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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #549783
04/26/21 08:18 AM
04/26/21 08:18 AM
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Journal Entry 8

August 30, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I havenít taken any photos yet. Since I will be here for a while, Iím going to wait until I know the city better. However, next week will be quite colorfulóNational Day celebrationóand I will take pictures of the festivities. Rumor has it that Belize will announce its independence on September 10th. Things could really get exciting if it does. Cuba has offered military support against any aggression by Guatemala. This could get interesting.

This is the last week of training. Swearing-in is Friday. Next week I will be moving in with Roger who is staying with a Belizean family. We plan to take our time finding our own place. Too many new volunteers are rushing into less than desirable places, too much rent, bad location, no furniture, etc. We want to wait for a good deal to come along.

Tonight, weíve all been invited out to a Canadian businessmanís home in a nearby village, Burrell Boom, for a barbecue. In fact, Iíve got to get ready right now.

[Photo: Denton, Romie and David behind Fisheries Laboratory. In the background is Mr. Simeon Youngí boat, ďAloma,Ē being built. 1977.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #549811
04/27/21 11:28 AM
04/27/21 11:28 AM
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Journal Entry 9

September 1, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

Today was essentially the last day of training. Tomorrow I will be interviewed by the training director, Mr. Yorke, and on Friday I will be interviewed by the country director, Reggie Ingram. Then, hopefully, I will be sworn in that same afternoon.

Traditionally, Peace Corps throws a party for newly sworn volunteers; however, this year there is a shortage of funds, so we may not get our trip to Goffís Caye. Jackie, though, has taken it upon herself to organize a caye trip anyway. It will cost us about $5 each if she can get at least 20 people together. We hope to get three or four spear guns to take out to the caye so we can have a fish barbecue. If our group can do anything, itís thinking up excuses to have a party.

Today we all went out to Belmopan. Itís about an hourís trip on a good road, Belizeís best. At Belmopan we were to be given a lecture on the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute, but the lecturer canceled out on us. So, we toured the city instead. Belmopan is much cleaner than Belize City. All the houses are made of concrete blocks. Trash is picked up three times a week. All the homes have running water. But there really would be nothing to do in Belmopan in the evenings or on weekends. The more I see of this country, the happier I am that I will be in Belize City. We got back to Belize City about 3:00 p.m.

Today begins the festivities which will culminate on September 10th, National Day. It commemorates a battle in which the Baymen defeated the Spanish at St Georgeís Caye. Both political parties sponsor events over the next 10 days and each tries to outdo the other. Last year, it is generally agreed, the opposition party, the UDP, had the more elaborate and better attended festivities. This year the PUP pledged to make up for last year. It should be fun. And, if Belize announces its independence on the 10th, there should be some real celebrating.

Friday I will be moving in with Roger who is staying with a Belizean family. Miss Pepitune has been nice, but I am looking forward to moving out. I believe I will be charged about $200 a month for room and board. This will include packed lunches, washing and ironing. That will leave me with $100 a month for incidentals. I think it may be a convenient arrangement. Most volunteers pay about $70 to $80 for rent and about $80 a month for food. Thatís a cheaper way to go, but they spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning up. Also, they have the problems, if two or three live together, of pooling money and deciding who must go shopping, etc.

I have now met all the PCVs here in Belize City. There are nine already here now, and there will be 11 more from our group. Those nine volunteers already working in Belize City are Jack, about 26 from Texas, a biology and physics teacher; Howard, about 28, from Miami, marine biologist; Stan, about 35, works for Radio Belize; Dorothy, about 26, a student teacher advisor for the Teachers College and married to the American Consular officer; Mary, late twenties, works at Seaview mental hospital; Susan, twenties, donít know her too well; Mary Ellen, about thirty, from New York, teacher; Tom, about 25, teacher; and Mussolini, about 35, plumber.

The rumor is that not all of us will receive bicycles. Believe me, a bicycle in the city is indispensable. If we donít get bikes, there will be a lot of complaining. Upon swearing in, the Peace Corps is supposed to give each of us $200 settling-in allowance, a stove, a mattress, and a bicycle. Some may also get a refrigerator. I wonít need the other things right away, but I really do need the bicycle. Itís about a 30-minute walk from home to the Fisheries Unit. There are no hills here, so I could make the trip in about 10 minutes on a bicycle.

