Partial Transcript: Peace Corps oral history interview with Angel Rubio, November 29th, 2005, interviewer Jack Wilson.
Segment Synopsis: Rubio was born in Cuba and his parents immigrated to the U.S. when he was around 8 years old. He describes the lives of his parents and an uncle. He went to Miami Dade Community College and eventually went to Florida State University. He describes his experience with the draft and how he wanted to avoid it. He ended up getting drafted and getting his Peace Corps acceptance around the same time. He had a temporary deferment until he finished his Peace Corps assignment. He describes his parents as progressive and involved in politics. He describes the application process and says he wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country.
Keywords: Cuban revolution; Progressive politics; Progressives
Subjects: Children of immigrants; Costa Rica; Cuba--History--Revolution, 1959.; Cuba.; Draft.; Education, Higher.; Florida State University; Hispanic Americans--Education.; Immigrant children; Immigrants--United States; Immigrants.; Miami (Fla.); Miami-Dade Community College; Minorities in higher education.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Progressivism (United States politics); Tallahassee (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 22, -80
GPS: Miami-Dade Community College [now Miami Dade College]
Map Coordinates: 25.777778, -80.190556
GPS: Florida State University
Map Coordinates: 30.442, -84.298
GPS: Miami (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 25.775278, -80.208889
GPS: Tallahassee (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 30.455, -84.253333
GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
Partial Transcript: So, uh, you went to Costa Rica.
Segment Synopsis: Rubio describes his training in Costa Rica. He says it started to feel real when he arrived in Costa Rica. Rubio stayed with a host family. Only around eight people finished the training. Rubio describes the language fluency of the group as well as the infrastructure for community development, including an organization called Dinadeco (National Administration for Community Development). A Costa Rican version of Peace Corps had been founded and Rubio describes some of the weaknesses of the program. A component in the training was on community development and culture. He describes a relationship that had developed when he was in college with a woman named Gwyn who came down to work with him.
Keywords: Cross Cultural training; Cross-cultural training; Cultural training; Dinadeco
Subjects: Community development.; Costa Rica; Costa Rica. Dirección Nacional de Desarrollo de la Comunidad; Couples.; Cross-cultural orientation.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Fluency (Language learning); Housing.; Infrastructure; Interpersonal relations; Language learning and language teaching; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Marriage.; Occupational training.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Political participation; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Training.
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
Partial Transcript: And then, tell me something about, uh, where you--your specific job assignment, where that was and what, what you did.
Segment Synopsis: Rubio describes his specific job assignment in Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, about 50 kilometers from San Isidro de General. He was also assigned to a second town, but most of his work was in Peñas Blancas. He was supposed to oversee whether the workers had plans that had been thought through and oversee various details of development. One of their main projects was finishing a church. They also built a small, functional bridge before planning for a bigger bridge. He describes his struggles with alcohol while isolated. They worked on giving people their own land and building a school. He helped put together a radio show.
Keywords: Alcohol abuse; Churches; Construction; Isolated; Land owners; Land ownership; Owning land; Peñas Blancas; Peñas Blancas (Costa Rica); Radio shows; San Isidro de General; San Isidro de General (Costa Rica)
Subjects: Alcohol.; Alcoholism.; Bridges; Building; Church buildings.; Community development.; Construction industry.; Costa Rica; Land tenure.; Management.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Radio programs.; Radio.; Schools.; Spanish-speaking countries
Partial Transcript: Angel, let's, uh, let's go back and pick up, uh, the thread, um, of, uh, Gwyn coming in. She gets assigned elsewhere in the country--
Segment Synopsis: Rubio says he arranged for Gwyn to be assigned to his same host family. She had in-country training and had to work hard at her language skills. She was assigned to a program under the department of education for setting up kindergartens and preschools. Rubio describes his wedding in San Jose. He had fixed up a little house with a tin roof for them. He did a lot of traveling with his counterparts and she set up kindergartens and taught. He says they would often ride their motorcycle to the bigger city to see a movie or go to a restaurant, but most of the natives wouldn't go out past 6pm and if they did, it was to a local store for music or dancing or playing pool or drinking. He describes their vacation time traveling to Panama, Colombia, San Andres, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. After their Peace Corps tour, they went to Belize and Guatemala and Yucatan.
Keywords: Dancing; Playing pool; Seeing movies; Watching movies
Subjects: Alcohol.; Alcoholism.; Belize; Billiards; Bolivia; Colombia; Costa Rica; Couples.; Dance.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Ecuador; Education, Elementary.; Education, Preschool.; Education.; Guatemala.; Hobbies.; Housing.; Intercultural communication in education; Interpersonal relations; Kindergarten.; Language learning and language teaching; Leisure.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Motion picture theaters.; Motion pictures.; Motorcycles; Music.; Occupational training.; Panama; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Peru; Railroad trains; Recreation.; Restaurants; San Andrés y Providencia (Colombia); Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Training.; Travel.; Vacations.; Yucatán (Mexico : State)
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
Map Coordinates: 9, -80
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
GPS: San Andrés y Providencia (Colombia)
Map Coordinates: 12.55, -81.716667
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
Map Coordinates: -10, -76
Map Coordinates: -16.712, -64.666
Map Coordinates: 17.066667, -88.7
Map Coordinates: 15.5, -90.25
GPS: Yucatán (Mexico : State)
Map Coordinates: 20.833333, -89
Partial Transcript: Um, I want--I, I, I, before I lose it, I want, I want, want, I want to ask you about health issues and, uh, what--if there were any, what kind of, uh, uh, healthcare you had, uh, and so forth and what kind of--whether that was an issue in, in training and all.
Segment Synopsis: Rubio discusses whether he and Gwyn had any physical or emotional health issues while in Costa Rica. He then discusses his interactions with native Costa Ricans. He says Gwyn had to be more careful than him because of sexism. He mentions that the locals were good at soccer and one store owner tried to get people interested in boxing. In the beginning, Rubio was beating everyone at boxing. He mentions one time where bugs were swarming and it felt like a horror movie. He discusses the differences in the Spanish language in Costa Rica versus his native Cuba, as well as some cultural differences. He states that Costa Rica is fairly culturally homogeneous.
Keywords: Cultural differences; Depression; Diet changes; Dietary changes; Isolated; Isolation
Subjects: Athletic ability.; Boxing.; Bugs; Costa Rica; Cuba.; Depressed persons; Diet.; Food habits.; Food poisoning.; Food.; Health issues; Health.; Indigenous peoples.; Insects.; Intercultural communication.; Misogyny.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Sexism.; Soccer.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries
Partial Transcript: What was it like coming home?
Segment Synopsis: When Rubio returned home, he was no longer worried about the draft. He describes his cultural shock at returning home. He and Gwyn didn't want to live in the same place that they used to call home. They were interested in getting back to nature and ended up settling on Kentucky because they could buy land. They spent their readjustment money on traveling Europe and North Africa. They decided they weren't meant to be "back to the land" people. Rubio decided to get his master's degree in sociology at the University of Kentucky. They then bought some land in Madison County and he started working for non-profits in Berea for around ten years. He's been with UK for 18 years.
Keywords: Back to the land; Back to the landers; Buying land; Construction; Construction work; Disney World; Non-profit organizations; North Africa; Progressive politics; Progressives; Readjustment
Subjects: Africa, North.; Berea (Ky.); Building.; Conservatism.; Costa Rica; Culture shock.; Draft.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education, Higher.; Education--Kentucky; Europe; Hispanic Americans--Education.; Kentucky.; Landowners; Madison County (Ky.); Minorities in higher education.; Nonprofit organizations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Progressivism (United States politics); Sociology.; Travel.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Graduate School; Walt Disney World (Fla.); Wayne County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
GPS: Walt Disney World (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 28.4038, -81.5794
GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
GPS: Wayne County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.81, -84.83
GPS: Madison County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.72, -84.28
Partial Transcript: Tape two of interview with Angel Rubio. Um, what I was going to ask you, Angel, was, uh, what do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service was on Costa Rica and what was--and maybe you've answered this in a lot of other ways, the impact on you?
Segment Synopsis: Rubio discusses the impact of Peace Corps. He thinks they were reasonably good volunteers and hopes they left a good impression. He helped build roads and bridges and feels good about the workers' co-op. He thinks he got a lot more out of it than he gave. He thinks all of his adventures have an ethical grounding which he carried over from Peace Corps. He thinks his ability to analyze the world and see its interconnectedness came from Peace Corps. He thinks there needs to be more programs like the Peace Corps and that people need structural ways to leave their imprint on the world.
Keywords: Doctors Without Borders; Morality; Morals
Subjects: Altruism.; Amnesty International; Building.; Caring.; Costa Rica; Doctors without Borders (Association); Ethics.; Globalization.; Helping behavior.; Intercultural communication.; International relations; Nonprofit organizations.; Occupations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Values.; Vocation.; Work.
