Category Archives: Chombo

Our New Plantation Home

A bananero or banana plantation. Image thanks to

A bananero or banana plantation. Image thanks to

The chief cook at the dining hall, ever vigilant of China and her condition, said, “You just pay me the regular and tell that niña to come and eat here because she don’t have to cook!” And so, we were installed in the community as the “black boy and his Chinese wife” to be the strangest couple who ever graced that part of the country. I would, however, have to give up going to the movies on Baseline because the movie house was owned by Chinese people. I had also given up on movies because it was mostly the men who lived in that area who frequented the movies and Pug was already an attraction on her own. Continue reading

The Not-So-Free Zone

Unlike today, racism was really never talked about in our social circles, although it was an evil that was always at the center of our collective frustration as black Panamanian youth. The political and commercial bourgeoisie of the times, with their marginalizing power, maintained a stressful undercurrent of damaging rumors that had always beset particularly the City of Colon filling the media and the social climate with derogatory epithets like “Chombo City”  etc., especially with regards to the West Indian blacks; this was in addition to referring to Panamanian West Indians always as the “foreigners.” Continue reading


This is a typical board building tenement
that still exists in the poorer “Barrio” neighborhoods
of Panama City. This one is among several in
this area of Santana, slated for
demolition soon.

It was not until the decade that began with the year of 1940 in which an event such as the devastating fire that would virtually destroy the Atlantic coast city of Colon, that I would awake to who I really was in the world into which I had been born. Continue reading