[Photo: Typical Belmopan residential street. 1977.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #549934
05/03/21 07:27 AM
05/03/21 07:27 AM
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Journal Entry 10

September 8, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

Quite a lot has happened since my last journal entry. I havenít written for a few days because Iíve been sick. I had some kind of virus. I threw up breakfast and didnít feel too well for a while. I canít believe how sick Iíve been here. Every week Iíve had one disease or another. I donít know why my resistance should be so lowóI eat well and get plenty of sleep.

On Friday, our group of trainees was sworn in. All 11 of us made it through the training period. It was just a simple oath of allegiance taken at the Peace Corps Office. We were then given our bank accounts and medical kits. We still have not gotten our bicycles. Even though everyone in our training group swore in, I think there will be a few who will go home early. Several have already become disgruntled and disappointed with their situation.

Right after the swearing-in, I moved my belongings to my new home. I will be staying with the young Belizean family that hosted Keith and Roger during training. Right now, itís a bit crowded there: Iím sharing the two little girlsí bedroom with their dad; the girls are sleeping with their mother; and Keith and Roger are sharing another bedroom. Keith will be moving out next week, and things will be back to normal.

They just recently moved into a large, fairly new house with three bedrooms, a dining room, living room, large kitchen, three bathrooms and a veranda. The house is one of the few in the neighborhood to be made of concrete block. They have a maid, so the house is always clean. The only drawback is the upstairs windows donít have screens. The mosquitoes and sand flies can be terrible. The meals are much better here than at Miss Pepituneís, more imagination and larger portions, and include a lot of local dishes such as rice and beans, stew chicken, chimole, panadas, fish, etc. I may gain back some of my lost weight.

Right now, we are in the middle of the National Day celebrations. The opposition party, the UDP, sponsored a road march which passed by our house. I got some pictures of it. It was the wildest parade Iíve ever seen. The street was jammed solid with people dancing and celebrating. There were some bands, floats, etc. Festivities will culminate on the Tenth. It seems that even though Belize is closer now to independence than ever, the rumors about independence this year were just rumors. However, independence is not far away for Belize.

Last Saturday I went to the Teacherís College to see an exhibition of arts, nature, and folklore sponsored for National Day by the PUP. I got a picture of the jade carving ďKinich AhauĒ found in Mayan ruins here in 1968. I couldnít get close enough to it for a good shot. Itís a head about 10 lb. in weight. Itís one of the most prized of all Belizean treasures, and itís only occasionally displayed.

Roger and I are now the only ones who have not gotten a flat of our own, but weíre not in any great hurry. Jackie and Judy just got a second story flat on Regent Street for $200. That seems a bit pricey. Iím paying just $200 per month for room, board, laundry, chauffeur, tour guide, translator, life coach, etc. Iíve really got it good.

[Photo: UDP Tenth of September Road March, Euphrates Avenue, 1976]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #549982
05/05/21 05:23 AM
05/05/21 05:23 AM
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Journal Entry 11

September 11, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I went back to work today after having had the Tenth of September off. There were two massive parades on the Tenth. The UDP, in most everyoneís opinion, again had the better attended festivities. Their parade was much larger and more spirited than the PUPís. I took pictures of everything. However, after taking flash pictures of the carnival Saturday night, I forgot to reset my camera from the flash settings. Consequently, I lost about 15 photographs. I sent my first roll of film to the Kodak lab today. On it, in chronological order, should be a picture of our training group at the Belize International Airport; some buildings around town; view of the harbor; Birdís Isle; the UDPís carnival and road march (at night); then Iím sure I lost pictures of Premier George Priceís 10th September speech and some of the PUP parade. I was really quite disappointed when I realized I messed up all those pictures, but Iíll get them next year.

Russ, the assistant trainer, has gone back home to New Jersey. He hopes to be back in a few months as a new assistant director.

[Photo: Carnival Road March, 1976]

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Journal Entry 12

September 13, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

It looks like I may get a chance to do some scuba diving, but not right away. Today I helped draft an order for US$10,000 worth of scuba gear, a gift from the Canadian Government. Right now, only Howard and Silvano are certified divers, and Silvano will be leaving Fisheries soon. He got a job with the newly formed Belizean Airways Limited. BAL has 5 planes: one passenger, one freight, and three ďjunkersĒ that they use for spare parts. So far, BAL has made only one flight. Yesterday at Belize International Airport a truck ran into their only passenger plane and tore a hole in the fuselage. So, BAL will not start regular service to Miami as scheduled.

