Images, March, 1976

Jan sitting by a statue of a Mayan warrior in front of the zoo, Guatemala City, Guatemala.

A picture of the town of Flores, taken from a boat. Flores is situated on an island in the middle of a shallow crystaline lake.

Peasant houses and cayucos (dugout canoes) in Flores, Guatemala.

Jan and a peasant woman & her son in a cayuco {dugout canoe}. The woman gave us a ride from the village in the background back to Flores.

A Mayan temple which Jan & I went to visit in Belize. Workers were "restoring" it for the sake of future tourists. There were 2 British soldiers on top of it with telescopes to keep an eye out for possible Guatemalan troop movements.

Mayan ruins near San Ignacio, Belize. View from atop the main temple.

View of surrounding area from the top of the Mayan temple near San Ignacio.

Looking out over the border towns at the Belize - Guatemala {border} line {, San Ignacio, Belize}.

Along the waterfront in Belize City, the principal city of Belize.

A view of the city from a nearby island that Jan & I walked to on a causeway. Belize City is built on the ocean & a river mouth, is very low & hot, and has open sewers that drain into the ocean.


Journal, February 29, 1976 AM

We are already on the train bound for Puntarenas at 6:45 AM. <Sofia’s sitting in the doorway, & I’m standing ‘cause the train is full up.> I’ll keep this short. We went to the electric plant yesterday, & Juan Diego hounded Jan (& me) mercilessly. He’s at an impossible age, 15. {some text not transcribed}


Journal, February 28, 1976 AM

Jan & I went to San Jose to get our tickets confirmed & check into the possibility of her working here. We got the #3 & #4 seats for the bus up to Managua - ideal for sightseeing. We also got mailing addresses & phone numbers of some English-speaking schools, but we don’t know where they are, & didn’t succeed in calling any. We ran into Gary & Lisa, two folks from the bus trip down, & went to see the National Theater with them. It’s very impressive, has a couple of ceiling murals I especially liked, & of course lots of gold leaf, velvet curtains, etc. The floor in the main auditorium raises & lowers under human power (turning a gear connected to huge screws). They raise & lower the main body of the audience instead of the stage. We went to the market too, & ended up buying sandals. They are nice, but we probably paid too much, as always. I know what Joyce means when she says you can’t save money when Jan’s around. We don’t spend foolishly, but there are so many ideas she comes up with to spend money. But it’s fun!

{some text not transcribed}


Journal, February 27, 1976 AM

The nights are very cold here, for Central America. The wind really whines all night & you shiver if you don’t have enough covers over you.

It seems like this end of Central America is gearing up for an earthquake or volcanic eruption too. They had a strong tremor in the morning the day we arrived (25th) and the two major volcanoes, Poas & Irazu, have been unusually active lately. <Sofia says we should stay away from them.> Jan said yesterday she’s glad we won’t be here too long. She wants to get out before the big quake hits!

We went to Ojo de Aqua {water park} yesterday, & Jan fell in love with the place - fresh unchlorinated water, tennis, basketball, boating. Great place to relax. <Sofia couldn’t swim because of a badly scraped knee, but Jan & I did, and so did Jaime, Pilar & Sofia’s older sister.> We had a "picnic" lunch of rice mixed with chicken, beans (creamed) and tortillas. Rice & chicken with a few of the right vegetables & spices mixed in makes a tasty dish! I guess we gringos {North Americans} would call it a casserole.

<Sofia is so easy to love.> Even Jan, who is cynical about love and dislikes the way Costa Rican women "try so hard to please men", says she’s friendly, outgoing & loves children. I’m sensitive to Jan’s accusation that guys like Jaime & I are just overwhelmed by all the flattering in this culture which is so male dominated. <Maybe, I love the special attention Sofia gives me, but try to be attentive to her needs & desires also, and coach her on the need for human beings to be independent, not dominated.> She seems ready to wait the almost 2 years we agree is realistic (given economics more than anything, our educational aspirations & my foolishness). God, that time when I’m in the U.S. studying will be tough. Perhaps phone calls will help! Oh for a $10,000 inheritance! But no chance of that for me. <I gave Sofia the earrings last night, & she loved them like she does everything.> {some text not transcribed}


Journal, February 26, 1976 AM

Maybe it is all a little foolish. <Sofia hit me with some doubts & reservations last night, which on top of all my worries, has my mind buzzing.> But the magic of her look & touch is still there - I want her bad! She’s starting to realize what it means to pull up all her roots, and move a few thousand miles north, where she doesn’t speak the language, isn’t familiar with the education system, etc., and it’s got her scared. I have to keep stressing the positive. I know we can work part-time & study (the both of us), and make it one way or another. Before when she was all enthusiasm, I wanted to remind her of realities, but now it seems the roles have come full circle, & I have to be the confidence builder.

