Journal, August 15, 1976 PM

At last I have caught up on my correspondence. I feel squared away with the world. It took me most of the day though. I’m such as slow letter writer. Other than write, I just goofed around with household chores, made yogurt, ground up some beans for “frijoles molidos”, knocked down a wasp’s nest.

I reopened my calculus book today for the first time in a long spell. I had worked through most of Chapter 7, Methods of Integration, sometime last year (in San Isidro). I need to get back at it, sharpen my math. I just read through 7.1 and Chapters 1 & 2 today. After over a year’s layoff, I need to reintroduce myself to it!

Journal, August 15, 1976 AM

I planted my own little bean trial yesterday. It consists of 4 varieties of beans: common red, common black, gandul and lablab. The last two are a couple of “wonder beans” presently being promoted in El Salvador. They are higher in protein than the common varieties, though not on a level with soybeans. The catch is that they lack an attractive flavor, and need to be prepared in special ways. I hope to get some soybean seed and inoculant from Dave Quarles to round out my trial. With all the rain yesterday my seeds may rot, & the trial never get off the ground, but I’m hoping for sun today.

Yesterday morning I went out to the airport with Steve Pamperin to send off some legume seed by air. Some professor in Colombia wants a bunch of legume seed from here to try out down there. 225 lbs. there was of it, in 6 big sacks! He can plant a lot of legume pasture with that! <I also took the opportunity to send another letter to Maria, congratulating her on her academic feat.> I’m back to dreaming about the two of us becoming Ph.D.’s and maybe distinguishing ourselves in research or literature. I guess there’s no harm in having high aspirations!

I went to see “A Man Called Horse” at the 11 PM movie with Steve Pamperin. Another descendent of the Tarzan series, the mighty white man, invincible yet gentle and compassionate. It supposedly depicted Sioux rituals accurately though, and the rituals were interesting & savagely beautiful. The callous casting out of the old who lack relatives to care for them had to be accurate.

Journal, August 14, 1976 AM

Boy I needed a good night’s sleep after yesterday, and I got it. I got up early, getting less than 5 hours of sleep, and darn near fell asleep in my chair at work, despite the aid of a cup of coffee.

I wrote up the first draft of a letter to the University of Wisconsin Genetics Department. I feel kind of foolish writing the thing, but I noticed an interesting connection between an article in “Hoard’s Dairyman” and one in “Scientific American”, and felt the need to let someone (to whom the information might be of use) know about it. In the “Hoard’s Dairyman” a guy discussing sex control in cattle A.I. {Artificial Insemination} said they had already found a way to “label” the Y chromosome in human sperm with florescent dye, and hoped to do it in cattle sperm, to be able to identify “enriched” sperm mixtures under the microscope. Well, I had read in my March “Scientific American” where some folks at Stanford had a new apparatus which allowed them to separate cells if they could be distinguished by marking one type with florescent dye. The machine employs a laser and two light-sensitive receptors to “read” cell size and coloring due to the dye. It gives a charge to fluid droplets containing cells of a given specification, and thus they are directed to the proper receptacle by an electric field. Why not use the device to separate X and Y sperm? If you can “mark” the Y sperm it should be feasible. Of course I am no chemist, and don’t know all the possible problems involved, but it seems to me that science is on the verge of making possible sex control (in humans, cows, who knows what all, with the help of A.I.), and I want to know if geneticists realize how close they are!

I played buckets {basketball} with the “Informatica” {Information Technology} team again yesterday. Mike {Shank} and Francisco weren’t there, so we almost didn’t have 5 guys, and we were losing 39-26. But we won when the officials’ table told the opposing captain he had fouled out, & he got pissed off and refused to leave the game! What weird games they play here! So much arguing and so many whistles that the game never develops a rhythm.

<I got a ride to Peace Corps Office from team captain Morgan, and there found a letter from Maria.> What a great letter! I don’t know who she borrowed the lines from or if she did, but they were sheer poetry, and then she dropped the big one: She scored the highest of anyone in her group on their midyear exams at the university {Universidad Nacional}! I may have a fucking genius on my hands! She’s more like me than I thought. All the time saying she was worried about earning her credits, and that she didn’t really study much, and then coming out with the best exam. Worriers make better students I guess.

Her reaction was very different from mine though. When I got a 4.0 cumulative for my first semester in college, I said to myself, “Oh no, here we go again!” I had been valedictorian of my highschool class (96.2 average), and feared I was in for another 4 years of being treated as a brain instead of a human being. I was pleasantly surprised. College is open enough that most folks don’t know your GPA, at least until after they know you. Highschool was a bummer; everyone knew & it made it tough to be accepted as a person. <Now Maria doesn’t seem to have any reservations, she’s “feliz como una lombriz!” {happy as a worm} ‘o sea’ {or that is} happy.> I feel like throwing in my lot with her may be the biggest piece of luck I’ve ever had!

Journal, August 13, 1976 AM

I just can’t get rid of Dave Quarles; he is here again tonight. He talks incessantly, & demands attention, but the truth is, I enjoy hearing about his ideas & projects. He is a genuine super PCV {Peace Corps Volunteer}, leaving no stone unturned to try to be more useful, and learn more in his role as an extensionist. And on top of all that, he is always so fed up with the inefficiency and politics in the extension service here that he claims it is hopeless, and he is going to quit. He never will though. Dave loves extension work, and there is always the new crop variety, cultural practice or chemical wonder to capture his interest. Where would agriculture be today if there hadn’t been lots of crazy guys like Dave?

Journal, August 11, 1976 PM

I have visitors again tonight, Jay Hasheider and Dave Quarles. I expected Jay, but Dave was a surprise. We went out for pupusas {Salvadoran snack food} and beer with Steve Pamperin, and lots of B.S.’ing. Gary Forest left me 3 “Hoard’s Dairyman” magazines to look at. Wow, what nostalgia, reading about some {Artificial} Breeding co-op’s new “hot” bull, and about the value of computerized cow matings. They had a short article about a dairy cattle show in Costa Rica by the guy who judged it. He was very impressed with their cattle.

I talked to Chico {Rodriguez, Peace Corps Agriculture Program Director} today. He was all inspired about the study he wants to do up in Chalatenango – the Río Tamalasco area. He has a good approach, if he can implement it. He wants to look at the technological stages that farmers are in. Do a typology, then look at the cost-benefit of raising farmers of a given stage to the next higher one. He also wants to organize 5-10 PCV’s {Peace Corps Volunteers} to work on plot work and analysis to find out what the transition really does cost (a pivotal item). It all sounds good, and I even got enthused about it, but I don’t know if Chico will ever follow through. It’s going to be tough, & he does have to be a Peace Corps PTR {Program Technical Representative} too! I’m all for him though, he’s trying, and if he does it, it will be useful to DGRNR {Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables}, and maybe have broader applications. His approach appeals to me much more than the general, unfocused and “we have to do such and such a study, so” approach at Planificación {Planning}.

Chico said he talked to Juan Coward about Jaime {Olson} and me wanting to transfer down there. He wasn’t very encouraging. He said that Juan said his recommending us would help our chances, period.

<I got a letter from Maria.> She says she can’t make it up here in September – exams in school and a big paper, etc. I expected that outcome, but it still was disappointing. I guess more so because she sounded pretty down, said I hadn’t written much and she couldn’t find a telephone to call me on September 15, so she thought she’d have to forget it. Poor kid. I’m going to have to write her and find something cheerful to say.

Gert {Verberkmoes} wrote too. She says the long drought in Wisconsin broke July 23 with a big tornado. It took down trees in her neighborhood. I hope they got the rain without the extras at home.

Journal, August 10, 1976 PM

Today I make good my promise of some time ago to tell you the name of that funny Latin American T.V. show. “Chespirito” is the name and it is just plain cute. I went and saw it again tonight. I’m in some danger of becoming a T.V. addict all over again. I was badly afflicted during all of my pre Peace Corps life.

Mrs. Zúniga, the housekeeper, reports that Ed Shiffer will be back about August 31, that he will stay here 2 months, and then spend a month in the U.S. before beginning his new job in Colombia in December. Sounds like he got the job, good. Meanwhile Miz’s {the cat} young’uns are starting to wander around, and will soon be eating me out of house and home.

I went to the A.I.D. office this morning, looking for a lead on studies of river basin development. I want to get some methodological jumping off point, and I need it now, before the pressure is on to put together an interview form and go to it. I got a couple possible things out of the visit, and want to go back some day to browse through the stuff they have on hand there. I want to find one or more really well conceived and well carried out studies.

Rafael (#2 boss of my subsection at Planificación {Planning}) said he turned the stuff Mike & I have put together on the fishermen’s cooperatives over to Tito (the boss), who is just back from some conference or other. He hasn’t been around since I began work there {at DGRNR, Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables}. I gather he’s the intellectual heavyweight of the office, so everyone will wait for his judgement before agreeing that we done bad or we done good. He hasn’t said a word to me since he returned (yesterday). Perhaps he hasn’t noticed me yet. I’m more interested in how he’ll react to that little bit of work I’ve done.

Journal, August 9, 1976 PM

Back to “normal”. I went to work today, and things were the same as I left them. They still are working on the budget, in August, and I am trying to get the study of the fishermen’s cooperatives in El Tamarindo and La Unión organized, so when they are ready to look at it, it will be all but written. I still need to write up the conclusions and recommendations.

Doctor Zavaleta said my feces sample came up negative once again. He says if I keep feeling bad we’ll start treatment anyway. Actually I’ve felt pretty good & stopped shitting so irregularly since I went out to Metalio. I’m sure I have amoebas though. I leave lots of gooey feces on the toilet paper; when I’m healthy it comes up clean. Oh the advantages of putting your toilet paper in a separate receptacle! You get a chance to inspect it.

Dave {Quarles} & Gary {Forest} helped me finish off my oatmeal this morning. It’s getting even more expensive, so I’ll have to find a substitute breakfast. Tomorrow it’s just eggs & beans.

I wrote to the woman. Nothing to say. Hope she lets me know the story for September pretty soon.

Wow, did we have an earthquake tremor today. I had all but forgotten my nervousness of a while back. It lasted 20 seconds and was pretty strong. I put a book over my head; people at work barely noticed.


