January 23, 1985
Dear Mom and Dad,
Happy anniversary! When I last spoke with you, you mentioned something about a trip to celebrate 40 years of togetherness. I hope it was a happy time. Today I sent a box of stuff home by surface mail. I have not needed my sleeping bag since I left 4 months ago and so sent it. Now that I have wheels for my pack I've been thinking that a different design without shoulder straps might have been better. I'm not backpacking/camping through Europe; I'm hostel/cheap hotel hopping. The bag and pack will serve well for future camping/backpacking trips. I sent 5 rolls of film by airmail. Please develop them as inexpensively as possible. Some pictures may be too dark. On some of the rolls I was afflicted by a certain “snap-happy” curse which I hope that I have escaped from now. I will reimburse you for the developing costs. Also in the surface mail box is a bunch of stuff I didn't want to lug around. The letters are personal but you're welcome to look at everything else. Two more things before I tell you what I've been doing. Instead of going to India, Far East in April, May, June (worst time of the year there) I am considering going to South America (perhaps Ecuador) to study Spanish at a special intensive course in Quito, Ecuador. Thomas Martinsen in Oslo told me about it. Realization of the linguistic isolation of the United States is one of the important things I've learned on my trip and starting to learn Spanish seems a natural step. India in June would be unpleasant and perhaps infectiously dangerous. As I see it now, I will return to California a week or two before Leif's wedding - early enough so I can help with preparations and early enough so my return doesn't draw attention away from Leif and Amy.
I've been sending Norman, Karen, and Jim occasional post cards but I'm sure they would like to see all of the letters I've been sending to you. Call them and tell them they are welcome to come visit separately or together and read my letters. Jim - 426-4331, Norman, Karen - I don't have their number - It's in the green address book I sent home from Jamestown under the G's - Norman Gelbart, Karen Pladsen. They live in El Cerrito - 415 area code.
I'm in Amsterdam now and saw a fantastic collection of modern art. Also a great Van Gogh museum. I sent a book and a poster home from them. Paintings from the 19th, 20th centuries strike a chord in me and I like many of them. Earlier than that and my eyes fill up quickly. I don't understand them.
I have met quite a variety of people since I wrote last.
Ervin - at least 70 years old, from Italy, natural foods advocate, talks too much, listens too little, thinks everything is important, is going to various U.S. embassies in Europe to advise them to use withholding of food as a weapon against Russia.
Emanuella - from Argentina, working, studying in Germany in mathematics, computer science. Would have liked to have spoken more with her.
Kaled - met him in Hamburg 1 1/2 weeks ago. from Egypt seeking political asylum in Germany or anywhere. No longer wants to be a citizen of his country. They don't want to let him go as he is an articulate, educated man - a doctor. He disagrees strongly with customs, government. He is at times excessively polite.
Lisa - my W. German friend I met in Iceland. Only 22 yet very mature. Yet her youth shows at times. I visited her for 4 days. We didn't do anything remarkable. We really didn't. I went swimming in the Weisbaden therapeutic mineral baths. We drove 140 km/hr on the autobahn to Frankfurt where Lisa is a stewardess with Lufthansa. Did laundry in a laundromat with must be 20 year old American-made washing machines. Went to casino in Weisbaden and played roulette. We played small stakes, red and black. Played 8 times in all, lost only on the first. We were amazed. I did the playing. Lisa was afraid of something. She helped decide red/black. To university at Mainz where Lisa may apply. To dumb (but fun) movie, “Top Secret”. It didn't matter that I couldn't understand the dialogue. To a Weinstube. They only serve wine, have amateur pianist, cozy place. Good for conversation. I helped Lisa write letter in English to some Egyptians. I may not see Lisa again and she says she doesn't write many letters. We helped each other. She helped me clarify the kind of woman that I do / don't need / want. We did make a connection on a certain level but no deeper.
Rudolf - Older (50) man with whom Lisa shares an apartment. Doesn't speak English much so I can't say I know him. I sensed he was uneasy when Lisa and I spoke English together so I often let them converse in German while I slowly ate and drank and tried to avoid the smoke from their cigarettes. When Lisa left for work and we were alone, he spoke in the best English he could about the subject he thought most important to discuss - World War II.
Chuck - Young fellow on leave from the Army infantry duty in W. Germany. Met in hostel/hotel in Amsterdam. He's been in the army for 5 years and is getting out in 3 months. The Army Way permeates him. Speech, attitude, behavior, habits. I came into the “dorm” room we share and smelled marijuana. Very common here. Maybe legal?
Jenny, Alistair - soon-to-be lawyers from South Africa. We went to a play (in English in Amsterdam) written in 1961 about S. Africa's racial, political conflict. Excellent. I've got to learn more about it. We became good friends and will keep in touch.
Steven - 22 year old black fellow from New York travelling through Europe auditioning for ballet troupes. Talented, single minded, gentle, will succeed.
No more room!
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