Travel Writers Boot Camp Day Two: Push-ups, Pull-ups, Writing for the Internet and Reviewing Activities

So I was wrong, today was NOT about restaurants. We learned all about how writing for a website is different than writing for a guidebook or a magazine. Are you ready for this? You have to write for someone who reads at an 8TH GRADE LEVEL! That’s what internet researchers say generates the most hits on a page. Plus, websites pay writers based on the number of hits your article gets. Sort of like royalties a recording artist like number-one-star-of-world-history Cher gets.

Excrement Only-Ruins at Hormiguero, CampecheEarth-friendly toilet at Hormiguero ruins, CampecheImagine this: five years from now people are still reading the article I may write on why in Mexico one has to put used toilet paper into little trash cans next to the toilet, not into the toilet. Each time someone clicks on the little story (which has rather graphic photos attached, like these), I get some exorbitant sum like two cents. I’m likin’ this gig already!

For today’s assignment of writing reviews of two activities I am lucky because I have been in Cuernavaca a month and have already done a lot of stuff. Here are my reviews:

Teopanzolco-Temple to Tlaloc, from trees at NWTeopanzolco: One of the easiest Pre-Hispanic sites to visit in Mexico is Teopanzolco. You can stroll the flat, grassy expanse in less than one hour. The Tlahuica people occupied the site from approximately 1300-1521 AD. Climb to the top of the pyramid dedicated to the god of rain and the god of war and look down on the structure’s inner and outer walls. They demonstrate that the Tlahuica recycled its buildings, building new temples on top of old ones.

Temazcal and Marco the temazcalero and georgeTemezcal: An invigorating hour can be spent in a temezcal, the revived Pre-Hispanic tradition of the sweat lodge. Each temazclero, or guide, crafts his own ritual and ceremony. Inside a darkened adobe dome, he may splash herb-infused water onto hot stones to create steam, chant in the Nahuatl language and encourage you to cleanse your skin by rubbing fresh aloe vera leaves on it. After the temezcal, you may understand why warriors underwent this process before going into battle.

Seriously, it doesn’t really matter if V!va – or any one else – publishes what I write. Doing something creative again is what I am having so much fun with. Maybe someday I will figure out why I have allowed myself to become so earthbound. I don’t need to fly through the air as I did when I danced, but a little bounce from time to time sure feels good.

Hasta muy pronto!

Jorge

PS: Now about yesterday’s Hotel Review assignment. Which version is more entertaining and educational? (You can’t say neither one is.)

Hotel Laam – Here’s the first draft: “One block south of Cuernavaca’s 16th century cathedral, Hotel Laam occupies a 1960s-era former school, which was renovated in 2006 into a Mexican Modernist boutique hotel. The airy lobby and pool-side terrace offer tranquil gathering places, removed from the noise of busy Avenida Morelos. The singles/doubles ($69) include a queen-size bed, and while not spacious, they do not feel cramped. Travelers looking for the typical Spanish Colonial décor of many hotels may not be happy here.”

And this is the 2nd draft after the class and teacher critiqued it: ”One block south of the cathedral, Hotel Laam occupies a 1960s-era former school, which was renovated in 2006 into a Mexican Modernist hotel. The airy lobby and poolside terrace offer tranquil gathering places, removed from the noise of busy Avenida Morelos. The small single and double rooms include a queen-size bed, but do not feel cramped. Travelers looking for typical Spanish Colonial décor may not appreciate the aesthetic.”

Hotel Roma – Here’s the first draft: “The 41 rooms of Hotel Roma open onto a bright, covered, plant-lined atrium. Five types of simply decorated, clean rooms are available ($31 – 53): standards with double bed, two singles or two doubles; and suites with one king size bed or two doubles. Private bathrooms feature showers and Talavera-style sinks. One drawback: no window screens. A swimming pool sits alongside a snack bar, lawn and wrought iron tables with umbrellas. The staff is helpful and friendly.”

(And this is the 2nd draft after the class and teacher critiqued it: “A bright, plant-lined atrium connects Hotel Roma’s 41 clean rooms. Centrally located downtown, it offers a variety of well-priced room types. Private bathrooms feature showers and hand-painted sinks. One drawback: no window screens. Snack bar, lawn and wrought iron tables with umbrellas sit alongside a heated swimming pool. There are plenty of eating options nearby, and a big plus is that the hotel’s Café Roma also provides room service. The staff is helpful, friendly and speaks English.”

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