Living Thirteen Years in Latin America
by H. Lynn Beck
Pen Culture Solutions

"The farm boy leaving to join the Peace Corps would disappear and an adventurer would replace him, one who always needed to see and work in another country."

A simple sign posted outside the University of Nebraska student union changed the life journey of a young man who, until that point, considered not much beyond his commitment to working on the family farm. The sign announced that a Peace Corps representative was conducting interviews in the building’s basement. Beck’s terrifically detailed memoir notes from the beginning that despite strong pressure to commit to life and work on the family farm, the author experienced a deep yearning to experience new places and exposure to new ideas. This longing would indeed bear fruition as Beck began work as a Peace Corps volunteer with an assignment in El Salvador in August 1967. From there, he continued more than a decade of service throughout Central and South America. Agricultural skills and knowledge were parlayed into his overseas service, and it was ultimately in Latin America where Beck would fall in love, marry, become a father, and much more.

The many entertaining stories Beck shares—hitchhiking escapades, episodes of illness, intimate and often hilarious encounters with diverse populations and fellow Corps members alike, and tales of late-night drunken partying—detail the good, bad, and ugly of thirteen years serving in lands both foreign and fascinating, sometimes bonkers, and quite beautiful. Any reader of adventure who appreciates well-written multi-layered memoirs will delight in the excellent storytelling contained within Beck’s 240-page chronological account. Though occasional slight grammatical and printing errors are present along the way, they are few and far between and easily forgiven, especially given the enormous efforts evident in the author’s delivery of extraordinary detail recounting his unique experiences abroad. The autobiographical experiences of Beck’s time and service throughout Latin America truly reinforce the notion that truth really is stranger than fiction.

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