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
WILSON: Peace Corps Oral History interview with Angel Rubio November 29,2005 interviewer Jack Wilson. Okay, Angel, if you would give me your full name, where, and when you were born.
RUBIO: Sure it's Angel Rubio, or Anhel Rubio and I was born in LaHabana, Cuba in 1947.
WILSON: And tell me something about your family and your growing upand--?
RUBIO: Sure, well clearly my parents were immigrant because we woundup over here, but yeah my mom and dad were both sort of working class folks in Cuba and my mom was a seamstress and ran a little school that 00:01:00taught other women how to sew and how to, actually her specialty, she had taken a course on patternmaking, which actually picks up later on in her life. That became a very important thing so she could teach other people how to, you know, make patterns and learn how to make dresses and stuff. And my dad worked sort of in a retail but sort of like a warehouse type store in which they sold hardware and lots of different stuff. And but they my mom had had an uncle who was actually a hat salesman in Cuba and had a sort of an itinerary as far as going to different places including Key West, Florida. And as it turned out my Uncle Theo Lorenzo happened to be also quite a lady's man and so ended up he left a few kids over on the Key West side with this other 00:02:00woman besides his other family. And so in the early '50s these cousins who were now grown folks started to come to Cuba as tourists and, of course, they met my parents and my parents were sort of very easy to like, very hospitable folks and stuff. But and after two or three of those visits about half a dozen of these cousins said oh you have to come to the States. You know the streets are paved with gold and your children will be better. And so my mom who was pretty hard-driven lady really took a hold of that idea and somehow, which I still I never have figured, convinced my dad to you know apply for the residency papers and stuff and we came to the States in 1956.
WILSON: So you would have been how old?
RUBIO: I was like eight, something like that, seven and half, eight at00:03:00that point, trying to keep my math straight. And so yeah I think I started second or third grade when I got to the States. I think that makes some sense, third. And so yeah that's how we got to the States.
WILSON: And where, to Miami?
RUBIO: To Miami, well flew into Key West and then drove up to Miami andsettled in Miami. We were probably, as typical immigrants, we started pretty close to downtown and then as my parents got better jobs and saved some money, they were real hard working folks, and so we kept moving north and away from the downtown area towards the cousins and towards you know more of the Americanized neighborhoods. And they were very self-conscious that they wanted the kids to, you know, to really adapt and that's the kind of focus that we had learning the language 00:04:00and you know fitting in and all those sorts of things.
WILSON: You had brothers and sisters?
RUBIO: I had one brother, an older brother by two years. And so yeahand so that's and we ended up most of my teenage years were in North Miami, which I don't know if you're familiar with the metropolitan Dade County but it's made up of like 57 little municipalities. And so we went to North Miami high school and all that stuff.
WILSON: And graduated there?
RUBIO: And yeah and you know those were very serious times. And soactually I went to I worked some and I went to community college, something called Miami Dade Community College and then was sort of in 00:05:00between decisions. And actually again my mom, my very aggressive Cuban mom, said you know you need to finish up so I did. I applied and was accepted to Florida State University in Tallahassee, and that's when you know I started that probably around '68 or '67, summer of '67. The first year I guess was '68 and again as you probably remember those were pretty serious times. And so yeah I sort of became both almost as so many both, you know, kind of a long-haired hippie, politically active kind of person. And so by the time I was getting ready to graduate in '71 my number on the draft, the lottery draft was very low. I was 80 and so I was you know pretty certain that that was going to happen, and so I went through a sort of a lot of issues because you 00:06:00know all the stuff that, you know, was I going to get drafted, was I not going to get drafted? Would I go to Canada? Would I you know try to apply for CO status and--
WILSON: And by that time you were a citizen?
RUBIO: Oh yes sir. Yeah I did absolutely. Yeah we probably, my parentsapplied for citizenship because my brother had already applied for his a little early for his own reasons, but my parents and I went through it at the same time right as I was sort of 17, 16 or 17.
RUBIO: And so right and so yeah and so that last you know summer beforeI actually I think I had to go back and take one more course. And I actually went back to my high school and was trying to do some draft counseling you know or at least talk to a couple of people that had by that time had become teachers that I knew from high school, you 00:07:00know, about going back to my high school and doing draft counseling. And just really just you know the war was just sort of consuming our thoughts. And then I was drafted, got the letter from the selective service and within three to four weeks I got my acceptance to the Peace Corps, so it was one of those things that you know they almost came simultaneously. And then I had to actually fight with my you know draft board clerk because she didn't like the idea of that. And she did tell me you, know, she did look at me and say, "I'm going to get you when you come out." But she didn't.
WILSON: So how did, for the record, how did that work in that timeperiod? If you applied and were accepted in the Peace Corps and were drafted--
RUBIO: You had a temporary at least I had a paper that said I had atemporary deferment. 00:08:00
WILSON: You had a temporary deferment just as if you had been when youwere in school; same kind of thing was true right until you finished college or whatever it was.
RUBIO: Right, right. And then yeah so that was-- my Peace Corps timewas '71 to '73.
WILSON: Okay let's go back one step. How, when did you first learnabout Peace Corps and was it the draft issue that led you to apply to the Peace Corps or were there other motivations? Had you thought about it before?
RUBIO: No, I think even before, you know, I really started feeling theintense pressure of what was happening historically plus my low number, you know all the stuff that I loved to read and my politics, I guess 00:09:00I'll go back one step. My parents were unusual for Cubans in the sense of what happened. My parents got there in '56, the revolution was in '59, so pretty much the Cuban population in south Florida you know went from probably 20,000 to, you know, 800,000 like, you know, very quickly. But again my parents had come at a different time and my dad's nature he was very progressive, they were you know very involved in sort of progressive things themselves in a sense of politically. And so all those things, you know, had already shaped the way I was thinking, and so as far as, you know, what I saw as, you know, sort of U.S. foreign 00:10:00policy or things that could be done in third world situations or exploitation or any number of things that yeah I was already thinking that those were good things you know to do to be involved in trying to you know offer some alternatives to the kind of military involvements or all those sorts of things. But I have to be honest. I mean you know I think the real motivation, the slap in the back of the head was when I got that, you know the war got worse and worse and worse and I got that low number. And so I just knew it was coming, and so and probably I had through the years picked up literature about the Peace Corps and sort of toyed with it in a romantic sense, and but I think you know finally I realized that I was going to have to make one of several decisions. And so I was tracking the Peace Corps thing as one option that wouldn't force me at the end to, you know, did I really have it in me to, which I may not have had the courage to just say well 00:11:00I'm going to leave and go to Canada or any other number or have maybe, you know, the courage to say well I'm going to just try this military thing. I don't think, you know, but again I had lots of my friends that did do that, and some of them came back and some of them didn't.
WILSON: Do you remember anything about the application process itself?
RUBIO: Yeah I mean I remember you know that there was you know a personat Florida State. I'm pretty sure at least that I went to an office and filled out some applications you know as opposed to, and again where my memory starts to get-- Because you know Gwyn, my wife, was a representative for the Peace Corps at UK. That's how I think she actually first met Angene, and so I'm always trying to figure out if 00:12:00I'm really thinking about things that I've heard from her, you know, about her ties when she basically said that, you know, a lot of what she did even during her time changed where there was less and less immediate things that she was able to do and these people had to call Atlanta or wherever the main offices were. So you know I'm not sure. I'm sure I went to a place, somewhere at the Florida State campus and started picking up materials, filled something out, sent it off to D.C. I'm pretty sure about that. And you know had sort of different options, you know, that I was interested in.
WILSON: So you did suggest countries or ask for particular countries?
RUBIO: I did. I mean mostly I was just thinking you know the Spanishbecause I was fluent in Spanish, so that made a lot of sense to me. And I probably put something like you know Caribbean and Central and South America kind of things, but and again I'll go back to that. You 00:13:00know the most vivid memories is, are the stories that I say that now we have embellished with the incredible contrast because of my pre- invitational sort of staging or whatever they call it when you haven't signed on the dotted line but they invite you to see if you like them and was in Boston. And we were staying I'm pretty sure it's the Lennox Hotel, which was this beautiful little place and they just you know we had a beautiful room with you know old-style chandeliers you know and all this stuff. And they took us out to eat to some beautiful seafood restaurant, and I just remember and you know and they had some of the people, the Costa Rican reps that already were sort of recruiting the people from the agency that I ended up working for, DINADECO [Direccion Nacional del Desarollo Communal], which was sort of their community development agency. And those folks came up and they showed us what 00:14:00they were doing and all those sorts of things, and then you know we had like x number of weeks to respond.
WILSON: Oh really?
