Letter, September 21, 1975

Dear Mom & Dad,

It started raining here late in August also, and it’s been raining pretty regular ever since. They call the 5-7 day periods of almost constant sprinkling or rain “temporales” here & we’ve had a couple now. I got your last letter by way of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It must have been put on the wrong plane somewhere along the line. Anyway it arrived and the pictures of the oats & the combine were really beautiful. However, I hesitate to show my Salvadoran friends that big combine. They’ll be sure to think I come from a family of “ricos” then!

Did you get my card from Guatemala? Was up there for 3½ days over the weekend of Central America’s independence day (September 15). It was so much cooler there than where I’m used to, that I wore my denim jacket almost all the time I was there! I shudder to think what it will be like coming home in mid-October (1976) if it already seems cool in Guatemala! Actually the main difference is the altitude, Guatemala City is up in the mountains and the climate reminded me of a mid-western U.S. city in the spring. People wear jackets & sweaters! You almost never see sweaters in El Salvador.

They grow apples up in Guatemala, which made me feel even more at home since apples in El Salvador are a strange foreign delicacy only the rich can afford in any quantity.

The rural people in Guatemala still use a lot of homemade woven clothing, much like their ancestors, the Mayans, used. I talked to a PCV {Peace Corps Volunteer} from Guatemala and he told me most of the rural women speak little or no Spanish, using only the Indian {Mayan} tongue. He says he has learned to understand the Indian’s language somewhat, but doesn’t try to speak it. What a difference from El Salvador where everybody speaks Spanish, and seemingly everybody wants to learn English!

I want to go up into northern Guatemala and see the ruins of Tikal, the very best of the ancient temples of the Mayas, when I get time. Tikal has only been unearthed by archaeologists in the last 30 years & is being acclaimed as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. I’ll let you have my expert opinion when I see it!

Am trying to buy a bicycle to use in my job. Another PCV is selling one for ¢275 ($110) and I intend to buy it if possible. It is a 27 inch ten-speed like Tom’s, but not built quite as “heavy”; it’s a Falcon. It’s a good deal considering the price of bikes here (they tax them heavily for some reason), and it will save me a lot of time. Work is going so-so, with much to get done and little time to do it.

How about letting me know what the balance is in my Golden Passbook account {a type of savings account offered by the local bank in Friendship, WI}? I was taking stock of my present financial situation the other day, and what it’ll be when I get out of Peace Corps, and I couldn’t remember what I had in that account when I left (It has been over a year so I guess that ain’t so terrible). Well, take care of yourselves & get some work out of Tom & Carla when you can!


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