experience of the  tranquilo-ness of the cooler, higher elevation small towns is changing that thinking.  My experience with the Colombian people has further enhanced that feeling.

Sending love,


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6 thoughts on “Writing, Paris or Barichara?”

  1. Looks like a great hotel and great town. You could easily spend some winters there. You are a good writer and do have some adventures you can write about. You can even enhance them via Hemingway. I love reading your posts.
    Last Fri we took Arya and two of her friends to Rocky Top climbing wall in Charlottesville. Brought back memories of Seneca Rocks. We talked to the owner about climbing. You can write some stuff about that too. Arya, a true blooded Kaniesk, climbed like a pro. We had a lot of fun! I’m sure there are lots of climbing stories I have not heard.
    Keep writing.

  2. Hey Charley,
    What a beautiful location for a writing studio! Put me down for an early release of your travel adventure book. Too bad Steinbeck stole a good title – even had the same spelling of Charley.
    Keep these great blog entries coming. We are all enjoying your journal vicariously.


  3. I’d choose that over Paris or Key West 100% Carlitos! It’s amazing to witness all your daily transformations, thank you for sharing it all.

  4. Hey C,
    Let’s see?…. perfect place for focused writing, cooler in the highlands, pencils out as an affordable experience, and a language immersion opportunity. Sounds like a winning combo to me.

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