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The Makings of a Home?

Even in the 50's Bocas had a potable water shortage.  Today it is even scarcer and much more expensive.  Image.

Even in the 50’s Bocas had a potable water shortage. Today it is even scarcer and much more expensive. Image.

Upon landing in Bocas Town we pulled the small canoe to shore below the wharf that overlooked the wide Atlantic Ocean and started to unload. Happy was I to see the big fish I had pulled in the night before. I also helped to unload and carry out the beautiful giant conches that I dove for and various loads of charcoal in burlap sacks as I followed the mulatto only to end up at the local Chinamen. We returned to the canoe and unloaded until the last of the load had been secured which, as I soon discovered, had all been purchased by the local Chinaman for his store.  I was still kept in the dark by my half Indian-half black friend as to exactly how much he had earned on all those items, and, to this day, I have never found out. However, my friendship did end that day although later on in the day he looked awfully pleased when he met me at his home. I, in fact, had every intention of paying him rent for the tiny cubicle of a room room we now lived in behind his house. I also happened to meet his family.  But, my whole experience with the mulatto and his meanness of spirit estranged us by then, for I had felt that he had no respect for me as a person or as a man. Continue reading

Dedicated to the Silver Women on Mother’s Day

The Clubhouse in Balboa around 1959, manned by a hard working Silver Woman.

The Clubhouse in Balboa around 1959, manned by a hard working Silver Woman.

Taking a well deserved pause from our chronicle we want to share a poetic tribute to our Silver Women on Mother’s Day.  This poem is provided, once again, by our resident poet, Mr. Louis Emanuel and it is especially dear to our hearts. Continue reading

Diving for Conch in Bocas

A giant conch like the kind you find in the waters off Bocas.

A giant conch like the kind you find in the waters off Bocas.

We took off rowing and I felt relieved that we were leaving for home. My body had not yet recovered from the battering it received from swinging that ax or from the continual sharpening of the tool with a small file, which was the only time I’d had any rest lately. While heading home my thoughts returned to Pug, my wife and the newborn baby boy. There was absolutely no conversation with my so-called partner for more that an hour during the entire time. Continue reading

Close Encounters with Sea Creatures

These are Pacific reef sharks like the ones that hunted me.  Image.

These are Pacific reef sharks like the ones that hunted me. Image.

During the next few daysI I found myself still laboring at the entrance to that small river bed where I had felled the giant tree. The trips in the loaded canoe with the cut up branches of the tree that had grown to cover the sky in the company of like trees of its size, made me more diligent in cleaning the large branches and cutting the wood that would feed the fire and make another mound of the precious coal used for cooking. All the time I pondered having the opportunity to have my own piece of land and being able to live in these beautiful woodlands, Continue reading

The Fall of a Giant

A perfectly protected Mangrove forest in Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

A perfectly protected Mangrove forest in Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

I had been out fishing all night and morning found me still sleeping on the ground of this small cabin overlooking the bay. Sleep had caught me wrapped up in a dream about getting back to Colon after making land again in Bocas Town. At least that had been my idea of resting up a little after I asked for a five dollar reward for all that I had done to contribute to earning some cash. Continue reading

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