Journal, February 5, 1976 PM

That earthquake tremor we felt yesterday morning (3 AM) was a real disaster in Guatemala. Over 2,500 confirmed dead already! Several of the most prominent buildings in the capital were partially destroyed. Oh what piss ants we are when nature gives a little flex of her muscles!

<Jay brought two letters from Sofia, one from Bruce, one from Jay Mathes and one from U.W. {University of Wisconsin - Madison}.> I am becoming one of the most prolific letter-getters in Peace Corps. <I answered Sofia’s letter tonight.> Whew! Writing a serious, meaningful letter in Spanish is draining. She sounds very excited about starting university classes, which is great - we might as well both be student bums together! I’d really like to see her develop her mind, sooner or later her telling me how much she loves me just ain’t gonna be enough. I have a great need to toss ideas around with intelligent and informed people. If she doesn’t fill the need, I’ll have to find more of that sustenance outside the relationship and that could be the start of problems. {some text not transcribed}

We had our first basketball practice today, with a flat ball. We did some passing and shooting. They don’t know sheeeet!

Tomorrow I go to San Salvador to do a million things (including buy a bus ticket) and Saturday to Atiocoyo on a much postponed courtesy call. I hope Mr. Yu and Mr. Ou {pronounced Oo} are both there. Boy, am I up late tonight!


Journal, February 4, 1976 PM

I’m thinking about Joe again tonight. We had supper alone here this evening and with it a long, heavy talk. We both sense a certain similarity between us, we are both searchers, questioners, analyzers. Both meticulous and tireless self-analyzers especially - why do I feel like this? Why did I act like that? Who am I & what is it I seek?

He told me how he arrived where he now is, how he came to drop out of his chemical engineering gig, and where his wanderings have taken him since. At one time he was a 3rd year engineering student with a new bride he really cared about. I think that falling apart must have started the breaking of his ties to "Northamerican intellectual society". After graduating he worked for a big polluting company, too. He couldn’t lose himself in his work facing that! He tried grad. school in environmental engineering, but the memorization was too much. He had lost that insane, unquestioning, inkblotter approach to learning which the eager young highschooler brings with him to college. He went to Europe, then Canadian Peace Corps, and now he’s traveling unattached. A disinherited knight abroad seeking his fortune - but in knowledge & self-realization rather than gold and silver. Que le vaya bien {May things go well for you}!

That little detail about the “perfect” woman that didn’t work out was not lost on old Dino. I don’t know how I’d survive a bad marriage. To be that committed to a person and have it go to pieces would scar me, I fear. <Sofia, I got to make sure you’re a whole woman and not just a Barbie doll!>

I’m going to teach some basketball tomorrow, if the word of professors Palacios & Barrera(?) is better today than it was about the softball practice I should have gone to today.

I still haven’t gotten any farther than reading the first chapter & doing a couple problems in Jay’s physics book. The talk with Joe drained me. As he would say, there was a lot of energy flowing.

<Jay should bring me a letter from Sofia when he returns from San Salvador tomorrow!> I need that kind of lift tonight, but a letter probably wouldn’t do it anyway. I will have to drift for now, take a fix on life’s mundane necessities again in the morning.

Journal, February 4, 1976 AM

We had a strong earthquake tremor last night. It lasted about a minute and is the strongest one I’ve ever experienced. It woke both Jay & I up, and when it was over we went out & pissed. I hope this isn’t a lead-up to a big quake!

Yesterday some rabbit expert from Chile showed up. Actually she came the day before with six females to breed to our males, & then returned yesterday, and took our best male with her. So now we’re down to 2 mature males. Profy {Gomez} just can’t say no to someone who sounds very "expert" and "official". I told him I didn’t like this idea of tecnicos {technical people} coming in on one day whirlwind visits, and raising havoc with what order I’m starting to establish in our rabbit raising system. He tolerated my outburst, but didn’t seem to understand it or sympathize much with it.

Joe’s yogurt came out super good, and he made us another fine meal last evening. Jay got back from Sonsonate just in time to eat it. Joe says he’s leaving Thursday. Time to move along before he gets too attached to the place. He’s a strange, sensitive, deep feeling person. I wonder where he’ll end up, what he’ll be doing in 25 years.


