A free morning and the good sense to get out on a boat and go to one of the nearby islands. After landing, headed up the Jungle Trail, which started out promising and became increasingly overgrown, with a few questionable moments about where the path went. Ascended up the spine of the island and for the first time, feeling real heat, my shirt soaked with sweat. Not the least prepared for what to expect and no knowledge whatsoever about plants or reptiles or other life forms that could be dangerous. But innocence can often be a protector and I trudged on through dense foliage serenaded by birds and the rustle of small lizards in leaves. Stepped over a branch that was a super-highway for ants and was caught several times by a thin thorny vine before starting to pay more careful attention. Arrived at the island’s end and discovered a welcome paved lower path the 1500 meters back. At one point, some twenty feet away, spotted a rather large Komodo dragonish lizard. Hmm. I stopped, he paused and then scurried off to the side.
Back to the beach and into the welcome cool waters of the South China Sea and then sit at a table in the shade to enjoy my book. And that’s when I noticed my watch had stopped. Hmm. Never happened to me on a trip and realized how much I depended on it. Now what? Alone in the jungle, I felt a moment of timelessness Zen-style, but this was a different animal altogether. Luckily, I still have enough social grace to actually ask other folks what time it is and thus, made it back on time for the return boat trip.
Another remarkable lunch, though these extravagant buffets seem to be the tests I persistently fail and my appetite to try everything is not happy news for the return of the belly bulge. Then to the last of my four workshops on singing and after three workshops without a single instrument other than body and voice, some good-hearted people heard my request for a guitar and lo and behold, there it was. And a conga! And though I loved playing the children’s games with everyone and exploring the imaginative potential of children’s rhymes and dancing the exuberant circle dances, there are few pleasures in life as deep as sitting with a crowd of people—any age— with a guitar and a bottomless well of great songs, each with interesting accompanying stories.
Then the ritual post-workshop pool, read in the lounge chair and watch the sunset, come back and get ready for dinner, which will include some live music tonight. Let me say it once more: one could get spoiled with this as the new standard for giving workshops. No more drafty gyms, hotels with views of parking lots and Olive Garden dinners in shopping malls for me. My new contract will either insist on castles in Spain or mountains in Austria or palm trees in Malaysia. Well, I’ll also take the beaches in Rio or the village in Ghana or the temple in Japan. I’m flexible.
Off to dinner as soon as I find out one thing: Anyone know what time it is?