My first pen pal was my aunt! She was still living in the Philippines at the time. This was in 1989. I was in first grade, and we had just gotten our first computer and dot-matrix printer. The operating system was MS-DOS, and there was a very crude word processing program available. I'd type up a short letter for her, most likely about nothing special, then print it out and mail it to her.
Some weeks or months later, I'd receive a hand-written letter back from her. It was always written on yellow legal pad paper in her excellent, teacher-like penmanship. She wrote in script, so mom or dad had to read it to me.
Back then, that was part of their livelihood. The enormous pigs were cash cows, figuratively and literally. The sale of a pig could generate a considerable sum of money, so saving the 100+ pound beasts from raging flood waters was imperative. I remember the written descriptions made me feel fear; then it made me smile and laugh. And the story taught me a lot about life in a different place.
Since those days, it's been so much easier to keep in touch with people you've befriended. The internet has simplified it through email, text, chat apps, Facebook, Instagram, and the like; and to some extent has made it more safe. (Although you've all gotten that email from the Nigerian Prince or the Prince of Zamunda, right? Haha.)
I have new pen pals these days. People we've met along the way throughout our travels - we try to keep in touch with. We exchange emails every so often coordinating potential joint trips, checking in on the goings-on of their seemingly close locales with regards to politics / economics / stability / tourism / etc, and asking about their families or significant others or spouses. Pen-pal-ing is much easier to do in this day and age. Although, should we coin a new name for it? Hardly anyone puts pen to paper anymore for these purposes...
Did you have a pen pal? Do you still keep in touch with them? If not, aren't you curious who they've become and what they're up to now?