Tag Archives: plantation-lifestyle

To Work and Eat Like a Real Man

A vintage Quaker Oats can.

A vintage Quaker Oats can.

That first day on the job the foreman had tried to explain the job at hand to me and to the boy who would work with me knowing that we both were neophytes but, he decided to rush off leaving us to our own devices. I sensed that the foreman was a white Colombian man due to his way of pronouncing words in the Spanish language.

He left us abruptly to see if we could take orders and also stand the strain of a day’s labor. I detected on his part that he expected one or both of us to just walk off and quit as soon as we started the real work. I had to admit that, I in particular, did not know anything about working more than eight hours a day in the hot Panama sun. Continue reading

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

Between the Zone and the City- Transitions

A commissary book of the type
used in the Panama Canal Zone Commissaries.

Many Westindians with commissary
privileges shopped in the commissaries with
similar coupon books issed in different
denominations. courtesy of czbrats.com 


Empire garden school for “Silver Roll” children about 1910;
probably the first school gardens in the entire Republic.

For the Westindian the times seemed propitious by now for them to begin to enjoy the first wave of euphoria of being persons of independent thought and action. Life in the Barrios afforded them a focus for that much needed social integration into Panamanian society. Continue reading