The kind of farm I dreamed of having. Image thanks to SoleJourner.
The dip in the sea had made up for anything I considered wrong with my life then; whatever might have tried to depress me had simply vanished from me. Also, in my routine walk out to the runway spigot to get water, I would also bath there, leaving me renewed and refreshed to continue fetching the much needed potable water. In the meantime, I had heard that Little Man had taken the boat to Colon. I decided to hide from his boss, the Indian guy, not wanting to make any commitments. Though the ride to Baseline was free, I was adverse to wanting to attract any more trouble by going up there with Pug trailing me. Continue reading
This is a very old image of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bocas Town. I understand that it still stands. Image thanks to Señor Antonio Price. There were many such structures in Bocas Town giving it a Afro Antillean flavor to its unique architectural style.
I’d continued to walk the more than a half mile there and back to our new home with a five gallon bucket of water. By that time of the day I had made about two or three trips fetching water after rowing all that time on the high seas and so, I was understandably tired. I then walked towards the beach to take a refreshing dip. After leaving the beach I ran into a guy I knew from the streets of Colon. I recognized him and we greeted each other. “Hey Little Man!” I said. “Wha’ happening Riri!” he responded and we started walking together just as a chance for me to be entertained with memories of days when we met at dances in Colon. Little Man actually revealed to me that I had been quite popular at the dances and had attracted so many different girls with my dancing abilities. He was anxious, he told me, to leave for Colon soon and so I accompanied him on his trek around town the next day also. Continue reading
Even in the 50’s Bocas had a potable water shortage. Today it is even scarcer and much more expensive. Image.
Upon landing in Bocas Town we pulled the small canoe to shore below the wharf that overlooked the wide Atlantic Ocean and started to unload. Happy was I to see the big fish I had pulled in the night before. I also helped to unload and carry out the beautiful giant conches that I dove for and various loads of charcoal in burlap sacks as I followed the mulatto only to end up at the local Chinamen. We returned to the canoe and unloaded until the last of the load had been secured which, as I soon discovered, had all been purchased by the local Chinaman for his store. I was still kept in the dark by my half Indian-half black friend as to exactly how much he had earned on all those items, and, to this day, I have never found out. However, my friendship did end that day although later on in the day he looked awfully pleased when he met me at his home. I, in fact, had every intention of paying him rent for the tiny cubicle of a room room we now lived in behind his house. I also happened to meet his family. But, my whole experience with the mulatto and his meanness of spirit estranged us by then, for I had felt that he had no respect for me as a person or as a man. Continue reading
Image is of the Mechanics Lodge posing for a group picture with their families. About 1912 at Isla Colon. Just as in Colon and Panama City the Lodges made up a very important part of the life of the West Indian Panamanian society. Image thanks to Sr. José Price.
These were the times of the Panamanian presidency of Ernesto de la Guardia, Jr., while we remained in Baseline, today known as the area of Changuinola in Bocas del Toro Province. However, today I would probably not recognize that same Changinola River area I got to know the first day I ventured up there to seek work back in 1956. But, it was an area that my co-workers and I would get to know as home and we shared many adventures together as plantation laborers just as my West Indian forefathers had done years before. At this point in my life, now with a new baby and a wife in tow, I was ready to depart from this tainted land for me, swearing that I would never go back. Nevertheless, I started meeting new friends. Continue reading
image from worldheadquarters.com
The ferry that we took from what the natives called “Bocas Town” and the Spanish-speaking people I would later meet called “Isla Colon” or Colon Island, could be described as very large or similar in size to the one I had become accustomed to in Panama City that we all knew as the “La Boca Ferry.” The only difference between them was that the La Boca Ferry transported automobiles while in Bocas our ferry only carried human passengers and it was much more picturesque. Continue reading
Almirante, Bocas del Toro. Image thanks to travelpod.com
It was a dark and starless night that night as we headed for Bocas del Toro. For some reason I found myself standing alone next to a wooden bunk. I was patiently waiting for the girl of my dreams, my would be wife, the one who would make me a father, to return to my side from some errand or the other on board. Continue reading