Journal, August 8, 1976 PM

I have to take some time and write a little about today, even if it means losing precious hours of sleep.

This morning I wrote a note sitting on my cot in Kikilita {beach house #2}. Since then I went swimming with Jay in the ocean & estuary. That took up all morning. We didn’t take Modesto {the caretaker’s son} over to El Maizal to see the doctors. As it turned out, the friend of Dr. Suarez who “evicted” us from his rancho {beach house #1} for the last two nights, is a doctor, and was already in the process of prescribing stuff for Modesto’s leg. Relieved of that burden, we decided it was high time we hit the ocean. We were very cautious though. We rode a few waves, but came in farther when it got choppy. Swimming up the estuary from the mouth was great. We had an aiding current because the tide was coming in, & you could just float right on up stream. We arrived back at Kikilita after noon. I was really burned, sleeping is going to be painful tonight.

Good old Don Tin gave us lunch on him today, & Santos was there to send me off too! I got a picture of Santos, Don Tin & Doña Reina with me before I headed out. <Don Tin & Santos promised to serve as judges of Maria’s fitness to be my novia.> If she comes up I will of course take her to Metalio.

I took the slow bus in and made it by 4:30. As I was chopping my carrots to throw in the rice for supper, over wander Dave Quarles and Gary Forest. They wanted to go to a 5 Colones movie called “Emanuela”, but my budget said no, & I talked them into “3 Days of the Condor” for 1 Colon here in Santa Tecla. We were not disappointed by the picture. We all came out of it numb. It was very well done, & too, too believable. Gary says it’s based on a book written by a former CIA person. It got us discussing the sinister side of our U.S. government, & what (if anything) can be done about it. Make their operations public, make them accountable to the people, but there is value in their contingency plans & hypothetical “game playing”. No answers.

Then comes the view from the personal standpoint. How much, as a person of conscience, should I have to do with a government involved in such things? It comes back to the quote I have by Reinhold Niebuhr in my little book. Paraphrased: We have to keep risking our integrity to try to solve the problems which confront our civilization, but we must never give in to the “ends justify the means” adage. We must always use the most human and just means possible. So we have to get involved with our government, or we will deserve fascism.

But government is always a dirty business, attracting so many ambitious men. One can devote too much energy to it, and waste life struggling in a hopeless attempt to make the system follow some model. It’s not for me.

After beer, popcorn and some tamales (provided by the “dueña” {owner} next door), Dave began talking about his travels in Europe. On $500 he spent 10 weeks in Europe, Turkey & Israel. He did it by living in youth hostels, having an international student card, and hitching. What a chance to see places, know cultures & meet folks from the world over. Why didn’t I do it? No vision, I’ve been going through life with blinders on. Ha, and now I plan to get married and add the yoke! So many things have to be relegated to “maybe someday.”

Tomorrow it’s back to the job, oh dull life. More self-discipline is the answer. Study calculus, Dino, make a useful person of yourself! Forget the writing dream, you have nothing to write about yet. Leave it for “if all else fails!”

Journal, August 8, 1976 AM (Sunday)

I didn’t go into Santa Tecla. Jay {Hasheider} talked me into staying, since we “knew” the doctor’s friends would be leaving last evening. As it turned out, we walked over there {the doctor’s beach house} after supper, and they had left, but only momentarily, and would be back to spend the night. We fixed Jay’s bike & came back over here to Kikilita {the other beach house}. Just before we left the other place, Jay noticed that Modesto, the kid of the cuideros {caretakers} (don Adán y familia {and family}), had some kind of infection on his right leg. It looked like several infected wounds or huge pus-filled pimples around his knee & extending up onto his thigh. We are going to take him to see the doctors at El Maizal today. Jay decided. It looked so bad he felt something had to be done right away. I had to agree.

Yesterday morning we went to Sonsonate to get a tube for Jay’s bike. We stopped by the home of Conrad Ebish’s girlfriend, Ana, and there found her & Conrad, and some baskets Jay had had purchased for him in Nahuizalco. Another of Jay’s schemes was unfolded before me. He plans to send back the baskets and some “pastes” (a plant that when dried & cleaned out makes a natural scrubber) to a sister and have her check into markets for them. If there is demand for something he’ll ship big quantities & go into business.

Anyway, we spent the day buying “pastes”, going to the Post Office to check mailing rates, and shooting the breeze with Conrad and Ana. It was all pretty pleasant and relaxing, and as Jay says, a year or so ago he wouldn’t have spent a day like that. He would have thought it was a waste of time. That goes double for me. It is a waste of time, but also a way of passing the time, and after all that’s what a great part of our lives are devoted to – passing the time – rather than financially or intellectually productive activities.

Journal, August 7, 1976 AM

We are at Kikilita {the other beach house} this morning, Jay & I. We got surprised by some friends of the doctor last night about 9 PM, and decided that our best course of action was to split. A whole bus load of folks, with what looked like a week’s supply of grub, showed up in a VW microbus. I never stop being amazed at the number of people they can get in a single vehicle here!

We arrived here last night just before the rain started, luckily. It rained hard & blew hard. I think I’ll go back to Santa Tecla today. Another night of not knowing where I’ll be sleeping doesn’t appeal to me! And Jay plans to go into Sonsonate to get a tube for his bike.

Journal, August 6, 1976 AM

I’m at El Maizal again this morning, this time with Jay {Hasheider}. I spent most of yesterday here waiting for him. He was in Metalio at the rancho {beach house}. I spent last night there with him, having my clothes & stuff here, so it is almost noon, and I’m just getting around to writing.

Jay is stimulating for me. He’s got so many ideas & ongoing and potential projects, mostly crazy, but what energy and ingenuity! Last night we spent a couple hours just B.S.’ing - refreshing. Today he talked me into letting him try to get plates for my bike, & then sell it for me - for half the profit over & above 300 Colones guaranteed that I get. I must be crazy, but he’s going to do the running around he says!

Journal, August 4, 1976 PM

The fast lasted until 5 PM (excepting one Coke that Gerardo forced on me while I was over at his tailor shop). I broke it when Steve Hays invited me over to have tamales de elote {young corn tamales} with his fiancé and him. I went home and cooked up 4 eggs, since now that I had agreed to go eat tamales there was no reason to fast! I needed to eat up the eggs anyway since I’m going to Metalio tomorrow, & they probably wouldn’t keep.

The tamales were fine, and with beer and conversation, were a pleasant end to my day. Steve’s woman is intelligent and witty, yet has that reserve you only find in people from the campo {rural zone} here. She’s tremendously likable and cute like a little pixie. She’s also got her ideas - a Catholic communist or communist Catholic. Steve insists she can’t be both, but she embraces both the church and a Leninist bent Marxism without feeling at all uncomfortable. She also can make tamales and quesadilla {a cheesy sweet bread}, and she has very nice legs.


Journal, August 4, 1976 AM

A pause
it is all so simple, so obvious
you are not nothing
you are the very next thing
you exist for a moment
(so very wrapped up in that moment)
striving, grasping, trying
all in a moment
and God, eternal life
fools you have no perception

I really was aware yesterday, of the futility that is my life. I was down to not being able to escape the meaninglessness. Finally, to salvage something from the day, I tried to capture that moment of realization when you can’t escape the simple, dismaying truth. We are just biological organisms, advanced yes, but we can’t transcend our animalness. God, we invented him to comfort us and lend meaning to our existence. We call a book His and yet we retranslate and reinterpret it to fit our evolving concept of Him and the universe He created. All very fitting, to be expected.

The full realization of our insignificance is the first step on the road to the comprehension of our significance. We are the “best and brightest” there is, as far as we know. We are capable of seeing ourselves in the scheme of the whole universe. Who else is? Thousands of us dedicate our lives to the gathering and codifying of knowledge about this thing we are a part of. Ha, world & universe are our labels. Who else has labeled reality to such a degree, & debated over its essence?

I pretty well shot yesterday on that pair of pants. I finally got the material in the afternoon. I went into San Salvador with Mario {Chavez} and his mother. We saw the parade of queens and clowns for the August Festival. There were lots of semi-pretty to pretty girls on floats. The Salvadorans get off more on the clowns though. There are always men dressed as women, strutting their stuff like whores. There is an evil king, who is as ugly as he can make himself. There was a black-faced clown also, whose significance, if any, I failed to catch.

Sartre was discussing choice and freedom yesterday, but I only half caught it. What I really want to get to is how he translates his basic postulates into a socialist philosophy.

I was feeling physically queasy and restless yesterday. I think the amoebas had a hand in it. I just kept stuffing food into my body although I wasn’t really hungry (Never gave myself a chance!). Today I will attempt a fast for disciplinary reasons.

Journal, August 3, 1976 AM

I nearly didn’t get around to writing at all today. I had to take an umbrella over to the tienda {store} early so Gerardo {Chavez} could take it to work. Then I started talking to him about making me a pair of pants, & he came over to see my suit jacket. He wants me to sell him my bike too, so it was a chance for him to see it. I went over to the place where he does his sewing to look at material samples (taking the jacket along) and by the time I got back, I had forgotten about the diary.

I got the bike fixed & running now. I want to sell it quick, before I’m tempted to start riding it around.

I am feeling rotten today. However, my feces sample came up negative, so I had to take another yesterday. This one better come out positive. I could die waiting for the sample to prove I’m sick! (But don’t count on it.)

Journal, August 2, 1976 PM

I lacked one washer, or I’d have had the bike all ready to go yesterday. I believe that washer must have either disintegrated or been eaten by Ed’s {Shiffer} turtle! I looked everywhere to no avail.

Sartre says the reason or motive and the end are part of the action, that they all come into existence together and “explain” each other, but no one is cause of the others. It’s true I think. We have a basic freedom to act, once we are aware of the alternatives, even though when we act we can legitimately contend there were “reasons” for our action. Being aware of alternatives to our present state is crucial. Sartre gives the example of worker revolts in the 1830s. The workers revolted & were in control of Lyon, he says, but once in control were at a loss for what to do & went back to their homes. They lacked a vision of a world which could be “better for everybody”. Their present condition, though wretched, was not unendurable because they were unaware that it could be different. Needless to say, Marxism was the doctrine which gave the workers a vision of a better world on the horizon.

