The moon shines brightest at 4am.
It had been slinking across the night sky—naturally—but something about the fourth hour causes it to sink into a puncture in the celestial curtain. And just sit there.
The porcelain plate grows brighter, perhaps by fear, as if it’s hanging on by fingernails and knows it’s about to tumble through. The light is immense and the landscape is aglow—like a Murakami pixie dream, everything just twinkling—which means the hat pulled over my eyes simply doesn’t cut it.
Cut to: Tossing. Sleeping bag tightening. Bivvy flap scratching. Under-breath cursing.
Such as it was each night of the past week.
Chichidho, a climber’s hostel behind La Peña de Bernal, was my home for the last seven days. It was a test to see if mixing work and play was doable, and if so, to what extent.
Then the moon came. All bright enough to walk along at night without an extra light. That glow illuminated something else too: Ah, it reminded me that it was like this a month ago!
When I first arrived.
Funny enough, the dates change, time passes, but the cycle of the moon remains. It’s almost like you can live parallel lives by attaching new memories to a prominent environmental fixture that only occurs every 30 days: There are visits to Chichidho during full moons and without, no in betweens…
But I guess we’ll have to see if the rhythm continues next month too.
(Umm, what about the subject of the article, though?)
Oh yea, this is a blog post about working for a week at a climber’s hostel. So how did it go?
Lessons learned from working remotely at a climber’s hostel
1) There was a break in period
Life in Querétaro has been routine, mostly by design. So far, I’ve been trying to keep a regular schedule, circulate among the same cafes, and generally maintain consistency (for the sake of efficiency!). The emphasis is on work, with weekends reserved for climbing.
I didn’t realize how much a change in environment would alter things. In a city, coffee shops open at specific times, stores are around every corner, and things like weather are mitigated to some extent.
At Chichidho I had to learn a whole new pattern, largely based around the sun, such as:
The big light doesn’t peek over the mountain until 9am (which means it’s cold(er) up to that point); paying attention to the position of the sun during the day as it dictates when and where to go for climbing breaks (and even where you can sit while working); and making sure to charge your laptop and phone before nightfall as the hostel’s solar-powered batteries tend to run low by the end of the day, which precipitates an annoying screech from some sort of electric-thingamajig which I would have liked to minimize as much as possible (to no avail).
You were basing your day around the solar scoundrel up above? How primitive!
Also, the daily ritual of showering for public presentation? Meh.
Takeaway: How does your environment shape your schedule?
2) I was much more vigilant of my mental state and energy levels
In the city, the only real focus is on the tasks that need to get done that day. I find I’m more prone to power through the work even if feeling less than inclined. There’s something about having the intention of “this is a work day” that keeps me “on track” according to more traditional 9-5 hours. This also tends to leave me feeling more drained come nightfall, like you’re “fighting through” to get the job done in a certain time frame.
At Chichidho, projects were still set each day, but the schedule was more variable. Maybe I would start work at 9am then take a break at 2pm to climb with Nathan (a fellow working guest). Maybe I wasn’t feeling it, and instead climb until Noon before starting work. Plus all sorts of other permutations.
Interestingly (probably only to me), I got the same (if not more) work done each day. However, it was spread out and aligned with what felt to be natural “productive periods” (where it didn’t feel like having to overcome inertia: around 10am-2pm, 4-6pm, 8-10pm). I rarely felt depleted come sleepy time.
With that said, I felt very unmotivated to do work today, so there’s something to just sitting down and doing it.
Takeaway: When do you feel most productive? Depleted?
3) The stoke for climbing was more even keel
Maybe the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies here.
When I can only climb outside for two days a week, I really look forward to those days. When the weekend comes, climbing is the only focus and the sessions are long.
But, when climbing is all around there is no longer a feeling of scarcity. We’d climb almost everyday but for shorter sessions, and that seemed to give me my fill.
It’s as if during a week in the city, the reservoirs run low and I need a full weekend of climbing to top it up. But at Chichidho, I only used a little gas each day, so the smaller sessions were enough.
Takeaway: How do you recharge?
What about you? Have you worked while on climbing trips, or for extended stays at a climber’s hostel? How did it go for you? Any tips or lessons learned?
Share in the comments below!