A Memorable Carnaval

Carnaval 1946, reputed to be the best of the 20th century. Excellent views of spectators hanging from their balconies enjoying the sights. Image thanks to Panama Vieja Escuela.

Carnaval 1946, reputed to be the best of the 20th century. Excellent views of spectators hanging from their balconies enjoying the sights. Image thanks to Panama Vieja Escuela.

The moment arrived when the three of us would leave my mother’s place and I arrived as promised to the dance hall for a look to see who I knew could take these women off my hands-  to find out what exactly we could get into for Carnaval in Colon. Since I wasn’t a bar hanger-on, the first bar and Toldo we encountered I found to my liking since it was nearby, small and sufficiently out of the Cabaret circles. It had a bar and an area for dancing at the Jukebox so that I took turns dancing with both women, for the men hanging out in the place seemed not to be interested in our crowd. I soon became bored, however, more thinking of how hungry I was feeling waiting to see if I could get some breakfast.

Food was the only thing on my mind early that Sunday morning. My sister, Aminta, went to put some change in the Jukebox while Raquel, the girl who had accompanied us, was observing how I had been trying to ignore her. She suddenly said in Spanish, “My mother said that you are very stuck up!”

I didn’t react to that remark as I looked over near the Jukebox and saw that one of the guys was dancing with my sister and that she was enjoying the attention she was receiving from the Spanish guys at the bar. I continued prodding her friend about her mother whom I happened to respect very much. “Your mother is my comadre you know, or are you forgetting that I am your youngest sister’s Godfather with all the rights to be respected as anyone of the compadres who takes on this vow. So don’t tell me about your mother because I don’t believe any of the things you are saying. Furthermore, how come you never bought milk from me for your kids?” At that she laughed and I remained serious remembering my hard days of selling milk house to house back in Bocas Town.

Aminta caught up with us just in the nick of time. Raquel suddenly said, “Come and dance with me you meany!” Ad so we danced and danced until Aminta caught up with us saying “Let me take you home Rachel!” I butted in saying, “We are taking YOU home Aminta, then I will take Raquel home!” ¨Now Juny, you know her mother asked me to care ofr her.” ¨look, Miss know-it-all, why don’t you go dancing alone so that you can get out of my hair. I don’t care what your mother or her mother said, I am calling the shots here and since you seem to be able to get home by yourself, just leave and don’t bother me!¨

And so, we walked in silence for the remainder of that morning during the wee hours. We finally said goodbye to my sister as she sneaked back home at the end of the Fifth Street Park in Colon. We then took our time walking to the far flung corner of Twelfth Street when we ducked into an alleyway and kissed for a long time in what was turning into a budding romance. For the next couple of days after our Carnaval tryst we saw each other briefly and met at a movie house in the middle of town on the balcony where we could further indulge our young passions.

My luck started to change, however, and Simeon called m over to his car wash to clean and detail a slew of cars and I was able to contribute some to to the upkeep of the baby that I had accepted as my son. On the other hand, Rachel and I slowly drifted apart as I got too busy working and trying to get back to Panama so as to be nearer to the Education Ministry since I was bent on becoming a teacher.

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