In the evening I was restless, and took a walk around Santa Tecla. The women sell fruits and vegetables, or clothing items, or snack foods in the streets until well into the night. The ice cream venders hang around near the 2 movie houses & the 2 central parks with their little 3-wheeled push-type freezers. Other women are slapping together pupusas {Salvadoran snack food} in their chubby, damp little hands. They sell on the sidewalks near the second park, or in little shops all over town. Everywhere it’s buying & selling. I can never walk around this town anymore without buying a little something somewhere. You don’t have to enter a shop, they are there in your way, asking you to buy, beseeching you.

At the Terraza ice cream parlor I note the entrance of a dude and his mall, flowered shirt unbuttoned almost to the waist, with immaculate white pants, high-heeled, recently shined shoes, greasy hair. In Chicago you could be sure he was a pimp, dressed like that & showing off the hair on his chest. But this ain’t Chicago, & he’s just another working class hero, out on the town on a Sunday night.

I came across a drunken group near the first park. It’s so easy to see how people get macheteed or shot by friends or acquaintances while drunk. Men have the habit here of poking and jostling each other for laughs, like school boys back home. So if one guy is drunk maybe he pokes a little hard, or maybe he says some curse a little too vehemently, & if the other guy is drunk too, maybe he calls him on it. I’ve seen it happen so many times, & I try to avoid places where folks drink seriously. Usually they just gesture at wanting to fight, and let their buddies hold them back & calm them down. But once in a while – especially if one or both are armed – they slip over the brink.


Images, August 1976

Edwin, Mike and Rosa Staigers and Diego Cox at Puerta del Diablo, a popular tourist spot near San Salvador.

Mike Shank practicing his photography hobby in the mountains above Santa Tecla.

A "veranero" tree in bloom on a ridge above Santa Tecla.

Aerial view of Santa Tecla from a ridge above the town.

Another aerial view of Santa Tecla from a ridge above town.


Journal, July 31, 1976 PM

I just returned from seeing “Jaws”, the movie sensation of over a year ago. It was just a suspense & gore type horror show, with the scientific twist that seems to be a big winner with North American audiences. It was sort of the old man-eating tiger gig popular in the old jungle movies, gone aquatic. For the high price it cost to film it, it was still a picture that gave the impression of having rather fakey special effects. The roles of the old-saw fisherman & the oceanographer were too pat. Only the chief of police was believable.

Such pictures, with their heroes somehow triumphing against the odds, zero in on a basic need we all have though. I guess I would simply call it a need to transcend our insignificance. Yea, the hero will die & be forgotten and all that, but he had a moment when he was in control, in his glory.

An article I read in the “New York Times” yesterday says we are learning to accept death more rationally, talk about it, etc. But doctors are some of the people most scared of death, says the author. He thinks that’s bad & ought to change. I hypothesize that a fear of death probably helped drive them to become doctors. I think an unwillingness to accept the absoluteness of death is a basic part of the character of Western man. Why should a man, who knows he’s going to die, strive for wealth, power, acclaim, if not expecting some measure of immortality with it.

I think modern man has gotten to where he can handle individual deaths, but is he ready to really realize that his whole civilization is just a match burning in the night; in a few seconds it’ll burn itself out? What drives scientists to work feverishly a whole lifetime, just laying the groundwork, maybe, for a theory? Knowing, as they must, that some of the postulates they have the most confidence in can be transcended by new observations, they strive on. They just want to know (all they are capable of, all they can force their minds to absorb, translate, deduce, create!), and they hope against hope that their intellectual descendents will carry on the “good fight”, and maybe some day, one day, the code will be broken; we will actually know what is going on. We’ll have gained along the way lots of methods to deal with natural phenomena, too, as the engineers follow the scientists along.

And then will we be able to fold our arms, say that’s all very well & accept it? Hell no, if there was no legitimate science, we would invent a pseudoscience to keep searching for an out! I believe with Thomas Wolfe that man’s destiny is to die with defiance on his lips. “Science is an active response to the world.” (Tom Robbins) It’s a defiant response really, systematic defiance, resistance.

Count me among the resistance. If I were ready to accept the Bible or any other written work on faith, I guess I’d be a priest. If I was ready to accept the brief insignificance of my life for what it is, I guess I would be content in sociology or psychology - trying to impart my indefatigable sense of calm and the rightness & logic of it all to others. I’m unstable, passionate, violent, compassionate and indifferent, all inside a second. I will seek the knowledge I never realistically expect to find. Could anyone really have expected Eve not to bite the apple? Snake or no snake, it was there!

My, the thoughts that come to me as I sit alone in Apartment A, Apartamentos San Francisco in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, at around midnight. The neighbors just turned off the U.S. rock music they had been playing as background music. Wait, here it comes again! What a relief; anyone who’s ever been to the movies knows the music only stops when a character dies! Whew, glad it wasn’t me that time!

Journal, July 30, 1976 PM

Our basketball team at work won a game today. I enjoyed playing, but the rampant fouling by the other team (and the Salvadorans on ours), and the weird, seemingly capricious, calling of violations by the referee annoyed me more than I should let it. In the excitement of a game, it’s tough to remember that they are involved in a game they only halfway know how to play, and they feel a tremendous need to impress (or better to beat!) the Gringos {North Americans}. Since the Gringos are taller & all, they feel it’s only fair they should be able to commit slapping & bumping fouls at will, or so it seems! They play basketball rougher than they do soccer. Of course in soccer they know the rules a lot better! Anyway I felt good about a couple shots I blocked. Really, what Mike {Shank} and I have that most of them don’t, is knowledge of how to play defense, and of the importance of position for rebounds. Many of them are good shooters.

Work was a daylong party. They extended the week’s vacation for the Fiestas Agostinas {August Celebration} by a day. I plan to get out to Metalío next week; spend some of my vacation seeing what’s going on at El Maizal.

Journal, July 29, 1976 PM

Another day ... I watched Poland go 4 goals up on North Korea at the tienda {store}. They won the game of course, & will play East Germany for the Olympic title. They play like the Germans, well-disciplined precise passers who just wait for one defender to be out of position and, bam, there went the pass & the shot! Soccer, when well played, is really exciting to watch - faster moving than anything except hockey.

<I went to the office, and wrote to Maria.> He cumplido mis deberes pues, buenas noches {I have met my obligations, so good night}!

Journal, July 29, 1976 AM

I played buckets {basketball} after work yesterday afternoon, and I was so worn out I went to bed about 8:30. I had hoped to go see a little of the Olympics on T.V., but just couldn’t make it. I had a slightly sprained ankle too, and had to take aspirin to get to sleep.

I’m feeling the effects of that antibiotic; I’m all bound up, still can’t shit properly! I just hope that it’s done its job. Today should tell when it passes on out of my system.

Mike {Shank} gave me some more stuff to write up on the coop studies at work. Looks like I’m going to end up writing up as much of it as he has, almost. He’s leaving after tomorrow, so I’ll be unofficially in charge of putting it all together. The big question is if the “heavy weights” in the office will accept it essentially as written, or order a complete revision. We’ve put in a lot of work - especially Mike - and we want our ideas to come through. A ver {We’ll see}!

Journal, July 27, 1976 PM

I lied down at quarter to nine to get a little sleep so I could maybe go catch some of the Olympics at 10. It’s quarter to 12. I must have something wrong with me; all I want to do is sleep! I took 2 super parasite killer pills recommended by Steve Hays tonight. I hope they work; they have succeeded in drying my mouth out.

The Russian Olympic basketball team was eliminated by Czechoslovakia 89-84. So the big U.S.-Russian rematch will never come off. The U.S. has to get by Canada yet to make the finals too. Maybe there will be a brand new champ this time. Only the U.S. had won Olympic basketball titles until Russia knocked us off on a much-disputed last-minute play 4 years ago.

Intestimicina, that’s the superdrug, and boy do I feel spacey. I hope it’s done its job by morning!

Journal, July 26, 1976 PM

I got my letter off to Juan Coward {Peace Corps Costa Rica Agriculture Program Director}, major accomplishment. I had planned to write 2 more letters tonight to finish off my pending correspondence, but I got home late, puttered over supper, read about the Viking mission in the newspaper, and now I have no energy left.

I’m going to stop taking my cold medicine. I think it may be what is sapping my energy and making me constipated! If it ain’t the disease, it’s the cure. I think I’m about over the chest cold I’ve been suffering from though.

Reading about Viking makes me itch to get back into science. The things they are finding out daily during this mission! It really represents man’s boundless energy and insatiable curiosity being put to its best use. The idea of colonies on other planets or moons is being removed from its shelf in the science fiction section and brought over into the realm of realistic future possibilities. <I wonder if Maria would like to be a Martian pioneer.> Ha, she doesn’t even think much of the idea of going to the U.S.!

Journal, July 25, 1976 PM

Que tranquilidad! {What tranquility!} I have the place to myself tonight, and after some work, have things pretty well in order. I’ll be glad when Mrs. Zúniga comes Tuesday and does all the dishes. Ed {Shiffer} and his army of CREFAC kids left a mountain of them in the sink last night. I moved them out to the pila {traditional outdoor sink}, but am running out of necessary items like teaspoons & coffee cups. I am becoming a coffee addict; I had 5 cups today. And to think I never drank a cup in my parents’ house, ever! I think it’s the pressure I’ve been feeling lately to get things done, & my lack of sleep. But today, after Ed, Jaime {Olson} and the CREFAC kids were all gone, I wrote 4 very necessary letters. I also made yogurt, and did a little shopping.

Ed won’t be back for 3 weeks. I should get just about everything caught up I need to, if Jaime doesn’t come into town either!

