Slider by IWEBIX

Island Hopping by Canoe

Image is from our friends at casabocas.com

Image is from our friends at casabocas.com

Our first stop was an island where this man with a heavy Westindian accent landed us since he sat behind me steering the small craft around the watery road he seemed to know by heart.  At first glance I could tell that it was his pet spot or his “money maker charcoal pit.” I discovered that he made money off making charcoal from the giant mangrove forests on these islands.

After landing he seemed to become a different person or someone that really did not want me to know him fully.  His secretive actions made me become suspicious of his motives right away.  Although I had not really seen anyone in Colon or in Panama make charcoal for cooking purposes, I had lived the early part of my young life close to a neighbor who bought the product to sell to the neighborhood. Continue reading

The Makings of a Bocas Bushman

The abundant Yellow Jack fish off the waters of Bocas del Toro.

The abundant Yellow Jack fish off the waters of Bocas del Toro.

With the lack of communication between Pug and me regarding our feelings, or lack of feelings, for each other, I walked out of her Bocas family’s home to get to know that part of town we were in and, perhaps, take a little time to reflect quietly. As I walked I looked back to discover Pug following me down a street unknown to me. I was just making my way to the beach to sit and meditate and get my mind clear.

“Where you going Juni?” she asked as stepped up to me to continue walking in silence as I hesitated to answer her. I really didn’t know how to answer her as I didn’t know what my next move was going to be. “Look I’m looking for a room just in case,” I said rather evasively hoping to discourage her and prevent her from following me. But, she remained walking at my side. “Roberta says she wanted to talk to you,” she insisted. So, I stopped and turned back around to go see what Aunt Roberta had to say to me. Continue reading

The Good Samaritan of Bocas

Another old photo of Bocas Town (Isla Colon) from our friend, Jos Price's collection.

Another old photo of Bocas Town circa 1910 (Isla Colon) from our friend, Señor José Price’s collection.

The trip to Bocas Town had not been thoroughly planned but I cared less and less about going back to work in the fields of Baseline since I knew the marriage was not a union anymore. Continue reading

Goodbye to Baseline

Image is of the Mechanics Lodge posing for a group picture with their families.  About 1912 at Isla Colon.  Just as in Colon and Panama City the Lodges made up a very important part of the life of the West Indian Panamanian society.  Image thanks to Sr. José Price.

Image is of the Mechanics Lodge posing for a group picture with their families. About 1912 at Isla Colon. Just as in Colon and Panama City the Lodges made up a very important part of the life of the West Indian Panamanian society. Image thanks to Sr. José Price.

These were the times of the Panamanian presidency of Ernesto de la Guardia, Jr., while we remained in Baseline, today known as the area of Changuinola in Bocas del Toro Province. However, today I would probably not recognize that same Changinola River area I got to know the first day I ventured up there to seek work back in 1956. But, it was an area that my co-workers and I would get to know as home and we shared many adventures together as plantation laborers just as my West Indian forefathers had done years before. At this point in my life, now with a new baby and a wife in tow, I was ready to depart from this tainted land for me, swearing that I would never go back. Nevertheless, I started meeting new friends. Continue reading

My Father is Looking for Me

Goodwifequote

I had to admit that Pug would not have made a “Good Wife,” not then nor ever for me. But then, I had to further admit that I had been looking at our lives through my own experience with women.  The truth was that I was overwhelmed with that hidden side of my life, that I had been growing up with experiences gained mostly from Westindian women.  Continue reading

A Change of Plans

After the incident with my neighbor, I was left feeling vulnerable and somewhat shaken and I began planning to leave the area with my wife and baby.  Disillusioned now with my entire experience I started devising how I would leave as this trip to Bocas, ever since I had taken Pug to live with me  in Baseline, had turned out to be a pack of trouble for me after all. I had been working hard since the first week we got to Bocas under the hot sun, torrential rains and I felt I had recovered my health and strength so it seemed the time was right. Continue reading