Jan & I had a heavy, heavy discussion of sex, our own life situations, & those of other members of the family. The ability to communicate that Jan & I have had always, hasn’t changed, in fact I feel closer to her right now than ever before. She has kept right on growing intellectually in my absence, and continually impresses me with her insights. She says she would work a year or so in Costa Rica if she could find a job in daycare or primary school that she likes. We’ll look around for sure! I think it would be great for her, & has advantages for me!

Jaime was glad to see us of course, & even gladder to see the can of Pabst Jan brought! We’ll share it today.

We’re at Doña Carmen’s & the radio is on early as usual. I wonder how Jan’ll like that - precious little I suspect! That’s it, off the recording and back to living!


Journal, February 24, 1976 PM

We’re here in Managua, made good time. I started this journal right here in this vey hospedaje {small hotel} room (perhaps even sitting on the same cot). The cot I’ll sleep on tonight has a foam pad - this place just keeps improving!

We got up late this morning & had to run for the bus, but since then it’s been smooth going. The borders were pretty fast, & we got here by 7 PM. Everyone thinks Jan & I are married or lovers traveling together, at least the natives who call her señora {Mrs.} invariably. We had a sweet, sweet muskmelon for breakfast, with coffee, & bought 2 small ones for tomorrow. I was the first one in line for reservations for tomorrow, but the first bus doesn’t leave ‘til 8 AM, & we got seats in the middle - shit.

A drunk just finished singing outside my room wall. We hear the cars clearly too, so it could be a rough night. Jan got bit up by sand fleas last night, & is leery about her bed here too, as the bedclothes are only semi-clean. She doesn’t have Peace Corps healthcare, so I guess it’s logical she should worry more.

<What’s it going to be like seeing Sofia?> I got a letter from the family Castillo Murillo saying she had been around their house quite a bit lately. I was reflecting this morning on the bus what a pleasure it will be to have someone to put my arms around & hug freely - touch affectionately without feeling out of place & unnatural. I can’t hug Jan yet, though now it is clearer than ever that I’m closer to her than to anyone else in the family. We just never learned to show our feelings, that’s all.

I mentioned my idea of writing articles for papers or magazines, or short stories - as a moneymaking scheme - to Jan at the Nicaragua border today. She immediately pinpointed the major drawback (like she’d run the same mental path only farther than I) - the risk of rejection and more rejection from publishers & public. She says her ego is too fragile to handle all that rejection. I’d find it tough too & really the chances of scoring quick money that way are slim and none. <Sofia’s got me trying to get money ahead.> This next week maybe I’ll become sure enough of her to reassure myself it’s not all a little foolish.


Journal, February 23, 1976 PM

I think I’ll have to say goodbye to the old red ink pen tonight. I bought it on my now famous Christmas pilgrimage to Costa Rica, and it’s about run its course.

Jan & I will leave for Costa Rica at 6:00 AM, and just returned from Steve Pamperin’s house, where we ran into 2 sets of his cousins (one couple headed north, one south) - fascinating folks. We had 2½ beers each, & I’m feeling it a little! I hardly drink any more.

It’s been a run, run, run day, getting all my errands out of the way before leaving. Jan changed her ticket to leave from Belize instead of San Salvador, but couldn’t get the money (has to collect in Madison). I think we can do it on the money I’ve got, one way or another! It’s probably the only way I’ll get up to Tikal. I’ll be broke afterwards, but what-ta-heck.

<I bought Sofia some earrings today - very delicate, like she is.> Hope she likes them.

Damn pen won’t quit, guess I’ll have to carry it down to Managua, & finish ‘er off there, mañana {tomorrow}!


