Letter, June 13, 1976

Dear Mom, Dad & all,

Thanks for the letters and pictures. It really seemed like a long time since you’ve written though it probably didn’t seem so long to you since you’re in one of your busiest times of the year. <I guess I’ll have to teach Sofia not to put her thumb in front of the lens when she takes pictures!>

Telling me about what everyone’s doing there makes me feel like I’m missing a lot! You’re all going to forget I’m a member of the family and treat me like a stranger when I come home. But then the same thing would have happened if I’d gone away to school somewhere.

I’m working for the DNR {Department of Natural Resources} of El Salvador now. I got sick of the shoddy way things were done at El Maizal (or in many cases not done!) and have gone back to working in sociology. I work for the department of planning at the Natural Resources Department and for the first time ever I have a counterpart – a native {meaning Salvadoran} sociologist who I’m assigned to work with. I think I have more of a chance to be productive in this job than in the others I’ve had here. There are still things I don’t like, but I think it would be the same working in a government job in the U.S. I hope to have some input into a major study the department will do of a watershed in the northcentral part of the country with grave erosion problems. El Salvador is just discovering the value of integrated resource planning & they have a long way to go.

Boy I got the living shit scared out of me last Thursday! I got into a car accident coming back to San Salvador from helping deliver sorghum seed on the east side of the country. I was alone, driving the Peace Corps pickup (the 4th time I’ve driven anything but a motorcycle in a year and a half). I was hit in the right side by a guy trying to change lanes to avoid stopping behind a parked bus. I don’t think he realized I was there until he hit me. I sounded my horn, but it’s pretty soft in that truck. Anyway, he scraped my door, hit the bus, and my back bumper hooked his front one causing me to spin part way around, and hit the bus with my front end too. No one was hurt, but when I got out of the pickup, some dude from the National Guard had already decided it was convenient to blame it all on me & he grabbed me and tied my thumbs together behind my back as I stood there incredulous! Recently another Volunteer got thrown in jail overnight on a trumped up charge & came out with hepatitis, so I was pretty nervous. After finding out I was a gringo {North American} & Peace Corps & all they replaced the rope (it really cut off circulation!) with handcuffs, but I must have spent 20 minutes or more in the handcuffs before they listened to my version of what happened & decided I was not a dangerous criminal. The next day I filled out an insurance report and Peace Corps says they’ll take care of it now, but what a scare!

This week we’re going to have a conference for all PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} at Lake Coatepeque – same place as last year. I hope to go to Costa Rica for a week early in July – in fact I expect to be there for the 4th. Right now I’m scouting around for miniature U.S. flags and fireworks (especially fireworks!) for the celebration. Congratulations to Carla on her graduation! Take care all you folks!


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