I feel like I finally got a start on my job at Fisheries. I looked through all the literature available at the Laboratory that may help me. Also, I got a letter off to the Smithsonian Institute requesting reprints of some articles that I think may be useful. It takes about two months to get material from the Institute. Right now, all of our outboard motors are broken. I probably wonít get out to the reef until late this week.

Today Mr. Miller, who is originally from Grenada and came to Belize in 1962, gave me a little pep talk about how the pace of life here is quite slow and not to get discouraged if at the end of the day I feel as though I didnít get much accomplished. He said it took him quite a while to adjust to the ďmaŮanaĒ attitude some people here have. He then told me he could give me a ride to work every morning, just wait for him in front of the post office at about 8:15. (Work starts at 8:00!)

Last night Keith and I were walking around town. We saw quite a crowd of people gathered about the Swing Bridge. We went over to see what was going on. Someone had thrown himself from the bridge into the water and drowned. They were trying to bring up his body.

I think our bicycles are in. We should be getting them this week. I should be high up on the priority list since I have the farthest to walk to work.

Dr. Lizama stopped by the house while Keith, Roger and I were home. He is required by Peace Corps to inspect residences of all PCVs. There is no doubt that the house passed the inspection; this house is always kept immaculately clean.

Mr. Winston Miller is quite a sports fan. He had listened to two pro American football games yesterday and quoted me the scores of the other games. He is a big Dodger fan and has finally conceded the division title to the Reds. There will be round-by-round recaps here on Armed Forces Radio of the Ali-Norton fight. Once I find out more about what type of radio is required to pull in Armed Forces Radio, I may go shopping for one.

[Photo: The Old Market seen from Swing Bridge, 1976.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550013
05/06/21 05:21 AM
05/06/21 05:21 AM
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Posts: 73,411
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Journal Entry 13

September 19, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I got a letter and a book (Thor Heyerdahl) from home yesterday. I just finished the book I was reading (ďIs Paris Burning?Ē) and was about to go out and look for something more to read. The Heyerdahl book looks interesting, and Iíll read it this week.

The Peace Corps gave me a brand-new Raleigh bicycle. I was the last new Volunteer to pick up a bike at the office, so I got what was left. My bike had a flat tire and a bent front sprocket. I fixed the flat and just plan to live with the bent sprocket. Iíve got to find time next week to go to the police station to get my bike licensed.

My job took me out to the reef (Gallows Point) twice this week. Iím still getting used to using a speargun. Iíve also got to get used to all the sea water continually draining through my nose and into my throat. Yesterday we dove in about 20-30 feet of water on the outside of the reef. It was the prettiest trip yet. I collected about 30 conch which I tagged and released for Howard. I kept a few conch so I could learn how to break and clean them. Cleaning conch is quite a chore.

Last Tuesday nine of us went to see ďBlazing SaddlesĒ at the movie theater. It is a popular picture here and the theater is sold out every time it plays. Everyone in the theater caught on to the absurdity of the movie and seemed to really enjoy it.

Mark, one of the guys I roomed with in Miami, showed up in Belize City yesterday. He had been in Costa Rica for his training as a farm advisor. He will be going down south to Punta Gorda tomorrow with Keith to help in the rice harvest. Mark said that compared to Costa Rica, Belize is quite undeveloped.

Weíve been plagued with blackouts the past two days. I guess they are having problems with the generating stations. The electricity at home went out Friday night, so Keith and I walked over to Judy, Bev and Jackieís house on Regent Street. As soon as we got there, their electricity went off too. We played cards by the light of the kerosene lamp.

Roger, Einar, Debbie, Jackie, Judy and Bev went up to Orange Walk Town this weekend. I think they had a party planned with Eric, a PCV up there. I had to work all day Saturday, so didnít go. Keith didnít feel much like going either. Neither Keith nor I care much for these parties anymore. Itís always the same people talking about the same old things. They were fun at first, but theyíve gotten old now. Anyway, if I take a Saturday off from work, Iíd like to do some exploring out West or South rather than just go to Orange Walk Town.

[Photo: Denton and Alan breaking conch in the Fisheries yard, 1976.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550024
05/06/21 12:24 PM
05/06/21 12:24 PM
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Journal Entry 14

September 23, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I got two letters from home Tuesday, and another one today. All the letters were interesting and had a lot of family news. Mom seemed worried that I was not eating enough fruit and vegetables. True, Belizeans tend to eat far too much starch and not enough green vegetables, but I am getting a well-balanced diet.

