Tasks expand to fill the time allotted. Consider writing a letter. A businesswoman, with five minutes for the task, may quickly write out a letter. Her grandpa might, on the other hand, spend the better part of a day writing a letter. Finding glasses, getting the paper, and fussing with the fountain pen all take time.
I wish I could write a letter in a day. Time expands while traveling to such great extents that it takes several days to write a letter.
Step one, after having actually decided to write a real letter, is determining the address of the recipient.
I Facebooked my correspondent, an old friend who complained of receiving no mail at her brand new address. This message was quickly shot off, once sufficient wifi was found. Finding good wireless Internet took a not insubstantial amount of time.
The half-day time gap separating Vietnam from Mountain Time necessitates sleeping before the address comes in over the wire.
So, address in hand, real work begins. A pen (Roberta! I found one of your pens!) is procured easily. Search for paper begins.
Several closed bookstores were found. I discovered a postcard salesman and briefly considered writing my letter across a dozen cards.
However, before purchasing these, an open bookstore in Hoi An is found.
The bookstore was cramped and humid. Vietnamese and English books were stacked high on all the shelves. In the back were some calendars and day planners.
Normally, this is where a proprietor would stock his supply of 100% cotton writing paper. However, none of the good stuff could be found. In fact, no plain paper was about.
Purchased a receipt book that has decent lines and wide margins (to hold all the subtotals and so on). At least, believe it to be a receipt book. May be policeman’s fine book. If I were back in Siberia, it would definitely be that.
Now to write the letter.
Found nice Italian restaurant that served entirely edible and palatable food. The Vietnamese do to Italian food what Americans do to Chinese food. The ingredients are right, some dish names are correct, but the skin-deep resemblance ends there.
Set out on veranda with pen in hand and open receipt book.
Begin writing letter. Gain curious stares from the two waitresses who are about. Hopefully they understand my plight and that this is the only paper available in Hoi An. I would explain to them about the cotton paper and request a fountain pen, but my language skills remain poor.
Tropical downpours are the best type of rain. Unlike the uncommitted and cold drizzle in Seattle, tropical rain is warm,l with big fat drops. It hasn’t rained much so far on my trip, but day 4 saw massive precipitation.
In the hotel lobby, I procured an envelope. And an umbrella. I wrapped my letter and sheds loafers in a plastic bag and wandered outside.
“Sir. You may want to wear sandals.”
The staff of four star hotels probably don’t often deal with Americans wandering briskly outside with no footwear. Australians, perhaps, but not many Americans.
My bare feet through the streets of Hoi An helped attract some attention from shopkeeps. Some were even custom shoe stores. However, most of the shoes were leather, and I already had leather shoes. Overhead, my umbrella scraped electrical lines, a constant reminder that Vietnam is still developing.
Eventually, I made it to the post office. The place appeared entrenched in a moat. Tropical rain works quickly.
I used some decent rock climbing skills to attempt to edge a small ledge that stayed above water. However, the scheme didn’t work, and I ended up ankle deep in warm sludgy water.
Luckily, the post office was happy to take my letter and send it off to parts unknown. Four days and finished. My next communications will likely be more electronic in nature.