Making a Home in Colombia, South America

Ruth (Van Horn) Snyder and daughters in South America – enlarge>>>

In the early 1950s, Donald and Ruth (Van Horn) Snyder and daughters Sally and Carol relocated from their home in Pasadena, CA to Colombia in South America. There, Don helped manage a contract to construct a 500-mile section of railway lines. Their hacienda was in the town of La Dorada, in the jungles near the Pontoná River. This image shows Ruth and the girls enjoying some sunshine and wildlife near their home.

Ruth later wrote a private memoir of that experience, entitled A Housewife in the Jungle: A 1950s Pasadena Family Goes to Colombia [McGann Publishing, Amazon Kindle ebook only]. According their daughter Carol McGann, the family was unaware of what they were getting into:

Ruth labored for almost two years to create some semblance of a normal life for her suburban Pasadena family, cooking with balky primitive stoves that could squire black oil all over the kitchen without notice, searching outdoor markets, wrestling with generators, home-schooling her daughters and in a thousand other ways dealing with an entirely different world that challenged her ingenuity. All the while there were snakes, parrots, bulls, floods, voracious insects, and impassible roads that were often reduced to long stretches of mud. Still, Ruth, a veteran teacher who had taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the Mojave desert, faced it all with good humor and kept her family healthy and happy as she learned to adapt to her second home.

The project was not entirely completed by the time the Snyders departed back to the United States. They traveled to home on a semi-freighter through the Panama Canal en route to New York City, and thence to Pasadena, where the spent the balance of their years.

See more in the biography of Ruth’s parents, Edward Jacob and Lucy Melia (Zimmerman) Van Horn, and in Ruth’s essay, Edward J. Van Horn: A Memoir of Early Southern California Life.

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