Getting and sending mail from El Real was an iffy proposition. It happened that my outgoing letters to the family were held up by the person responsible for the mail. He kept the money I gave him for the stamps and was found out by my friend who to happened to see them in this person’s home. I got them all back. Things like that were not unusual for me, not everyone was kind.
I lived in a small room in the hospital and slept on an army cot, it was my only piece of furniture besides my black trunk. I’d brought from home a small tocadiscos phonograph and a couple albums to play, living in the hospital meant I had electricity during the day with their generator, while the rest of the town only had it from 6pm until midnight. Between the Doctors quarters and my quarters and the hospital ward there was a small screened visiting room where I spent time with my English speaking friend who helped me adjust to my new circumstances. The Doctors wife wasn’t able to be in the sun and spent her days with her son in their room, she didn’t speak English and you know my Spanish was non-existent at that time so we didn’t spend time together. I had a perico (small green bird) that stayed on my shoulder (clipped wings) as I walked around town until I sat on it. He (?) was sitting on my cot, I didn’t see him. So Sad.
Somehow my grandmother was able to send me two huge dark fruitcakes for several years and it was a royal treat to share with friends. They were sent to the Panama City address and then sent on to El Real via the daily flights from Panama City to El Real. We were so happy to have and share them. ( I was even moved to bake fruitcake heavy on the rum myself for a few years.)
It’s funny that while I look back on a memory, other related memories crowd in and I have to make room for it. It’s the details that make a story spark, I’m trying for the spark!
I admit to being guilty of not fulfilling my two-year obligation to the Peace Corps. I mentioned this in an earlier post but as I said, I stayed in my ‘town’ for 6 years, leaving when my daughter was ready to start school. She was thrilled to start school as a listener in her uniform with her two friends in El Real but it was time for us to go live in the big city. Love that photo!
I married the English speaking friend.