CHRISTMAS BEHIND BARS!!!
Tuesday, 22nd of December 2009, three days before Christmas, in between my sleep, the sound of the Christmas music playing outside kept me up until the early hours. The Galleria has been transformed with decorations and music for this time of the year. The atmosphere is charged with Christmas. Most inmates are getting gifts and new stuffs from their families and friends. Well, most of us, foreigners without families around have to do without. But still, the most still believe we are better of, they still hold to the belief that we have money and well to do than them. They don`t know how much most of will trade places to have visit from our loved ones every week with fresh food and fruits. Up and about with my daily chores, to library and not so much to do, the queue for the 3 PC`s are like ones you see on liquidation shops.
Another one bite the dust, five new guys were brought in, one happen to be from my part of the world. Nice guy, was bit nervous, but can get along as he speaks Spanish. I guess he is more experience with life in prison, as he got use to most things on his second day in the centre. The day went by so fast and my debts are growing, waiting for my dough to pay up my debts before these guys fall on me.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009, Woke up to find out one of my mate was gone, wondered where he went to, when he finally came back, told me the girl that was with him in his case, has been making changes and dropped her lawyer. Guess she doesn`t know, by doing that, she is just prolonging her case, she may end up waiting up to two years before going to court. On 25th and on Christmas day, I will be three Months old in the system, within this period of time; I have come to understand how the judiciary system works in Panama and most Latin American countries. Try and get your statement taken and hope you go to court on time, and get your sentence. If your country has treaty with Panama, then you can start working on the repatriation back to your home country. But once the process takes time, then one is bound to spend years waiting and appealing. And I have learned that the Lawyers are vicious animals, waiting mostly for unfortunate foreigners like us to hire them and pay exorbitant amount of money.
The Church, brought in some food for the centre and I guess everyone has a bite of it… was nice, enjoyed the prayers and songs.
The Panamanians, who has served most of their time will be going home for Christmas on 24th and be back on 25th evening, many are getting ready for it and also asking for money from us foreigners as most will go to empty homes or to girlfriends who still believe in whatever stories they have been told; that they are making some good deals in jail and saving some money.
In Panama, anything goes as written in the Tailor of Panama; A Spaniard, whom we seldom speak, told me he will be going home in 21 days after serving about 34 Months in Panama. And he will be going with his wife, was surprised. I asked him if his wife was locked up as well in the Feminino (Women`s Prison), he said no, that he is wife is his Lawyer. Hummm!!! What a trendy way to meet a future husband or wife. Did my little digging and found out that some female lawyers are so crazy about The Europeans here; they choose to represent you and eventually fall in love, hope to get Married and move out with you when you leave the system.
Lock up time, Call from my schat, had to round up on time as I have to shower. My second shower, which has become daily routine; with high and humid temperature, one is forced to shower as much as you can. And we had a nice dinner. Beginning to like CSI (Miami and New York), but bloody in Spanish, though it helps my Spanish. Watch a nice film before hitting bed with my Book; Redemption, want to finish it on time.
Thursday, 24 December 2009 woke up from the sound of the breakfast guy, difficult to hold on to second of sleep when he comes in the hall, Picked up something for us. And back to bed, but couldn`t sleep again, had to do some washing. Got a miss call from Schat and text, she`s up and about shopping for the kids, had to give a miss call, she rang back and we talked a bit before she went back to her shopping. If she had gone with the kids, she wouldn`t have been able to her shopping. The Gamboa; American church came and we had a nice Christmas service with some snacks. Had my grocery in today, Jesus`s Mum has been a blessing to most of us foreigners, she pick up our money and do the shopping for us with any charge, no like the guys in the centre, they help you pick your money and ripped you of every cents, buy things without receipt. I guess having her son in the centre and being a mother is one instinct that made her what and who she is. She knows that we have no one to do anything for us. Thank God for her.
The Camera crew from one of the TV Station came and did some filming in the Centre, the place is getting full, more than 600 Inmates now. Many inmates went home today for the xmas celebration, to be back on 25th evening, many couldn`t hide the joy of going home to their loved ones, something we the foreigners will pay to have, but we can never get that, as many will abscond, guess they know that. The 2 new guys in my cell left, what a nice feeling. They just got in; one transferred from the States after 4 years to complete his time and the other has done 2 years plus in Panama. Xmas eve, well, we had our own way for celebrated, my mate arranged a litre of rum, which we all sipped and spend the rest of the night watching movies and talking about what we would have been doing if we were outside by this time of the year.
Most time, I would have been with friends partying or having a drink somewhere in London, but being here made me realise that the best thing do and the place to be at a time like this is with the ones who cares and love me and that is my family. How I miss them now, talking to them today`s evening and making them believe that Santa will be coming over the night and will drop their gifts under the tree, when they wake up, they will find it there. My boy told me he has been a good lad and deserves his gift.
Couldn`t hold the liquor in mind, a little knocked my off, it`s been 3 months since I had one, and the bit I had was too strong for me. Hit my bed with a silent prayer.
Christmas Day 2009, been up several times to use the toilet, and finally the breakfast guy got me up. Today breakfast was probably the best the centre will have ever. My mate woke up and started cooking; we had a Caribbean xmas diner, Rice and peas cooked in coconut milk, with Fried Smoked Ham. I made the salad, it was best food we will ever have in the centre, don`t know in the future, maybe something better may come.
