Archive mensuelle de mai 2009

Notes From the Hammock

Nothing beats blog writing in my hammock– a hand-woven one that I bought fifteen years ago in San Jacinto, Colombia. I am not writing under the wild chestnut tree in the back yard. I happen to be in the comfort of my living room.

San Jacinto

“Is this solid?” guests invariably ask before they treat themselves to the pleasure of being gently rocked in the rainbow colored hammock. Solid as an Incan temple. It’s amazing what you can do with a stud finder and two screw hooks.


This is a hammock-friendly house. My husband, Diego, has a white one in his studio upstairs. I occasionally catch him taking a blissful reading break in it. This may have something to do with his Colombian genes. Our son has spent many nights sleeping in that hammock. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I used to breastfeed him in that hammock.


When Diego and I backpacked across South America in 1992 we navigated up the Amazon River for four days, from Tabatinga to Manaus, in a cargo passenger boat. While preparing for this journey in Montreal, I bought two ultra compact string hammocks from an army surplus store. Sporting our mighty backpacks, Diego and I walked across the Colombian border, from Leticia to the Brazilian port town of Tabatinga, and embarked the Avelino Leal. There was no lack of adventure on this vessel, including a tropical storm, a rescue mission involving a stranded boat, and a drug bust, complete with cops on a motorboat!


At night the main deck of the Avelino Leal transformed into a dormitory of hammocks. In the morning, under the tropical sun, the array of colorful fabric was spectacular. I had read about this quaint sleeping arrangement in my South American Handbook, which is why I bought the hammocks. However, we were the first passengers to board the boat and the captain was eager to show us the best cabin, strategically located at the bow, great for catching that much-coveted Amazonian breeze through the porthole. For a few extra reals we opted for the cabin.

We used the hammocks on terra firma, in hotel rooms that had nifty built-in hammock hooks. The string hammock, or chinchorro, is a cool place to hang out in when trapped in muggy tropical air. When we were lucky enough to have a fan and electricity those hammocks felt like heaven!

There is something utterly relaxing about reclining in a hammock. The sensation of being hugged by the fabric, of being suspended, of being rocked, brings on a feeling of security and well-being. Perhaps our bodies remember being rocked in a parent’s arms or being carried in our mother’s wombs.


Talleen’s hammock writing technique: Straddle the hammock. Prop a firm pillow in the crook of your back. Rest your laptop on your thighs and type away. You may also stretch out one or both your legs in front of you, but I prefer keeping my feet on the ground and letting my mind do the stretching.

Talleen Hacikyan

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