This is a PSA: Read Lots Of Books On Your Next Vacation. It really depends on what kind of vacationer you are of course. But when you wed, read books out loud to your novia neuva.
While in Bayahibe of the Dominican Republic, we read two novels by Dominican authors; How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (83/100) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (94/100). I also finished Michael Perry's funny memoir Truck: A Love Story (90/100) and dove into Augustine's Confessions. I suppose it might seem like bragging to some. Whatever. I'm a self-admitted snob about lots of things. I don't mind confessing that I do, in fact, assume that everyone else is weird for not wanting to read read read whenever they can. Further, I'm an introvert. So, going from the public intensity of my work to the privacy and intimacy of a book is about as good as it gets for me.
So, that being said the trip was restful and uneventful in the best sense. Great weather. 80/87 degree evenings/days. No airport snafus. We didn't get robbed or even cheated. We got more chances to work on our Spanish. Ate at the places the locals eat: mangu, tostones, pollo frito (for me), pescado a la criolla (for Susanna). Lots of arroz y habichuela (not frijoles in the DR!). I partook of many a Presidente grande (lunch/afternoon) and jugo con ron (evening). We had a nice rhythm of reading and eating and walking and beaching it, picture taking it, and reading and eating and swimming and reading and eating...and sleeping. Oh, and we went snorkeling too.
Being able to return to the same place for a second year allowed both Sus and I to develop a deeper fondness for the Dominican people, their culture and their landscape. Reading the two novels by Dominicans further saturated our imaginations with all things Dominican, their alegria contegiante, their sad history (to try to grasp the existence of monsters like Trujillo, the devil himself) and their humor. It is amazing to get yourself out of America heart, body and mind. I was able to leave our economic crisis at home and believe in good things. If the Dominicans can pull themselves together after Trujillo for a party like they do almost any night of the week, surely the rest of us can surive the banking and mortgage crisis...somehow and someway.
Junot Diaz es un escritor buen maldito, damned good. I think Sus and I are both still in shock over Oscare Wao, his Pulitzer winner. His characters are still sunk into my gut. Such an eerie feeling--having characters linger after a book is finished, leaving you feeling lonely for them.
I also want to give a big shoutout to Michael Perry. Trygve introduce me to Truck last winter. Perry writes about rural culture and hanging on to life with so many laughs. Check out his website www.sneezingcow.com.
It is fair to say that Junot Diaz and Micahel Perry have blown some life and inspiration into my sense of how and what I want to be writing about now.