This letter is my response to various one-word challenges for today.
Dear Mom & Dad,
Not much doing here this evening so I thought I’d write you a letter — by battery-powered lamp-light, if you can believe it. My room-mate’s doing exercises to burn off the calories from last night’s feast. We were supposed to be lying on the beach enjoying a sunlit sea but they can’t schedule the weather here anymore than we can at home. Good thing our hotel puts a couple these lamps in every room. Now if only the air-conditioning would work!
Hope you like the postcard I’ve enclosed. Yesterday at the market I bought a bunch to send back to the folks at work with the usual, “Wish you were here.” Now I’m debating: should I leave them to envy me, thinking I’m having a wonderful trip? Or should I tell them the truth: we’re in the grip of a tropical deluge, wind and rain like you wouldn’t believe! And no power. 😦
There’s a beautiful sandy beach in front of our hotel just like you see in this photo — at least it was there yesterday — but it’s been evacuated because of the storm and the huge breakers rolling in. Hopefully the sand will still be there when this storm ends, not all washed out to sea.
The power went out at noon. You’ll be thinking, surely the hotel has generators? Yes, and the management got them running within half an hour. But by 2pm they ran out of gas. The shortage was investigated and we heard the janitor’s assistant was sacked when management found out he’s been selling gallons of gas to his poor relatives on the sly. They’ve ordered a delivery of more gas, but it hasn’t arrived yet, so we’re sweltering in this heat and humidity. Oppressive, our Prof says, for lack of a longer word.
You’ll see I’ve picked a postcard with the quintessential beach scene. Prof’s word for today. I told you in my last letter about Professor Hoffmeyer, one of the men who bought this holiday package deal. Of course we call him Prof-meyer. A lover of big words. “Oxford-educated and he can’t speak English,” Kyle says.
Kyle and Caylee are a young couple from Philadelphia. I doubt either of them is more than eighteen. Kyle has Grade Eight, he says, but I’m sure it’s only because teachers can’t fail anyone nowadays. Grew up dirt poor in some tenement slum — been together for a couple of years now. Two months ago they happened to pick the lucky ticket and won a two-million dollar lottery. Wonders never cease.
First thing Kyle did was buy Caylee an engagement ring. You should see that rock! They’re planning to tie the knot at some special place on this tour.
Of course as soon as their relatives heard the news, they all came to “borrow a bit” for some sudden emergency, so K & C knew they’d better make themselves scarce or friends and needy relations would bleed them dry. Smart move. A tropical holiday may not have been their best first choice but family can’t follow them here and we’re trying to help them acquire some dollar-and-sense smarts.
They seem like good kids, really. They’re ready to spend, but we plead with them to be careful. It’s amazing how fast money can disappear and none of us wants to see them flat broke a few years from now. One of the men on this tour is a retired banker and he’s taken them under his wing, giving some fatherly financial advice — something they’ve likely never had in their lives. The important thing is, they’re listening and learning.
Anyway, they don’t see eye to eye — or should I say tongue to tongue? — with Prof-meyer’s highbrow English. He means well, but he just can’t talk in one-syllable words. Yesterday when we hit the local outdoor market — where I bought this postcard, by the way — Prof looked over the scene and exclaimed, “Ah, the quintessential local market!” Kyle looked blank for a moment, then said, “It looks pretty typical to me. We have these in Philly, too.”
The rest of us grinned and adopted “quintessential” as our new buzzword of the day. We’re making a game of sticking it in wherever we can. And once we got our money changed to the local currency, Prof-meyer announced that he was going to “sally forth to acquire the accouterments of the typical tourist.” (Accouterments will have to be our word tomorrow.)
Kyle was stumped for a bit, then said, “Not us. We’re just gonna buy some stuff to show the folks back home where we been.”
“Be very careful, kids,” Prof warned them. “Folks here aren’t very conscientious with the truth about market prices.”
Kyle and Caylee looked blank until another tourist whispered, “He means they’re apt to fleece you if you don’t watch it.”
“Oh, that I understand,” Kyle told him. “We’ll be careful.”
Of course, before long we were surrounded by the quintessential haggling merchants and starving waifs begging coins, with the quintessential ‘Artful Dodger’ mixed in. And the usual gregarious sorts wanting to welcome you to their island with a hearty embrace while an accomplice slips your wallet out of your pocket. Prof lost his, but it held nothing of special value. Guess he’s traveled a lot in his day.
As we were leaving the church bells started ringing and Prof-meyer started spouting about the felicitous tintinnabulation. A few of us who heard him rolled our eyes and shook our heads. My roommate and I were behind Kyle and Caylee and heard him whisper to her that ‘Tabulation means counting, my math teacher told me once. So I think the Prof’s wanting to count the ting-ting-ting of the bells.” That gave us a chuckle.
Hey. The lights just came back on! The fuel truck must have made it through. Good thing, because they say this storm is supposed to last all through tomorrow as well. SIGH! So much for our tropical holiday — “palm trees waving in the breeze,” etc.
Anyway, I hope you’re having a good week. Wish you were here. 🙂
Love from your drenched daughter,