RUBIO: Yeah, well yeah and so I remember going home and sort of thinkingabout it and talking about and stuff like that, and then I remember I signed the paperwork and sent it back. And then everything started to seem to move faster and then I had to report to D.C. to, you know, to do this final thing, but by that time, you know, I was actually had already said I would go in. But then they put us in, and I wish I could remember, but they put us in this dumpy hotel and I wish I could-- But it was literally one of those things that it was this run- down kind of I mean I'm not talking about terrible but for you know for any even any standards, it wasn't like a regular you know hotel. It was like this downtown old place. And I always remember because after that spacious room at the Lennox that it was one of those places where 00:15:00you know I got my bag and I opened the door, and the door moved about two feet and then hit a piece of furniture. You know and then I got in there was this little closet of a room with you know, like a chifforobe and the bed and you know but very, very Spartan kind of situation. And I go, "Uh-oh here it is," and so yeah but then I did finally, then we talked some more to folks and did sign all the final papers and stuff.
WILSON: But each of those was just a couple of days?
RUBIO: Yes, yes. Yeah those two things were. I think it was like maybea weekend for the Boston thing and then maybe two days like so like for the initial, I think that's what they called the pre-invitational something or other, you know we probably came in on like a Friday and then had a Friday evening thing. And then some presentations on 00:16:00Saturday and probably flew out on a Sunday, where I think the second one the D.C. trip was like overnight literally, you know just came in and stayed and got there the next morning and signed a bunch of stuff.
WILSON: Okay so you went to Costa Rica?
RUBIO: Uh-huh, yeah we had in-country training.
WILSON: And how long was that and what was that like?
RUBIO: That was good, that was good. You know it was literally --andthat's hard to explain. That got in very late at night on a flight from Miami and sort of like we were very tired and then you start to realize whether it's real or not because you know Costa Rica after all especially the Meseta Central, San Jose the capital it's not, it's very modern. I mean in many ways but you just start feeling like you truly I mean the blood starts running through your veins in this very 00:17:00exciting way because you just feel like you're in a different place. And I think that's just one of those things that just feels different and good. And so I just remember like when this guy who was the, he was a former Peace Corps himself and then had stayed over to be part of the Peace Corps staff, John McQueen, who I actually got to see later on when I got back in country in Miami. And John picked us up and drove me to where I was going to be staying the night, and I just remember just driving you know through the streets and just you know thinking wow this is cool. And of course I mean it's totally weird because I grew up in another country myself you know I mean at least those first seven years I was growing up. So maybe it was sort of remembering you know where I had grown up or that just all sort of, I just remember it was very, very just neat and interesting. And I thought, "Wow, this is really cool." And we were, you know, we were staying with families after a couple days at this, you know, staff person's place they put me 00:18:00with a family.
WILSON: How many were in your group?
RUBIO: It was a small group. I'd say we probably started about somewhere12 to 14 and then literally within a week or so like one or two just you know they just didn't last at all. It was just you know just like all those good feelings I was having somebody was going, "Oh no, crap." And so I think it got down to 12 real quick and then I think there was only seven or eight of us that actually finished, so you know--
WILSON: Finished the time or the training?
RUBIO: No the training.
WILSON: The training?
RUBIO: They got put out to--
WILSON: Now were others have the kind of language facility you had orwere they all starting from scratch?
RUBIO: No, I probably divide it into yeah three categories. There was--00:19:00I think I was the only one who could--
WILSON: Native speaker.
RUBIO: Native speaker. There were some people that had had some Spanishin college and you know were both semi-fluent and were just able to lend themselves well to the language training. And then there were some of those guys that had never Spanish and stuff but they were just you know it's just that aptitude for language that just right now I can't even think of their names. But there was one or two that it was amazing just you know they were just born to speak and so they just picked in incredible language skills right away. And so but if I remember correctly I think we got down to by the time we left the training we were about eight, eight of us, eight or nine of us. And like I was saying it was very interesting for us because it was in-country training. And again I'm sure you've interviewed a lot of people that 00:20:00that had changed in the Peace Corps. I mean sometimes they I guess early on they used to send people somewhere in the States for this.
RUBIO: And then some other times they started sending them to specificcountries, but everybody would go to the same country or something if I'm remembering right. And then they would go to their host country, where with us it was from the beginning we just went straight from you know we signed, left our houses, and landed in Costa Rica. But the neat thing besides you know being able to learn the language and using it in the particular country that you were going to be speaking it, which every country, especially Spanish, there's a lot of little nuances. I mean a Cuban and a Costa Rican talk completely different kind of Spanish. But the other thing is that then a lot of our presentations were being made by the very agency folks that we were going to be working with, you know, which I think that, you know, that was something that--
WILSON: So you knew what your jobs were going to be and who you were00:21:00going to be with from day one?
RUBIO: Absolutely, absolutely. You know we, that was one of the thingsI was kind of attracted by because we were all sort of signed up as that category of community development specialists. But after I was there for a while and I had visited with a lot of volunteers that were traveling through either through South or Central America, either going up north or south, and there was clearly that community development means lots of different things in lots of places. And some places it's just, you know, it's nothing. I mean, you know, it's like there's no real infrastructure. You just go out there and do good things kind of thing. But in Costa Rica it was, it was, you know, like I said there was a newly created specific agency called DINADECO that had then the fellow that was the director had some political power. I mean he was probably a master's level gentleman but also was politically 00:22:00connected, so he had some support from other people in government. So he was able to do a lot of things, and but the best thing was that as this organization had been created there was also legislation that was passed that said that every year they would set aside 2% of all the collected revenue, tax revenue. And that 2% would be given to DINADECO to not only you know have the staff and its programs but to give grants to designated community development associations. And not everybody met that criterion. You know you had to sort of be, have a relationship with DINADECO in a sense of how that association came about and certain standards and criteria that they had to meet 00:23:00and stuff like that. So in a sense all of the people, the volunteers in our group actually went to work where there was one of these you know tax-funded associations. Then for our group because they had, this agency was like probably two or three years old, but the real interesting thing for our group that actually didn't work out very good is that they also had both when we were training they had the Costa Rican volunteers. They had sort of started kind of like what they thought was going to be you know a Costa Rican version of the Peace Corps and so some of these kids, not the language training, but about halfway through the language training they started to bring in these Tico volunteers to sit down when we did our agency training and, you 00:24:00know, our community development thing. And part of the problem was that I think, you know, our of the sort of dozen of those folks that they had brought on their, first of all their education level really varied and their age really varied. So you had some that were just way too young or some that were older but just did not have you know I mean they didn't have college degrees or anything like that, not that you know for some of these jobs it may not have mattered. But again so I think they had a great deal of attrition for the Costa Rican volunteers, but some of those guys stuck it out. And then there was--
WILSON: Were they expected to be sort of your counterpart? Was it onefor one in each agency or something?
RUBIO: Well I think it was in a sense of provinces. I don't think theyever meant like in because they sent me down south. I don't think I 00:25:00had anybody, any of the volunteers near me but I think a lot of those guys were closer to them and you know in Guanacaste, Limon. So yeah there was some pairing up in the sense that but they didn't necessarily have to work together. I think some of them did and some of them didn't. But at least you know I just have to think having now you know a whole career in my own life now, my professional life in doing organizing and community development work, all those things that are you know essential that I would recommend to anybody you know starting to sort of develop program as to you know that need for you know that-- Because you know it wasn't like the funding was great, but that commitment from the government to say--
WILSON: But there was a structure there and there was funding to supportit.
RUBIO: Funding, yeah I mean so I mean that was a very, very progressiveidea you know. And so yeah.
WILSON: So the training you had a component in the training on community00:26:00development?
RUBIO: Right, right. And both in a general sense you know about likeanybody would give about you know--
WILSON: Theory and--
RUBIO: Theory and all that stuff to very specific things about youknow Costa Rican history and about the development of you know this particular agency and what they were trying to do. And so yeah.
WILSON: So there was a cultural component to your training as well?
RUBIO: Absolutely, absolutely, sure. Yeah so yeah and then I guess theother part of the story, which I guess when you get Gwyn's interview but I had met Gwyn in my last year of college, probably last year and a half. And it was clearly that you know something had happened. We were both, you know, had gotten to a physical attraction but also great friends and so that was always a thing in the back of my mind, and 00:27:00part of I think in her mind is like, "Well is that relationship over?" because I've left. And so we did correspond and we talked on the phone and she was a year behind me, and so she basically was doing-- She was because she was getting a B.A. in English but with some emphasis in education as she started to put in, so she could actually teach. And so she crammed all that into her last year and she was doing her teaching internship actually in Florida, in south Florida. And so she was actually near my parents' house, you know which also made it kind of strange because you know she would be visiting my parents. Not every week or anything like that but she would be near where they were at, and so it was one of those things that it all felt like hmm you 00:28:00know this is-- And so there was like all that cold feet that anybody starts to get, but she did, she came down once you know flew her down to Costa Rica on her own, not Peace Corps wise but on her own just to for her to sort of look around to see how we were you know going to do it. And then we finally decided that yes we're going to try to-- And I started working on my end, got the you know the director for the country director to--
WILSON: Peace Corps?