Journal, February 22, 1976 PM

It looks like last night’s stuff is at least semi-legible - remarkable given the weak firelight. I never slept much last night, dozing off for spells, but mostly just watching the flames lick up wood & listening to night sounds. <I got a clear fix on my memories of Sofia, & what happened over Christmas.> I concluded that I just have to keep coming at it openly and let it develop.

We never found Laguna Verde {translates to Green Lake}. We walked all the way down to Ahuachapan, but saw some good scenery & the steam energy (geothermal) plant at Atozol on the way.

I was given to know more about Floyd "Pedro" Miller in two ways today. First, I ran into a San Isidro acquaintance unexpectedly on the bus to Metalio. He said "Pedro" was a Mennonite missionary & not Peace Corps, and his folks apparently never tried to take his body home. Second, while Jay & I (dog tired from little sleep & lots of walking) were out chest deep in the ocean trying to catch waves, the current shifted somehow, & we had to swim for all we were worth to get back to where we could stand up. There was no way either of us could have helped the other. We each had to fight the current for all we were worth to get in. If "Pedro" was alone, and not a strong swimmer, it could have happened almost that easily! Jay & I came fairly close to learning the hard way.

I was looking at myself in the mirror (narcissistic being that I am) tonight, & I really think I am in the best general health of my life. I’m down to 162 pounds for the first time since wrestling season my last year of highschool, and I think my shoulders are broader, & my arms more heavily muscled now. My face is lean & free of puffiness (which it sometimes showed in college). Ah, yes: at the age Ike Newton proposed his law of gravity; the age Al Einstein proposed relativity; the age (they tell me) Napoleon began his conquests, I’m 24 and thinking of starting all over in a new field, while wasting my prime in the Peace Corps tending goats & rabbits (and falling for foreign women)! But I could have been a melancholy people (& statistics) manipulator, so ____ .


Journal, February 21, 1976 PM

Well, we tried to follow Conrad’s instructions real precisely, but never could find Laguna Verde. We ended up here in the hills between Apaneca & Ahuachapan, essentially lost. But we haven’t seen a person (besides Jay, Jan & me) since 4:30 PM. I’m writing by firelight (laboriously), Jay & Jan having retired.

We roasted marshmallows & had peanut butter sandwiches. Water is short because we didn’t find the lake (to use my filter), and only Jan brought water.

Jan & Jay have hit it off quite well, talking about drugs they’ve used, people, and money making schemes. We are a generation of drug dabblers. I wonder where I missed the boat? Jay says Jan ought to go up to Yucatan, and fly home from there. Thus she saves money on airfare, and uses it to see more & stay longer. I think it’s a great idea - probably the only way I’ll ever get up to Tikal.

It was a full day of introducing Jan to El Maizal people, and then coming up here. <Before deciding to write by the fire, I lay on my blanket studying the stars, & trying to get a fix on Sofia.> I’m concerned about how she & Jan will react to each other. And how I’ll react seeing her the second time. But I hope for & fully expect a warm reunion. Lord do I need the boost a little lovin’ can give.


Journal, February 20, 1976 PM

Well, after a hectic day we are here in Metalio at the {beach} house about ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap. It’s hard to really grasp that Jan was up in those -20 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures a week ago, & here she is meeting Don Tin and Elena and Jay. She’s lying on my bed (tijera) reading "Watership Down" just as she probably did yesterday in Miami, and a week ago in Wisconsin - what’s a few thousand miles anyway. The heat really gets to her though. This trip is going to be the best diet she ever had!

I bought a hammock (4 varas {yards} long & cloth!) to sleep in, so she can have the cot. I got almost all my errands run in the capital. <I only lack the earrings I wanted for Sofia.> Hopefully we’ll take care of that Monday. We’re all set to go to Costa Rica on Tuesday. We got Jan’s ticket and visas for her so ...

We plan to take Conrad’s trip to the mountains tomorrow. Jan brought a real nice backpack, & is up for it, so we’ll give it a try. We’re going to El Maizal first. Jay says all havoc has broken loose in my absence.

Well, I think I’ll give Dante a short run, & go to bed.


