THE PROCESS JUST BEGAN!!!
10th January 2010, Sunday, another bright warm day. Woke up and full of life, have made it my job to collect breakfast for everyone in the cell. Prior to moving here, my mates cared less about breakfast and they rarely went for the prison food. But since I came in and with the arrival of 2 older men, and being on the bottom bunk, I take care of breakfast. I happen to be on the diet meal, which is supposed to be healthier and though it looks healthy, the taste is awful. Wondered why they feed these things to humans. Oh, lest I forget, we are prisoners, expendable and at the bottom of the barrel. I guess that answers my question of why we are being fed rubbish labeled as food. Many went out today for visit, which means loads of food as family will be bringing in food to their loved ones. Those of us without families or friends to visit us, hung about and watch. Made our orders for whatever we need, though we are ripped off and made to pay whatever price given to us for items we no do not worth the price. Despite the Panamanians being home and always having visits from families and girlfriends, they are very parsimonious with food and sharing, except some few who had became good friends of mine. I have been fortunate enough to show kindness and sometimes been offered money when I told them I don´t have.
Last night, felt so lonely and rang my Schat who was sleeping and so tired that she didn`t even know that I rang. She woke up this morning and found out that she was in conversation with me for some minutes before she slept off. Today we shared intimate text conversations and how much we missed each other, longing to be together soon. I pray that things goes very fast.
A bit info about El Ranacer, the galleria where most of the adults are housed is a warehouse like building with our cells builded in as zoo cages. Each cell house 6 inmates, when I came most cells were empty, but now they are filled and even the unused ones are cleaned up and occupied now. Unlike prison in the Western world, we are allowed to cook and many things goes. Those with money made their cell habitable with all one will find in home, DVD Players, Radio, TV, Electric saucepan, rice cooker, electric fan, and anything that will make live here worth living. I have seen some prepare good meals with Lobsters and other types of exotic food. That is prison in panama, well don`t know about all other prisons, but from what I have seen on The Panamanian Televisions, when there are big search, things found in most of the prison, shows that life is not all that bad for those with money to get what they want.
There`s been loads of whisperings and small gatherings, things hasn`t been coming as they use to. One the Warden went too far with some dude locked up in Annexo and the Dude got him reported to the director, who kinda got things tighter and the warden in question and his group of Wardens are under investigation. So prices of weed, cigarette and others has shot so high that most smokers are smoiking old butts. A stick of cigarette as of today was going for $3, when a pack in the street is $1.50. A stick used to be sold for 50Cents, and other things also has gone up so bad. A Spanniard was caught trying to smuggle in Cigarettes and Weed, and that has raise tension and we heard of a possible search tonight.
Had my phone switch off and hidden where we hide things and we are waiting, they may come in at anytime.
Hope to go for my X-ray tomorrow morning, and hope my lying lawyer will finally turn up with my groceries expected since Thursday.
Just finished my diner and what a delicious meal, fried rice with coconut oil, with salad and fried chicken, topped it up good old French Mustard. And with a home made Ginger beer, what a lovely way to end the day. We are still waiting for the search tonight, the clock is ticking and any moment they will be filing in for the big search.
I guess No search tonight, maybe they will take us by surprise another day, but we wil remain on alert and here I am now uploading my write-ups for my blog, it´s 27mins pass midnight. Gotta step down for my mates to use the laptop also. What a lovely day as it ends with good food and access to the net. So much as been happening on the outside world which we barely know of, panama televisions are filled daily with homicide, crimes and new of tragedies of all types. well, that is life in panama, living on the edge.
9th January 2010, what a lovely day, woke from a dream and hated myself as I was still in my prison bunk bed, lately my dreams are always being around my loved ones and on the outside, I hope that will be the true meaning and not the opposite. Woke up exactly 5am, use the loo and stayed up for the breakfast guys as it will be useless going back to sleep. Used the time to text my Schat and she replied but unknowing used the wrong sim, and then she realized and changed. She was busy looking for my books online, hope she gets them as soon as possible. She finally called and we spoke briefly, kids wanted to talk to me, she told them later. How I miss them all, and long for the day I will hold them in my strong arms. Picked up breakfast; 3 little rolls for each of the six inmates, 1 boiled egg, and sugar filled black coffee. I believe whoever makes this food knows that most people won`t bother waking at five in the morning for food like the sort. I have been lucky to have my name on the diet food; these is suppose to be much better than the normal prison food which is always laced with salt, but one thing with Panamanian prison food, no matter what type of food you get, they all taste alike, most time, you chewed the food and forced yourself to swallow it, but always hard to go in, the Panamanians don`t eat chilli. When we had nothing, we try to work on what we get, add chilli and some spice to change the taste to help us swallow, sometimes no matter what we add and try to change the taste, can´t just help, had to flush it in the toilet.
As luck will have it, El Renacer used to grow her food when it was built, so we still have loads of fruit bearing trees; limon, papaya, orange, mango, avocado, noni (which I am a big fan, after reading of its benefit back in Europe) and many more. We also have a Chilli Plant (Cayenne Chilli); which can be very hot. Also mint tree, which I used mostly with my green tea, this days nobody really care about growing any food, I had plans to do something like that, but my aching back won`t let me do any wearisome work.
Yesterday, during the football match, was able to asked the director about my request for a Radio and Guitar, he replied that all electrical are still under evaluation, but then got a permit to bring in a new fan. Well, I don`t really worry much as I have come to understand how things work here, with money, you can bring it what you want, just get the right people to do that.
