“I’m in the jungle baby, this is where it all happens, take me inspiration I’m yours!” Surrounded by waving coconut trees, enjoying sunny days and balmy nights – what’s not to like? It’s like being on a tropical island, alone with your thoughts, free to explore your inner Hemingway, right? Yup, sure is, except those sunny days come with 100% humidity and temperatures that hover around 100 degrees, in the shade. Because there’s no difference between shade and direct sunlight, except maybe marginally less risk of sunstroke.
“OK, fair enough so it’s hot, big deal, I know hot.” Really, you think you know hot, well fine. How familiar are you with Monsoon Season? Because you’d better make sure that you have a raincoat and a really big umbrella writer dude. When it rains on the equator, it pours. Sunny day, check, no clouds, check – kaboom! Monsoon rains are here and they’ve made an extra special effort to save up the entire contents of the South China Sea just for you. And that raincoat? Did I mention it’s hotter than a boiled sock?
“I find the outdoors inspiring, I’ll take it in baby steps.” So you’ve decided to beat the heat and go back to nature, Find a well manicured grass verge and set up shop for an afternoon at the keyboard. A sort of ‘nature lite’ experience. Well done, may Mother Nature have mercy on your soul. Do you know what else likes well manicured grass verges – ants. Pissed off equatorial ants which have been harboring a grudge against you since you stepped off the plane, and they’ve been waiting for this opportunity. Two minutes and it’s HEY MACARANA time! Dance that one off creative genius.
“So grass verges are out of the question. Why can’t I find a nice bench to sit and gaze out over one of the many scenic waterways that are part of almost every equatorial city?” I hear you – secluded and private, quiet and peaceful – just the place to set down those deep thoughts for your blog or upcoming novel – right? Let me let you in on a little secret. Those places are quiet and secluded for a reason, and that reason is because no-one in their right mind would sit anywhere near open air fresh water sources on the equator. The mosquitoes have formed a support group and all that they need is that one extra special person to make them and their friends as happy as a Prozac drunk monkey. They thank you from the bottom of their little mosquito hearts. Good luck with the Dengue Fever by the way.
“Fine, I’ll stay away from stagnant water and avoid sitting on the ground – I’ll find a park bench, what could possibly affect the creative process on a secluded park bench?” Ever wonder why you’re not surrounded by insect life all the time on the equator? Well here’s the thing. You’re not bitten, or stung or pronged, or clawed to death 24 hours a day because the authorities make sure that everything that could do so within sight of a public road is dead. They accomplish this insect genocide by ‘fogging’. Sounds almost mysterious and brings to mind cozy evenings spent by the fire sipping on single malt. It’s not. It’s like being in a First World War trench. Without a gas mask you’re not going to get any writing done. And before you say anything you can’t write with a gas mask on – the eyepieces fog up.
“OK, but there are plenty of places that offer a great view of nature’s serenity and the vista’s of jungly magnificence that have inspired writers since Rudyard Kipling. They aren’t all mosquito ridden mangrove swamp nightmares or infested by biting ants, or surrounded by swirling mists of airborne death are they?” Well no, they’re not, there are some really cool places where you can get a glass of something cold and type away to your heart’s content. But getting there, well that presents some challenges. The higher up you go the cooler the breeze and the more comfortable you’re going to be. Try climbing 700 foot worth of stairs with a laptop bag surrounded by tropical jungle. If the spiders don’t get you, the humidity will.
“You’re not helping, I’m going to the beach.” Excellent idea. It’s a lot cooler there and you can usually find a beach club of some sort with a fresh water pool to cool down your overheated mind and sooth your insect bitten body. Pity that every single other person on the equator has had exactly the same idea. Hear that whistling sound? It’s peace and tranquility exiting the beach stage left.
“Forget this noise, I’ll go indoors.” Looking for free Wi-Fi when that brilliant insight strikes. Bad news, every single coffee shop that offers free access also offers air conditioning. Get in line.
OK, there are other options – what about a simple fast food joint, I can have a burger and a shake.” Yup, you could, if every single pre-adolescent wasn’t there doing their homework assignments, and trust me they take education very seriously. No table for you. Just grab a shake and move on, maybe it’ll stave off dehydration for another 15 minutes.
“Right, so that’s nature AND the city taken care of, I’m going back to my apartment.” Great, wimp. Oh by the way it costs an arm and a leg to run your air con the whole day. And you’re going to get sick nipping in and out like this. You should never have left in the first place.