Journal, February 20, 1976 AM

Boy, I feel like I’ve been dragged by the heels over gravel this morning. I had two beers with Jan last evening & had to get up in the middle of the night to urinate them away. I never did quite get back to sleep, and the people on the other side of the room divider have been up making noise since before six. Then there’s the cars, trucks and buses right outside our window. Last night Jan asked me if they didn’t believe in mufflers here!

Jan’s up now, so we’ll get going early today. Last night we talked solid from the airport ‘til we went to sleep, catching up on two years of each other’s experiences. Jan’s the number one family analyst, & is very concerned for how each one is making it. She reports optimistically on Tom, Carla & Donna, and pessimistically on Bruce. Time to get movin’, there’s a million things to do while she’s here!


Journal, February 18, 1976 PM

Whew, I just got done getting everything prepared to go to San Salvador tomorrow and pick up Jan. I’ll be lucky if I get there in one piece. I mashed my left thumb a good one today putting up chicken wire for the rabbits, and gouged a hunk out of my heel tonight when I went (barefoot) to a tienda {store} to buy a razorblade.

I got to get to bed before the mosquitoes finish me off, so I will forego all the wisdom I had stored up for tonight.

Journal, February 17, 1976 PM

Today, Antonio and I started dividing the rabbit corral. We got the bricks laid and the wood cut. That’s about all I did too.

I’m listening to "Buenas Noches America {Good Evening America}" on Jay’s shortwave. Funny, thinking back, I thought I’d never be able to understand Spanish over the radio (they seemed to talk so fast). Now I hardly miss a word - it’s tough to shut it out when I’d like to! Voice of America gives a lot of good news though.

I washed my bike tonight. It needed it bad! The salt in the air here near the ocean is really murder on everything metal, and is rusting everything iron on the bike. There’s no real way to stop it, just slow it down with grease & oil.

I started up reading Dante’s "Divina Comedia {Divine Comedy}" again last night, and got through Canto II tonight. It’s all formality & hidden symbols I can’t get into so far, but I expect it to be more interesting when he starts describing the circles of hell. <It’s a classic I’ve always been going to read, & Sofia’s read it so I have two reasons to finish it.>


Journal, February 16, 1976 PM

Jan’s comin’ in 3 days. It’s really hard to believe! I think I’ll take her up into the mountains on that trip Conrad wrote about in the Peace Corps press - a sapphire in emerald setting. Then off to Costa Rica if I can win her over without being overbearing. Man I need to get down to Costa Rica & get my bearings. I was so fed up with El Maizal this morning that I was seriously considering taking a job in sociology (like Chico {Rodriguez} wants me to) and leaving them. It also occurred to me to hang on ‘til August and then go to the University {of Wisconsin - Madison}. I’m applying for the whole school year so it would be easy. I’ll keep that option open.

This afternoon Profy {Gomez} promised me bricks & wire to divide up the rabbits’ corral, so my attitude is fairly positive again. I went and got some maicillo {grain sorghum} for him in the pickup ‘cause he’s got a bad kidney. <I had a talk with the maicillo’s owner about his son in Los Angeles, how big the U.S. is, and having someone you care about far away (yup, I told him about Sofia).> He said he missed his wife & kids a lot when he had to spend 8 or 15 days away from them. We shared a feeling.

Jay just got back; he’s promised to make a balloon for the Patron Saint Festival in Metalio. He says the people were really excited about it. They said they always used to send up balloons for the festival, but people seemed to have forgotten how. Jay will enjoy showin’ ‘em how!

A guy in the tienda {store} asked me if I’d known a volunteer named Dennis Christen____, then recognized me & insisted he’d known me in San Isidro when I was working there. He’s an I.S.T.A. {Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria - the Salvadoran government’s agrarian reform agency, formerly known as the Instituto de Colonizacion Rural} employee, and it’s no wonder I don’t remember his face with the number of them that drifted through San Isidro in the 5 months I was there. Anyway he gave me “saludes {greetings}” from Don Torribio. I told him I’d talked with Don Torribio since leaving San Isidro because I knew his granddaughter Morena. Yea, he says, “Que bonita la muchacha, buena {What a pretty girl, nice}!” I agreed with him and things went along. I had Morena pretty well imprisoned in a back corner of my mind, now she’s out and about again. I’d thought I might call her (keeping my promise to help her practice English) when I went in to pick up Jan. Between that promise & curiosity I almost have to.