Dad said that he had forwarded a copy of National Geographic to me. I appreciate that. There is a lack of things to do here in my spare time, so I do a lot of reading. I should write Mom that I could use my hiking boots and socks and, if itís not asking too much, to send aftershave, deodorant, toothpaste, etc., every 2-3 months. Some of those items are just too expensive here.

Mom asked if she could do some of my Christmas shopping for me. I asked her to use my credit union account to purchase a good Crock-Pot for the family here. They donít have them here in Belize City. If they did, the price would be prohibitive. I also asked if she could send a little something for the girls. The older girl has plenty of dolls and books. Maybe Mom could send a dress or something typically American, maybe something in denim. She already has a denim shoulder bag. The younger girl has access to all the hand-me-downs. I really donít know what she might like. Whatever Mom gets, it must be a good quality to last down here. I hate to ask her to do this. I know how much running around she already does. But this family has been wonderful, and I would like to get them something. I donít know how Iíll do any Christmas shopping here for back home. I have not yet found any local souvenirs or arts here to speak of. Maybe I can find something.

Iíve begun work on my reef fish survey. Iíve recorded the statistics on some fish Iíve sampled: Nassau grouper, black grouper, hogfish, jewfish and various snappers. One day at sea leaves me with a full day of lab work. Fisheriesí 40-foot boat is about ready to sail. We may make a 3-day trip next week. I would imagine, knowing the staff at Fisheries, the trip would be fun as well as productive.

[Photo: Sampling of reef fish to be examined prior to distribution to Fisheries staff. 1976]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550031
05/07/21 04:33 AM
05/07/21 04:33 AM
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Journal Entry 15

October 3, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I havenít written for about a week. I guess, now that I am relatively settled into a routine, there doesnít seem to be as much to write about. So, Iíll probably only get off one or two journal entries per week now.

I received quite a bit of mail this week from home. Papa Gates seemed quite interested in Belize (form of government, courts, etc.) I have some printed matter Iíll send along which answers most of his questions. Iíve especially enjoyed getting the L.A. Times sports sections sent from home. I shared them with the family here and the people at work.

Last Tuesday I borrowed a radio, and several of us listened to the Ali-Norton fight. Keith, up from Punta Gorda, Einar, Roger and I listened to the round recaps broadcast over Armed Forces Radio. The station faded in and out, but we were still able to follow the descriptions. Muhammad Ali is an extremely popular person in Belize. There is even a Muhammad Ali Street here in the city. Mr. Miller at work was quite excited about the fight all day Monday and Tuesday. He predicted Ali would knock out Norton by the fifth round. I told Mr. Miller that the fight would go the full 15 rounds and Ali would get the decision. I guess he now respects my ability for predicting fights.

Saturday (yesterday) was quite an eventful day at work. Two things happened. (1) We had a staff meeting, and (2) after 8 months and untold hundreds of dollars, our big boat, the Panulirus Argus, is now running!

Mr. Miller called an emergency staff meeting. We are short-staffed (Silvano resigned, David is home with an injured ankle), and Mr. Miller wants to utilize what little staff he has with maximum efficiency. He also severely reprimanded us for a general lack of professionalism. No one will be allowed any longer to sleep in the lobby (reception area.) He said it looks bad when the first thing you see as you enter the building is some staff member asleep on the settee. Profanities should no longer be shouted from one end of the building to the other. He also reminded us that one third of all fish, conch, and lobster taken on a Fisheries trip should be distributed to staff members who were unable to make the trip. He then stressed the importance of punctuality. We should be at work on time and not leave before closing time. (That same day, just one hour after the meeting, Howard and I left to go home a half hour early; everyone else had left 30 minutes earlier.) It was quite a staff meeting. Miller is no longer going to play Mr. Nice Guy.

[Photo: Fisheries Unit Laboratory, 1976.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550062
05/11/21 05:36 AM
05/11/21 05:36 AM
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Journal Entry 16

October 5, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

The Fisheries big boat, Panulirus Argus, that had just returned from the repair yard after eight months, lost all its motor oil through a hole in the oil pan and is no longer running.

Yesterday I got my gamma globulin and rabies shots. I am required to get shots of some kind about every three months.

It hasnít cooled off here yet. However, the humidity has fallen to about 60-70%. I miss the cool, crisp air of autumn of Southern California.

Today I submitted my first monthly progress report to Mr. Miller.

[Photo: Albert Street, 1976.]

