Writers And Their Chosen Settings – Paul Kater

“So much of who we are is where we have been.” – William Langewiesche

On Tuesdays, I post a guest blog by a writer about a special setting, real or imaginary, they chose for their work.

Today’s guest blog is by Paul Kater, author of Hilda – Lycadea

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Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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” ‘Almost there’ meant another hour of walking and a more frequent handing over of cats from one to another, through an environment that was changing very rapidly. They had just walked past a few groups of trees, when they entered a forest with humongously big trees. Everyone, except the two natives, had their head on a swivel, trying to see all the high treetops, or discover what animals up there were making a cacophony of sounds.”

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So where is this place with a cacophony of sounds? It is in Yucatan, Mexico, in the forest that surrounds Playa del Carmen. I was in Playa for a vacation, to do as little as possible, but I had to do ‘something’. So I went along on a trip through the immensely dense forest there.

My home has forests, and for that I am very grateful. But the forests in Mexico are breathtaking. First because they are so huge, high, dense. Second because it is so hot and humid there and walking around then really takes your breath away. I have always felt at home around trees and in wood, so the trip to this area was a treat. Because it is so far away from home (I live in the Netherlands, Europe) the difference in the kind of forest was already fabulous. I knew I could use this feeling in my writing somewhere. Later that day, back at the hotel, I immediately wrote down my experiences and feelings, so they would not get lost.

The smell of the forest was amazing. Different. The air was rich, sweet and also permeated with the smell of rotting things, but not in a repulsive way. It is part of nature, and nature does not always look or smell great.

The walk through the woods there was guided by locals who apparently were as close to real Maya ancestors as one can get. Small people but amazingly friendly and helpful. These people made such an impression on me that I had to use them in the story as well. There were sounds of animals unseen, shreeks, quacks and toots. Monkeys hung in the high trees, observing us as we observed them. Really, everyone in the group was looking around.

Yes, that was something I had to capture, if only a little bit, so I took in as much as I could. The guides had fun taking everyone back through a part of the forest that was extremely dense. That caused this bit to happen:

“Hilda wondered how mountains could be hard to find, but the two were right: they had to travel through a part of forest where the trees were growing so close together that it was impossible to know where you were going unless you knew where you were going.”

That forest is not my home. It will never be my home. But the sheer overwhelming sensation of walking there, realising for myself that I was walking in an as yet unspoilt part of nature with all its smell, sounds and so many shades of green is something that I will never lose.

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A big thank you to Paul Kater, from Cuijk, Netherlands, author of Hilda – Lycadea for sharing this guest blog about Playa del Carmen, Mexico. To find out more about Paul’s writing, visit his website http://paulkater.wordpress.com or visit him at his blog http://www.nlpagan.net/.

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