8.04.2016

Journal, June 11, 1976 AM

After yesterday I don’t even have a pen left to write with. {The original journal entry is written in pencil!} But I’m lucky to be home in Santa Tecla. I could well have been in jail! Coming back from Jocoro yesterday I was involved in an accident out in front of the airport. A truck with a load of hogs on board wanted to pull out from behind a bus that had stopped, rather than stop himself, and he didn’t even notice (apparently) that I was in the left lane right beside him. I hit the horn, but it is so soft in that damn truck & it was too late anyway. He hit me & the bus, and half spun me so that I too hit the bus, but not hard. I no more than turned off the engine and got out than a Guardia Nacional {National Guard soldier} grabbed me, said “Mirá que hiciste! {Look what you did!}”, and put my hands behind my back, tying my thumbs together with a piece of twine - but tight! He didn’t ask me anything, not even my name, and the driver of the truck that hit me was talking a mile a minute to the other guardias. A spectator really helped me out at this point. He pulled out a piece of paper, and asked my name and address. He also agreed to go call someone for me, & I had him take out my wallet to get Peace Corps Office’s number & that of John Jones {Peace Corps Director}. (It’s after noon and I’m just getting back to this while sitting in the office of the Nicaraguan Consul getting a visa.) I have spent all morning filling out the accident form.

When the guardias & transit police heard I was a gringo {North American} & a Cuerpo de Paz {Peace Corps Volunteer}, they started getting friendlier & asking me for my papers, etc. Anyway, by the time Chico Rodriguez got there from Peace Corps Office, they had removed the cuffs, gotten my version of the thing and given me back my keys. The pickup had 3 dents in the right side, but was not damaged in the frame, motor or drive train, so Chico and I went over to the Policia Nacional {National Police station}, as instructed, after getting vehicle license numbers & what other info. we could. At the police station they just got the vehicle registration numbers & stuff, and gave me my license & carnet back. And this morning there were the insurance forms.

I had begun the day early at Fred’s {Tracy} in Jocoro. I was up shortly after 5 AM. We ate breakfast and hit the road for Anamaros about 7. Jaime {Olson}, Fred & I got to Anamaros (first time for me) after crossing a real rushing river which came up almost to the body of the jacked up 4-wheel drive pickup. Jaime stayed with us, and we hit El Sauce next, where Diego {Cox} was waiting, having come up on his motorcycle. We stopped only to unload the sorghum seed in each place since they wanted the truck back by noon. We also went to Bolíva and left seed, even though Russ {Soules} was not around. (I think that’s where my pen ended up!) Back to Jocoro, I left Fred and lit out for San Salvador with the fickle finger of fate zeroing in on me!

Fred is an incredible worker. He drives himself so hard he seldom gets more than 2 meals a day, and at times forgets about eating altogether until the evening. Peace Corps has done amazing things for his selfconfidence too - as I told Chico last night when he was driving me home. He’s no longer the insecure guy who drank himself into a semi-stupor and then cried uncontrollably when his buddy Rick Sherman left during training. Fred is a super extensionist and {Peace Corps} Volunteer support man. If Chico can work it out, he’ll stay on an extra year as a special Volunteer/agency coordinator.

All of the guys were as affected as I was by the fate of Doña Elena, the proprietress of the rooming house we always frequented. Fred said it represented for him all that he most detests about this country. Jaime said he couldn’t bring himself to go back over to the rooming house. Diego said he went and everyone was just very subdued and very sad.

Jaime & Diego are worried about the prospect of war with Honduras, since they live close to the frontier. They are already making contingency plans in case of invasion!

I told Jaime we should go over to the Peace Corps Office while in Costa Rica in July, and see if they’d be interested in trying to find us jobs to hang around there for a year. He agreed we should check into it, but wants a ‘good job’ or nothing. Vamos a ver {We’ll see}!

On my fateful trip back to the capital, I first gave a Jocoro kid with a sick relative a ride to San Miguel. Then at the bridge over the Rio Lempa {known as the Puente de Oro or Gold Bridge}, I was flagged down by two Transito {Traffic} policemen who wanted a ride to San Salvador. Of course I couldn’t have refused, but at the time I got out of the truck to talk to them I noticed that my left rear tire was leaking air like mad. Tough luck officers! The officer who asked me for a ride, when he saw I had a flat & couldn’t take him, said, “Que mala suerte la de nosotros. {What bad luck we are having.}” (meaning the 2 cops!)

It took me 2 hours or more to fix the tire. The spare had a nut you should have been able to turn by hand, but it was rusted on & impossible to move, so I had to borrow a wrench and take off a bolt with 6-7 inches of rusty threads on it to get at that spare. I was aided by a dried out drunkard who I rewarded with a Colon for booze. Sometimes drunks are almost useful!

So off I went again, sin policias {without the police}, and on to my fateful encounter with a truckload of pigs and a Ruta {Route} 29 bus in front of the airport!

In the evening Chico gave me a lift home & I split a Regia beer with Steve Hayes to calm the nerves. We ate supper together, he providing rice mixed with ground meat & spices, and I a little cheese and red beans. Friends can be a comfort!

I should have written in this journal last night, but was too keyed up and didn’t get to bed (after showering - I was a dirty, smelly mess from changing the tire!) until 10:30 as it was. It is now 2 PM. What a day it was yesterday! I don’t need too many of those!

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