RUBIO: Peace Corps director to see if there was any you know possibilityof developing a job because you know back then I guess you used that sort of blackmail you know like, "I don't know if I can stay," you know because they were worried about attrition and stuff like that. You know I said, "I guess I'm really in love and if you don't bring-- This lady wants to come and be a volunteer, could that be possible? And then you'd have two of us." And so I had heard that that didn't fly a 00:29:00lot of times, you know, that didn't, but for some reason and a number of reasons that they, Gwyn pushing up in Washington and me pushing down there it finally did come together and she did get an assignment, a Peace Corps assignment but independent of me you know because we weren't married yet. And so she actually came down as a Peace Corps volunteer and started training still as a single woman. And then we got you know we got married.
WILSON: How long was, how long after you went in was that?
RUBIO: Probably almost a year I'd say, and I'm guessing but I'm sayingI probably had been in country nine or ten months because what happened is I ended up extending both to make up her time so you know she could serve her two years and also to keep my draft you know situation so I was in a sense waiting out to see what would happen with the war 00:30:00and stuff. And so I did and then at some point I still have that in an album, I finally did get a certified letter you know where there's something where it says that you know I was no longer active you know for--
WILSON: This is after you came back?
RUBIO: No this was while I was still overseas.
WILSON: Oh, while you were still?
RUBIO: Overseas, yeah. So probably that last seven months of being inCosta Rica you know I knew that I was not facing the-- And of course this was you know Nixon had been re-elected under the promise to end the war and of course he started to--
WILSON: Yeah that's '73, right?
RUBIO: Yeah roughly.
WILSON: Well let's go back. We appropriately went off talking aboutGwyn, but at the point of sort of finishing up the training period. 00:31:00That training period you were living with a family, you had cultural training, you had some Costa Rican Spanish training, and that went on for how long?
RUBIO: I'll say three months, three to four months I'm just guessing.
WILSON: And you lived with family the whole time period? Okay, and thentell me something about where your specific job assignment, where that was and what you did.
RUBIO: Sure, the specific job assignment was in a place called PenasBlancas and it was a very, very small rural town. It was again if you think of Costa Rica as the Meseta Central, which is the high plateau 00:32:00which is were cool weather and spring and then sort of goes down as you go towards the coast or down north or south. You know it goes down on the Atlantic coast. You've got Limon and on this side you've got Quepos and the completely different coast. Have you been to Costa Rica? Okay so if you do that going south towards Panama you know you truly quickly get into very, very kind of rich you know hot, tropical kind of-- You know it's not cool at all. And so that's where the biggest city south once you get off the Meseta, head south between Panama and the Panamanian border and the Meseta, is San Isidro and that was sort of the main sort of regional hub. And so we were probably it now seems oh I figured I'd forget this, an hour on motorcycle. So 00:33:00we were probably another 45, 50 kilometers further south on the Pan American highway from San Isidro. And then you would get off and then go. And then I was assigned to two towns, which as soon as I said that I tried to remember the other. So I covered Penjas Blancas where I was living and then across the river over this bridge and another ten kilometers there was another town that I was responsible for. And but most of my work was in Penjas Blancas, and again very, very rich farmland, rural community.
WILSON: And what were you expected to do?
RUBIO: They had formed; both those places had formed associationsbasically so they had qualified for they met all the criteria and qualified for the money. And but they were in different stages of their-- One had lost leadership and had just gotten a new president of 00:34:00the association where I was living in Penas Blancas. Actually the guy that was the new president of the association owned, had just come to Penas Blancas from the outside and bought one of the pulperia, which is the grocery store. And there were like two major grocery stores, you know bars and you know little center of civilization in a local sense, and this guy had come in and bought and ran and won the presidency of this association. So the other guy that owned the other grocery store was not a happy guy because he had kind of like all of a sudden this guy Don Solis was became powerful. But before I found the house that I would ultimately live in I stayed in the back in the little storage area of this guy's grocery store, which is another little story about you know that first week or two in the campo. And you know and I'd 00:35:00laid my head down and I because I was literally surrounded by sacks of grain and corn, and I could hear the rats the size of cats just running up and down the corridor trying to break into the containers. But yeah and so basically it was you know very typical development work. You were supposed to see you know did they have a sort of plans. Had they thought through? Did they have approval by the majority of the people that were you know representatives to the association that would show up for association meetings about their plan? And you know did they have the money to be successful? And all those sorts of things that you know now seem so second nature to me after again being in this work, but back then, you know, it all seemed like, you know, like I was more 00:36:00of an observer. You know I was supposed to show leadership and I was just sort of like, "Wow, you know, how do we do this?" And--
WILSON: What kinds of projects?
RUBIO: Well their, believe it or not one of their main projects wasfinishing this church. You know they had started a big cathedral and so there were certain lines where you couldn't cross, but there were certain things about the church that actually I guess you know the roads to the church and all those things. So it was a lot of that mixing up of their priorities and stuff, but so we had to straighten that out. About six months after I was there, and I was there during the monsoon season. I drove out with one of the I think it was the vice president of the association out to the bridge and we were 00:37:00literally watching the water rise. And we were on this bridge, which now again one of those moments of the nine lives that one lives, and we were just watching the water where normally the water would have been. This was a regular you know I'm not even an engineer but it was a regular bridge you know with pylons and foundation and we were just very concerned. And we literally drove off the bridge to the other side because we had been in the middle kind of looking. We drove off the bridge to the other side and started talking to the other farmers on the other side and we're watching it. Within 20 minutes the bridge just literally toppled over, you know just got washed away and it just the water just had completely eroded the foundation. So then all of a sudden that was a crisis. That was a major because you know the whole region depended on what came to San Isidro and then from San Isidro 00:38:00it got delivered out and you know there was no other real convenient bridge except for 100 kilometers down the river or something. So this then became really, really important. So that really got that association focused and they stopped worrying about you know whether the church was going to have a road to it or not. And they did very quickly build a temporary hanging bridge, you know, very small, not like one for a car but something that they put together where at least the buses could come up and people could carry stuff over you know. There was like one of those like you see--
WILSON: Swinging bridges.
RUBIO: Like in east Kentucky. And then they started to plan for thebridge-bridge, which did, you know, start before I left. And so they did do that. And you know there's a lot of you know there were some health projects but again I, this is the honest part that especially 00:39:00that time before Gwyn came given, you know, what happens I guess to some volunteers, but given the isolation and my missing her and the fact that the job, even though the job appeared to be in some ways more concrete than your typical community development specialist job, that it was still very-- I just couldn't sink my, you know I just didn't know exactly. So what I started to notice is that I convinced myself that I guess the thing that I needed to do is really be accepted and get to be known and all this stuff because obviously I wasn't going to be able to do anything. And so I would go to the different, the two different pulperia grocery stores to be seen and to talk and to socialize. Well you know after about eight or nine months of this I just kept noticing every night I was stumbling home you know pretty skunked. And so you know it was one of those things that I think, not that I've ever 00:40:00had not even in college but I mean I've never had any problem with alcoholism, but that was one of those moments where I really realized that that's where I was you know headed to because it was almost on a daily basis where I would just be just very, very intoxicated going home. You know and then I started thinking well plus this is what the people are thinking. You know I mean yeah they're getting to know me but they're also getting to-- And so I think some combination of, you know, trying to get Gwyn to come and realizing that I, you know, may be losing, you know, some respect in the community and stuff like that. And so then all that straightened up and I got more involved in work and then I also got the-- Not one of these volunteers but they finally placed a DINADECO agent near in San Isidro and he had a jeep and he had, you know, a secretary. And so all of a sudden that made it seem 00:41:00more like you know I wasn't out there by myself. And so me and this guy Javier, so we would get together and plan. And he had like maybe 12 associations, where I was responsible for two. But then I also could go when he traveled to the other ten I would go with him and help him with presentations and got ideas about what other people were doing and brought that back to my community and stuff like that. But it was really probably in the second year that I actually really sunk my teeth into it. There was a farmer's cooperative that had applied for some [US]AID money and they had bought some land with this AID money and they were wanting to you know do something to move some families over 00:42:00to that piece of land because a lot of these guys were tenant farmers and never owned their own piece of land and stuff like that. And so I did, I really jumped into that because I liked that project and we were able to, we raised a little money back in the States through, you know, some of the how you I guess Peace Corps volunteers do now where they come. And so we raised some money and we matched it with some of the AID money and we even worked on the design the way we were going to do this, and so this building could serve both as a storage area and a school because like I said the people wanted to actually move there and bring up, ask the state to assign a schoolteacher to come and start teaching there. And that project actually was getting off the ground right as I was leaving, and like I was saying I extended my time so that last year we moved because there were all sorts of 00:43:00different things about, you know, health-wise and our worries about how you know Gwyn's health and my health. So we, I re-extended my time for a third year, so I was really in the Peace Corps for like for almost three years to make up for Gwyn's time. And then but we did get, we got moved to a little town closer to the capital and then that's, that was a different job because then what happened is because again because of my language skills and my experience I became part of the central office of DINADECO and they were starting to do kind of a campaign, a promotional campaign to try to do things like mass media. And that 00:44:00was-- When I got out of school I had a mass communications background and stuff like that just you know. And so how are we doing? So that last eight or nine months I sort of went from you know doing stuff like in that particular village or villages to really thinking about this whole nationwide program, DINADECO's program and reaching out. And then we ended up we put together this radio show, you know, that was sort of going to be broadcast, you know, trying to get people to understand how the, you know, the program worked. And then it turned out that the, some of those very progressive people that I hadn't met sort of in Boston where they first, you know, were sort of still hanging around the, you know, the organization in San Jose. And so 00:45:00there was a lot of sort of left of center folks that were starting to get rowdy, and so we actually did some pretty progressive things you know about like these radio shows and yeah so.