Journal, February 15, 1976 PM

I finished "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" before supper. It’s a fine, interesting book, but very depressing! We just can never beat the Combine (establishment, system, societal pressure to conform), we can only keep winning battles ‘til it annihilates us! No wonder there’s lots of us conforming "rabbits" around.

A whole mob showed up at the Kikilita {beach house} today. Lots of noisy kids obnoxiously using English words in their conversations to make sure they were bothering us to the max as we tried to read or rest and ignore them. The little bastards think they are being so clever, and are too sharp to be anything but civil when they talk directly to you, so there’s no good way of getting back at them without making a complete ass of yourself. I only hope they realize some day what it is to be harassed like that - what a negative feeling it gives one toward people. And then they’ll turn around & try to be the special buddy of the gringo {North American} (to exploit him of course) or ask an incredible favor right out of the blue (since all gringos are rich & have no sense of the value of money)!

Travelers say that people all over the third world are about the same. They’ll charge Europeans or North Americans more, serve them last, and try to beg money or favors off them. It’s enough to make even the most compassionate individual damned cagey after while!

With this wisdom now shared with all who shall venture to read these lines, I retire.


Letter, February 15, 1976

Hi folks,

I got a new form for you to sign here. It’s the new financial aids form for U.W.-Madison {University of Wisconsin – Madison}, replacing the Parents’ Confidential Statement. If I read it all right, you don’t have to fill it out, just look at questions 8, 9 & 10, and if you agree that all my answers should be no, you just sign in the box marked Parents’ Certification and Authorization and send it to this address:

College Scholarship Service
Box 2700
Princeton, NJ 08540

The pivotal question is whether you included me as a dependent for 1975 income tax. I don’t think you could have, because I’m over 22 and not a student; also I was completely financially independent through last year. I don’t plan to be at home for more than 2 weeks at a time or work summers at home, so the answers to 8 & 10 are accurate.

Actually I don’t expect to be in school until second semester – January 1977 – but am applying for all year because my financial aid application will get priority treatment that way. I figure to terminate in Peace Corps in late October or early November, then spend a month in Costa Rica attending Jaime Olson’s (fellow Peace Corps Volunteer) wedding among other things. I should make it back to Wisconsin to freeze my butt off in early December!

I just got the check to go with it from Banco Salvadoreño, so I will mail it right now. Try & get it signed and off by March 1st if possible. That’s the deadline from U.W.

Bruce writes me that Dad’s all excited about my being serious about a Latin American. Don’t worry Dad I’m a big boy now! Besides, you wouldn’t want me to end up a lone bachelor like Glen Krejchik {a cousin of my Dad} now would you? Always told me you wouldn’t!

Take care all,


Journal, February 14, 1976 PM

It’s the second night in Kikilita & I’m alone. Jay went to Sonsonate to work on his solar-powered hot air balloon with Conrad. They hope to make the first test flight tomorrow. I’m reading “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It gets heavy into the day to day insanity of the routine in a mental hospital, or in life for that matter. You just can’t let anyone puncture your self-confidence, or they’ll have you controlled - make a robot of you. Self doubt can make worms of us all!

I made yogurt today, but it isn’t real thick yet, so I’ll give it another day in the Sun. Joe’s turned out both times on the second day. The goats filled two bottles today (one apiece) & I sold the other to Don Tin.

The girls from El Maizal’s “grupo juvenil {children’s group}” had me going this morning saying it was “Dia de Los Enamorados {literally Lovers’ Day}”, and didn’t I send something to my “novia {girlfriend}”? Then it hit me (or Jay pointed it out) that it’s Valentine’s Day. <I already wished Sofia a happy Valentine’s Day twice, so I’m covered!>

We rapped with Mrs. Angelina Castro de Hernandez, the owner of our new place, this afternoon, and she agreed to get us keys made for our door, & to pay for materials if we screen in the place. So we’re pleased, & she seems pleased, & all is well back at the ranch.

<I was considering earlier in the evening, the implications of the fact that I can no longer scare up an image of Sofia in my mind.> Events I can remember of course, but a mental picture of her face, no. Maybe that’s why the invention of photography was so popular. But it’s really no substitute. Movement is what gives a face character. At best, the camera catches one mood. When you pose you can lose that! Anyway, it’s tough to be in love with a memory of an image. Really, it’s more like I remember that I couldn’t get enough of her when I was with her, so unless my brain was on vacation, she had something special about her that I got to go back and check out again!


