Journal, April 15, 1976 AM

I wonder if Dad’s planting oats today. I’ve told so many people here in Central America that we plant oats around April 15th in Wisconsin, that I’ve come to believe he has to plant right on the day, almost.

Yesterday we were on the move so much I only got one meal, breakfast. <We went to Ojo de Agua {swimming resort} in the morning, & to visit Sofia’s married sister in the evening.> Afterwards I had a beer & a half. <Sofia had the same as part of her policy, and with so little food in me it was enough to make me sleep like a baby.>

That water at Ojo de Agua was so cold I would come out of it shivering. <No one else was affected by it, not even slender, frail Sofia, and she’s worried about Wisconsin weather!> It’s so invigorating though, cold spring water from deep in the Earth to bring goose bumps to your flesh and then that hot tropical sun to warm you to your bones. The man who saw that giant spring, envisioned it all, & designed the system of falls & pools was a genius. The cold water keeps flowing through the system so the pools are practically self-cleaning.

I got back to the house in time to watch Doña Carmen make some tamales. They heat up the banana leaves so they fold around the tamal without cracking. The whole process doesn’t look too tough. You just need corn “masa {dough}” with lard & spices mixed in, and the meat, white beans, potatoes and/or “picadillo {chopped meat and vegetable mixture}” to put inside. Just package the filling in the “masa” and wrap it in the leaf. They cook them in a pressure cooker now. I wonder what they do in El Salvador where not too many folks can afford pressure cookers.

<About 4:30 we got off to Sofia’s sister’s & her husband’s house in Heredia. They live in a little colonia {neighborhood} of cement “boxes on a hillside” on the very edge of town. Actually, it’s very quiet & quite nice, except for some as yet unidentified shrill sound which kept piercing our tranquility. They have a parrot and 3 smaller birds out back. One of the 3, a finely featured, medium blue beauty, was restless, and moved with incredible speed from one to another of the 4 perches in his cage. It reminded me of a Roadrunner or Speedy Gonzales cartoon, because you only see a blur when it moves, & then there it is, perfectly still, looking at you from the other perch. We had some warm & superb raisin cake & some pasteles {pies or turnovers}. The filling was the color & consistency of pitted & mixed up prunes, but the flavor was distinct. You never really find out what good “postres {desserts}” they have in a country until you get invited into private homes! It’s true here, El Salvador, Wisconsin. And you need to find the good cooks of course!

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