Marimba de Tecomates (Gourd Marimba)
This is a marimba de tecomates (gourds) that is typical of the indigenous population of Guatemala. Similar to many marimbas in basic design (technically an arc marimba), it uses gourds as resonators.
My grandmother’s cousin, John Hodinka (“Sonny”), sent this to Grandma from Guatemala, and my Aunt Brenda added it to her collection. I asked him about the card and why he was in Guatemala. He told me it was sometime in the 1980s, though he couldn’t remember when (however, he mentions “Saturday, April 15” on the card, which means it could only be 1989):
(I went there) through the church. They had a big earthquake down there and they needed some people to go down and help rebuild. I went down there for two to three weeks.
I’ll tell you what — I got up one morning (I slept at the preacher’s place there) and these guys were having breakfast and they were starting to talk. “What’s going on here?” I said.
“You were sleeping,” one of them said. I said, “Yeah?” The guy says, “Well while you were sleeping we got woke up three different times by earthquakes.” And I didn’t hear anything! You get up high in the atmosphere and there’s all kinds of things that rumble up there, and I was working and you get so tired you don’t wake up for nothing.
When I came back I flew into Miami and my Aunt Florence (his mother’s sister. — Ed.) was waiting for me, and she drove me up to Port St. Lucie (Florida) and I spent time with her and my uncle. They put me back on a plane and I flew up to… well, I had to change planes somewhere… then I got to Philadelphia. It was cold! ‘Cause all I had on was real thin stuff.
I had a good trip down there helping somebody out. One of the guys that I went with from Bridgeton (New Jersey), on the way home, guess what he did? He got a whole bunch of firecrackers (in Guatemala), put them in a box, and put them on the plane right under the seats where we were at. I didn’t know that for a while. When he told me that I said get me out of here! If one of those things had gone off I’d have been running.
On the way home we were lucky. He took that box under his feet out of the plane and went through Customs, they just waved us through: “Keep going, keep going, keep going…”.