The prison food was bad either; they had Ham and Rice, for the diet food, Mashed Potatoes with smoked ham. Those that went out came back, some came in stoned from whatever they have been having and others came in stupor, drunk and some could hardly walk. Pepe, my new 62 years mate came back drunk and happy, all he could manage to say, I met my sister after 22 years, didn`t bother to ask him how it all went, but I imagine what must have happened as he showered and hit his bed. The Centre was lively as they all returned and music was blasting from most cells. My English mate, wasn`t happy, I noticed he has been chain-smoking, guess he had same feeling as me, feelings of spending Christmas in a panama jail, thousand of miles away from home and our love ones. Guess we have to face the fact, we are here for real and the way things are going, it may be long, he has been here for 9 Months, and me? 25th December made me 3 exactly 3 Months in the Panamanian Penitentiary system. My prayer today was that I get to give my statement and hope to go to court before 6 Months, and then I can start work on my repatriation back to my homeland. Spoke with my love, they had a good time and I missed that, told me how my daughter will ask after me and at one time, cried and she joined her, now I know what I have been missing since I got married and started a family. My kids love their gifts, my daughter was surprised how Santa knows she wanted Roller Skate and other things she got, told her, Santa knows what everyone wants. Huummm! Ya Right Mr Santa. Soon she will find out the truth, that Santa is not real.
Boxing Day 2009, same breakfast guy woke me up; now, we are the first to hear him, as my cell is right beside the entrance to the Galleria Hall way. Picked up our breakfast, things gone back to normal too soon, and had my shower, My Radio hasn`t come in, decided to write my permit and hope to get the director sign it on Monday; want to get my radio in officially and also get a Guitar. Also on Monday, will be going for my X-ray, hope the Doctors will come up with solution to my back problem, as the pain is becoming more severe. Waiting to hear from my Schat on her trip to the Hospital with my boy, had a little infection in his thump, she drained the pus and the looks wasn`t nice, my dear big boy, all grown up and ask too much question. Hope it`s a minor thing. In the library, prepare what I will give to the Doctor at the Hospital about my back, hope they do the right thing. The year is almost over, don`t know what my New year`s resolution will be, hope I make one that I can keep, maybe a vow to God and promise to do something in return. We are used to having the Canal beside us, lately, I have become tired of watching Ship of various kind sail through, my desire is to be in one of them and sail by, not just looking as they sail by.
Monday, 28 December 2009, Christmas 2009 has come and gone, Spent in a place I had never in my wildest dream thought I will ever spend a time like this, in my wild days, 24th night with friends in one of the club in London with friends and 25th with my family, but here I am somewhere in the Jungle of Panama in a place called El Renacer (Rebirth). Found out on 27th that my name was not on the list for the Hospital visit, which means, I won`t be going for my X-ray, I hope they make a new appointment as soon as possible. Went out, handed in my permission to bring in my Radio, Mp3 Player and a guitar, like to take up guitar lessons while here. Hope I get that through.
Spent Sunday afternoon talking till late with this lil Fella name Cadil…. just 19, with “Hijo de la Muerta, Tattooed on his side above another one, The Black Dog (Perro Negra). The mum had him when she was 15, saw the photo of his mum in his wallet, thought was the girlfriend, was the mum, didn`t believe him, but she was. Guess I`m old enough to be his Dad if the Mum is 34. Well, Cadil is in for Homicide; which is what the most if not all the youths are in for in Panama. From official statistics, most young men are in Prison, locked up, leaving the girls to fend for themselves on the street, creating an unofficial heaven for prostitution and cheap girls. Cadil got loads on his sleeves at his age, he is a member of the dreaded Perro Negra (Black Dog); A gang which is so strong that the Government has special unit set up for them in prisons, they are kept apart from other inmates. They are known to be very violent and many are involve in devil worship; from Cadil stories, one could tell of demon possessions and supernatural power when they are in fight. He told us of how he can call up the Perro Negra Spirit and it will take over him, at that point, no matter what is done to him, he will never feel it. Once he was in a fight with about 10 other gang members from an opposing gang, he prayed for the Perro Negra Spirit and it came over him, he was able to fight and defeated the other gang members. Waooooooh !!!!, we watch things like this in films, but here, a 19 year old boy convicted of Homicide, telling us this. All this went on as he and others drank from his prison brew, fermented mix of Malt, sugar, grapes, which is was so strong and sour: Alcohol!!!
Spoke with my Schat, was worried as she didn`t called, text her and finally a call from her was all I need to sort my aching heart. We talked about many things, us and the kids. They are growing so fast and I`m missing this part of their lives, finally went to bed after watching some movies with my mates. Sent her some soul text about us and they were from the depth of my heart.
In the Library on Monday afternoon, got some letters to write, mean to say to type, with computers, nobody really bother to write anymore. I guess with innovation and technology, the world is losing the art of handwriting to keyboards and other forms of electronic means of writing and communication. A new friend at the library, the Deaf and Dumb, saw my picx and kinda wanna be my friend, nice guy, but he wacked 5 guys…. hummmm, wonder if I should keep him close or at arm’s length!!!
Got online today and little chat with my Schat, we went on webcam and saw her big and enormous tummy, wondered why my son wanted to press the tummy. She is really big now and I´m praying that she goes through it with ease and God´s grace. I love her so much and missing her dearly. The phone calls she makes almost daily does a great deal of help to me. Bless her Lord.