6 September 2008

Letter 3.26

Panajachel -- February '76

To let you know I'm alright, i.e. unharmed physically, I'm working in the refugee camps and stricken villages. Towns consist of streets six inches deep with dust, surrounding neat squares of rubble, two or three feet high, covered by a sprinkling of rooftops, some at crazy angles. Here and there a door frame stands, connected to wall fragments, jammed shut, the only way one cannot enter upon these huge adobe-shattered courtyards. Refugee camps consist of endless twisting lines of people waiting, waiting for food, medical attention, used clothing, shelter against the cold winds, against the continuing tremors, against the fear of their own mortality. Villages consist of uncomprehending Indians standing about in piles of rubble too stunned to do anything more than that, or too hungry, or too hurt...

I've not disposed of your novels: they're stored in L.A. at me sister's place. Hope I don't have the world's only copy and that if you need to refer to yourself you'll be capable of doing so through other carbon papers, or perhaps even through none at all.

I finished Chapter IV of Getting Off the day before the quake and shall begin Chapter V after things settle down and return to complacent normalcy. These days there are more important things to do than to talk for hundreds of pages of my attempts -- my attempts, mine, mine, MINE! -- to become egoless, and crack a few jokes of doubtful humor.

Anyway, I have no intention of leaving Guatemala voluntarily (although there are rumors that they're going to clear the country of tourists because of food shortages, health dangers, the P.M.'s astrology chart, or whatever other reasons they wish to find), so my address remains unchanged (although I can't say the same for myself: the quake has left me changed, for how long, and whether for better or worse, remains to be seen).


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