The soccer game was well worth seeing yesterday evening. We got to the stadium at 1:30 PM for a 7 PM game, but wouldn’t have needed to. We got to see two preliminaries though. Ed was higher than a kite all afternoon, playing cards, buying beer & peanuts for the kids. The game between Porussia (?) of West Germany and the Salvadoran Olympic team ended 2-0, but was very tough-fought until the Salvadoran goalie had to leave with a twisted ankle, and the Germans snuck in a goal on a penalty kick from outside the larger boxed in region. That shot the home club’s morale. The Germans were a wonder to watch with their pinpoint passing and sophisticated team play. In ability I think the Salvadorans were probably their equals, but the Germans’ superior organization on offense allowed them to control the ball & the game. They just waited for El Salvador to make defensive errors. They waited the whole first half while El Salvador played flawless defense, but eventually their patient precision paid off. Around the stadium after the game everyone was coming up to us Gringos and saying, “You are Germans right?” It was a strange and funny twist on the usual line, “Usted es de Los Angeles, verdad, ó de Nueva York?” {You’re from Los Angeles, right, or New York?}


Letter(2), July 25, 1976

Hi Jan,

Thanks for the airline refund. It came at a good time as I’m finding it impossible to save any money right now. City living is expensive, especially when you have friends that want to go have some beer, see a movie, eat out, etc. Jaime Olson has been in town for most of a week and stayed with Ed {Shiffer} and me. We always do some drinking when he’s around, he’s a true Wisconsin beer drinker!

I’m sending a newspaper clipping that might interest you. The place where I trained (We went out there one day didn’t we?) is being converted into the new campus for Costa Rica Academy. If you could land a job there you could live in San Antonio until you got your bearings. I know it’s about impossible this year, but maybe next.

If I am successful in my most recent gambit, I will be spending a year in Peace Corps in Costa Rica starting in January. When I was there for the 4th {of July} I talked to the acting director and the head man in agriculture. They weren’t too encouraging, but I think there’s a good chance they’ll find a place for me. The people in El Salvador will recommend me pretty highly I think. If I extend & get vacation leave I’ll be home for Christmas. A real urge to see the family, some friends & just familiar territory is buildin’ up in me! I’m applying to U.W. {University of Wisconsin-Madison} for the spring term to have an alternative in case they don’t allow me to transfer to Costa Rica.

<Maria is fine, by the way, working as a secretary for an underwear firm – of all things – and going to the U. {National University} nights.> Her youngest brother had a broken leg when I was there though. Jaime asked me to be the best man for his wedding, so it looks like I’ll have to buy a suit & God knows what all else. Sounds like it’s going to be a big old wedding. I’m not overly enthused about it yet, but I guess I can stand to be a best man once in my life.

I haven’t got a Honduras hat yet, but expect to eventually. Things are tense between “them & us” right now. Soldiers and civilians have been killed in border clashes and the OEA is trying to arbitrate. I’m sure smuggling between the countries continues though so there should be hats around!

I want to get up to Guatemala and buy at least one blanket and maybe more if I have money. I plan to take off some weekend in September or October. I’ll go to Costa Rica in November for Jaime’s wedding (it’s the 20th) so, if you want something special from either place, send money!

Work is going well. I’m writing up part of a study of fishermen’s co-ops. Jay {Hasheider} says El Maizal may finally get their cows, but they have no crops planted yet. I hope to go visit Don Tín and everyone during the August holidays.

Tell me about the presidential race and important state and local races. The attitude here is that Carter will win easily & most Volunteers favor him because he seems morally astute and he’s an outsider – bound to change things! What’s your impression of Mondale?

No more run-ins with the cops! That was a sobering experience. Without the umbrella of U.S. Embassy protection a person is at their mercy.

Take care,


Letter, July 25, 1976

Mom, Dad and everybody,

I’m sorry to hear about the big drought up there. They even had an article about it in Time Magazine. It must really be bad & here it’s raining like mad as I write! Will there be any oats at all? God I hope it’s rained by the time you get this letter! If not it will look like a Martian landscape up there. (Isn’t that Viking mission {the NASA Viking space craft was in the news at the time} amazing – the precision planning that must go into such a feat!)

I had a nice 4th of July in Costa Rica; I went to a picnic at the U.S Ambassador’s residence. It was nice, like a small town affair, but the president of Costa Rica spoke also (in almost flawless English). Jaime Olson asked me to be the best man for his wedding, November 20 in Costa Rica. It’s going to be a big affair, sounds like, with his folks coming down for it and all. I’ll have to buy a suit, but it’ll be much cheaper here than in the States so it’ll be a good investment. <However, stuff for the wedding, and a ring I plan to buy for Maria about that same time, are going to require that I have you send me down some money from my savings.> I’d like you to take $500 out of my passbook account and send it down (as a certified check) as soon as you can. I want to have the money in September in case I get a chance to go up to Guatemala and buy a couple things. I put $400 away last year when I had no expenses, so I’m not really spending much that isn’t Peace Corps earnings anyway.

Another thing. I’m trying to get an extension / transfer to spend a year in Peace Corps in Costa Rica. If I do, I will be home on “leave” for 30 days during December & January. If I don’t, I’ll be home in December looking for a job & getting ready to go to the U.W. {University of Wisconsin – Madison} for spring semester. I have applied to U.W. and told them to send everything to Friendship, so anything you get from them for me, open it, read it, & if I have to do something or sign something, send the form on to me. I’ve had lousy luck corresponding directly with them. They insist on sending things by ground mail which takes 1 to 2 months. I just got a notice of a loan payment due which they sent May 15th! I have no idea what became of my other U.W. application, the one for this fall.

Anyway, I expect to see the land of milk & honey again come December – even if I freeze my butt off! I really do miss all of you, but December’s a long way off, so I better not think about it.

Mom, could you send me a ballot for the November election? I don’t want to miss my chance to vote & I’ll be here until December for certain now. Boy that business with Bobby Veeder is a shock. How’d it happen, was he drunk? That sounds like something I’d read in the papers here!

Well, take good care of Lisa’s darling { A cow named Lisa had a female calf. } – who’s the father? I hope ole Belle is still around when I get there in December. I hear “Hoard’s Dairyman” {a Wisconsin-based magazine for dairy farmers} ran an article on how much dairy cattle have improved in Costa Rica in the last 10 years. That true?



Journal, July 25, 1976 AM

It is 12:30 and all hell is loose here. Ed {Shiffer} has at least 10 buddies over. We went to the soccer game - a German team against the selección nacional {Salvadoran national team}. I hope I get a few hours sleep. Ed leaves on the 8:20 plane for Rhode Island.

Journal, July 23, 1976 PM

Jaime {Olson} never made it out here tonight, and he’s got my key the fink! Ed {Shiffer} says that’s why he never loans his key out anymore. I was locked out until He came home. I sat over at the store and watched T.V. (and scarfed sweet bread - I’ve become an absolute addict lately). There’s a really good comedy show on T.V. here (I have to get that name down some time!) where 5-6 guys do situations; they are hilarious. Good old slapstick, wisecrack comedy!

I felt rotten all day at work, a combination of my cold, my cold medicine and the beer I drank last night! It was just as well ‘cause I was doing depressing shit - going through questionnaires and tabulating people according to age, literacy, sex and if they worked or not. Then I cracked out all possible percentages for my table - row, column, by sex and full table. I won’t use most of them, but I had the calculator going, & this way I can pull out anything I want later. One of the girls in the office had a birthday, so we had a hamburger, pop and dessert to celebrate. We each put in 1.50 Colones earlier in the week, and gave her a little cake & a present. The food wasn’t filling so I snuck out and got 3 pupusas {Salvadoran snack food}, rice and a stuffed pepper after we had sung “Happy Birthday” mas ó menos {more or less} in English.

We played basketball after work. We lost by 8 points. The other team was rough! They fouled out 3 guys. The referee was slow and moody, and Mike {Shank} got kicked out of the game, but I enjoyed it thoroughly, and my body felt 100% better afterwards.

Journal, July 22, 1976 PM

Not only Jaime {Olson}, but also Jay Hasheider is here tonight, so I have done 0 since I ran into Jaime at Peace Corps Office after work. He just stands around & talks, and occupies all my time. I will be glad to leave Peace Corps, or at least Peace Corps El Salvador, to get away from all the people I can’t say no to, and who basically believe life is for passing the time. Great people, but I can’t help feeling that passing time is wasting it.


Journal, July 21, 1976 PM

I’m feeling worn out and drugged up. I got some cold medicine (pills and syrup) from the Peace Corps nurse this afternoon, and took a pill and a teaspoon full. I ate supper and then just conked out on my bed from about 6:30 ‘til 10:30. I got up & finished my application for the University of Wisconsin {Madison} for next spring. I’m applying so as to have an alternative if they don’t accept me for an extra year in Peace Corps in Costa Rica. I’ve had such bad results the last two times I applied to school, that I’m going to mail this application “certificado” {certified mail} and have all their return correspondence sent home so the folks can censor it, and send me by air anything I need to answer. I have no clue as to what became of the application I submitted last spring. I think it’s still possible a response of some kind will arrive by land mail.

Hopefully all this extra sleep will put me back near 100% for tomorrow. I have to write Juan Coward in Costa Rica (Agriculture Program Director there). Now that I have Chico {Rodriguez} and John {Jones} moving. I also have to get on repairing and selling my bike. The rim which lacks a spoke is in Peace Corps Office, just got to get it to a repair shop.

I’m lost in my day-to-day “metas” {goals} for the time being. Same thing with my work at DGRNR {Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables}, just cranking out a write-up for a study (as my highschool Physics teacher Don Koleck would have phrased it). The terminology “crank out” describes the process well; it is not an especially creative thing, you are a sophisticated machine analyzing data - probably less efficiently than a good computer would - and summarizing. It’s only a semi-thorough and semi-important study (fishermen’s coops in El Tamarindo and La Unión) so motivation comes hard. I write and am reminded of one of the quotes I copied into my little book, “To feign to approve of what you do befits the temperament of a lackey.” I guess that’s what I am right now, though I keep thinking the big {Río} Tamulasco thing {watershed study project} will give me a chance to use my Rural Sociology education and my personal experience to make their study a good one. They are serious about that study and that will help. But where will a good study take us? Will they pay any more attention to it? How will it make the agencies who are to carry out the project any more efficient? “Between the ideal and the real falls the shadow.” (T.S. Eliot)

Journal, July 20, 1976 PM

I watched the Olympics again tonight, and so will come up short on sleep once more. There is a beauty in sports that really attracts me. For me the athlete is as much an artist as the singer, painter or writer. He perfects a style and in many cases a grace that fascinates the observer. Well, perhaps that’s stretching it for the robot-like Russian basketball squad, but who can adequately describe the beauty of the swimmers & gymnasts?

