One thing I wish I knew more about, without any inclination to go to the trouble of actually learning about it, is geography. I write this on the balcony of our hotel in Aruba. In the distance I can see shimmering water and white sand, a steady breeze is blowing through the palm trees. Below I can see a shuffleboard court and the pavilion where they serve alcoholic milkshakes.
And I have absolutely no idea where I am.
I know Aruba is in the Caribbean, but that's really no good to me. Where exactly is the Caribbean? I am not being the least ironic; I honestly do not know. Is the Caribbean different from the Gulf of Mexico? I know we're not near Honolulu, and I know this isn't the Mediterranean, but other than that I'm in a fog. I didn't even realize Caribbean has one "r" and two "b"s until I started typing this.
If the Arubans speak Dutch - which I believe they do - are they still considered part of Latin America? I know we're not far from Haiti because the pilot pointed it out on the way over. I know they speak French in Haiti because I read it in a book by Graham Greene. I know they also speak French in France. I have a pretty good idea where France is, and I can also do England, Spain, and Italy. Everything else in Europe is just a mishmash until you get over to Russia and then China. I have no idea where Holland is, the people who originally settled Aruba. At least I know that they speak Dutch in Holland. I don't think they speak Hollandaise.
I'm not much better when I get to the states. Georgia and Florida I can find in a heartbeat, and the states bordering those I'm pretty clear on, but once I get past Tennessee, I'm bewildered. Where is Arkansas? And those big square states where they grow all that corn, what are those? My sister lives in Iowa. I have been there. I would not be able to find Iowa on a map. I don't know the difference between Iowa and Idaho. Is there a difference?
As sad as my ignorance is, I have no ambition to amend it. I know we are in the Caribbean. I know Idaho is not in the Caribbean. They do not speak Hollandaise in Holland, but Dutch. The ocean is to my left, and the shuffleboard court and alcoholic-milkshake vender are directly below me. I know everything I really need to know about geography/
Happy Father's Day.