Journal, February 2, 1976 PM

We put in half a day of work today and came back to the rancho {beach house}. I made yogurt and had a fine Chinese dinner with Joe. He’s kind of spacey, but a good cook - very meticulous as you might expect from an M.S. in chemical engineering; a meticulous, fussy, yoga freak tripping on life & people. But he’s tied to that van - not only sleeps in it, but does his yoga there (in all probably spends half his day in or around it).

I read a chapter of physics this afternoon; first in Jay’s book. It’s been 6 or 8 months since I got into physics - time I got back to it.

Blanca showed up tonight & Jay made a balloon to send up for her, but the fuel container leaked & we couldn’t pull it off. It’s his new propulsion system - just gas in a tinfoil cup - designed to avoid the problem of the balloon setting fires when it comes down. Credit the idea to Conrad Ebisch {a Peace Corps Volunteer, stationed in Sonsonate} - Jay’s consulting physicist.


Journal, February 1, 1976 PM

I copied last night’s wit & wisdom in just now & it left my mind blank concerning stuff for today. I remember explaining my dual opinion about how many kids I should have to Elena. I’d like to have 5 or 6 because I like kids & think big families are a great environment for raising kids in, but given the world population situation I can’t justify having more than two of my own. There are people who really only want one or two kids, but for me it’ll be a deprivation, I expect. Shit, maybe two will sour me so on havin’ children that I’ll be more than ready to stop there. I really can’t say ‘til I get there.

I played a little catch with a hard ball, this afternoon. You don’t forget how, even in a year or so! I’ve had some of my best and some of my most trying times playing softball. I remember them calling me a "curly haired jew" when I pitched in 4-H, to try to rattle me, and playing at home with family & neighborhood kids; and fraternity league, & picnics with a half-barrel & game during college. I never was too good, but it’s a very social game - a genuine midwestern U.S. tradition!

Joe plans to make a Chinese meal tomorrow, for all - right on! I’m going to bring him goats’ milk to make yogurt from, also. He says it’s the best yogurt there is! I’m anxious to compare his method with Steve Hays’ and use the best of both.

Jay just got back from Sonsonate with 50 centavos left to his name. How the fiesta came out he didn’t say.

Again tonight I’ve definitely decided that I have to go back to the states single & get my trip together before bringing a little woman into the picture. I have reasoned it all out thoroughly. <I wonder how long it’ll last once I get my arms around Sofia again?>

Images, February, 1976

Santos, Don Tin, me and Doña Reina in front of San Augustin restaurant/store {in Metalío}.

Don Adán and his wife in front of their home on the beach {in Metalío}.

Kikilita beach house where Jay Hasheider & I stayed part of our time in Metalío.

Kikilita, side view including cooking area at left.

Kikilita, side view with bathhouse at right.

Jay Hasheider in the top of a coconut tree, with a rope to let coconuts down on. {Metalío, El Salvador}

{Me} climbing a coconut {palm} tree at the beachhouse.

Aristides, a good friend, at El Maizal.

Profy Gomez's Hillman auto beside El Maizal school/clinic.

View of fields & trench silo from atop the water tower at El Maizal.

Sheep grazing on natural pasture at El Maizal.

{The telegram I received from my sister Jan on Febrary 9, 1976, telling me that she would arrive February 19th.}

Journal, January 31, 1976 PM

I’m at El Maizal tonight. The Doctor is at the rancho {beach house}, and I forgot my journal, so I will copy this in later. Two more baby goats arrived today - babies of all classes of mammals are so cute! Jay & Joseph (the Canadian - still with us) are in Sonsonate and at the beach, respectively. Yesterday Joe moved his van to the unoccupied lot next door, & he seems content there. He’s having brake problems though - needs a couple parts. Jay went to the fiesta {Patron Saint Festival?} and will be back tomorrow.

I got my new fangled financial aid form almost ready to go - just lack the check in dollars.

Some dude from the church in San Salvador was trying to convert me today. They never learn! He says if you believe in God & the Bible, and want to help people they are waiting to receive you. I told him all the dogma bummed me out - Buddhism, Islam, the Jewish faith and Christianity all have about the same moral teachings, so why quibble over dogma? That didn’t even sink in, so I told him my “novia” {girlfriend} wanted to make a Catholic out of me! Here they only recognize 1 distinction: Catholics and the other churches (which they assume to be Christian)!

<I had to show Antonio Sofia’s picture today.> I told him I was going into town some day next week to buy a bus ticket for Costa Rica - guess that started it!