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.

As soon we entered the home again, Roberta, that tall dark skinned woman, met me straight up with a question. “Juni Pug said that you are looking for a room?” seemingly interest interested in our future plans. “You know that you all can stay with us,” she continued. “Look, Roberta,” I said, “I don’t think that that’s a good idea. But let me look around to see how many people have empty places that are willing to rent.” She continued to try to convince me to stay on in her place. “But I am telling you that we all can live together,” she urged.

It was then that I cut her off as I was totally turned off by the whole idea of staying with Pug’s people. “I want to make sure you understand that we are both adults with a new born child, a baby, and that’s too many people for your small place,” I insisted. “So I’m going to see what I can get into.” With that I walked out of the house again with Pug trailing behind me down the street again. “Juni, I know of a place near here,” she said, trying to sound helpful. “Let’s go see then,” I replied.

We walked for a time up the street nearing a nicely built house painted gray. We climbed up the stairs and after knocking on the door were met by a young obese black woman. I asked her about the rental and she immediately took us inside and showed us a large space in one of the bed rooms that we could have when her husband came back home in two days. We thanked her and left, hoping to be able to find another offer.

However, our prospects seemed limited that day as there were no other places to look into. For the next two days we looked without any luck so we returned to the first offer and met our future landlady’s husband who was a mulatto man- mixed native Indian and Westindian. He informed me that we could have the place, if I agreed to help him row his boat as he was into fishing for a living among other things. However, since he had things to do he told me that he would be back to pick me up in a day or so. I agreed.

The next few days were like a vacation for me. I bathed in the surf nearby and helped the family with some of the cash I had saved working in Baseline, for food and small things like that. When our new acquaintance returned, he sent his wife to get me at Pug’s Aunt Roberta’s home. As the woman and I talked about the deal I felt hopeful about learning something new and was eager to get away from Pug. So we shook on the deal and I went back to get our few pieces of furniture and move her into the room with bed and dining furniture, which made the place look respectable. For me, it was a chance to get away from Pug and her family and to re-establish myself in the bush as I had grown accustomed to doing in Paraiso, Canal Zone. Here, however, I hoped to learn how to navigate on the sea, rowing to the nearby islands and, for the first time, learning something about sea travel. I was also hoping that I’d be lucky to meet other people on the way.

The fateful day arrived on a splendid sunrise – a perfect morning- and I was surprised to find myself at the bow of a craft so small that it could only be defined as a canoe going out to sea. The sea welcomed my eyes with schools upon schools of yellow jack fish. There were also whole families of people too who kept rowing past us snickering and looking quite amused as they watched this novice looking somewhat bewildered by all the new and wondrous sights of life on the sea.

This story will continue.

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