Journal, February 13, 1976 PM (Friday the 13th)

It wasn’t a bad day for being unlucky in the U.S. Maybe its only unlucky up there where folks believe in it - nobody’s heard of it here.

We moved today & I am sitting on my tijera {cot} writing this in Kikilita, our new home. It has lots of plants & nice tile floors. It is painted red & yellow. But the mosquitoes are eating us alive! Getting screens up is our first goal.

Blanca made 3 trips with her car to bring our stuff over & Jay and I tried carrying his bed over between our bikes. I took a spill & we gave up on it. He almost lost it when we left it alone 5 minutes, and some enterprising campesino {peasant farmer} took it home, hoping we’d forget to come back for it. You can’t leave anything unguarded in this country - people everywhere and most of them poor.

I brought my tijera {cot} over from El Maizal in Profy’s { Profy Gomez, director of the El Maizal demonstration farm.} pickup. It was only the third time I’ve driven in El Salvador (in 1 year 6 months). Jay says I should rent a car while Jan’s here to show her around. That would surely up my driving time.

Jay & I taped 2 chapters of a shortened version of Huckleberry Finn for the two CREDHO lawyers to study. They already know a good deal of English, but say they have trouble understanding when people talk fast. It seems like a reasonable method to improve their listening ability. The lawyers are one of the most important services CREDHO offers the peasants. The two lawyers (husband & wife) impress me as intelligent and very dedicated, decent people. I often ponder on the idea: What motivates such people? I have no single answer. It seems they just fit into a situation where they have their lawyers’ prestige & salaries, but can be helping folks who could never get this quality of legal service on their own. They’re somewhat noble, but certainly not martyrs.

Jay’s got Radio Canada on the short wave. They say there have been lots of irregularities in the distribution of relief supplies in Guatemala. How disgusting! People starving & homeless, and the rich & the military are hording the food & supplies. Hopefully international exposure of these incidents will force some action, but people with power seldom get more than token castigation. The inhumanity of we humans never ceases to amaze me!


Journal, February 12, 1976 PM

Blanca’s here tonight. Maybe she’ll help us move our stuff tomorrow with her car. I hope so ‘cause it’ll be rough to do afoot & Profy {Gomez} may not show up tomorrow, either. I wrote to Merna & Gert tonight, finishing off my backlog. I hope the letters taper off for a while now.

Gert is unreal! She writes to tell me I should tell the “Costa Rica chic” to wait and go to law school. Dad’s thinkin’ the same thing, but would never come out & say it like that. Honesty is a precious trait & Gert has it in spades - can’t help saying what she thinks. And she’s still sharp as a razor at 75.

El Maizal is depressing. No hammer, no ripsaw, and I’m trying to build a fenced in yard for the goats. And worse, no one really gives a damn if anything is done for the animals. It’s infectious! I bet Jan will be balling me out for not doing more for them the first thing when she sees them! Thank God not everyone’s as lackadaisical as the average Salvadoran.


Journal, February 11, 1976 PM

I rolled off 3 letters tonight leaving me only two behind. I’m too conscientious about answering my mail - everybody writes me back & there I am swamped again. Thank God most of my family writes rarely!

Jay was kidding me about Jan coming today: “Sure she’s your sister!” and “How old is she?” I expect the two of them will get along famously (always liked that usage), especially if he pays a little banjo!

<Sofia’s fading on me.> I remembered how fiery those brown eyes can be once today, but such vivid recollections have become rare. <For the first time (or so it seems) I was tossing around the idea of marrying Sofia in August of ’77 tonight.> I’d get my start in school, & maybe work part of the summer. She would be able to take an intensive English course (maybe in July) and be ready to give U.W. (University of Wisconsin - Madison) a run in August. I don’t know if she could take just a half year of university courses in Costa Rica, like our semesters, but getting married in the canicula { Costarican name for a brief break in the rainy season which typically occurs in mid-August.}, and coming back to Wisconsin in harvest season, is esthetically appealing. She said she didn’t want to get married in December (because everybody does!), so maybe she’ll buy it. <I didn’t like the way Jaime was insinuating Monday night that Sofia was already laying the groundwork for a double wedding.> Much as I like Jaime & Pilar, the idea turns me off. No matter how it was organized I’d feel like I was taking part in someone else’s wedding!