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Journal Entry 17

October 9, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

I had not felt well last week for 3 or 4 days when I went to see Dr. Lizama on Handyside Street. He ordered a blood test, a stool examination, and a culture done on the ear infection which I have now had for about eight weeks. Within three days I got the results: blood was normal, the infection of the ear is a particularly resistant form, and I have worms (Ascariasis.)

I am receiving injections of an antibiotic each day for the infection. Also, I am using some ear drops. Tonight and tomorrow, I will go over to PCV Judyís so she can give me shots over the weekend. Dr. Lizama is not available on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. It may be embarrassing to have Judy give me the shots since they must be given in my backside.

I will take some tablets tonight to rid myself of my worms.

Other than that, things are going well. I missed an overnight trip to San Pedro because of my ear infection. Howard and Romie went.

Mr. Miller held interviews yesterday to fill the two openings of Fisheries Officer. It looks like two young women will get the jobs. We are shorthanded now and need the help.

[Photo: Looking south on the Barracks, taken from the roof of the Fisheries Laboratory, 1976.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550069
05/11/21 11:23 AM
05/11/21 11:23 AM
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Posts: 73,411
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Journal Entry 18

October 16, 1976 / Belize City, Belize:

Yesterday I received the prints from my slides and a nice shirt from home. Earlier in the week I had gotten a birthday card from Mom and Dad. I had completely forgotten that my birthday was coming up so soon. The shirt will be cool enough to wear here.

Since there was quite a bit of interest in baseball playoffs at work, I organized a pool for the first game of the World Series. The game was played today. Listened to part of it at work, and I heard this evening that the final score was 5-1, Cincinnati. If so, I won the $9 pot. I may have a harder time filling up the next pool.

Work has been slow. Since I havenít gotten out to the reef for over two weeks, Iíve been doing some statistical work on Fisheries exports. I could really use two books I have at home: ďBiostatisticsĒ and a small book full of tables for statistics. I will write home and ask for them.

My ear infection has cleared up. I got eight shots for it. But I think I still have worms.

Tomorrow Einar and I are going to the fights on Birdís Isle. Fitzroy Giuseppe is fighting again. Admission is $4 for general admission. Hope itís more of a fight than the last one.

Iíve been doing a lot of reading. It is a good form of recreation in the evenings. (No TV here.) I just finished Urisís ďQB VIIĒ and Iím now reading ďCaravansĒ by Michener. Looking forward to getting the books Mom is sending from home.

The weather cooled off last week. I even put a sheet over me for a couple of nights. It has since warmed up again. But the real hot weather we had in August and September seems to be over.

On Monday I will be flying to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye with Norris Wade to inspect the fisheries co-op. Iím looking forward to that.

Peace Corps is planning to give us a Thanksgiving-Christmas dinner in December. It will be held at Dorothy and Tom Fureyís.

Denton from the Fisheries Unit has expressed a desire to go to the U.S. to study. He is thinking about Humboldt State which has a fisheries degree. I told him I would guide him in his efforts. I will write off for some information.

[Photo: Open-air sports and entertainment venue Birds Isle, 1976.]

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Re: Long ago Peace Corps Days, by Alan Jackson [Re: Marty] #550168
7 hours ago
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Journal Entry 19

October 25, 1976 / Belize City, Belize

I realize itís been over a week since Iíve written in my journal, but there does not seem to be as much to write about now that Iíve settled into a routine.

Tomorrow weíre planning to go out to St Georgeís Caye to do some field work. I plan to take my camera and use up my second roll of film. Last Monday I flew to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye to get some information from the CaribeŮa Fishermenís Cooperative there. San Pedro is almost a perfect tropical isle. It is really pretty. Next Monday I will fly down to Placencia to get some data from the Placencia Fishermenís Cooperative. I will be going with Norris Wade, the quality control inspector from the Fisheries Unit.

I will be getting my Belize driverís license soon. International driverís licenses are not valid here.

The nights have cooled off a little. I put a sheet over me now when I wake up in the night. It should remain cool through March. It would be nice if Dad could come down during Easter. I should know the country by then. I can get time off from work any time I like. Rogerís family is coming down this Christmas. Next Christmas I may take a bus to Tijuana and ask for a lift the rest of the way. David may come with me.

I spent yesterday with the Audubon Society clearing paths through the jungle with a machete. It was hard work but also lots of fun.

[Photo: Mrs. Meg Craig (pictured) and Mr. W. Ford Young led monthly Audubon field trips in the 1970s. I can be seen lurking in the background in this photo. Somewhere in Belize,1976.]

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