WILSON: Okay let's flip this over at this point.
Side two of interview with Angel Rubio November 29, 2005.
WILSON: Angel let's go back and pick up the thread of Gwyn coming in.She gets assigned elsewhere in the country?
RUBIO: Nope, we got married and she was--
WILSON: Oh immediately? Yeah tell me a little bit about that.
RUBIO: Sure well she actually came in and got assigned to the samehost family as I had, of course I arranged all that, which of course 00:46:00I thought was great because you know gosh I loved this family stuff but I never had thought about, you know, that her experience may be different. And they were real nice to her, but she didn't have as nice a time with the same family you know as I did and for a variety of reasons. But again it was just interesting that--
WILSON: But she had in-country training there too?
RUBIO: She had in-country training and of course she had had Spanish incollege but you know not extensively, so she had to really work hard at her language skills. And then you know she was assigned and we had set all this up before she came, so she was assigned for a program that the sort of Department of Education had in setting up kindergartens and 00:47:00pre-schools because they had some funding from some, again it may have been AID funding, you know to expand their preschool systems. But they didn't have enough teachers you know in line and so they were still there. There was sort of a it was kind of staggering the people they were training to become you know preschool teachers. There weren't enough of them so we could justify and say that a Peace Corps volunteer could go, set them up, and then step back. And so by the time that she stepped back there would be these trained preschool teachers, and so that was at least how we argued it and that's what they accepted.
WILSON: Was she a part of a group or did she--?
RUBIO: No she was--
WILSON: She came single?
RUBIO: She came single.
RUBIO: Came by herself, no we like I said this was a lot of hustle. Andeverybody, I have to admit everybody was real nice in trying to-- But, you know, the fact is there was a lot of support in these communities 00:48:00because you know at first, you know, the schoolteachers in this place weren't, didn't know quite how to make it. But then all of a sudden they realized that they were going to get extra supplies that you know they did have to you know give a room over to her but there wasn't a room they were using. And then I think because it was preschool it only ran like half a day anyway, so I think that was part of it. And so you know Gwyn again she got a lot of materials, some of it was you know materials that was already given by the Department of Education. Some of it she hustled and got from you know US sources and you know like crayons and scissors. But for a lot of these rural kids it was the sort of first experience they'd ever even had with any kind of preschool, so in a sense she was able to you know at least get them that experience of coming to class and sitting there for a few hours and doing a lot of manual skills, you know drawing, cutting and things 00:49:00like that. Some language skills they-- I think most of the language skills, given her own language limitations, came from singing. You know they would sing songs and then do certain games that you know that required a certain level of knowledge of language.
WILSON: So tell me something about your wedding.
RUBIO: Oh yeah. Well we got married in San Jose and by we-- The ladywas like a judge. It was, you know, it was not a church--
RUBIO: It was a civil ceremony and she was like the governess of SanJose and there was some-- And I had some of my Tico friends and some of my Peace Corps volunteer friends as sort of as seconds or whatever. And yeah I guess the story we've told for years is that because you know Gwyn's language skills and her nerves were not. you know. there 00:50:00came a point where I nudged her and she said, "Si!" And that you know and so that ruined the rest of her life that one yes. But yeah so you know we--
WILSON: But your family didn't come from the States, her family didn'tcome?
RUBIO: No, not for--
WILSON: But they all knew that you were going to get married?
RUBIO: Oh yes, yes, yes no. And actually ultimately both her mom, hermom who has since passed away, her mom came to Costa Rica you know after like on our second year. And then my mom and Dad came to Costa Rica too so you know to see us and stuff. But yeah no this was all very probably this all happened towards the you know either like I said end of '71 or early '72 the were that she came and we worked out all the stuff and we got married and we you know went right back out. And by that time I had you know gotten this house that was down this little 00:51:00road you know in town and I had fixed it up within reason you know, so you know it was just an old typical-- the tin roof with no ceiling so you know once the heat of the day started it was pretty hot. And it had like three or four little rooms and a little kitchen out back. There was really no running water right up to the house but it did come you know so you could go out and back and there was--
WILSON: A standpipe or something in the yard or nearby?
RUBIO: Right, so no electricity so it was your typical, you know, PeaceCorps experience for newlyweds. That's always hard but you know we just had I mean we had some tough times but we had some great, great adventures you know. And I guess in all fairness we had lived together 00:52:00in college, you know, on and off for like that last year before I went back to Miami. So we already knew each other pretty good but it was still it was quite you know. If you think about it if we survive that then everything else down the pipe probably seemed-- And yeah and so she you know she set up these kindergartens and taught and I did a lot of traveling with, you know. At first I was sort of there but after a while when this guy from San Isidro came, my Costa Rican counterpart, then I was traveling around more. So we actually, you know, was pretty independent, but we were just typical gringos in that sense that you know like our-- The expectations that we had about you know like because we wouldn't have seen each other and then you know we get 00:53:00there and we'd be sitting there and saying well what are we going to do tonight. You know it's like we're both-- And so it wasn't uncommon for us, you know, a couple times a week where we and where it was dark already and we'd jump on the motorcycle and drive all the way to San Isidro you know and sometimes in rain to go to a movie or to go out to a restaurant, you know which to the people in our town they thought-- You know and especially after the bridge washed out you know you had to literally go across this swinging bridge on a motorcycle you know. And so at night and with rain it's-- And we took a couple of spills and bringing groceries back and stuff like that but yeah it was just weird. And you know and they just thought we were weird because I mean given their lives they just wouldn't have thought you know that after 6:00 most people stayed at their houses. But you know the people that were going to do something would walk to one of these two little grocery stores and they would hear music or dance or play pool or things like 00:54:00that or drink unfortunately. Tremendous alcoholism problems in those places but yeah. So we would, it was just so strange you know because we have that kind of North American attitudes about you know like heck if you-- Because I mean of course we had the money. I mean you know that's one thing. It's not like even with our Peace Corps stipend, and I think Gwyn was telling me that she told Angene which was true that we were so cocky with both of our salaries when we first got one of the-- To sort of put a little sweetener on the deal we said well we don't need all this money, you know. Two volunteer salaries is just way too much and you know because we were living like kings. I mean our house was like I forgot what it was but like 50 colones and then so like I mean we could go to the market in San Isidro and never even I mean we'd get you know go to like these bowls of shrimp and just grab you know 00:55:00shrimp like there was no tomorrow because you know it was only going to be like two bucks for like what we paid. And so later on when we moved to the nearer to the capital things got expensive and then we actually started, Gwyn reminded me because I remember first of all we tried to get that money back and they--
WILSON: The Peace Corps said no!
RUBIO: No, it was too much bureaucratic red tape and so but yeah butso it was so strange that we were just you know we would just look at even though we were in this very strange place and with distances and we would just, but again I guess that speaks to at least both Costa Rica as a country and you know Costa Rica during those times. Because I had run into volunteers you know that have come back in the last five or six years before, I don't think Costa Rica has Peace Corps anymore. I don't think it does. But the people that were in those last groups 00:56:00that were saying that things were starting to get a little, nothing like you know Colombia or one of these places, but it was just you know we were you know it was one of those places. Because we were innocents in that sense, but it was a time for innocence in that country at that time that you know that we would literally be traveling on these dark roads up the Pan American Highway coming back from a movie like you know like at 10:00. And you know nobody did anything or you know there was just none of those--
WILSON: And you were, and Peace Corps had assigned you a motorcycle ofsome sort?
RUBIO: Oh yeah we actually we had, we both had motorcycles but I thinkhers was more of like one of those little 50. You know I think I had like a 90 horse power something or other Honda or Kawasaki or something, so we usually just left hers. I think ultimately we gave hers because she never used it. We were always going together, and she could walk pretty much to her two sites. 00:57:00
WILSON: Did you travel otherwise within Costa Rica?
RUBIO: Yeah, yeah.
WILSON: And how did you do that, on the motorcycle or by publictransport?