Journal, February 10, 1976 PM

After copying in this morning’s entry I am looking for something resembling the classic: "Off again, on again, gone again, Finnegan." I got "expreso {express}" cards off to Costa Rica, but haven’t started answering my other mail (which includes letters from Merna & Bruce worth their weight in gold for their rarity!). <I reread Sofia’s entirely English postcard and decided it didn’t really sound as simplistic as it had seemed to yesterday.> She uses the simplest of words (as I do in Spanish, I’m sure), but the message has some depth, I think. I’m paranoid about marrying a simpleton!

We’re playing wait & see on the housing situation. Don Tin thinks the lady from Santa Tecla is ripping us off at 25 colones apiece per month. It all depends on your perspective! A beach house for $10.00 per month wouldn’t sound bad in letters home, but it’s more than the installments Don Tin pays on his house! Jay has a lead on another place & Don Tin is looking into it too, so we’ll see.

<I have to take Jan to meet Sofia, even though I have mixed feelings about it.> I want her reaction, I’ve always found her a reliable “mirror” - helping me to see situations more clearly through her insights. <But then doubt creeps in & I wonder if she’ll understand that I don’t have to be doing fascinating things with Sofia to be enchanted by her.> Just being around her has seemed to be enough so far. <Also, because Jan will almost always be with me, I’ll almost never be alone with Sofia, bummer.> We may do more sightseeing too, to keep Jan entertained!


Journal, February 10, 1976 AM

I’m writing on the back of a telegram in Santa Tecla today. I came into town with Elena this morning (actually the morning before I wrote this originally on the telegram) to try & rent a beach house. We’ll rent it for now anyway, from the lady here in Santa Tecla that Ed Schiffer used to buy his milk from!

I decided to get my Nicaraguan visa while here and while I was running around doing that & other errands, they phoned a telegram from Jan over to the Peace Corps office. It just said: "Arriving 2/19 confirm via Friendship." So I stayed in town & called home last night to find out the particulars. Turns out she’s driving to Miami and then flying down - will arrive 6:30 PM. Mom also said things were finally warming up at home (40 degrees) and they had a heifer calf. I said “Hi” to Carla.

So the Costa Rica trip is postponed a few days at the least. We’ll try and talk Jan into going Monday or Tuesday of the next week. <I’ve got to get new letters off to Sofia and the Castillo Murillo family advising of plan changes.>

I got together with Jaime, Diego, Miguel, Ron & Nancy for a pizza last night. Nice B.S. session. We plan to set up a party for mid-September, before people start leaving. I still find my group the sanest, most down home folks I know in Peace Corps.

Journal, February 8, 1976 PM

My pea brain is apparently stuck on January; I looked back & found I had written January this morning too!

Today we got notified that we have to get out of the rancho {beach house} this week. The Doctor came yesterday, put new locks on the kitchen, bathroom and front gate, and left no key with the caretaker. He just told the caretaker’s wife some relatives were going to be staying there a while, starting Saturday. Pretty subtle, huh. I guess we’d just been taking too much advantage of a good thing. So now it’s over.

I’m going to San Salvador early in the morning to see about renting another beach house. Elena’s going too, so she’s going to introduce me to the owner. Elena came out to the conejera {rabbit hutches} special to see me today (she’s hustling me now!), and was being extra sweet and coy. <I showed her Sofia’s picture.> Maybe that will convince her I’m not playing games when I say, “Friends, no more.” After she left, Antonio called me over and said, “Le quiere mucho {She loves you}!” I said yeah, I knew, but one good novia {girlfriend} was all I really needed.


Journal, February 8, 1976 AM

I slept hard and long last night. It’s 8:00 and I’m still not out of bed. I haven’t been able to sleep so many hours at one stretch for some time.

