Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm wearing green pants, thanks. In front of me there's a Vietnamese atlas of the world. We bought it yesterday at the Hồ Chí Minh City book fair. Sunshine is brilliant. She wanted to pick up a foreign-language world atlas because they contain many useful words handily organized by geography. Language students can certainly find all the same words in a dictionary, organized alphabetically, but that requires parsing second-language definitions illustrating what's obvious when browsing graphically; or navigating across hundreds of pages to discover relationships a map makes immediately clear. When it comes to the sort of conversations a traveler predictably has, this ease of reference is useful, and the vocabulary is indispensable. For Sunshine, an atlas is very useful. It's also entertaining for me: the map of North America on page thirty-one offers only two Ca rô li na Bắc (North Carolina) cities: Grin xbơ rơ and Sác lô (Greensboro and probably Charlotte, possibly pronounced "SHOK-luh"). The US-only political map, divvied into color-coded states, adds the NC capital Rô li, as well as the mysterious In linh tơn down the coast. Wilmington? Yesterday's atlas purchase helped empty my wallet. This is important because I was carrying all our money. Instead of going to the bank on a Sunday, we decided to scrape all our accumulated change together for dinner. Like poor backpack travelers. We collected about two hundred seventy thousand Đồng: over seventeen bucks. Our usual bill at Miss Kim's comes to wavy-equals one hundred sixty thousand after tipping, so we walked there feeling secure--only to discover a brand new menu with enticing new specials and higher prices across the board. We were still able to eat under the poverty line, but it was far more depressing to have to do so. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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