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Random Thoughts on Santa Barbara

By Don Moore

Following are a few selected comments of an e-mail response I wrote to a U.S. college student who did a short stint in Santa Barbara.


Where in Santa Barbara did you live?

I actually lived in a couple different places. My first three months were in Tegucigalpa for Peace Corps training. Then it was to Santa Barbara for two years. For the first 7-8 months I lived in "downtown" Santa Barbara. I assume the market is still in the same place, behind the church. If you walked out of the back of the market (the side opposited the church) and made a right to go uphill, I was just a block away. That is, half a block from the back of the market to the next intersection and then another half-block to the house. At the time that was the "Peace Corps" house in Santa Barbara. It had been rented to PCVs since the early 1970s.

As I worked at the Normal school, I decided to move closer to work, so I then moved to a house out in Galeras (the village by the high school and normal school). I lived for a few months in a house along the main road very close to the entrance to the Normal school, but that was too dusty (the road wasn't paved then). After about 4 months another place became available across the road back behind the Galeras primary school so I moved there and spent my last year in that house. It was nice - it was about 100 yards back from the road, so no dust or noise, few and quiet neighbors, a nice yard, etc. I could go back to that house in a minute.

My first day in Santa Barbara, 700 men set the prison on fire and got out...

I was inside that prison once. Maybe I mentioned it in one of my articles, I can't recall. The Normal, of course, was a teacher- training high school. The students became primary school teachers upon graduation. The second year students (equivalent of juniors) did a week-long practicum every year. The first year I was a ssigned to supervise the group that were doing adult-ed in the prison during the afternoons. (Most of the groups were assigned to primary schools.) The prisoners were very receptive and interested. At that time, though, there couldn't have been more than 150-200 men in that place. I can't imagine 700. No wonder they rioted. Anyway, I suspect the reason I was assigned there was because I was the newbie among the faculty and didn't know to protest. The whole place stunk strongly of urine inside (I never noticed any smell outside the walls), so it wasn't a very pleasant week in that regard. But, the men were nice enough. The second year they assigned me to supervise at a small school in a rural village about a two-mile walk off the highway north of town. That was more fun and a lot more pictueresque.

We didn't have very much school, though, because we had...

I know that feeling. Six weeks after I arrived at the Normal, the students went on strike. Actually it was just the second year students. They were protesting the poor grades the Sociology teacher gave on midterms. They occupied the buildings and held them for about two weeks, not letting teachers in (except me on the first day when I didn't know what was going on). They threw rocks at anyone who tried to enter. Meanwhile there were negotiations between the administration and student representives. Of course, neither the Independencia nor the Normal could use the buildings for that time. Independencia and the Normal First Year students (there was no third year yet since the school was only two years old) held classes at night in the grade schools around town. The strike was finally resolved when the teacher agreed (was told?) to give the tests a second time. We went back to classes for one week and then it was time for the usual two-week mid-year vacation. With some other things that happened, it was amazing how little we had classes my first year. It was actually much better the second year.


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