RUBIO: No, mostly by buses, yeah mostly buses. When you know when wewould go either back to the capital for training or health reasons to see the Peace Corps doctor or just to do a getaway you know because there was still the restaurants, the nicer restaurants were in the capital and then I sort of the more current movies were in the capitol and all that stuff. So we would do that and then yeah we took little side trips to get to know the country and we would do that. We took the train to Limon and we took buses to Guanacaste and to Puntarenas, Quepos, and Manual Antonio and all that stuff. So yeah we got to see a lot of-- And then we took, we saved all of our vacation time towards the end. We did this, I think it was a 44 day Central and 00:58:00South American trip, so we went, we you know for our combined vacation we went to Panama and then Colombia. I guess from Panama we actually I think flew to San Andreas, which is this island and then got into Colombia. And then did Ecuador and went down as far as Bolivia and yeah Peru and Bolivia. So we really had a nice you know sort of long, like I said it was 40-44 days traveling around Central and South America and that was our vacation. And then on our way home after our tour was over then we did I think we went to Belize and Guatemala before we went to the Yucatan. We flew home from there by Mexico. 00:59:00
WILSON: So you did that by bus or--?
RUBIO: Bus and yeah mostly bus I'd say. Some flying, we took a flightto Tikal in Guatemala and then hitchhiked from Tikal to Belize believe it or not.
WILSON: Before I lose it, I want to ask you about health issues and whatif there were any, what kind of health care you had and so forth, what kind of, whether that was an issue in training and all.
RUBIO: Yeah I mean there was the you know there was the typical probablychange in diet and eating some things that we shouldn't have eaten and 01:00:00things like that, so you know I can clearly remember myself and Gwyn both, you know, just getting to those where we clearly had some kind of food poisoning. And we were just dying, you know, where you just have to be taken to the doctor and put on fluids because it's not your typical you know well I got sick to my stomach. It's like you know this is a--
WILSON: Serious dysentery.
RUBIO: Right. And but pretty much you know--
WILSON: Malaria wasn't an issue?
RUBIO: No. I mean we were just one province away.
WILSON: I'm sorry. Okay we were talking a little bit about healthissues.
RUBIO: Yeah I think you know the overall the Peace Corps kind of PeaceCorps physician I remember Dr. Pardo and we saw him on a regular 01:01:00basis. And we didn't, we weren't in the area that we would have required a regular malaria treatment. We were just far enough inland. But you know we did get those gamma globulin shots always and all the different things. And I don't think we ever really got sick. I know when I spoke about Gwyn is a tiny person. I think probably more was happening with her as she with you know not urinating and holding, you know, I think she actually had this test in the Peace Corps where they determined what her amount of fluids that her bladder could control. And it was like you know 1/100th of a normal person; I mean she's just a tiny person. And I think you being you know not being able to go to you know there's not a lot of clean restrooms in places and stuff, and being on the motorcycle and so I think she was getting a 01:02:00lot of you know infections and so I think there was a lot of that kind of stuff that just was wearing her out. And then you know and then there's always from both of us you know the depression, you know, the emotional part of it where you're isolated. And so but, you know, it was never anything you know that was-- I think it just the being out in the country it just built to a point where we felt we may be better off you know closer to you know civilization I think is why we ended up moving for that last, the last year of the tour. But no I thought the healthcare was good.
WILSON: Okay, do you want to say anything more about your interactionwith host country nationals? Did you, you said you didn't have a counterpart but you were working regularly with Costa Ricans? 01:03:00
RUBIO: Oh yeah, no we probably yeah all of my work was with CostaRicans. I mean where I was at the only volunteers were a couple of people in San Isidro in the big town but like in my area there were no other Peace Corps people, and there really weren't that many you know sort of American families. We did have again near San Isidro we met a gentleman who had retired there who spoke English but so it was pretty much all of our dealings sort of as far as the members of the association for me were Costa Ricans. And so that was a great experience. And then the, once they assigned that counterpart you know my colleague from the same agency and we got to be good friends and so no I found Costa Ricans incredibly nice. I mean it's like anything they have their flaws you know both as in the culture. I mean they 01:04:00were sexist and you know could sort of do like typical sexist you know misinterpret or take things wrong or and I know Gwyn probably did pay for that some in the sense of always try to be careful about how friendly she could be with you know male friends of men. You know in the sense of shaking hands or even, you know, hugging somebody and all that and all the things that, you know, appear to be, you know, relatively harmless in our culture but can be misinterpreted. Yeah no I had a great time. One of those gentlemen I'll-- Everybody from my, the guy in my host family originally and during training to you know some of the people that I worked with were just real quality men and 01:05:00women so--
WILSON: Are there any particularly memorable stories or events oranything you'd like to share?
RUBIO: Sure, well I think I referred to two of them. One was the justgetting off the bridge as it got washed away.
WILSON: Yes, yes.
RUBIO: That was definitely memorable. And then that one job that we didin my last year with the workers coop and getting them that building and just you know seeing something that was quite an achievement for those families that have come together. So but I guess you know the stories that we tell before Gwyn came and when I was you know sort of assuming the role of the drunken gringo, one of the things that was really funny was that I discovered that Costa Ricans were incredibly strong and 01:06:00wiry and athletic, but most of their sports things came from, you know, soccer. So they were very agile with their feet and they were very strong, but their coordination wasn't you know it's sort of like there was no basketball or anything like that. But one of the store owners to compete, remember I told you there was these two grocery stores, actually started he got himself two sets of boxing gloves and was starting to you know sort of create some you know some interest of it to draw people away from the other grocery stores. And of course part because of my drinking and part because I was the gringo somehow I got put up, you know, as this thing was building steam you know up to see what would happen. And it just turned out because as you can see or look at I'm not a very big person and I was much smaller; I've tried to gain weight. So I was relatively a small person but I guess just from 01:07:00and I had never done anything in boxing other than whatever fistfights I had gotten in when I was young. But just my coordination and just my ability to you know to box just came naturally. And so there was like a three or four day period there that I was just wiping out all these guys, you know, because I was just dancing around them and just really plow them you know. And you know it was just funny because you know I said they literally brought the biggest guy in town, who was actually a nice guy and friend. And I think he hated to do it but he you know he just he didn't need to have a lot of skills and he just plowed me. And so I was always, but I did get up and you know waddle, you know, it's not like he knocked me out. I did always stand up and so I think that actually got a lot of you know the respect and all that 01:08:00sort of stuff. I always remember that as a-- And there's just so many wondrous stories. You know there was a time of year where the, and I wish I knew the specific scientific names, but there was this beetle that would just swarm you know at a certain point in the year. And I remember the first time when Gwyn and I had a Coleman lantern because we, there's no electricity, and we were eating you know our supper in the light. And there were things that had gone down with that light at the Coleman lantern, and I just remember that it was just like what you would imagine a good you know scary movie would be because there was like one, one bug on the table. And I just remember you know I took a bite and I knocked it off and I never gave it a thought. And then within you know a minute or two there was three or four on the table, you know, and we knocked them off. And then literally we turned around 01:09:00and we had painted our floors, the typical hippies, we had painted the floor in our little cabin red, white and blue just to joke around, you know our patriotism and stuff. And so the floor was very shiny because of those colors. We had just taken cheap paint and done like a red, white and blue design and all of a sudden we turned around and looked towards the door because the bottom of the walls didn't meet the floor. There was a big crack on both sides. And all of a sudden we realized we could not see our painted floor because there were literally millions, I mean millions of these bugs just coming towards the light where we had-- And so we, you know, went out and took the Coleman lantern and then walked crunching over them and then opened the door and then they literally just turned around and then just followed me out to the field. You know and then we, I took the lantern out there and then turned it off and ran back to the house and we had candles 01:10:00for the rest. So yeah there's just I mean there's kind of these sort of silly but just wonderful little adventures that, you know, are just about those sorts of experience and yeah.
WILSON: Do you, what do you remember about the culture and things thatstruck you as significantly different and you being bicultural yourself?
