Trash Can Desk

“It’s hard to know, when you’re in such a jam, which is worse—not having a place to sleep or not having a place to work. One can sleep almost anywhere, but one must have a place to work. Even if it’s not a masterpiece you’re doing. Even a bad novel requires a chair to sit on and a bit of privacy.”
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

One of the hardest things about traveling is finding a decent place to work. A lot of countries don’t have that lingering coffee shop culture that we have, with comfortable work spaces and a staff that leaves you alone. In South America it’s too much to ask for wireless internet, electrical outlets, a bathroom that is less than a quarter mile away, and a large selection of artisanal teas.

Most of the time I had to work from home (or hostel), but unfortunately I wasn’t nearly as productive. In the States I’ve had peak days of cranking out five hours of honest-to-goodness work, but I rarely got above two hours in South America. For my latest trip I took some pictures of my work spaces, which I believe you will find fascinating.

Bogota, Colombia

Finding a table and chair was sometimes challenging, so for my first city I used a trash can as my working platform. It’s here that I put the finishing touches on A Dead Bat In Paraguay. On a trash can. When the maid came by I had to remove everything so she could empty it.

Medellin, Colombia

My first Medellin apartment had a pretty decent work area. I started the trip drinking water out of bottles but eventually drank straight from the tap. I never got sick from it. My stomach was actually healthiest in Colombia (it got worse in Brazil and then fell apart in Argentina where my “Days Without Diarrhea” counter never got into the double digits). I’m okay now, thanks.

The desk in my second apartment was considerably smaller, but I lived near a McCafe where I could hang for a couple hours at a time. Note the kitty calendar hanging on the wall (thanks sis).

Fortaleza, Brazil

I stayed in this hotel for a couple days and converted the nightstand into a desk. My Portuguese books are stored at the bottom.

Pipa, Brazil

The desk was a little low so I’d have to hunch over to see the screen. There was a massive ant colony nearby that was drawn to the warmth of my laptop. Brazil has a lot of ants.

Vitoria, Brazil

This is the niciest and most expensive hotel I stayed in during the trip ($70/night). Ironically, it was the only place that charged extra for internet and breakfast.

Vila Velha, Brazil

I moved to an apartment in a neighboring city, owned by a guy who worked at the expensive hotel. He had no furniture here so I went to a mattress store and bought a $40 foam thing that barely held up for my week stay. I didn’t get any work done here.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This was my home for the first two weeks in Rio until I found my favela shack. I had to revisit the trash can desk. I actually got a lot of work done here because the room was usually empty with my gringo dormmates sightseeing or visiting the beach. I’m sure they thought I was loser since I didn’t do much during the day.

Cordoba, Argentina

For the first time in my life I lived alone. The apartment came furnished and set me back about $700 for the month (it was expensive because I was on a month-to-month contract). I dreamed of living alone for a long time, but it was surprisingly boring, probably because I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I had a lot more fun living in my Rio shithole with my dreamy Danish roommate.

In Cordoba I finished my third book. It’s about Colombia, and should be out in a month.

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TruNinja
TruNinja
10 years ago

Glamorous. The solo wine drinking is a nice touch.

You got ripped off at 700 per month, you should have had a local friend arrange things for you, or networked over the internet.

Considering a doctor makes 1000 a month or less in Buenos Aires, you could have gotten a place much cheaper in Cordoba.

CG
CG
10 years ago

Man you have hairy arms…

DB
DB
10 years ago

1: How little do you think i could get an apartment (studio or 1br) for in nueva cordoba for a 6 month period? If I used locals to check the place out, negotiate a price etc. What about a room?

DB
DB
10 years ago

When I go to india I will just have a small desk made (making sure it can easily be taken apart and put in the garbage). Then I’ll pay like 6 bucks as a bribe to be able to put it in my room..

TruNinja
TruNinja
10 years ago

DB

Do you speak Spanish? If not, this will be more difficult, but not impossible.

In Latin countries, the easiest ways to get good deals are often word of mouth rather than internet postings.

