Recently I was sorting through my bits and pieces and came across an article I kept, cut out of the weekly paper, “The Georgia Straight”. It is written by Jim Christy and was published in the travel section with an intriguing title, “Finding a Daily Reading Fix in Faraway Places”. The title alone sang to me and it sums up both how I live now and how I lived while travelling, always searching for the printed word. Like the author of this interesting article, the printed words I seek are English and come in the form of found or bought second hand books, abandoned magazines or local papers/newsletters picked up for free. Jim Christy’s search while travelling in Europe and Mexico reveals a unique group of authors and titles. When I first read his list, it revealed a memory of my first found book! While on a family vacation to the island of Cyprus many years ago, I found a hardcover book in English at the charming hotel/taverna we were staying at. As a young teen I’m sure I brought a magazine or two to read but this was a two week vacation and I’m a fast reader; there was some down time, too, as it was very hot during our summer get-away. To find this book, a historical novel about France’s Josephine, was gold; the title of the book was “The Saracen Blade” by Frank Yerby, it was sitting on a small hallway table’s shelf and it kept me company for those two weeks. In a moment of nostalgia I went on a search for this 50/60’s author and now have a copy of this book as the ultimate souvenir.
When Terry and I lived in Mexico, we found the printed word at second hand bookstores, our favourite bookstore was also a cafe, called “A Page In The Sun” now located on Lazaro Cardenas – we could buy books there and also trade them back in to put towards more purchases. Other printed material came in the form of gifts from our neighbours at the “Janitzio” or West End friends that were visiting Puerto Vallarta.
Journal Excerpt: December 17th, 2000
How I enjoy living here at the “Janitzio” apartment/studio building – quite a few of us live very openly, our front doors and balcony doors are always open (we sleep with our balcony door open!). It makes me feel like we live in a great big house. I wrote this to Huguette and didn’t want to forget this image. This small community trades books, shares found treasure (a half of a coconut from a palm tree in our courtyard), we also share important information and invitations to art shows.
Journal Excerpt: December 7th, 2004
We have been here almost one month and soon have to leave our small studio to stay at the “Paloma del Mar” hotel. It has been a very rich experience so far, lots of soul soothing rituals – journal writing at “Cafe San Angel”, exploring new restaurants, lots of local walks and enjoying the daily activities of living in Vallarta. Each week we buy 1kg. of freshly made tortillas at our local factory, “Las Glorias”; we are usually the only foreigners there! We started to buy fresh tortillas in the fall of 2000, it’s fun and very tasty. After buying our tortillas, usually on a Monday, I make sure to pick up the weekly “Tribune” newspaper for some English reading.
Terry’s Journal Excerpt: January 30th, 2000
Joined Vera and Elaine (friends from Vancouver) for breakfast at “Memo’s Pancake House”. Vera gave us a five day old Houston newspaper to read, we’re desperate for any written word and news of what’s going on in the world.
These excerpts were written while living without English T.V., newspapers or wi-fi connections, we had to rely on friends, neighbours and accidental discoveries of the printed word. However, to this day, I’ve been known to get my daily fix of the printed word by reading the label on a shampoo bottle or cereal box, it’s all the same to me!