6.14.2017

Journal, December 10, 1976 PM

I’m in Chicago. If I’m not pretty lucky I may be in Chicago until tomorrow. My flight out of Guatemala today was held up an hour and a quarter while the Guatemalan Air Force demonstrated their proficiency by dropping smoke bombs on the runway! That’ll show those British!

As a result I missed my connecting flights to Chicago & Madison. I got another flight here, but there is only one more flight to Madison tonight (North Central {airline} - 10 PM), and they don’t know if they have space. I’m on standby. I hope to heck my folks didn’t come all the way down from Friendship {WI} to meet me. I was supposed to be there at 7:35 and when I wasn’t on the flight, they surely were worried as all get out. My present plan is that if I get to Madison late and no one is there, I’ll take a cab to DTS {fraternity} and spend the night there. I don’t know Jan’s or Merna’s phone numbers to call them.

<Sofia didn’t cry this morning.> She played it just right. You’re going, but you’re coming back. <A sister and nephew also saw me off.>

I had interesting conversations on each flight:

San Jose to Guatemala City - I sat next to a guy from Riverside, California who is working with the national planning office in Costa Rica. He’s a technocrat economist, but a guy concerned about people, a very intelligent guy. We traded impressions of Central America.

Guatemala City to Miami - (There were 2) (1) A friendly, conventional Guatemalan school teacher who said I looked like her son, & paid my Spanish the complement of asking if I was Guatemalan. (2) A Borden Company executive who works out of New York, travels extensively to Europe & Latin America, lived 10 years in Venezuela and is from Minnesota. In a word, he was fascinating to talk to. Among other tidbits he said the Minister of Agriculture of El Salvador is a great guy, knows nothing about agriculture, but is a great guy. He talked some about the things corporations do routinely to get contracts in Latin America. Wining and dining the military is standard procedure in countries like El Salvador. He’s a pragmatist & a cynic. He doesn’t like it all, but it’s business. We discussed the world milk market, & the relative utility of education & land reform as methods of spreading the benefit of development. He’s for education & against land reform. He makes a strong case. Apparently even petty airline employees will help you for a price in Central America, according to one remark he made. I freely admit that I don’t know how to react to basically good, right-minded, intelligent, but (a la vez {at the same time}) cynically pragmatic people like him. I find the same cold, calculating sentiment in me. I do sense that it’s dangerous & must be carefully controlled if one wants to be a moral human being.

Miami to Chicago - A lab equipment salesman for southern Michigan & northern Indiana, who was very friendly & decent. He was coming back from a company short course & all fired up about it. He was in the army in Germany & could sympathize with many of my Peace Corps experiences. His friend, a Chicago native, helped me find the baggage claim area. Nice guys, but very much content to be company men & put any excess energy into their private lives.

You meet interesting people traveling, & there is a certain sense of comradeship. Today I was fortunate in that respect.

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