8.24.2014

Letter, September 22, 1974

Dear Donna,

How is school going? As I remember you never really liked school before so I would guess the first couple weeks were pretty rough with getting adjusted to the routine and so forth. I didn’t get a chance to ask how you made out this summer before I left, so I hope you will write me about your experiences some time.

I’ve been having some pretty memorable experiences of my own these last couple weeks! Last weekend (Sept. 13-14-15-16) 16 of the people being trained here, and one PCV {Peace Corps Volunteer} from El Salvador and his Salvadoran wife, went to a little beach on the Pacific coast called Jacó. I was, of course, one of this ill-fated bunch. It turned out that Jacó (although a beautiful beach) is way out in the bush and that transportation to & from there is shaky at best, and highly weather dependent. We had to rent 2 buses special and walk several kilometers just to get there after dark Fri. evening and wander into a dingy hotel. Saturday was a gorgeous day, however, and we lived it up on coconuts (fresh off the trees by the beach) while sun bathing and swimming (my nose and forehead were “fire-engine” red by night). Sunday our real troubles began. A rock slide had blocked the road up in the mountains (not to mention the flooding of several streams we saw later) and so the bus couldn’t get through. We waited for the bus all Sun. & started out walking early Mon. morning. The group of 11 I was with got a ride on a truck taking oats (of all things) to market. You just wouldn’t believe how that driver drove right through flooded rivers with that thing! We helped pull a Toyota jeep out of a flooded river & later spent an hour getting the truck we were on through some mud farther up in the mountains. We reached the rock slide in the truck & he had to stop so we walked on down the mountain to the bus driver’s house at the bottom and caught a bus to the nearest town with a train. It was a real fine crosscultural experience in total!

I took some pictures at Jacó and this weekend in Port Limon. I am sending the cartridge home so you can develop the film if you want to see the pictures. Developing is very expensive here & this is what a friend is trying, so I think I will try it also unless Mom objects.

This weekend 13 of us went to Port Limon, Costa Rica’s major Atlantic port. It too was a very interesting trip, but we didn’t encounter any transportation problems. We were in Turrialba Fri. for classes, this is an agriculture experiment station, sponsored by the U.N., Costa Rica’s govt. & other sources, which is reputed to be the best in Central America. They have a fine dairy herd of Jersey, Criollo and Jersey crossed with Criollo cattle which makes them a lot of money, because their grass {pasture} is so good they need almost no concentrate {grain}. They milk with a modern parlor system and process their own milk. Anyway, we left for Limon Sat. morning from there and the scenery from there to the coast was spectacular, lots of streams rushing over rocks and huge mountains, and then the flat coastal area with banana plantations. Limon is a unique kind of a city. It is the only place in Costa Rica where there are many Blacks {Costaricans of African descent}. Most of these {people reputedly} come from Jamaica where a lot of English is spoken, so the Negroes of Limon speak something Costaricans call “ensalada de Español y Ingles”. It is really freaky! Limon is also a sailors’ town, with all that that implies. It’s pretty sad to have 15 or 16 year old girls trying to hustle you for money when you walk in almost any bar in town after 7 pm. Five of us (4 guys and a girl) had a few drinks in a bar which (one of our teachers at Basico told us after we got back) is the oldest whore house in the world {or at least in Costa Rica}! The 6 hour train trip from Limon to San Jose was again very beautiful. A friend & I split a pizza in San Jose, the first I’ve have since I left the States. To top that off we had a 6 Colon banana split at the local Dairy Queen (eat your heart out Tom). It was a welcome change from the usual beans & rice.

Believe it or not, in between all this our training program is progressing and we will leave for El Salvador on Oct. 17. I have no further word yet on what to do with those two statistics books. I finally got around to writing Washington and now am waiting for a reply (tell Mom). Am well and healthy despite some of the exotic things I ate on my trips. The coconuts, by the way, were really good and (I am told) are practically a complete diet in themselves!

Buena Suerte {Good Luck},

Dean

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