Journal, October 27, 1977 PM

One month later I read over for the first time what I wrote concerning my reaction to finding out about Dad’s imminent operations. Since that time I’ve heard nothing from Friendship {WI}. I wrote my brother Bruce a strong letter in which I poured out my ideas about the situation at home. I’m unsure whether he’ll sympathize with my views. Perhaps he’ll write it off as a strange over reaction to a trivial matter by someone too far from the farm to even see the top of the silo. Perhaps he’d be correct, but I’ve not changed my ideas in any substantial way. I’m calm, in certain moments of mental unemployment I consider alternative strategies for solving specific problems on the farm or dream up future scenarios of what the farm could become given alternative modernization strategies. I don’t know why the farm is so important to me right now.

Present time: I’m spending the night in Guacimo with Carl Reed and his wife Susan. It took us 7 hours to get here from San Jose, and we only managed to do one interview. Carl did the interview and all the driving today. The poor guy’s beat! And then he’s got to take special care of Susan, because like most “Gringas {North Americans}” she’s not accustomed to the distinctly shitty sanitary conditions of rural accommodations in Costa Rica (i.e. spiders & webs, rats, toilets that don’t flush). One toilet here has fresh diarrhea in it. She’s bearing up with true American spirit though. <I’m sure Sofia would be more volatile (ready to tell off the manager, etc.).>

Poor Carl, he’s doing all the thinking and all the pushing on this grain storage survey. What we’re doing at this point is testing our questionnaire. Between the bean cooking, which takes up so much time & leaves my brain fried & my disposition which is generally sullen, and my natural (if insidious) tendency to be passive and let the initiative be taken by others, etc. I’m of little more good to him than Fred was to Super Chicken. I have to offer to drive tomorrow. It’s too little & too late, but it will also help break my present mental block against driving.

I’m a most peculiar creature. I am capable of developing a mental block toward doing almost anything that I haven’t done for a while. I’ve yet to experience a mental block against lovemaking, but it may become possible as I get older & less virile.) Anyway, with the driving, I’ve been nervous about it since I had the accident in El Salvador. However, I drove while in the U.S. last year, with no reservations. I drove for the first time in Costa Rica about a week ago, & managed to make it from San Pedro to Santo Domingo without hitting anything. I did stall once & remove the windshield wiper knob (which I later figured out how to put back on correctly).

Carl, Susan & I just went out for a beer. We got lucky & a guy bought us a second round without even coming over to talk at us (or breath on us!). It was good. I felt it relaxed all three of us. We talked about experiences, even religion. Carl’s father is a preacher. Knowing that fact makes him more comprehensible. Susan takes change for her dollar from the collection dish. She’s irreverent, practical, and very likeable. Susan is the first person I’ve seen since Linda Carr who has double-jointed elbows. Linda Carr is an acquaintance from grade school & high school who repeatedly returns to my conscious memory because of a particularly weird role she played in those years of my life. In grade school she was the special outcast of my class. In high school, the anonymity of a larger universe let her develop a more normal role. She eventually married a very popular local guy.

<Sofia invited two of her sisters over for tonight, rather than go to her parents’ house.> She says they’re going to raise hell since I’m gone. <I would’ve liked to have brought Sofia along to see the new country I saw today, but she’d never have stood the grueling ride in here from Siquirres.> After we went to Orotina in this same International Scout II with the loose & banging back window, she swore she’d never again go anywhere in said machine.

We went to the {U.S.} Embassy yesterday to see about the visa, and for a morning’s waiting were repaid with a new form to fill out and an appointment with the vice-consul in two weeks. I was angry at the time, but such is bureaucracy, whether it be Joe Tico’s or Uncle Sam’s.

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