A Vacation Summary and a Book

This is not a typical post for me, but I had to share an excerpt with you, my book lover friends.  It's much too long for Facebook so I thought I'd blog about it, and give you a brief summary of our trip while I'm at it.  We recently returned from three weeks in the Lesser Antilles, visiting Antigua, Guadeloupe and Dominica. I've chosen three fairly random photos to post to pique your interest a little.

Valley Church Beach, Antigua

The market in Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe

Red Rocks in Calibishe, Dominica

In the meantime, to summarize our trip... there was hiking, swimming, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, Mermaid Secrets, lakes, the Atlantic ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, the green scent of rain forests, the pungent aroma of marijuana, annoying cigarette smoke, and the massacring of the French language.  There was driving and more driving and then some more driving.  Driving on smooth, well marked asphalt roads and driving on joint jarring asphalt, concrete and dirt roads reminiscent of turbulent plane rides, careening around hairpin turns, through arches of vines and bowed branches, up and down 20 degree slopes.  Honking horns that sang "thank you", "your welcome" and "We're coming around the mountain..." 

There was tongue sizzling jerk chicken, columbo chicken, Caribbean curry, pumpkin, coconut, taro, acrass, grilled fish avec les eyeballs, Mahina's pizza, squat glasses of 'T punch, green bottles of Caribe, skinny tins of coke light, excellent French wine at affordable prices.  We saw snakes, geckos, hummingbirds, parrots, gopher-squirrels, goats, Pumpkin the donkey, crowing roosters, dogs, cats, crabs, coral, and fishies a plenty. There were steel drums, a ukelele, French caribbean guitars that sounded like something from West Africa, then a piano, then a trumpet, pop and reggae and cuban latin singers.  Much repeated phrases were "This map is frickin' useless", "Cheap like Dings!" "Our LIAT flight has been delayed." "Parlez vous Anglais?" "Deux cafe au lait, s'il vous plait" "Do you have Caribe?", "Wow!" and "Gorgeous!" and "When we come back..."  

We saw bougenvilla, bananas in many sizes, pineapple, orchids, hibiscus, and ginger, ficus, ferns and palm trees of every sort, cactus, calla lilies, sugar cane and sugar mills, ports, cannons and churches.  There was diving, snorkelling,  sunshine, sunsets and five minute torrents of rain, wind on a mountain top that nearly blew my t-shirt off, smiling, friendly people, there was laughing, snorting and giggling, and there were many, many beaches.  

Along with lounging on the beach, there was reading.  I read four books, which has me in reading mode once more.  Back home, (once I got caught up on my laundry and uploaded my photos), I picked up a book that's been waiting on my shelf for years despite the fact that I fell in love with it on page one.  "If On A Winter's Night a Traveller" by Italo Calvino is one of the most original books I've read, already my favourite book so far and I'm only on page 7.  All you book lovers out there will see him as a kindred spirit once you read the following passage I had to share. 

"In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:

the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,
the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,
the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,
the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,
Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time To Reread and the Books You've Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It's Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.
All this simply means that, having rapidly glanced over the titles of the volumes displayed in the bookshop, you have turned toward a stack of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler fresh off the press, you have grasped a copy, and you have carried it to the cashier so that your right to own it can be established.  

With a zigzag dash you shake them off and leap straight into the citadel of the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You. Even inside this stronghold you can make some breaches in the ranks of the defenders, dividing them into New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Not New (for you or in general) and New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Completely Unknown (at least to you), and defining the attraction they have for you on the basis of your desires and needs for the new and the not new (for the new you seek in the not new and for the not new you seek in the new)."

How can you resist?


  1. Bon jour, Mme Wood-Young.
    Vous avez eu un beau temps dans les Antilles...oui? Je suis heureux que vous aviez de bonnes vacances. Mon nouveau partenaire, Rania, parle Francais, Arabe et en Anglais. Ainsi, je dois pratiquer. Son frere vit en Guadeloupe. En 2017, nous allons lui rendre visite.
    Au revoir, Nic

    1. Tres cool Nic! J'ai oubliƩ beaucoup de francais mais je comprends un peu. Wouldn't it be funny if we'd met Rania's brother while we were there? Do you have plans to visit him soon?

  2. We hope to visit him in August/September 2017...proposed N. America trip incl. B.C....still just an idea for now. "You gotta have a dream, if you no have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?"
    (South Pacific)

    1. Damn, you got to it before I could edit when I realized you did say in the response you were visiting in 2017. September is a great time to visit B.C. It's a long haul from here to Guadeloupe though. We had to overnight in Toronto...but we were headed for Antigua first. If you go from Canada there are direct flights from Montreal to Guadeloupe. Montreal is a definite must visit for North America, especially if your partner (and you) speak French.

    2. The truth is that I "googled" my French comment. Living in Southern Africa as a teenager, I learnt Afrikaans at high school...should I choose to visit the remote areas of The Transvaal (very unlikely), it might prove useful...squealing like a warthog would be better...(ref: "Deliverance" 1972)


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