Upon reaching home that day after the interview with the Lady Governor I excitedly reported on the meeting to my sister Aminta and to Pug. It was in that moment that I started to really feel fierce hunger pangs as I hadn’t eaten all day. Since my sister was the cook in the house and Pug just couldn’t cut it as a cook, I battled hunger; counting on lunch and dinner had become a major problem, since I could not stand Chinese food as part of my daily diet. It seemed like Pug was getting her sustenance by visiting her mother in Almirante on almost a daily basis. Continue reading
The meal had been Bea’s idea, her way of thanking me for being such good company. It had taken her way back into a part of her that she had thought was lost forever.As I slowly finished my lunch Bea came and sat with me again keeping her hands in her lap, over the apron she wore. It was the first time I had noticed that particular apron and it made me feel special. Continue reading
I was settling down for another one of our chats as Bea said to me, “See Son in our days there was many water holes, where big fish them just was ready to be fished out. So we would plan and make a game out of everything.Going and fishing was like goin an’ wash clothes, an’ we had lot’ a clothes to wash all the time. Continue reading
It was the next morning that I appeared at Bea’s, as promised.As I arrived I went to work right away, feeling that I had better before the sun found out that I was around. Determined to finish the job I had started the day before, I lifted my machete and started to work even before announcing to old Bea that I had arrived. Continue reading
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
An early photo of West Indian workers chatting.
In that year of early 1956 when I met Bea, I wasn’t much more than a teenager, an older adolescent. Bea was as an older woman whose age I calculated as being in her early sixties. But she still had that glow of a young woman as her beautiful brown skin did not reveal the wrinkles of old age. Nevertheless she might have been cruising in her early eighties. But it was my first encounter with a woman who had seen the beginnings of the web of railroad tracks laid to be the only transport available in the area and all of it was run by the Chiriqui Land Company. Continue reading