RUBIO: Well, you know, the language as I was saying before Cuban Spanishthat I had grown up with is much more aggressive and it's sort of almost like it even sounds because the Cubans tend to use the, at all 01:11:00times, the informal tu. And so everything sounds like, Cuban Spanish is like a machine gun -- rat-tat-tat --where Costa Rica is one of the few countries where that actually, sort of like the Argentinians, they use at all time even the perfect they use the verse form you know which makes all your verb ending you're adding s's to things and it's very melodic and very soft. And then just the nature of Costa Ricans, in some ways that reminds me, you know, about working in the mountains where people in east Kentucky where you know you get people that the way that they will win something is to out humble you. Or you know just the experience you have when you're talking to a mountaineer who's 6'5" and weighs 250 pounds but you shake his hand and he feels like he's some little old lady. You know it's like and you know he 01:12:00could throw you through the door, but there's all those things that I you know first experienced in Costa Rica about, you know, there is a gentleness to the people. Now that doesn't mean that there's not, we used to talk to all the old timers there that you know people in their 70s, 60s and 70s that can remember, you know, sort of the history of those rural areas where machete fights were common all the time and you could see it on their faces they had missing, you know, ears and noses and stuff. So I mean it's not like it's all, you know, gentle but just as a people as you, you know, I'm sure you've heard Costa Ricans are one of those that their history they don't have an army, they had, even their big revolution I think like 12 people died and it lasted like three days. And you know the guy who actually was in the, Pepe 01:13:00Figuerez, who actually was one of the winners in the revolution went on to be president two or three times, but he got booted out you know and then he would win back. And it was just a different, it's a-- And again a lot of it as they say because you know Costa Rica doesn't have a lot of native populations. They've got some but it's one of those Costa Rican, I mean Central American and South American countries where the indigenous population basically is minimal as far as the Indian population. So you've got a very you know kind of white, Spanish, you know with some with when they brought in the slaves with blacks but it's just in some ways more homogenous than you know in some places where you've got, you know, where the power elite are white and they're small and then you've got a huge amount of mestizos or native Indians and then you've got all, you know, true culture clashes and differences 01:14:00and stuff like that. Costa Rica is I mean we always said it was an easy tool by any comparison. You know we like I said we were sort of sitting near the Pan American Highway so when volunteers that were either traveling from all the countries down south coming up to go to San Jose and they'd hear that there was a volunteer in the area they'd stop by. And you know I think pretty much lots of places were much tougher tours, especially near Peru and Bolivia with your-- I mean it doesn't mean that they weren't wonderful experiences they were just-- I mean I just think we basically had it easy. Well even back in those times my description of the safety that we felt you know whether it was driving in the motorcycle in the middle of the night or in San Jose, which is, you know, the biggest city where we would just, you know, comfortably walk. You know we would go from our hotel to a restaurant to a movie or to a, you know, go visit people and come back and just never, never had a bad experience. Now you know some of that has 01:15:00changed as I've said, but at least back then in those early '70s it was just a, it was truly the gentleness of the people and the culture and the times just all came together to make it feel really like a very, very great place.
WILSON: So what was it like coming home?
RUBIO: Well coming home was strange. Well I mean there was of coursethe good news that I was no longer worried about the draft. There was of course the good news because I was married to this beautiful woman and, you know, we had all sorts of, we had grown to be friends and we realized we had a lot of things in common or at least she let me talk her into a bunch of stuff. That's why we you know we did all that back-to-the land and stuff. But it was tough because even people 01:16:00that were well-meaning, we had a couple of friends that -- we hadn't been back like a week -- and somebody put us in a car and drove us to Disneyworld you know in Orlando from Miami. And, you know, they just thought well you know you haven't seen-- And it was just it was like a culture overload. I mean we just all of a sudden, you know, you go from you've basically seen where most everybody that you're looking at is sort of thin and wiry and then all of a sudden everybody seemed obese and cherubic and you know just like everybody had too much food and too much you know everything, too much time and too much, you know. And so that was a very strange experience and, you know, it took us a while. Of course I think that also got us because that's how we got to Kentucky is we you know we started to, we tried to go back to where we both had been in school, Tallahassee. And that sort of you know sometimes they say you can't go home again in that sense. 01:17:00I mean we knew we didn't want to be in south Florida for a variety of reasons, and we tried-- I had a construction job in south Georgia where she was from, and that didn't feel real good too and so we you know we did try Tallahassee and then we started getting into all these back-to-the land stuff that was going on the Mother Earth News and, you know. And that's actually how we started reading them and discovering that Kentucky was one of those places where you could still buy country property you know for reasonable money and stuff like that. And of course we blew all of our readjustment allowance. We took this trip to Europe and pretty much went through that. We did Europe and North Africa for probably a little over six months.
WILSON: When was that? Now that was after you'd been back?
RUBIO: After, after yeah this was after.
WILSON: You came back to the States and then you went?
RUBIO: Yes, we probably-- I worked that construction job for a while and01:18:00then we pretty much you know used all of our readjustment allowance to go to Europe and North Africa. And that was great, and then we came back and tried a couple of things. But all the times we were thinking if we could just we kept thinking that experience, even though you know it's not like it was the experience because you know it's not like, we weren't like one of these people that said well we've got to go back to Costa Rica. You know we never really thought that you know but we thought there was something about that experience that is not going to allow us to just come back and just go back and you know just be some suburban middle class regular Joe you know. I mean just there was just something that we just, you know, and again it may have been our generation and that romanticized thing, so we just you know either we didn't feel like doing that or we thought, you know, there was some ethical and moral ground that we thought we just can't, you know, we just can't come to this regular, whatever normal life is we can't do 01:19:00that. It's not-- So you know I think, you know, that's how we probably started reading about you know buying country property and living off the land and a lot of that stuff that you know probably is our next adventure and experience once, you know we did move up to Kentucky and we did--
WILSON: You bought some land here?
RUBIO: We bought some. Yeah that's how we got to Kentucky. We bought20 acres in Wayne County and started our little Kentucky journey. And of course part of that was realizing that we weren't back-to-the- landers and that you know like you said I can hardly screw in a light bulb much less live off the land, you know. But and again I just think that it's you know it's, sometimes we-- 'cause I know both in the Peace Corps when I met a lot of volunteers and I thought oh sure well you know how one sort of-- surely everybody's like me and everybody is sort 01:20:00of progressive and you know and you know adventuresome and all that stuff. But the truth is and, you know, you've probably interviewed and met a lot of them, but Peace Corps draws all sorts of people. And you know there may be a real slight you know little tilt towards, you know, being, you know people are a little more progressive or people that are a little more you know open to different experiences. I think that, but I mean there's lots of people that are you know very conservative that go into the Peace Corps for all sorts of different reasons. But you know as a matter of fact sometimes you hear stories. I just heard a story which I hadn't really heard and then that Paul Winther was telling somebody about that he was getting ready to go into to become a navy pilot and then he thought well I can do the Peace Corps and then I'll be a navy pilot and kill people. And then he realized he couldn't do that anymore, but you know some I'm sure the Peace Corps draws all 01:21:00sorts of human beings. But I just think it definitely draws a certain category of people that are, that there's a dreamer part to the people because I know what's funny is that I don't know if Angene was able to elicit this from Gwyn but Gwyn can remember before her dad passed away them sitting on a porch, you know, and they were talking about stuff and he was staying you know well kind of like because she was I think she was like 12 or something. But what do you have in mind and she actually was saying I like this Peace Corps thing you know and all this stuff, and so--
WILSON: When she was 12, probably 13?
RUBIO: I mean I may be-- Again I always hate as soon as I say somethingI go nope but yeah I'm pretty sure because --
WILSON: We'll check it out. See if she--
RUBIO: And then I could see if she-- Because let's see Paul was actually01:22:00in the first program, that was '61.
WILSON: Yeah, yeah.
RUBIO: Right, her dad died in '63 and she was like 13. So somewhere inthere--
RUBIO: So I'd say it's decently possible for some-- But yeah insteadof but I think again you know she was a little girl in south Georgia, but you know I think again that wanderlust, that some combination of, you know, something in one's heart where one, you know, you-- There's got to be some sense that however it gets defined of social justice or thinking that you're going to do something good you know that it is adventure for yourself and doing good for others. So there's got to be some of those concoctions.
WILSON: So how did you get from the land in Wayne County to theuniversity?
RUBIO: Oh well we decided that we really weren't meant to be total back-01:23:00to-the-landers. I mean that was, like I said that was a true adventure. Wayne County in the years we were there was an incredible place. There was you know of course lots of just people like ourselves that had come in for the back-to-the-land and people that had you know made a lot of money doing construction work up north and were doing kind of buying land in Kentucky and building these beautiful places. And then there was you know part of a farm, I don't know if you're familiar with that Steven Gaspin, the sort of cult leader. They started this place down in Tennessee called The Farm and there was this branch of it in Wayne County, then there was a Mao commune and then I mean it was really it's incredible. Somebody should do like rural history of you know those, a couple of these sort of counties in Kentucky and I'm sure in Tennessee too that were the whole counterculture sort of came of age 01:24:00in all these manifestations.
WILSON: This is the mid-70s now?
RUBIO: Right yeah down about '75. Yeah so I think part of it, it'salways our whole life has been this learning. So you know we just jump into these things strong with again with this sense of right and wanderlust and stuff like that. Then you start to tease out and say you know it's they're human beings and they're flawed and you know all these high expectations that you find in this utopia isn't really there and it's just people and so you know. So I think we sort of went through a lot of that. And mostly it was because I decided to go back to graduate school and so that's when we moved to Lexington initially because I got into the master's program you know in sociology and Gwyn tried a couple of programs. So I think we basically were ready for a, you know, a not being back-to-the-landers; that was one thing, and then 01:25:00getting some more education so that we could sort of pursue different things.
WILSON: And you got your master's at UK?
WILSON: And started? Did you start working at Markey then?
RUBIO: Oh no, no, no. There's the other adventure that I--
WILSON: Oh okay well tell me about that.
