Tag Archives: banana plantations

Baseline: Learning the Ropes

image thanks to seekingalpha.com

image thanks to seekingalpha.com

I made the trip back to Baseline on the last train and, reaching the station after crossing the Changuinola River Bridge, made stops into some of the sections of the farms or fincas I would later get to know as places of work. The darkness of the night, however, didn’t help with any clues of the terrain outside. Getting back to Baseline during the early morning  gave me a chance to size up the place that I would now call work and home for an indefinite period of time. Continue reading

Glad to Get a Job

This image is a close to real life of our box car accomodations .  Image is from myinwood.net

This image is a close to real life of our box car accommodations . Image is from myinwood.net

Once I recovered from my vertigo, I sat in the train station until the next passenger train pulled in. I boarded the train and it pulled out and delivered me to the familiar surroundings of Base Line’s platform. I headed straight for the office and was met at the entrance by one of the clerks who directed his words at the man I would come to appreciate as a person and a boss. “Jefe, this kid has been looking for you all morning.” Continue reading

The Train Ride Up-the-Line

The mighty Changuinola River from the air.  Image thanks to Burica.

The mighty Changuinola River from the air. Image thanks to Burica.

Finally the train pulled out from in front of the Chinese Bar and Restaurant in Almirante headed for the last stop, a town by the name of Baseline. I had been apprehensive all the while since I knew nothing about traveling anywhere in the country of Panama. It was the fist time for me to really leave the urban areas of Panama and Colon to go anywhere in the world. As the train picked up speed and we sped through the lush jungle toward our destination, for some reason I envisioned that the jungle would one day try to reclaim the area of the rails upon which it was running. Continue reading

The Saga of the United States Canal Begins


As we get closer to our story of how the American Canal and Canal Zone was built, and how such constructions led to the creation of segregated areas for the Black Westindian worker, we will pause to review the scenario. The 1900’s would find the Westindian population in Panama employed in the far off provinces, engaged, mainly, in the cultivation of bananas. Continue reading

From Bocas: The Call for Strikes Up-The-Line

Clipart provided by Classroom Clipart

The call to “Stop the Work!” went out up-the-line from Bocas del Toro and spread like wild fire through Chiriqui and the plantation areas of Costa Rica, even reaching remote points in Central America.The action was so far reaching that it surprised even the bosses.The actions brought to remembrance the days of slave uprisings in Jamaica, as black men united and laid down their tools heading home to the shacks or barracks they called home. Later, they would quietly await further instructions of what they should do next. Much to their horror, the stories of plantations being burnt and the precious fruit destroyed by angry exploited workers reached the labor leaders. Continue reading

A Woman’s Ordeals

Many Westindian women found honest work following the work camps and washing and cooking for the laborers.

Sadness held us together as Bea continued her story. “All I could do is tell the boys them to take me to see him. ‘Take me to him,’ I said to them. So they take me to look at him an’ I still could not believe that he was dead. They, I mean we, all bury him and had the wake in this same house.” She sensed that I was grieving for her lost lover of yesteryear so she switched the conversation to a more pleasant note. “You should bring your family and stay with me a couple of days,” she said and I found words enough to respond. “I will,” I answered. Continue reading