Do you read when you travel?

Reading on a trip is a fun indulgence for me. I read more than usual and quite enjoy it. Yet, I feel like I should instead be doing, experiencing or at least observing eveything during the short time of my trip. Things like:

– Watching people on the beach and quickly determining whether I look better or worse in my bikini than every other woman here. I have determined, more or less, that I look better than 50% of them, which I consider quite good. My husband, on the other hand, looks better than 80% or 90% of the men. I am a lucky woman. Although, women who are overweight can still look good in their bikinis, curvy, but men who are overweight, well it’s usually just a big belly hanging over.

– Listening to music at open mic night, where the worst musician is the one exhorting everyone to fill up the tip bucket as “we are all broke.” When clearly, he is a well-to-do hipsterish guy from Oakland who is carting around a very expensive-looking electric guitar set up. And the other musicians, all much better than him, are older, hippie type guys who are wearing well-worn clothes and at least one of them is camping in a tent on the roof of a run-down looking house. And only one of them, the camper, has the balls to tell Oakland to stop playing while he is trying to do a song.

– Watching tourists climb in and out of water taxis on the beach, many who are clearly unable to follow simple directions and end up quite wet. Watching things being unloaded out of boats, such as large sheets of fiberglass roofing material that is made to look like red clay tiles.

– Watching the frigate birds in late afternoon doing touch-and-go swoops into the lagoon to dip their chests, followed up an upward flight and then a a downward shake-shake-shake flight where they dry themselves off before going wherever they go for the evening.

– Watching comerants swim underwater, hunting for fish. Discussing with my husband whether they are related to penguins, giving the swimming and also the way they walk when you catch a glimpse of one on land. Knowing you could Google this information, but not doing so, and instead and discussing it at some length.

– Walking upriver and seeing, in no particular order: parrots, chachalakas, hens, roosters, the ATV repair workshop where the mechanic has about 8 of them in the queue and is listening to techno, good-looking dogs, horses, mules, friendly people, school kids in uniforms with backpacks, houses in various styles of construction, most of which Americans would find appalling but are probably quite comfortable and appropriate for the climate. Oh, and mean girls in the schoolyard compelling another girl to put a bucket on her head, within spitting distance of the “No Bully” sign.

– Buying and eating ice cream from the fellow who walks through town and on the beach carrying a styrofoam cooler covered in gray duct tape. The vanilla that is covered with chocolate and then coconut is a good choice. There is also mango, strawberry and cream, other flavors, and sandwiches made from vanilla ice cream and graham crackers. For 15 pesos, do not pass this up.

So, I did these things and still managed to read quite a lot. A quiet balance.

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