Last in a series – letters home from Nicaragua

Nicolás and I sizing up a Pochote log for our next cut. We used Pochote for framing. It is incredibly hard and we had to use it wet or it bent our nails. It secretes a watery red sap and my shoulders were stained from carrying the freshly-cut lumber. (This must be an early photo, as I don’t see the red stains on my shirt.) If you didn’t keep your head slightly to the side when pounding a nail, you could get squirted in the eye.
Brent and I making a 4″ slice with an Alaska mill to make the next batch of 4x4s. The mill is a chainsaw with depth guide. For large logs, we had a mill with motors on both ends.

Links to prior posts: Mole Poblano, for the tale of the trip with Ken noted above. Tribute, for a recent post about Ken. Equinox includes a tribute to Keith Greeninger, a singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz with whom I worked in 1987, with one of the songs he wrote during our time there. What to Read While You Recuperate includes a brief review of a book by Jane McAlevey, with whom I also worked in Nicaragua, as well as another photo of the work in progress.

P.S. After staying with Rob for the summer (and helping remodel his bathroom), I found a job as a plumber in San Francisco and quickly moved there, since I was 50 miles away at the time, and my job was starting in a few days. I was soon to discover the joys of commuting by bike in San Francisco, in a neighborhood with 20% grades.

After two history courses that were mostly within my lifetime (Black Music and American Cultural History, and History of the Cold War – which included this period in Nicaragua), and sorting through a box of papers last weekend, I realized I wanted to be sure these letters were preserved. As I continue digging, you may see more.

I just came across a cassette of Keith’s demo tape of songs he wrote in Nicaragua. Some were subsequently recorded and released by City Folk. Some were never released. I also just learned that my local library has an Archiving Lab, where one can digitize audio cassettes and VHS tapes. I’ll go in for training next week and I hope to digitize Keith’s demo and post the song I have mentioned more than once in these posts.

Letters from camp #3

[Ed. Note: Transcribed by a friend in the US, from my hand-written letter .]

The last line reads “I work in the woods, the only Gringo on a logging and milling crew. Carlos…”

[Ed. Note: While Carolina called me “Grampa”, I didn’t feel old enough to be a grampa, so I responded by calling her “niece”. It didn’t work. I remained “Grampa”. Theoretically, I was old enough to be a grampa, but I wasn’t a dad yet, though I was a mom – different story – so was “Gramma” to a couple of kids in the US.]