9.20.2014

Letter, Marchl 31, 1975

Dear Jan,

Muchisimas gracious {many, many thanks} for the folk guitar books. I have been plucking away blindly & learning chords from one of my neighbors who plays pretty well up to this point. Now I should be able to go at it more systematically!

Over Easter I climbed the San Vicente volcano with 3 other PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} and about a dozen Salvadorans. The Salvadorans really wore us out on the way up as they were younger, in much better shape, & not carrying heavy backpacks. We started at 3:30 AM and got to the top at noon. It was a great time though. The night before we started up we slept in a little colony (on boards laid across benches in the schoolhouse) & a little local combo played some music. They had two guitars, two violins, a bass fiddle & a “bomba” drum. The one guitar player was excellent. He seemed to pick up new melodies just by hearing them once. One of the PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} played a harmonica to his guitar accompaniment also. On the way up the volcano we found lots of fruit trees & I found some raspberries (almost unheard of here) on the way down. It was great to spend a night in a temperate-like climate up at the volcano’s top & roast hot dogs over a fire!

Afterwards we went to a beach called El Espino, what a mistake! During Easter vacation the beaches are utterly swarmed with people, everything is expensive, etc. We slept in a shack made of palm leaves just big enough for three of us to lay down in (on the ground) & it cost us ¢10. Then it rained a little bit near morning. I got back to San Salvador today & came down with a case of diarrhea, what a bummer!

As for coming down here some time in the summer goes, you have to remember that that is the rainy season here, so that you would more likely get soaked to the skin camping in a small tent! Also, there are people everywhere so it isn’t the easiest to just throw up a tent somewhere secluded. I can find boarding house type rooms for $1 to $5 a night in the capital, & about the same other places like the beach at La Libertad or Santa Ana (which is near the Indian ruins, & has an Italian style church). The best time to come is in a period from mid-July to mid-August called the “Canicula” when the rains let up for about a month in the middle of the rainy season.

However, the first week of August is a national holiday here so it is a bad time to travel around. If you do decide to come, maybe I’ll take a week or two of vacation & we can go up to Guatemala, or down to Costa Rica, as well as see some of El Salvador. Let me know what you might want to see (in general) so I can find out about bus schedules & all that. Buses are crowded & cramped, but renting a car is expensive & you can get around pretty good on the buses if you plan well & don’t let the pushing & shoving get you down!

Hope your work at the day care center continues to go well. I guess I’ve officially missed a whole Wisconsin winter now, a historic event! Hope you had a good trip to the Smokies.

Dean

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