RUBIO: I talked Gwyn into-- Well I wasn't quite really. I realized weweren't going to be total back-to-the-landers but I still thought we were going to you know live a rural life and simplify things. And so we did, we lived in Madison County and we bought some land. This time we bought probably about ultimately 120 acres in a place called Dreyfus where the Wildlife Madison area is. I don't know if you're familiar 01:26:00with that part of Madison County. It's sort of like as you leave Berea you sort of head on sort of 25 and it's back in that area. So but yeah and then the combination of things is that we were going to have, you know, not as crazy a rural life because you know we were going to have a few more comforts and things like that and we weren't going to you know try to, you know heat with wood and all those sort of things like that, but and also I started working for non-profit in Berea. Berea was a big center for a lot of these entities that I had sort of again from afar thought oh you know here's this utopian workplace with people that do good things and you know low-income housing and worker cooperatives and stuff, and so you know I spent probably ten years sort 01:27:00of doing different things in Berea around the nonprofit world. And so I burned myself out on that. I realized that that's people by people and that some of those people are real creeps and not as you know considering the work that they're doing, they're not very good to the very people that they work with and for. And some people are truly you know very good people, you know either for faith purposes or because of social justice purposes they're dedicated. And most of them are just a mix but yeah and so there was that adventure. So yeah we went from the, you know, sort of the college '60s and Vietnam adventure to the Peace Corps adventure to the back-to-the-land adventure to the, you know, academic being in graduate school because we lived in Shawneetown then. That was another adventure, so yeah being graduate students to 01:28:00then being out in the country again and working for nonprofits to then you know that was after the Reagan years and all that money dried out the-- Because most of my work was with housing, low-income housing and that's when the first Reagan term they cut Farmers' Home by 70%, 75% and it was a lot of our funding. And then you know that's when, you know, we decided that maybe I needed to consider to have better steady income and that's when I first started working for the university. My first job was the PA program, physician assistants. Gerry Gairola hired me to run something called Training for Appalachian Practice, which was a little grant. And so they were looking to sort of set up coursework and experiences for PA students to learn about the culture 01:29:00of the mountains and, you know, to go out and do things with clinical practitioners in the mountains. So that was my-- And then you know now I'm going to tell what's been my longest adventure which you know I sort of realized the other day that somebody was telling me that I needed to do. You know there's that ratio about something has to add up to 75.
WILSON: Yeah for retirement purposes?
RUBIO: Well but they're saying that if it comes now supposedly they'regoing to switch, they're going to pull a big switcheroo on the retirement benefits where you know if you, whenever this goes into effect if you haven't met your 75 that you get the new benefits.
WILSON: Which are less.
RUBIO: So yeah. But yeah I've been with the university 18 years, kind01:30:00of scares me.
WILSON: We may run out of tape here but we'll go onto another one. Whatdo you think?
RUBIO: Oh that's me.
WILSON: We'll pause here and switch tapes.
Tape two of interview with Angel Rubio.
WILSON: What I was going to ask you, Angel, was what do you think theimpact of your Peace Corps service was on Costa Rica and what was, maybe you've answered this in a lot of other ways, the impact on you?
RUBIO: Sure, well yeah like I said I think we met a lot of people andas we have throughout our life, and I think we overall I think we 01:31:00acted right as people. You know, so I think as far as that part of the Peace Corps you know we're always saying about representing your country and all that stuff you know. I don't think that we came across as arrogant or, you know, superior or anything. You know I think we were reasonably good volunteers so hopefully we left a good impression with Costa Ricans in that sense. And then as far as the work itself, you know, we got roads builds and bridges built and you know we're a small support part of that whole process. I think the thing with the workers coop was more something that I feel good about and take good credit for. And then even that last part when I moved to the city, 01:32:00which is amazing that because I guess because of my language skills that we were able to do some very creative, progressive things where the mass media campaign, you know, to try to get the sort of both the organization and the community development concept, you know, out to a broader audience in Costa Rica. So I mean yeah I think, you know, it's like ultimately you hear people that you know that are in the service and you know a lot of them just talk about their job. You know they did you know they were an airplane mechanic or they were a cook and stuff like that, and so in some ways you know when you're in the Peace Corps you have a job in terms of this not as-- You know and so in the sense once I got myself straight I think I did a reasonable job because there's always that other tendency you know where a lot of 01:33:00Peace Corps people you talk to say well I got a lot more out of than I gave, which is probably true, you know, because it's not like if somebody actually if some corporation had hired you to be there. You know what would have been the expectations in the private sector versus the-- But I think you know if I want to strike a balance and now that I'm you know I'm turning-- I'm 57 when I turn 58 I figure you know I, and I know what the work experience is like. So I don't think anybody would have fired me. You know but I may not have been promoted at the time for considering my drinking habits and stuff, so I think you know we did right by the people we came in contact with and I think we did some good work. And then you know as far as our own experience everything I've been saying to you, you can tell by the way I've sort 01:34:00of categorized our lives into these adventures and always that fact that all of these adventures have some aspect of some ethical grounding and, you know, and that there's something about living life and with, you know, doing good is an important value you know. And so I think that, you know, that's carried over and then sort of that ability and I don't know if that only comes from the Peace Corps, but from my own training and the fact that I as a sociologist and what I read in social theory is that, you know, I think having an experience in a third world developing country allows you to apply a lot of all that stuff you read in books about, you know, what is this system we call the global economy and where different countries are at and what really caused this. And what is the relationships between developing countries and 01:35:00undeveloped countries in the sense of you know why there's richness here and poverty here and is it something to do intrinsically with that country or is it some other level of analysis? And so I think I couldn't do the level of analysis that I do now and, you know, whether it's in what I read or when I act out you know or when I vote for somebody or anything I do I think always gets that imprint of that Peace Corps experience that allowed me to really see you know what are these levels of analysis. How do I understand you know is it really that we are the chosen country and we're going to be better off and these other people are just you know backwards and stuff or you know or is it something else that you have to sort of sort through? So you know I think all those are just great rewards.
WILSON: How did the Peace Corps experience affect how you look at the01:36:00rest of the world?
RUBIO: Well I think that's yeah those are the kinds of things that Iwas just sort of trying to address is that, you know, I think it really just lets you see that interconnectedness you know that and that we can you know we can only kid ourselves about you know how much we can do by ourselves and you know without looking at the changes in other places.
WILSON: What do you think the overall impact of Peace Corps has beenand what should Peace Corps, should Peace Corps continue to exist? What should it do?
RUBIO: Oh sure. Yeah definitely, you know I think there ought to bemore programs like the Peace Corps. And I'm sure there are, you know, I'm sure there are, you know, church programs and government programs. 01:37:00But I think people need, you know, structural ways to sort of leave their imprint on the world. And if that's only through a military action or through a corporate action in the sense of the market, I think that doesn't allow you know you to fulfill just you know everything you could fulfill for change in the world, you know because I think there is a different category and understanding you know, global relationships that are not-- I don't know how to use it because it's not outside of either, you know, sort of the whole military 01:38:00relationships of the states or the corporate relationships among states, but I think there is some other way to look at you know the way, you know, countries are relating to each other and try to figure out, you know, some other cooperative organizing principle that's not exclusive of those other two but that's. you know. outside of those. And that got way too messy even for me but I just think the fact that there's been that possibility. you know. and you see it now when you hear these guys. you know. Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders or you know there's all sorts of people that have, you know. sort of looked at sort of nongovernmental organizations .you know. trying to understand or solve a problem and do it in a way that it's 01:39:00sort of bridging things that aren't normally bridged by the existing structures, whether, you know, like I said you've got your other institutions that I guess left out is the church, you know, and the church, you know, has had some of that role in a sense of trying to do good deeds and good work with some other implications but I just think it's just the whole idea but I think you know a citizen can look and think about what service means, you know, in a different way than the categories that may be laid out you know if there wasn't something like the Peace Corps I think we'd be diminished somehow.
WILSON: Okay those are most of the more structured kinds of questionsthat I had, but what question haven't I asked you that you'd like 01:40:00to answer or what story would you like to tell that you haven't had a chance?
RUBIO: No I think those are all good questions. You know I think it's--I'm looking forward to seeing you know the product of what you and Angene are doing-- Because you know I'm sure given the great diversity of folks but, you know, I just think this, you know, this experience was, you know, not only important but you know like I said it's been fundamental in, you know, sort of shaping, you know, the rest of my life and decisions and so I just I think it's real important for what you guys are doing and capturing this oral history and having the stories because, you know, how is it going to be captured? You 01:41:00know I mean we're getting older I just didn't realize. I was at this vegetarian dinner that I was telling you about and Paul, Paul Winther was there. We went with them but, you know, he was just reminding me that you know if I was in there '71 he was there '61, you know and Paul just went through his own battle with cancer and so you know we've got you know generations of folks that we're going to lose. And you know I'm sure that there's probably been some documentation of these things but I think it's really, really important to try to capture this and I just want to thank you guys for doing this.
WILSON: Well thank you, thank you for your time.
[End of interview.] 54