Work was more of the same, which means the two fishermen’s coops & writing up the study, today. We played some buckets {basketball} after work - the stiffness is just setting in.


Journal, July 19, 1976 PM

I finally saw Ed Shiffer’s commercial today. At about 10:30, during the Olympic game telecast it came on. There’s no getting around it, he plays a faggot {homosexual} hair dresser & he’s funnier than hell at it! They had called me over to the corner tienda {store} after it came on about 7:20, but it didn’t come back {on} in the next 45 minutes.

Jaime {Olson} is giving Ed all kinds of shit about that commercial. He’s showing his reactionary side. There is always some real sentiment behind kidding, believe it!

I talked to {Peace Corps Director} John Jones this afternoon, & have him ready to write me a recommendation to Peace Corps Costa Rica. I have to give him a short resume to get the thing rolling.

Jaime & Ed are looking for Ed’s fuse wire (the fuse is for the shower) and he {Ed} is drunk still from a party some Salvadorans threw for him. Now he’s attempting to change the fuse. It’s better than the commercial!

Journal, July 18, 1976 PM

Jaime {Olson} is here tonight, so we drank beer, played sheepshead & generally wasted the night away. <I had already wasted the day - wrote just half a letter to Maria - so what-the-****!>

I had a nice early afternoon meal at Gerardo’s tienda {store}. They sure are good to us - chicken , salad, soup, rice & fruit drink - really great. God what a weak disciplined, lazy f***er I am when I have friends around!


Journal, July 18, 1976 AM (Sunday)

A war of the words is taking place in the Salvadoran press over the government’s announcement of the first agrarian “transformation” project. The project, which will be carried out in an area along the “litoral” {coastal} highway in the eastern part of the country, is big, stretching from Usulután almost to San Miguel. They will buy up landholdings of more than 50 manzanas {35 hectares} (leaving the owner 50 manzanas if he chooses), and distribute lots to campesinos {peasant farmers} in sizes ranging from 5 to 50 manzanas, but undoubtedly much closer to 5 manzanas in nearly all cases. Anyway, an organization of business interests called ANEP has purchased space in the official paper to call it the first step on the road to socialism, and a threat to free enterprise. The government has answered with (at least 2) 2 page ads defending its case in social terms (very cogently I might add), and emphasizing the long-term health of democracy in this country.

Yesterday, for example, the government had a two page ad, an organization called “Comite pro Defensa de los Derechos Humanos” {Committee pro Defense of Human Rights} quoted James Madison in a short ad calling the agrarian transformation project a threat to liberty, and three labor organizations let be known their unqualified support for the project in an ad titled “A Quien Representa la ANEP?” {Who Does ANEP Represent?}. I hope the government can carry out the project efficiently. I distrust the ISTA {Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria or Salvadoran Institute for Agricultural Transformation} bureaucracy from my experience working in conjunction with them, but this is such a big thing, President Molina will be calling the shots all the way, and those who don’t produce will get the ax! It might go a long way toward transforming ISTA! Ed {Shiffer} talked to a university student who invariably criticizes the government, & the guy said this project is clearly capitalistic and organized down to the last detail. Although a socialist by inclination, the student is all for it. I hope the coffee oligarchy and other landed interests don’t prove too much for {President} Molina to handle. If he gets unwavering support within the military, I think his position is solid, but if not he could be ousted or, more likely, have his chosen successor preempted by a man more committed to the “terratenientes” {large land-owners}. Molina’s walking the line; give the little pudgy guy credit!

I got zero goals completed yesterday. Today I’ll write some urgent letters. I have no “ganas” {desire} to do so now, but will not let myself leave this little house ‘til I’ve made some progress.

I saw another movie last night (“Chato’s Land” starring Charles Bronson). Three movies in three nights and none of them very special - I must cut out such extravagance!

Carter-Mondale, I saw the NY Times for the day before Carter announced his choice, and it seemed that Mondale was the man considered most desirable by party regulars. Mondale is young and has a reputation for competence. He could have a shot at president, a good shot if Carter is elected & has a credible 8-year record. He stood to gain more from accepting the nomination than most others. I pointed to him early as a pragmatic choice. Carter-Mondale, I’ll almost certainly end up voting for them. James Reston writes that people considered FDR {Franklin D. Roosevelt} an unknown quality who was fussy on the issues, and that {Harry S} Truman was mortified at JFK’s {John F. Kennedy’s} lack of experience. Carter is just new enough to Washington and tough-minded enough that he might prove great. Or he might make a couple early misjudgments and never recover the public confidence. I like the possibility of change more than the guaranteed conservatism of Gerald Ford, though. And if Ford is forced to put {Ronald} Reagan on his ticket, he’ll steer even farther right. When the chips are down, the Republicans will always opt for the businessmen, and subject the workingman’s interests and social programs to “benign neglect”.

Journal, July 17, 1976 AM

Today I am finally going to have to get a few things done. Last night I got some yogurt made & cooked my own breakfast for the first time in a while. But then Ed said Art & Lila Eisenhower were driving to the movies (“The Man Who Would Be King”) so I went. They have a VW Microbus. What a difference it is to go somewhere on private wheels!

I got a ride with Art to DGRNR (Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables) in the morning as well, so I was really spoiled yesterday.

We played some basketball at noon, 3 Salvadorans and I. Two Salvadorans who knew what they were doing & were tall, creamed me and another who just liked to pump from 15 feet on in. The one guy, who works in the garage at DGRNR, has a lot of ability & plays daily. If he’d had a little more training they might have shut us out. He can dribble circles around me, but didn’t know enough to drive the basket. They say we’re going to have an office team, start practice Monday. The exercise will be good for me.

Well, first order of business is to get those beans cooking!


Journal, July 15, 1976 PM

God it’s ten to eleven; I just can not get to bed early this week! I went to the movie “Deranged” with Ed {Shiffer} tonight. I had vowed to go to it ever since I saw that it was in the country. The true story on which it is based happened perhaps 30-40 miles from where I live {in Wisconsin}, near the town of Plainfield, in the early fifties {1950s}. A middle-aged guy, who had lived many years alone with his mother on a run-down farm, went off the deep end when she died, robbed graves and ended up killing 3 women before he was discovered. His name was Ed Gein; in the movie they called him Ezra Cobb. It was a shitty movie. They overplayed the horror of his mother’s death (pea soup mixed with at least a gallon of coughed-up blood!), and his two final victims were prettier than necessary for the story line. They dwelled longer than absolutely required on the teenage girl’s bare breasts as he was gutting her out like a deer, etc. He killed her in season, and must have wondered why people got so excited!

About 3 years ago Ed Gein tried to get his case taken to court. He claimed he was sane. He’s been in a mental hospital all this time - no trial. They dismissed his petition. His is only one of the weird true case histories out of my area!

Work was routine today. I am busy now, & it seems that since I have something I want to do, they keep coming up with more stuff. Tomorrow I plan to play basketball during lunch break with the office “team”. I watched them play today - not much talent & lots of soft tummies. We’ll need to out strategize foes; after all we are Planificación {Planning}!

No letters written today; at least the weekend will soon be here. Steve Hayes says he has to be baptized before they will marry him in the church. If he finds a way to do it with minimum hassle, I may follow his lead. I am just Machiavellian enough to believe that any supreme being which may exist wouldn’t condemn me for going through a Christian ritual I inexplicably missed as a kid to facilitate the carrying out of that grand old traditional community sanctioning of sex, marriage.

Journal, July 14, 1976 PM

I plan to make it to bed by 10:30 tonight. It was tough ‘cause Jaime {Olson}, Miguel {Staigers} & Diego {Cox} are next door at Steve’s {Pamperin} and just getting ready for a game of cards. But after getting just 4½-5 hours of sleep each of the last 2 nights, I had to do it. I ate spaghetti with them tonight, & we’ve been B.S.’ing & beer drinking ever since. It’s time to call it a night. <I wrote to Maria today on lunch break & mailed it from Peace Corps Office.> John Jones is out of town; I can’t talk with him about my transfer to Costa Rica. I have to get some things done this week: fix up the bike, ask Gerardo {Chavez} about making me a pair of pants & shirt, and get something written up on the Tamarindo and La Unión fishing coops. Only on the last {one} did I make progress today.

It is now 10:30 PM.

Journal, July 14, 1976 AM

I have a chest cold and feel dragged out. I went to a Peace Corps Agriculture Sector conference yesterday for the day. Steve Pamperin drove his Toyota Land Cruiser. I had gotten to sleep very late and so was about half alive all day. Because of this cold, I was wearing a denim jacket around while everyone else was in short sleeves & T-shirts. A lot of B.S. was in the air, between Volunteers and agency personnel. The agencies want to have more control of PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} and always want to know Peace Corps’ mission as a group. PCVs want more support from their agencies, but are leery about getting themselves into more paper work and more meetings.

I did talk to Chico {Rodriguez} though about transferring to Costa Rica for a year. He wants me to stay here, but is going to Costa Rica shortly, and promised to check out the job Juan Coward told me about through the U.N. {United Nations} farm at Turrialba.

I saw all of the pastures & forages {program} Volunteers (Fred {Tracy}, Diego {Cox}, Russ {Soules} & Mike {Staigers}) plus Dave Quarles. Sickness was the order of the day. Diego looks like a survivor of an extermination camp - very thin and pale. He’s been running a temperature lately and wasting away. The doctors don’t know why yet. Mike Staigers had stomach problems, & Dave has some kind of blood disease which makes every little sore he gets turn into a big pussy welt. He has one on his face which looks rough, but is on ampicillin to cure it.

Good old Ed {Shiffer} brought out my mail. I got home at 11 {PM} and began reading. U.W. {University of Wisconsin-Madison} sent me a note saying my application never reached them, which is ridiculous because my folks signed and forwarded it from Friendship {WI}, & I got a letter afterwards asking for further info. for my financial aids application. They assumed I was a foreign student and sent me the appropriate forms {for that status}. <Maria had one letter in the stack; I had hoped for more.> Dad, Jan & Gert {Verberkmoes} wrote, bless their hearts!

