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
These are Pacific reef sharks like the ones that hunted me. Image.
During the next few daysI I found myself still laboring at the entrance to that small river bed where I had felled the giant tree. The trips in the loaded canoe with the cut up branches of the tree that had grown to cover the sky in the company of like trees of its size, made me more diligent in cleaning the large branches and cutting the wood that would feed the fire and make another mound of the precious coal used for cooking. All the time I pondered having the opportunity to have my own piece of land and being able to live in these beautiful woodlands, Continue reading
Another old photo of Bocas Town circa 1910 (Isla Colon) from our friend, Señor José Price’s collection.
The trip to Bocas Town had not been thoroughly planned but I cared less and less about going back to work in the fields of Baseline since I knew the marriage was not a union anymore. Continue reading
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
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
As I mentioned in the previous post, there were three recognizable groups of women who lived side by side with their men in the frontier areas of early Bocas.
The first large group of women to follow men into this remote outpost, as we have said before, was West Indian women. Black women would become a regular sight in the pueblos and towns near the area of the mines and of the railroad construction. They had become a common sight, one may safely say, during the years before the construction of the first railway from 1850 and would continue to be so until my times in 1956. Continue reading