Letter, September 10, 1974

Dear Jan,

Your letter & Mom’s arrived on the same day, and I was glad to see them because I had been getting anxious about getting some word from home. The picture you sent was a real life saver because the day before the family I’m living with had been asking me why I didn’t have any pictures of my family. Even down here seven sisters really impresses people as a lot!

The change in culture hasn’t caused as many problems as I expected, primarily, I think, because Costa Rica is really a very rich and liberal country by Central American standards. The house where I live is very modest by American standards, but very adequate down here where you don’t need heating & insulation. My family doesn’t have T.V., thank God. They show a lot of dubbed in American reruns down here, but what people like best are Peyton Place style soap operas which are shown in the evening. The radio is bad enough, with its 5-10 year old American songs and over-sentimental, bubblegum Costarican songs.

I’ve done quite a bit of reading from your book of Walt Whitman’s works, which I stole when I left. He had an amazing faculty for putting into words what the rest of us can only feel and remain speechless about.

My training has got me down a little right now. The Spanish isn’t bad, though I am impatient about my rate of progress, but the agriculture is like going back to high school Vo. Ag. { vocational agriculture }. They more or less cover a bunch of topics which our boss has listed as “training objectives”, and then we regurgitate them back on a 2 hour exam (We had the second one yesterday). The hardest thing about the tests is trying to figure out what the guy who writes them (his English is pretty mediocre) means, but they are a real pain in the nalgas {butt}.

Want to wish you luck on your 6 week exams, since by the time this gets to you it will be about that time. I think it’s great that you got a job at Union South; I always thought it would be nice to work in one of the Unions.

Yesterday one of the guys in my program had to have some kind of large fly larva removed from his leg. These flies (they are something like the horn flies in Wisconsin) infect the cows really bad, especially long haired ones. From now on I’m going to check over every new mark on my bod from pimples on up to make sure it isn’t one of those. I feel guilty about being so utterly healthy so far when several of the guys have had digestive or parasite problems. I suppose my time will come though!

When I’m in a more analytical mood I’ll have to tell you about the social state of women down here. They really have it rough, but it is hard to feel sorry for them while dodging their advances! Girls here are taught that you have to nab a husband between the ages of 15 and 20 or it’s all over for you!

Hasta luego,


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