To make local contacts, I suggest using Facebook or couchsurfing.

On facebook, find groups for the city you are going to, university, the city fan page, anything…join, and just start messaging people.

On couchsurfing, do a similar thing…find some cool people, make a polite email saying that wow, you love nueva cordoba and all, and you want to find a place to stay for longer than a week or a few days…the person on couchsurfing might be willing to rent you a room if they have one, or they might have a cousin/friend/etc that does.

TruNinja
TruNinja
10 years ago

Facebook is also a goldmine for pussy.

I made a dummy account before going to Brazil last year, and joined some university groups and such for the cities I was going to, and just started adding and messaging tons of girls, and had 3 lined up before I got there.

Sam Spade
Sam Spade
10 years ago

Roosh,

That must be the Ibis hotel in downtown Buenos Aires that cost you $70. Clean and modern but no character.

Omega Man
10 years ago

The crappy foam mattresses might be the worst thing about Latin America.

Omega Man’s last blog post: A Foray Into Pop Culture.

Willy Wonka
10 years ago

I like the trash can desks, nice touch.

I agree with the quote at the beginning, it is definitely harder to find a good place to do work than it is a place to sleep.

Willy Wonka’s last blog post: I Prefer An Entourage.

Giovonny
Giovonny
10 years ago

A hustler always finds a way.

Looking forward to the Colombia book.

Shaman
Shaman
10 years ago

“In Cordoba I finished my third book. Itâ��s about Colombia, and should be out in a month.”

FINALLY!!!

Also, second the “holy shit hairy arms” guy–you need to check out laser hair removal, it’s permanent (no going back to get waxed every 4 weeks).

nathan
nathan
10 years ago

I found those pictures fascinating! Curious about the Colombia book but I’ll probably just wait for the movie (starring Russell Brand as Roosh).

speakeasy
speakeasy
10 years ago

I’m surprised the water in Argentina fucked you up. I’d have thought their’s would be the cleanest of the three.

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
10 years ago

Your pad in Vitoria looked pretty baller.

Too bad it was $70 a night.

TruNinja
TruNinja
10 years ago

Yeah, I thought it was a tattoo or he was partially covered in mud.

I think before laser would be an option, he would have to trim it down with a weedwhacker.

The Rookie
10 years ago

who knew that good things could come from working with trash (cans)

The Rookie’s last blog post: Unfazed.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

Man, you are really running out of material for the blog :(( But thanks for the pics, especially of your arms!

ElGuapo
10 years ago

I can relate to “I dreamed of living alone for a long time, but it was surprisingly boring, probably because I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I had a lot more fun living in my Rio shithole with my dreamy”

I always wanted to be alone, but my quality of life improved 100x when I moved into a house with 3 other guys and 3 other personalities. Pretty much one of the reasons I ended up staying so long in Rio.

ElGuapo’s last blog post: My (Brazilian) Portuguese Cheat Sheet.

West LA
West LA
10 years ago

Good post, enjoyed the topic, pix…
I see you’re a fan of Henry Miller — great choice for you. What’s your favorite of his books?
Have you read much Hemingway? You might like his non-fiction (also), published in a book called ‘By-Line: Ernest Hemingway'(especially the middle period, in Key West, Africa, Cuba).
Also I recommend to you the short stories of Thom Jones, in his first two books, The Pugilist at Rest, and Cold Snap.

speakeasy
speakeasy
10 years ago

Hey Guapo, how did you go about finding roommates? And what was your living situation like? As far as the apartment goes, did everyone have enough space of their own? I remember that day I checked out out a few apartments with you in Copa, I was surprised how small Rio apartments are. Having 4 guys in one would seem pretty crazy if you’re used to having lots of space and privacy.

V
V
10 years ago

Question, why not put it on your lap? The laptop I mean.

V’s last blog post: Game in Poetry.

Lumiere
Lumiere
10 years ago

Lol @ seeing my old room in medellin again

Lugo
Lugo
10 years ago

What did you do to keep your laptop secure?

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson
10 years ago

Sam Spade is a fucking kike!