Journal, July 13, 1976 AM

It’s 25 to one {AM} and I have just showered and shaved to prepare for an early start tomorrow. Tica Bus got to San Salvador about 8 PM. I have spent a lot of time shooting the bull with Mike {Shank}, Steve {Pamperin}, Steve {Hayes} and finally Ed {Shiffer} who just got home at 10. It sounds like the July 4th party here was a real wild affair, with games, fireworks and Ed getting the drunkest he’d been since 1969 (by his own admission). I’m happy I was in Costa Rica having a mellower, more interesting time of it, but it must have been action packed here on the 4th.

I’m going to an Agriculture PCV {Peace Corps Volunteer} conference for the day tomorrow (at good ole Lake Coatepeque) so I will devote no more precious sack time to writing. Steve P. pulls out at 7 {AM}.

Journal, July 11, 1976 PM

Dateline Managua, I have had two Victoria Familiar beers, worth about 5 regular bottles. I read all the way here, practically. Of course we ran into other travelers in the eating place. Nothing about them strikes me. If my folks had had more money, perhaps I would be bumming around Latin America instead of in Peace Corps.

Journal, July 11, 1976 AM (Sunday)

Today it’s back on the road again. Managua at 19:00 hours, more or less.

<I am resigned to leaving, though I haven’t seen very much of Maria, never ‘til after 6:30 PM except for yesterday and last Sunday.> We made the most of the time vouchsafed us however.

Yesterday we had all day together, from eight in the morning ‘til after nine at night. It was too much! Really, too much, because in a whole day you’re bound to see more of a person than the side they try to show you! <I manage to show my idiosyncrasies and general strangeness to Maria even in short encounters, but she is more able to keep up a front for say an evening.> Anyway, when turned loose in the Mil Colores clothing store she showed true materialistic greed, wanting every other nice thing she saw. She is making a significant amount of money for the first time in her life in her secretary job, and I think, quite naturally, she’s reacting by wanting to get all those little things she’s never had her own money to buy before. It’s her money; I know I don’t have any {money} for frivolities!

<Jaime {Olson} bought his wedding suit - a nice proper light blue - and it seems I’ll have to buy a suit for his wedding too, since my dark green jacket is not in tune with the climate, Jaime’s suit or Maria’s tastes.> I think they were half expecting me to buy a suit on the spot yesterday too. Sorry folks, no cash, and it would have detracted from Jaime’s moment.

<Maria bowled 73, 76, 74 - inconsistent if not spectacular - while I went 120, 118, 85 - peaking early.> I don’t think I ever did that before! Jaime & Mike Galbraith were the stars of course; they know how to bowl you see.

<We went to Basico’s {the Peace Corps training center} final fiesta {party} in the afternoon, and Maria got her jollies out of rapping with 2 trainees (both decent looking).> She has already learned how to “feed” words they can pick up to gringos {North Americans} with very limited vocabularies. She says one guy didn’t know she had a “novio” {boyfriend} (that’s me!) and was disappointed when I called her away to meet someone. Oh the precious little vanities of a very pretty young woman!

Journal, July 10, 1976 AM

Sometimes I can get so disgusted with Jaime {Olson}. He’s more of a gossip and matchmaker than any maiden aunt I might have had! <Last night we were at the Jardín Cervecero {a local bar} and he started in asking Maria, “And what are you two going to do since Dean’s not coming back ‘til November?”> He knew exactly what her answer had to be since I had told him she was planning a trip to El Salvador. That gave him his opening to start talking about “La Mar”, a swank San Salvador restaurant where he & Pilar made their engagement official. <I had thought of taking Maria there since it’s a nice place, etc., but there’s no way now. After the way Jaime dear went on about drinking Champaign there and how something might happen if we went there (heh, heh - shit!), there is no way in hell you’ll get me in that place with Maria & her mother.> They’d be expecting me to go down on one knee as soon as we entered the joint! I’ll choose my own spots, thanks Jaime.

<Since I couldn’t crawl under my chair while Jaime was going on & on, I started making random wise cracks, and I think one or more of them must have pissed off Maria because she was rather cool the rest of the evening.> I made some other comments, about how weddings were for the women, and how they went and made it so hard to get married in the church here when I didn’t want to get married in the first place. Surely these didn’t do much to earn me her favor either! I just can’t take all this earnest, dreamy wedding talk seriously. My God, are we supposed to go through a ceremony, which society stipulates to be able to live together, because we want to be together, or are we agreeing to try to get along for a lifetime so we can go through this ceremony which will fulfill her childhood dreams? <Maria and Pilar have been brainwashed with too many romantic tales, but Jaime aught to know better.>

I took Orlando {Castillo Murillo} with me to Ojo de Agua yesterday morning. It was cold & rained some, but I got a good workout. Orlando is scared of the water, and though I tried to teach him a little about swimming he mostly stood around in the water & shivered. Poor kid, he’s so skinny!

I took a siesta in the afternoon - lazy life & boring. When I couldn’t take the inactivity anymore, I started reading Sartre. His discounting of Descartes’ second proof of the existence of God was fascinating, as has been the whole work so far, when it doesn’t get too involved in semantics for me to see the point of the arguments! How did Descartes get away with concluding the existence of the perfect being just because human consciousness seeks perfection? Anyway, philosophers don’t dare talk so blithely about a perfect or ultimate being today. We all know too much about the world and that surging, writhing mass of humanity which inhabits it to accept a philosophical proof of the existence of the perfect. We can’t even agree on what might constitute perfection. No one value system is universally recognized as legitimate!

Journal, July 9, 1976 AM

Wow, I’ve been sitting here 5 minutes without coming up with a starting point. It’s not really so surprising; yesterday was a day of pleasant but undramatic happenings. I went to Alajuela to get some wood prices from a lumber “deposito” {lumber yard} in the morning. Because of slow bus service it took all morning. After lunch I took a siesta & read a little Sartre. I had an idea for a newspaper article or letter to the editor, and wrote a few preliminary lines about the “New Economic Order” and who it would benefit. (Those who have wealth & power already in third world countries.) Some day, perhaps, I’ll research it and write up something worthwhile.

Jaime {Olson}, Pilar & Doña Marita came here to the Castillo Murillo home for a visit later in the afternoon. Doña Carmen loved it of course, & was at her smiling & gossiping best. We could barely get away at 4:30 when Jaime, Pilar & I had planned to go up to Jan & Mike Galbraith’s. Mike had his short wave radio going, so we heard the international news and B.S.’ed about U.S. politics, recent news events & of course sports. Mike is a fountainhead of information. He keeps himself well informed by listening to his short wave and buying U.S. papers & magazines regularly. It’s almost a shame that he dedicates most of his cerebral “up-time” to sports. He could be a great newspaper man.

<The evening was Maria’s again.> She really seems definite about coming to El Salvador in September. She says she’ll leave here Friday the 10th and stay until the next week Saturday. Great, I’ll do some planning and save some money to make it a worthwhile trip. It will sure help the time go by faster in El Salvador. We are going to buy the ring in November. I’ll write home and have them send me down that $400 I sent home last fall when I was saving instead of spending money. We’ll probably get married next July, all depending on if I am with Peace Corps Costa Rica or on my own. And so forth.

Speaking of money, being Jaime’s best man will cost me some too. I may have to buy a suit for the wedding. Hopefully my present jacket and a new pair of pants, or a rented suit will do. I want to get up to Guatemala to get them a blanket for their wedding present. Time & money, prime problems of the capitalist (of whatever scale).

Journal, July 8, 1976 AM

Life continues. I feel an emotional “down” this morning. <No reason, just that I can only be here a week, and only see Maria in the evenings, and there is no security that our situation isn’t going to get tougher after November.> If only I could count on a job in Peace Corps here or another short term job.

Jaime appears to have an excellent opportunity to be the training director for the El Salvador pastures and forages group to be trained in Neil Dingot’s center at La Guacima starting in January. The job could hardly fit his needs better. It pays well and lasts until March, so it will get him through the winter. And Neil said it is almost a sure thing. Jaime deserves the break. He’s been hanging around San Antonio, talking with Neil, Skip and those people every time he’s been down here in the last two years. He’s got the field experience in rural El Salvador, too.

I need to make myself a couple breaks! But how & what kind? My own ambivalence about throwing myself on the job market here is my biggest obstacle. I’ve decided that if the Peace Corps job doesn’t come through, I’ll take the semester of school, and try to cram in as much physics and math as I can handle. Maybe I could get a job as a tour guide come next summer, or drive someone’s car down here. God, but I’m a creature who loves security and none seems to be offering itself. <And it’s so hard for Maria because she’s going to see even less of me, and even more than I, she needs the security of having her lover near her.> It’s going to be that way though, unless Peace Corps comes through. Asi es la vida de los pobres! {That’s the way the life of the poor is!}

Journal, July 7, 1976 AM

<I love Maria.> I took her some assorted roses last evening; one of the most tangible fruits of Jaime’s {Olson} and my trip into San Jose yesterday. She’s a sucker for flowers like most women. They were especially fragrant (Ah!). I took up an English conversation book and we went through two units. <Maria does pretty well on simple phrases & has a very good ear.> (When I pronounce a word she has no trouble imitating it.) It was fun; we made fun of the drawings in the book. After the lesson I told her how things went with Peace Corps Costa Rica in town. They would give us no security about getting jobs here. The director (acting) asked for a strong recommendation from John Jones {El Salvador director}, and said he doesn’t usually accept transfers. Juan Coward, the Agriculture PTR {program director} said he has 2 programs beginning in January which call for guys with our qualifications. However, he will try to fill the first with new recruits, and only if he comes up short at the last minute will he have a place for one or both of us. One program sounds especially interesting. Working through the U.N. {United Nations} experimental farm at Turrialba, 5 PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} will do experimental work with traditional multiple cropping systems in 5 different regions of Costa Rica. They will also collect socioeconomic data on the communities in which they work. Juan conceded that a person trained in Rural Sociology and with a farm background was just what he was looking for. He wants a strong recommendation from Chico Rodriguez, and a letter specifically requesting the chance to work under him. To deal with this situation I have devised a tentative plan. I will extend for two extra months in El Salvador (or until mid-December) and then terminate there with the understanding by all parties that my termination can be turned into a home leave if Juan calls me for one of his programs before mid-January. If Juan fills his programs and finds no place for me, I will already be enrolled in U.W. {University of Wisconsin-Madison} for the semester. I can consider other upcoming Peace Corps programs while I study physics, and if nothing comes through I’ll come to Costa Rica in the summer & look for work. <Maria took in all that and only lamented that she couldn’t figure a way to visit me n El Salvador in September, and go home with me for a while in December.> She might succeed in the first. She’s making 1,300 {Costarican} Colones a month ($150), and says missing university classes for a week is no problem. She also says the company where she works has an El Salvador office, and maybe she could talk them into letting her be the one who runs up there to take their orders one time. Right on girl, I love your enthusiasm. It’ll be a long time ‘til November, & I’ll do all I can to help if she wants to come up. I just don’t see how I could finagle another vacation though. If they check over my passport I’ll already be in trouble, and I have to get that vacation in November! <Maria understands, and is trying her best to devise a counter plan.> God bless her heart!

