Word count: 50,385. Goal: 50,000
WOO HOO! I DID IT! I submitted my novel at 8:30pm and met my word count deadline! Time to celebrate with a lovely seasonal coffee from Starbucks. I’ll write a full update soon, but YAY FOR ME!
climbing, FriFotos, Ghana, hiking, Mount Afadjato, mountains, narrative, peaks, Travel, travel blog, travel narrative, travel photo, travel photography, travel story, travel writing, vignette, West Africa, writing
The adventurer within me sought excitement and the value received after accomplishing a great feat. Who else did I know could say they scaled the tallest mountain in West Africa? The guidebooks said the trek up Ghana’s Mount Afadjato would last two hours – one hour to climb, and one hour to descend. That was nothing too terrible, as far as I knew. Only last year, I’d climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat peak, taking about the same amount of time.
I’m not a physically fit person, and, combined with inappropriate footwear (whoever said Crocs made for good hiking shoes!?), I lagged behind the group. Our local guide, thin as a rail, never stopped to breathe or have a drink water. He also completed the climb in flip-flops alone. I on the other hand, stopped every ten minutes to prevent impeding asthma attacks, and gulp down water from plastic sacks.
“Across the way,” our guide tells the four of us. “Is Togo. That other peak, is a different country.”
Borders have always fascinated me – how are they so definite when, like the mountain-range between Ghana and Togo, the world “gets in the way.” If I hike down one side of this mountain, I’ll be in a completely new country. Was it really that simple? No border police? No visa applications? I won’t get my passport stamped, but at least I’d be there.
There’s not much room at the top of Mount Afadjato. Any grand movements can result in a deadly fall. The peak is best suited for sitting quietly anyway. A bit of meditation, and some light reflection after a difficult climb, is cleansing.
I faced the challenge. I faced another country, mere miles away.
Word count: 44,253 Goal: 50,000
One more day to reach 50k! Although NaNoWriMo has definitely been harder than I thought, I think I’ll finish on time. Writing the content is the easy part, it’s finding the time to write that is the issue. After all the personal challenges I’ve faced lately I am proud that I’ve gotten this far, and created something very special.
I’m just pissed though, because I only discovered the NaNoWriMo website the other day. I could have been tracking my progress, connected with like-minded WriMos, participated in local write-ins and more. Oh well – now I’m registered and I can be more proactive next year.
So now that NaNoWriMo is over, I can concentrate on bigger things – like my new website! Be on the lookout for katkatravels.com, where you’ll find a more personalized version of this blog, along with some more professional information and links to other sources. Yay!
Did you reach your NaNoWriMo goal? Are you a part of the NaNoWriMo community online? Let me know your user name and we’ll become buddies!
‘Tis the season, ya’ll. In lieu of physical gifts, I’ve opted to make donations in the name of people close to me. There are tons of charities out there but if you don’t know where to start, let me recommend Passports with a Purpose.
According to their website, “Passports With Purpose was founded in 2008 by Debbie Dubrow, Pam Mandel, Beth Whitman and Michelle Duffy as a way to build community among travel bloggers and to give back to the places we, as travelers, visit…Each year the Passports With Purpose founders select a charity based on several criteria along with our sense of what would inspire us and the Travel Bloggers community.”
This year, Passports with a Purpose is donating the collected funds to Water.org. This organization works to provide clean sources of water around the world. Super sponsors of this project include Expeida, Tripit, TBEX; a full list is found here. This year, Passports for a Purpose hopes to raise at least $100,000 that will go towards building wells in Haiti. Today is the first day to donate and they’ve already reached at least $5,000.00.
So how can you help out? By making a donation to win some awesome prizes! It’s sort of “Silent Auction” style, but better. By donating in increments of $10, your name enters into a raffle drawing for that prize. You don’t have to worry about out-bidding someone, everyone who donates has a shot of being chosen.
Look at the prizes. All have been donated by various travel bloggers; the list can be found here (go ahead and follow your faves!). Even if you don’t win a prize, you have donated to a wonderful, unique cause and can reap the benefits of feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
But act fast! The last day to donate is December 11, 2013.
What’s your take on Passports with a Purpose? What prizes did you make a donation for? Will your travel blog donate a prize next year?
Travel is awesome! Duh. Let’s talk about how awesome it is to travel and the awesome things travelers do!
Awesome is defined as such:
This is a story about my favorite sandwich. You can find the best kind in any box in the United Kingdom.
I stand in front of the open cooler, ankles pursed together, hands in the pockets of my red woolen coat. The boxes ware stacked so perfectly. I can’t help but wonder, did the staff receive tutorials on product placement during training?
It must be, that if something so mundane as a sandwich is displayed in such a smooth, geometric fashion, it makes it more appealing to consumers and therefore, I contemplate, the odds of a purchase are greater.
There are more varieties of sandwiches than I have ever seen before. Some elements, I am familiar with – sandwiches with ham, sandwiches with turkey, sandwiches with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato. Except there were no predictable “baloney and cheese” varieties like those found in American sandwich shops. These have creative twists to them – pairings of different tastes which I’ve never dreamed could be possible.
