The Girl from Bamboo Lane

Dice games were an attraction on Bamboo Lane. Image thanks to Morguefile

While living in Panama City Pug would now show up looking for me accompanied by her “forever friend” I only knew as the Bamboo Lane girl. I strongly suspected that Pug had me set up to have a date with her. Such was the turn of Pug’s mind. She had time for this kind of thing – double dating and looking for romantic adventures- while I was focusing on getting more integrated into my old Panama City neighborhood. Working at the garage did not leave me much time for romancing and possibly getting another girl pregnant. Bamboo Lane in Colon had developed a rather notorious reputation as a hangout for gambling, prostitutes and generally attracting persons of questionable repute, so I didn’t have much confidence in Pug’s new friend. For me, Bamboo Lane was where I could get a quick, cheap haircut or buy a “pantscut” at a reasonable price to have some tailor make me a new pair of pants. Many people who lived there were just trying to survive and make an honest dollar. 

As I labored at my garage I clung to the hope of working as a teacher in Bocas del Toro far out in the province. I had thoughts of visiting New York City, or anywhere in the United States, but only for a brief time, then come back to Panama after visiting with my father.

A month had already transpired since I had delivered all the official school transcripts that bore my entire educational history. So I waited after retrieving copies of my transcripts from Abel Bravo Secondary School in Colon. I delivered the documents to the Panama office of the Ministry of Education which was still been located in my Calidonia neighborhood- and proceeded to wait. You really learn the virtue of patiently waiting if you live in Panama. You do wait and wait… and wait.

In the meantime I had again been using Twenty Five Street as an address where friends could find me, since it was an ideal place, and great place to hangout; for anyone seeking me could find me. These were times for me to remain positive and remain more positive about that dream I had of being able to afford a room on my own in town. I just prayed that I would be able to think straight, but the weeks crawled by and nothing seemed to be moving for me in any positive direction except, perhaps, for maintaining my job at the garage.

By then there was nothing more to do and so I enrolled in the National Institute night school, hoping to graduate that end of that year from Secondary School. Then my plan was to try for a seat at the Law faculty of the Panama University and wait there for the call from the Ministry of Education. In the meantime, the plan was to attend and graduate from the National Institute night school. Adding to my uncertainties my depression had set in and I saw myself trapped. I contemplated leaving everything and heading for Bocas to wait there for a teaching appointment with my secondary school diploma., and then afterwards try to attend The National University, or even vie for a scholarship sponsored by the Panama government overseas in some university like Venezuela or Mexico. These scholarships, I had heard through the grapevine, were being offered for boys who would want to join the Guardia Nacional and become career military men. But, first I had to shake off the influence of that troublesome Chinese girl from Colon who had made my life a living hell and steer clear of her Bamboo Lane friends.

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