Within the next few days I was climbing the stairs to speak to the Reverend Lady I was seeking. After being ushered into her parlor she said that she would be glad to pay me three dollars, “If only you could clean up that yard.” I promised her that I would start on the job the next day after seeing what I had to do to get it looking like someone cared for the church. That very day I went over to the churchyard to assess what I would need to get that overgrown yard under control.
It occurred to me, however, that I would need more than the piece of old machete that I’d been using, if I was going to do a good job. There were signs, in fact, that someone else had tried and failed also because of the huge hardwood tree laying wounded on its side in the yard, with all its branches intact. Worried about the challenge ahead, I left hoping that I could find someone to loan me an ax to work with.
Aside from the old machete, I had no tools. Even the file I used to sharpen the machete was old and rusted. The job would definitely need to have an ax to get all the debris cleaned out of the yard. I couldn’t ask to borrow the only ax that existed in all of Bocas Town from my stingy former boss since we no longer spoke to each other. Undaunted, however, I started to slowly chop away at the branches with what I had. For five days I hacked away at that impudent tree that seemed to laugh at my feeble efforts until I began to see some progress.
My next challenge would be in getting rid of all the grass and wood I had chopped down. The next morning I left after meeting with the Reverend Lady, disappointed that I had let her down. She had soundly reprimanded me for not finishing the job and not cleaning the refuse left in the churchyard. I sat there sheepishly listening while she admonished me for not finishing what I had started. I promised to do my best in getting rid of the garbage. Upon leaving, however, I perceived that she herself had been rebuked by her superior, the stern looking Rev. Mrs. Bailey, who scowled at me as I left the premises. At this particular moment in my life I could not imagine how that Reverend Lady and I would meet again and under very sad circumstances: my grandfather’s funeral in Colon, something I would deem very important in my life.
For the time being, however, I would remain busy removing the refuse I had accumulated in the churchyard. Like an industrious ant I used my trusty crocus bag to cart all the brush and cuttings over to the nearby beach on the road I knew so well when I took it back to the ranch after selling milk on horseback. This turned out to be my best option for getting rid of most of the trash.
Given the difficulty of obtaining potable water in Bocas Town, a problem that still exists in all of Bocas, the churchyard job had turned out to be harder than I´d bargained for. Not only was I not equipped for it but I had to stop very often to fetch drinking water for my family as well, traveling to the one communal spigot on the small air strip that served the Bocas community. If I happened to arrive late in the day I would also take a bath before carting the much needed liquid home to my family. After trying to figure out what to do with all the refuse I had still had in the yard and could not get rid off, I then considered burning it all right there in the churchyard. Common sense, however, told me not to try it.
This story continues.