Bocas, being the way it was sizing up to be, found me, for the next week or so staying busy like the trails of ants I often saw just moving the leftover refuse from that churchyard to the beach. I had decided to use my trustworthy crocus bag and cart to help me tote everything away. The pile of dead branches and cuttings from the hardwood tree appeared to be shrinking.
I reached home after walking through that beautiful scene of bush and sandy beach that calmed me down somewhat. On arriving, my sister Aminta said to me, “Where have you been Juni? My friend said that his mother has been waiting for you to show up in order for her to place your name on the list of new teachers.” Despite my excitement at this new opportunity, I had purposely not shown up for a couple of days for that all important first meeting with the person who would connect me with my first job as a teacher in Bocas del Toro Province. Undaunted, my sister kept urging me. “Juni the governor is waiting for you for her to send in her list, ” she said. “OK, Sis!” I replied too embarrassed to tell her that I was ashamed to see that lady with the shabby clothes I had left. They were so soiled and threadbare that I hated to make an appearance in them.
My wife, Pug, interceded, however, and handed me a shirt that she had been attempting to make for me. “Why don’t you try this on?” she said as she handed me the shirt that she been stitching together by hand. It had its buttons on it and everything. And so, I timidly tried on the shirt that morning and then made my way quickly over to the governor’s house.
I arrived at her place having been informed that her name was Marqueza de Lopez. “A lady governor,” I thought rather encouraged. It was a close walk away from our place as I reached the hibiscus covered walkway, climbed the stairway and knocked on the screened door. “Enter young man!” she said, and I stepped right in sensing the urgency in her voice. “I have been waiting for you for days now so that I could send in this list!” she said as she observed my reaction. I didn’t say a word and respectfully remained standing, waiting for any indication from her. She was the second highest ranking politician in the government that I had ever been that close to. That realization so sobered me that I simply remained in silent awe throughout the meeting.
At one point I suddenly heard her say, “Why don’t you sit down a minute?” More of a command, it was her way of breaking the ice and allowing me to relax. I was so overwhelmed by her, however, that I moved back to the other room too nervous to even sit and so, I remained standing. She entered the room again, this time with documents in her hand. “Look here,” she said very officially, “I have your name but I had to see you in person.” She then pointed to the space on the paper where my name appeared showing me where she had to have my confirmation.
Since I had brought a copy of my birth certificate that my mother had provided for me in order to make passage to Bocas del Toro, I whipped it out immediately. She said to me, “ See here?” as she again pointed to my name on the document with the list of names. She seemed satisfied that I had met her requirements and said, “I’m sending it in today! But you must go to Colon and get a copy of your transcript, then take all those papers to the Ministry of Education’s offices in Panama.” With that I thanked her respectfully and made my way out of the door again. I was elated!
This story continues.