Journal, July 6, 1976 AM

<I love Maria.> On the way back from the {U.S.} Ambassador’s residence the 4th, she told me that she was really disgusted with a woman who had been sitting in front of us. She {the woman} was the type who always is trying to impress people with her culture. She tries to demonstrate how much better she is than her humbler fellow humans. She told a humble peasant woman who sat down beside her on the bus, “Vete, hay otros sientos vacantes {Go away, there are other available seats}. <Maria heard her & hated her guts. Right on Maria!>

<I drank 4 beers before I went up to see Maria last evening.> She immediately noticed, & didn’t like it. I should only drink with her she said. I offered her a “menta Gallíto” {mint}. She laughed!

Jaime {Olson}, Donald & I went to Ojo de Agua for a swim yesterday morning. Fabulous, I felt so good, cold clean water & vigorous exercise. I invited the two of them to a beer afterwards. Rarely, rarely am I the first to buy a round!

Jaime & I went down to La Terminal {bar} in the afternoon to see if we could catch Neil Dingot. Jaime hopes for a job with his training center, possibly training the new El Salvador pastures & forages group in February. We only found cold beer there; Skip Baker showed up later! I may have committed the greatest cultural faux pas of my career. After 3+ beers I was in dire need of a place to relieve myself. The regular urinal was blocked off so I took a door that went out back which Jaime aid he’d seen others going through presumably with the same intention. There was no john {bathroom} but I was out back & saw nobody around so I pissed under the eves. Skip surprised me in mid-stream & asked what I was doing, but didn’t seem overly upset. I went back in, & Jaime, without consulting me, headed for out back with the same mission in mind. He found no john and a woman on the porch of the house behind the bar. About face! What all she saw I don’t know.

Journal, July 5, 1976 AM

Well we managed to sample a little of the flavor of the U.S. Bicentennial. <Maria & I caught about an hour of the celebration at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, Terence Todman.> Jaime {Olson} & Pilar left earlier with Jan & Mike Galbraith, so they got to see the 3 legged race, pie eating contest, egg throwing contest and other diversions which began at 9 or 9:30. I didn’t know a thing about the when or where of the thing when I wrote in this journal yesterday. About 8:30 AM I wandered over to Jaime’s toting a bottle of Lancer’s Rosé to check things out in general. <Jaime and the rest had left at 8, & apparently had completely forgotten (both last night & in the morning) that Maria & I knew nothing about the deal.> I am one teaspoon full bitter; I just can’t figure it out. Only, it seems Jaime was a little spacey all yesterday, very lost in the dream he’s living these days. <Sin embargo {Anyway}, Doña Marita thought we should go, de todos modos {in any case}, so I double timed it up to Maria’s {house}, now toting the big clay pot chicken I bought for her Mama.> They all liked the chicken and we went.

We heard a few patriotic songs, including the national anthems of the 2 countries, & speeches by Daniel Oduber, President of Costa Rica, & by Terence Todman. Oduber speaks good English & was very gracious - centering his talk on the Declaration of Independence and the inspiration it had been for the founders of other democratic states. Todman is so much better than Campbell (El Salvador’s U.S. Ambassador), it can’t help but strike you. He is a lean, handsome and energetic black man with a fine speaking voice. He talked about the importance of the individual & the vision which keeps bringing the U.S. back to its democratic principles in spite of frequent detours. For a few precious moments I was completely caught up in his supreme confidence in our endless pursuit of democracy, and I felt that blind rush of pride (which always threatens to overflow into arrogance, but never quite does!) so typical of us “Americans”.

Last evening we drank a toast to the U.S. birthday with a bottle of Lancer’s. (There may be a touch of fitting irony in the fact that the wine was produced in Portugal for a U.S. company - economic imperialism lives on!) Mike & Jan were there (at Pilar’s) and later we retired to the Jardín Cervecero {literally Beer Garden}. <Mike, Jaime & Ricardo (a {Peace Corps} trainee) talked sports while I entertained Maria & Pilar.> I have more & more trouble getting into these “heavy” sports discussions. (‘Joe Dimaggio was better than Hank Aaron’ [Mike]; ‘Jim Brown & O.J. Simpson are better than Gale Sayers, but he was the most exciting runner ever.’ [Jaime & Mike]; ‘Frank Howard hit a line through the pitcher’s legs that cleared the wall!’, etc.)

Journal, July 4, 1976 AM (Sunday)

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. I feel that I am missing something special by not being in the U.S., in Friendship Wisconsin, for today. The 4th is always a big day or the small town. Most of the celebration is on a community level, the parade, the chick-nic, fireworks.

Sartre says that people can never fit our expectations of them. Because they have existence they overflow our narrow & specific views of them on all sides. <That’s sure true of people in general here in San Antonio & doubly of Maria.> The Campos family has baby goats; Doña Carmen has pullets {baby chickens}; <Maria’s brother broke his ankle & is laid up in bed. And Maria is fresh, busy, willing, cautious, content and worried all at once.> It’s just nice to be with her instead of off in El Salvador. There is really so little of importance you can communicate by mail. It’s so easy to miss the whole point. Here we can argue & both be adamant & know it’ll work out.

Journal, July 2, 1976 PM

In Managua {Nicaragua} where I began this diary last December. I’ve been at it over 6 months steady - hard to believe.

We hustled to catch a bus in San Miguel this morning, got to the border real early. We ate and had to wait ‘til almost noon for the Tica Bus to arrive.

I spotted a pottery shop I had never noticed at the border before, and bought a classic Honduran chicken clay pot for $1. <It’s a gift for Maria’s mother, for the chicken she’s given us to eat on the road on our last two partings from Costa Rica.> I hope I can get it there unchipped.

We caught the bus & had some interesting chats with fellow travelers. Two Canadian university professors on a junket through Latin America had interviewed two Molina {Salvadoran President Arturo Armando Molina} aids & felt he was doing all that was “politically possible” for the people. A guy who has a sister in Peace Corps Nicaragua & plans to check out Peace Corps & possibly join. A Minnesota boy now from California who did a study of international volunteer programs, including Peace Corps, and now is on a 2 month “get your feet wet” trip with the Central American Mission. (He gave me Jesus literature.) A fellow Wisconsin boy who is between jobs & interests after working in radio & T.V. in the Virgin Islands. (He likes peace Corps, may move out west, may go back to the Virgin Islands, has to decide soon . . .) A native Costa Rican who lives in Guatemala & went to highschool in Indiana. His folks have bread {money}; he is studying law to use it in business. He doesn’t like the idea of being a capitalist but would like to show people: “I have bread, cars, etc., but I work my ass off & love it, man!” <At 7 AM the bus leaves & I hope Maria is planning to be at the airport.> It would sure hurt if she’s changed her mind. A shower & bed!

Journal, July 1, 1976 PM

San Miguel, pearl of the orient, and here we are, Jaime {Olson} & I getting ready to take a shower and be ready to hit the road at about 7 AM. Tom Morgan finally made it out to Anamorós at 10 AM for a meeting of ganaderos {cattle farmers}. (He had promised to be there by 8:30.) He had only had an hour’s sleep this morning & we had to feed him breakfast before he was ready to function. Tom’s a ‘good old boy’ from Rhode Island, and a red haired drinkin’ Irishman, don’t you see!

The meeting went well and we hit the road for San Miguel about 12:30. I’ll never see Anamorós again, another glimpse of campo {rural} life in El Salvador - good people stick out. I retain a picture taken of the barbwire fenced central park & the ancient-looking church.

San Miguel, we are spending the night with Mark & Holly Roddy, the indomitable Al Whiteneck and Dan Walters; Tom is staying too. Jaime & I met Mike {Staigers}, Diego {Cox} & Fred {Tracy} downtown for beer and talk in the afternoon. My training group, the survivors, are all so self-effacing & introspective, it is pleasant to just hang around in their company, but I feel like time’s-a-wasting. “Antsy”, we {my siblings and I} called it in Dad. I need to be involved in purposeful activity. I feel it even more here tonight. Our hosts are card players, beer drinkers, dope smokers, time passers. I don’t know if my dissatisfaction with that approach to life is rational. Perhaps I’m a self-righteous stiff going briskly nowhere. I’m just restless & vaguely dissatisfied, but they have recent Times {magazines} & tomorrow begins another pilgrimage to Costa Rica.

Journal, July 1, 1976 AM

I got to see a little bit of Jaime’s {Olson} territory & meet a few of his “ganaderos” {cattle farmers} yesterday. It was fun riding around on the motorbike and being introduced to the various farmers. There was always lots of handshaking, lots of “mucho gusto” and “A la orden” {local greetings}. I was forever explaining what I do in Peace Corps and how I happen to be Jaime’s friend. I usually let Jaime explain most of it, but once in a while I was called upon for a few choice words. Jaime makes a good extensionist because he never hurries away from people. He’ll B.S. with them and end up making them feel their problem is genuinely important to him, & that he’s really concerned that they solve it. I would get too bored to keep up that front day in & day out, but Jaime seems to enjoy his work.

Diego {Cox} came by to get the bike in the evening. He’s gotten his wallet stolen; trusts the people too much. He left it in his room, left the room unlocked & someone got it. It’s nice to be trusting, but people don’t appreciate the value of a trusting soul here. The competition to get material things is too intense!