I had a great time in Atiocoyo. Ismael Peña was there - on a Saturday surprisingly enough. I’ve been meaning to visit him & his wife in San Salvador for I don’t know how long. He says he’s going to college in the States next fall no matter what. He plans to borrow the money, but wants to know about work permits & stuff like that. I’ll read over the info. I got from U.W. {University of Wisconsin-Madison} about foreign students and see if it contains any useful stuff. I promised to go see him about March 5 or 6.

We helped Mr. Yu move his broken rice paddy tractor out of a paddy they want to plant and into a dry one. They are putting the majority of the “Granja Agricola” {Agricultural or Crop Farm} into wet rice (12-15 hectares!). Those plots he did last year must have really impressed them!

I had a fine relaxing afternoon with Mr. Yu. We had a fantastic meal, as always when I visit him, and played 3 games of chess. He loves to play so much that, even though I usually have trouble getting into chess, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I even won one game!

He even took me to Aguilares on his moto {motorcycle}, since he said he was going anyway. I got to see how the irrigation works are progressing. Incredibly slow is the impression I got, the main canal is now seemingly complete out to where it crosses the road from Atiocoyo going south, but no irrigation is being done from the dam. The granjas {project experimental farms} are still using that little system the previous owners had. I was thoroughly disappointed.

In Aguilares we waited for the train at a tienda run by two amazingly attractive teenage girls and their mother. Mr. Yu has a knack for charming people, & had them all thoroughly won over. As he says, he just likes to play the clown with folks. Mr. Chwang came by, & it was good to see him too. I hope to get out there again, but as the song goes: … tener amor y amigos cuesta tanto {having love and friends is so difficult}!

Journal, February 7, 1976 AM

I’m writing this in the San Salvador train depot. I’m going to Atiocoyo at 6:15. I got myself into one of those situations I’d like to kick myself in the butt for getting into last night. I went with Dave Quarles to check out rumors of an informal party at the hotel where the new {Peace Corps} trainees are staying. All we ran into at first was Gary Forrest & when the new people did show up they were headed for bed. So we wandered down to the Campana {restaurant/bar} & there ran into Tom Morgan, Rick English, and a trainee - Dave ______. They were looped & singing ranchero songs with the musicians & other drunken customers. I should’ve split then! We had a few beers & then Rick & Tom were up for going to a whorehouse! I wasn’t, but agreed to come along & have a beer with them there. Meanwhile the trainee disappeared.

We grabbed a taxi (I just got on the train.) & headed clear out past the airport. So all was relatively cool while Rick, Tom & Gary hustled chics, & Dave & I sat and B.S.’ed. The tension started when Tom came back & tried to get his money back from the cashier ‘cause the chic wouldn’t fuck. Looking back, it probably was a setup because she was the toughest lookin’ chic in the place - probably the cashier’s girl. I went up to the bar to try and help straighten things out. Tom’s masculinity had been insulted and he was lookin’ for someone to punch. Some well-heeled dude at the bar tossed out ¢100 and told the cashier to give Tom his money. So Tom went away momentarily satisfied (not realizing how he’d gotten the money) & I thanked the dude for avoiding a hassle. Then Rick came out & Tom started talkin’ about breakin’ some chairs - they were both far gone! Rick finally decided to leave (he had gotten laid!), but Tom picked up a bottle & headed for the bar. I got in front of him and tried to move him towards the door, but he threw the bottle down & when someone threw another down (seemingly as a counter threat) he was ready to break heads. I pushed him toward the door then, & had him just outside the door when the S.O.B. cashier snuck up and shoved us both off the porch & slammed the door with a cry of “cerdos!” {pigs}. Well, I was ready to punch him then, but there was no way they were going to open that door. Dave got left inside & eventually wandered out a side entrance. I’m still mad at that cashier! After I avoided a serious hassle, he pushes me from behind and calls me names (I paid the bar bill too). What a weasel!

Obviously I made it to the capital. I got my bus ticket & got all my other errands run. I ran into Diego {Cox}, Mary Ann’s brother & a friend. Diego says he’s going to Costa Rica with us the 20th. The other two are headed to Costa Rica today, they were in Guatemala City when the quake hit. They got through unscathed, but saw some badly injured folks, & a lot of destroyed buildings. Real nice guys. I should have gone drinkin’ with them!

<I’m still bein’ good Sofia!> None of the whores I saw in that joint looked very good to me. Mostly they are flabby, lazy individuals & so vain!