“Parmesan and celery,” I think aloud, examining the pink box. “I wonder how that is?”
The less expensive options are the vegetarian sandwiches. These typically consist of a dairy and a vegetable. The more meat, the more exotic the combination, the more expensive the price tends to be.
“Prawn St. Marie,” I hold up a light blue box to my face. Between two slices of chocolate brown wheat bread is a mess of peachy-pink goo. White mounds protrude through every now and again. “That’s a fancy way to say ‘shrimp salad’ I suppose.”
I look at sandwiches with smoked salmon and cucumbers. “Too raw,” I think. I find one with avocado, spinach and pine nuts. “Too messy,” I reason. I pick up a brown colored box stacked high on the top shelf.
“Cheese and onion?” I grimace. Gingerly, I place it back on the shelf.
“I suppose I’m going to have to be boring and predictable,” I whisper tomyself as I reach into a middle grating for a light yellow box.
“Egg Mayonnaise and Watercress,” I smile softly. “Perfect.”
In a public square outside of Marks and Spencer, I find a quiet bench and sit down to eat. The sandwich is the perfect consistency – more egg than mayonnaise, as opposed to the artery-clogging alternative I am used to in the States. The watercress, not normally found on the US version of an egg salad sandwiches, provides a clean crispness to the meal. The wheat bread has traces of walnut baked into the dough, and is outlined with grains. This is no ordinary sandwich. Who knew something so simple could be such a culinary masterpiece?
I contemplate licking my finger and picking up the crumbs left at the bottom of the triangular box. Enough is enough, I agree. Tomorrow, I can get a whole new sandwich. This one was absolutely perfect, just the way it was.
Word count as of today: 41,006 (out of 50,000)
I’ve fallen behind on my NaNoWriMo schedule. The past few days were filled with several events that kept me away from computers for a majority of the day and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of 5 pages per night. I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve also been engrossed in several projects, professionally and academically, which of course have to take precedence. I know it’s cliche, but there really aren’t enough hours in a day to do all of the things I need to do!
I’m satisfied with the work I’ve produced thus far however. Every day something new happens that I can add to my story and make it authentic. What I’m hoping arises from this project is how amazing people really are. The amount of resilience, kindness and power people have offered during this tragic time is truly astounding. It’s been almost five weeks since the storm hit but for many, their lives are starting to get back to normal thanks to help from others. People just want to help, and I, along with those in more need, are eternally grateful for this. It has really restored within me a sense of hope and acknowledgement that yes, there are assholes out there but when the time calls for it, people really band together and make good.
So I have to be more diligent about my work and try to cram in a page or two whenever I get a free moment. I’d really like to make a significant dent in this project just to prove to myself that I am capable of writing something cool within a short amount of time. Whether or not this goes on to be published, I don’t know, but at least I’ll be able to say to myself “You did it! Congratulations!” and maybe buy myself a drink.
Have you had any trouble with your NaNoWriMo process? What have you done to remedy the situation?
As travelers, it’s easy for us to forget that not every country celebrates Thanksgiving. It’s even easier for us to forget that not all countries sell frozen turkeys. Recently, I wrote an article for Matador Network on my improvised Thanksgiving meal that occurred in Slovakia in 2008. That was probably the best Thanksgiving I ever had and it was a really special memory. Check it out!
Figure out a menu that will show your new Slovak friends how Thanksgiving is your most favorite holiday in the world. Feel slightly intimidated that many Slovaks make their meals from scratch, so obviously instant mashed potatoes will not do (not that they really exist in Slovakia…). The trepidation wears off as you recall that part of Thanksgiving’s charm is having an excuse to eat everything in sight.
I am grateful for Thom.
I am grateful that I get to date my best friend. I am grateful that he said he loved me first and that he meant it. I am grateful to be in a relationship with a man who has a sense of adventure and will travel around the world with me, who wants to see the world through a camera lens and let go of his inhibitions by my side. I am grateful that we went snorkeling in Grand Turk Island together, and I am grateful for our romantic getaway last year in Puerto Vallarta, swimming with sea lions, sunset sailing, and ziplining at 109 feet over at desert. I am grateful that he loves me no matter how angry I get, no matter how many times I curse out loud, no matter how much I sob into his shoulder or fall asleep at family functions. I am grateful that he and I can still be strong after everything that has happened to our home recently, and I am grateful that he makes me laugh so much. I am grateful to have found someone I actually wouldn’t mind spend the rest of my life with (that’s a big deal for a vagabond like me).
It feels good, to be grateful.
Happy almost Thanksgiving! In lieu of my usually heavy posts I figured I’d share a very funny video with you all. This guy, Dom Mazzetti, is like every guy I went to high school with – the epitome of a Long Island guido. His phrases may seem stereotypical/culturally insensitive but they are meant to be ridiculous jokes. Sometimes, they are so ridiculous you just have to laugh. Sad thing is, I have encountered many study abroad students who say the kinds of things Dom describes, but actually mean…
Anyway, anyone who has studied abroad and travels will appreciate his sense of humor and the jokes he tells. Enjoy this cute little clip, and have a happy day of food, family, and possibly bargain shopping!