Images, July 1976

Display for the day of Sagrada Corazón de Maria {Sacred Heart of Mary} in the home of Geraro Chavez and Tereza de Chavez near where I lived for 4 months in Santa Tecla. Ed Shiffer is in the back door.

Sacred Heart of Mary the Virgin was celebrated by the Gerardo Chavez family with a flowerbedecked altar in one corner of their small apartment & store.

The newly planted central park & the old church in the town where Jaime {Olson} spent 2 years as an agriculture extensionist.

Journal, June 30, 1976 AM

I have now spent my first night ever in Anamorós and frankly it was a bore! I got here about 2:30 PM, waited an hour for Jaime {Olson} to show up, met some locals, B.S.’ed with him and that was it. Jaime likes to shoot the bull, and going around to see his friends & shoot the bull was all we did. The trip out here was more interesting!

I came out as far as San Miguel with Steve Pamperin & his Dutch work collaborator Yelle. Yelle is an interesting guy. Now a U.N. {United Nations} pasture specialist, he was a sailor & went around the world, and thinks North Americans are rich because he saw so many vacationing during his worldly travels! He is fed up with the social situation in El Salvador - beggars, everyone trying to double charge or swindle you, the chronic drunks, etc. We talked about the potential for change, but didn’t come up with much. He likes the family farmer model, give everyone 10 manzanas {a local unit of area equal to about 1.72 acres} of land - a modern Thomas Jefferson! How it could come about without wanton anarchy & a blood bath is the rub!

Journal, June 28, 1976 PM

Tomorrow I’m off for Anamorós and a few days of “roughing it” with Jaime {Olson}. Steve Pamperin is going out that way so he has promised to give me a ride as far as San Miguel. I have to help him do some tests on 2 pasture plots on the way though! We leave at 6:15 AM.

<I got no letter from Maria today; my last letter from her is stamped June 8, and I am vaguely disconcerted about the fact.> I have no real reason to doubt that it’s just a “routine” mail holdup, but what if? It will be reassuring to have Jaime tell me Pilar has written him & confirmed she knows we’re coming & all. <If she knows, Maria knows, and I’d hope Maria would write me if she didn’t want me to come.>

<I bought shoes today (ADOC “hush puppies”) and a bauble for Maria.> The bauble is to be hung on a leather thong Jan left here & put around the neck. It’s kind of big for a bauble, but I hope it looks all right on her. I can never find the thing I really want when gift shopping!

I’ve ordered a pair of glasses from La Joya to replace my stolen ones. I have to pay 31 Colones because Peace Corps will only pay up to 100 Colones to replace glasses. I’ll have to take good care of these new ones! No wearing them for football games!

I only got prices from one lumber yard today. I got bogged down in the glasses bit (I had to talk to John Jones {Peace Corps Director} & Dr. Zavaleta.), and in checking on my bus pass at the Public transport Office. My bus pass wasn’t ready, but I’m taking Russell’s {Soules} & Jaime’s out to them. And after hunting down their office!

I treated myself to a good lunch at the vegetarian place Restaurante Florida. They always have good torts, stuffed peppers and other “rare” vegetable dishes from here, yet the atmosphere is like a rural comedor {restaurant}. Go up and pick out what you want, etc. They have excellent “frescos” {fruit drinks}. I stopped by DGRD {Dirección General de Riego y Drenaje}, my old work place, to see if they had printed up a good copy of my study. I had trouble finding the Project Atiocoyo folks. They’ve been shoved off in a corner on the 5th floor. They have also switched “jefes” {bosses}, but Ing. {Ingeniero or Engineer} Madrid (a Colombian who is a special consultant for the contractors) is still there, & we had a good talk. He cited my study on a couple points in a report he sent to BID {Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo or Inter-American Development Bank), and right now he wants a copy of the study to send to them. He says there are copies around and promised to get me one.

He says San Isidro is embroiled in problems (political & administrative), and that the relocation of farmers has been indefinitely postponed. He doubts they’ll ever do it. He says ISTA {Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria or Salvadoran Institute of Agrarian Reform} isn’t doing anything and doesn’t even keep control of the people renting or buying from them. We agreed that only the name was changed from the ICR {Instituto de Colonización Rural of Rural Colonization Institute}. The inundated part of the iceberg has not been touched. (I personally would recommend dynamite rather than a chisel for restructuring that agency!) That’s such a problem in this country; agencies become fiefdoms. You can form them, but it’s politically impossible to abolish one or even combine two! Outside of the San Isidro sector though the project is doing OK says Madrid. It’s a year or so behind, but the abundant rain this year should help their selected farmers in Atiocoyo and Nueva Concepción pay off BFA {Banco de Fomento Agripequario or the Agricultural Development Bank} and make some money.

Ed’s {Shiffer} seriously considering getting an $800 operation done on his back. The doctors say it’s the only way he can be sure not to have recurrences of that Sunday when he couldn’t even get out of bed. It comes at a bad time with a possible job with Foster parents Plan in Colombia pending. I think his best bet is to do it right away if he’s going to do it, & hope the Colombian opportunity doesn’t materialize for a couple months. There’s supposedly a top specialist here, & he could take some of his Peace Corps vacation days & just sit around here. He’s got me & the neighbors to look after him!

Journal, June 27, 1976 PM (Sunday)

Gerardo and his family (they have a tienda {store} on the corner near our apartment) had a special {religious} service for the sacred heart tonight. They made a beautiful altar in a corner of their house, surrounded it with gladiolas, lit it with Christmas tree lights, and prayed to it for about 45 minutes. They observed the Salvadoran custom of sending off rockets & setting off “bombs” to announce the event. Afterward they served coffee and sweet bread, of which Ed {Shiffer}, Steve Pamperin & I partook. I took 2 pictures of the service & promised to get the negatives for Gerardo, so he could make copies.

Our young Episcopalian friends left for mass this morning, amid pouring rain, never to return, probably. Ed is going to get another set next weekend, but by then I’ll be in Costa Rica. I had forgotten what brash, self-assured (but in spite of it fresh & ever inquiring) folks highschoolers are.

Journal, June 26, 1976 PM

Ed {Shiffer} brought in not one, but 4 teenagers from Miami to sleep in our house last night. I was awake when they came in at about 11 PM, but didn’t let them know it. There are 2 girls & 2 guys, and tonight Ed had about 10 more friends over, & we went out for pupusas {Salvadoran snack food} and beer. It was wild; for church kids they sure do drink and like to be rowdy! I had forgotten what U.S. highschool kids were like. My God what a bunch! I don’t feel up to describing all that we went through. So I will pass for tonight.

Journal, June 25, 1976 PM

Another day without mail. <Wouldn’t it be amazing if Maria wrote me a dear John letter!> Estimado Juan, ya no te quiero, vete! {Dear John, I don’t love you any more, go away!} I’m going to Anamarós Tuesday, so Monday is my last chance for mail before I go to Costa Rica. <Nevertheless, I wrote a letter (to Maria) and a birthday card (for sister Marcia) tonight.> Marcia is a 4th of July baby. We used to have her cake & give her presents the 5th because there was always so much else going on the 4th. It had to bother her having her birthday largely ignored due to the national holiday, but now that she’s going to be 28 I bet she’d just as soon it was forgotten entirely.

Work was anxiety producing today, I couldn’t put together a write-up of how social factors relate to DGRNR’s {Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables’} work which I liked or found particularly useful. I have a good theoretical section for a start, complete with eloquent quote, but when I get down to writing about the application it all seems so trivial as to not merit the theoretical “overhead”. I have trouble convincing myself that what I’m doing is meaningful applied sociology, and not just glorified bullshitting. I’m not even entirely certain there is a nonsubjective distinction between the two!

Ed’s {Shiffer} not home yet at 10 PM, and he said he was bringing some Kentucky highschool kid home with him. A group was supposed to arrive today to work with CREDHO at El Maizal. Maybe they’ll finally get the corn planted! I guess if I go to bed, Ed will come home with the kid & wake me up. Anyway it’s worth a try!

Journal, June 24, 1976 PM

I finished that dense and stilted intro. to Sartre last night, so today at lunch break when I started reading the real thing, I was pleased to find Sartre very down to earth and readable, even though he is discussing heavy stuff. I think I may even finish the book one day.

I got an inspiration at work today. I decided it would be worth my effort just to get something written down about the “factores sociales” {social factors} related to DGRNR’s {Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables’} work. It will give me an orientation & give them an idea of where my head is at, what perspective I’m bringing to my work right now.

I got an outline of what I want to do together this afternoon and should get it written up tomorrow. I’m adapting well to pacing myself (which means keeping productivity low, not pushing), to appear to be occupied at the office.

Still no mail! Jaime is staying over tonight & he got a letter from Pilar today. <Maria has abandoned me!>

Steve Pamperin and I went to a concert (symphonic) tonight. It was pleasant. I haven’t been since I took music appreciation in college. Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” was the show piece. The concert was dedicated to the U.S. bicentennial. Our Ambassador William Campbell gave a short speech (in horrendous Spanish) during intermission. Earlier in the evening I had knocked his glasses from his left hand while shaking hands with him! I got a common impression from seeing him and from seeing the paintings (reproductions of course) of Revolutionary War figures (Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams). Politics is the arena of pale, flabby-faced and somewhat enfeebled middle-aged men. The reproductions show Jefferson jowly, Franklin obese, Washington a little flabby. I shan’t bring them down to Campbell’s level though! As Ed Shiffer says, Campbell is the ideal type of the purely political appointment of a man to government office. But what man would want to be Ambassador to El Salvador?

Journal, June 23, 1976 PM

More of the working for the government doldrums, I accomplished big zero at DGRNR {Dirección General de Recursos Naturales Renovables} today. I am still in the introduction to Sartre, yawn! And here I stand in my birthday suit trying to decide what (if anything) that I did today is worth recording for posterity. <I got no letters; Maria has surely dumped me!> Lucky I really didn’t want to get into U.W. {University of Wisconsin-Madison} this fall. I think they have chucked my application or sent their reply by Pony Express! No trip to Tamarindo & La Unión this week. They are getting out the budget report at the office. Tomorrow promises to be another dull one. I hope my “Scientific American” arrives to save the day soon! I’ve got to put that Sartre intro. behind me tonight.