Last night, we talked about Renacer, heard how it was suppose to be safest prison in Panama, many inmates were transfer from different prison here for their safety, but they end up being lynched by those they were running from. Can someone tell me what the safety is all about? One thing I have come to know, we the foreigners, mostly Europeans are big target here, as they believe we get money from our countries and families, apparently that is false believe as we also live on hope. Just as many Europeans have fallen into debts from buying drugs and accumulating more debts from loans with interest. They are forced to be moved to the more secured area (Annexo) for their protection, even there, protection is not guarantee, liquidation is possible any where here.
Made it to the library by 8am and had to wait for it to be open, met a guy who is in for minor abuse, most people hate him, but we just have to live with him, as he proofed to be a nice man, and teaches English alongside my mate to the Panamanian and others who want to learn English. He was my Spanish teacher, but my self-study is much better than is method of teaching, so I decided to stop and I`m doing much better studying and learning Spanish on my own.
Expecting my Lawyer to come today with my Groceries and a new 16GB USB flash drive, I hope to get the 160GB IPOD Classic, would have prefer the Ipod Touch, but over here, one need something a large storage capacity to hold as much media as one will need. Hope my mate gets his laptop, as he has requested for one to help with preparing materials for his English class. Mine, will wait till I start any distance learning program, then I can put in my request for one. The day looks hopeful and beautiful as it is visiting day today. Many will get fresh food and provisions. Good for them, but they still hang around us for things. Will be meeting today with my fellow country men to discuss certain things and what we deem our consulate should do for us to help us make life easy here, though life in prison is suppose be tough, well, so much is hard and bad enough. Feeding people with what they call food is enough punishment for any crime. I have loose some waist line, thank God for Panama Penitentiary system.
8th January 2010, Set my alarm to wake up by 7.30am, forgot that the phone was on silent, what a way to wake up. Had to do that so I can get to one of the computers in the Library before the Zuma (A sort of game where you shot balls and before the fall into a Gauntlet) Addicts all line up for their dose of zuma. Well, still made it to the library and met this fellow watching porn on the system, I hope to de-install the porn stuffs and clean all the porn film from the system. Trying to crack the Admin password so I can access many things and also block the youths from viewing porn stuffs with the system in the library.
Had a mystery caller last night, but wouldn`t talk, guess maybe friends of one of the boys I always lent my phone to make calls. Hope no such call again as it was in the wee hours.
Had a nice text chat with my Schat, we are both been rejuvenated and I`m beginning to realize to many things about marry a true love, one that will go through thick and thin with you. Never believe I have been loved like this, I had my flings with ladies of diverse sorts, and I now know that they all amount to nothing. Since my incarceration, I refused to establish contact as none care to find out where I am as they have not heard from me. Maybe they tried to reach by phone, but since they can`t get me, they have emails, and since no emails. I have decided not to write also. I just want that part of my life to die out slowly and gone for good.
Back to the Centre, things has been going at a snail speed, nothing new happening, same faces, some asking and wanting from you. The Consulate was here on Wednesday with our Toiletries and loads of Magazines, books and News Papers. It was relieving going out and seeing a fresh face. We talked about what we need most and things we won`t all the time. More Tissues, less shower gel. Well, I don`t really mind, my application for studies from Holland has been sent in, will likely take about 3 Months before I hear from them. Took Advanced Dutch and Spanish for Beginners. The others courses were basic which were too low for my standard. Updated her on my contact back home, his communication with the different office regarding my repatriation home after my court and sentence, but she still think it will be impossible, as I don`t have strong tie back home. I case the system is very stupid, what stronger tie must I have, than being a National and a citizen, I guess the Treaty with Panama is about having our Nationals do their time back home after their sentences. Now I can see why mine should be any different, I only move to study in a different country. What if I was homeless and no family member back home, what will they do? I have a contact that is ready to stand by me and meet all that is require for my coming home. For now I`m not budge, will wait till my court and after my sentence. Then I will know what to do…
Given a name and it has stick to me, one of the Panamanian; Hugo, with his sleek hair and talks like characters from The Sopranos, who is always on me for a dollar, gave me a name “Big Black” and now, it has become my name in the centre, most wardens know my real name, so prefer to call me Big Black.
Up and trying to get back to my studying, got to schools in mind and I`m praying that they offer distance learning programs in English, that will be one breakthrough since I have been here. And text from my Schat, she is searching for DVD and other things for my Guitar lessons. She also gave me a big surprise on Thursday, for days now I have been down without credit on my phone, she went online and topped up my phone, was so surprise when I got a text with my balance and then a message from her. Oh my God!!! What is love, I want to know, how she thought of it and went online searching and getting to do was amazing and gracious of her, it shows the extend of her love for me. She later confided how she missed my texts as she always wake up to lovely messages from me, but for the few past days, there hasn`t been any, as I was out of credit. Thank God for my Schat!!!
On Thursday, exchanged several texts with my Schat, she sort of blushed as I told her my true feelings for her now, not just because I`m locked up, but what I have come to realized. Being doing of reading and also learning about live, love, marriage and how to stay in love, hope I can use this in real life and live the rest of my life in perfect serenity.
Expecting my Lawyer today, got my money sent through him and he has to do my little shopping, Jesus (how the Spanish choose to have this name is kinda strange) Mother wouldn`t want to be doing shopping as she is offering her best in picking money for most of us foreigners. In the centre having someone pick money for you through any of the money transfer firm, they always come back with stories of how this or that happened, sometimes you lose more than 20% of your money, but with Jesus`s mum, no fear of such. I will respect the privilege she has given us for picking the money. Will end here for Friday as I have more to write, hope I have the laptop over the weekend, and then I can be on online and update my blog.
6th January 2010, Lucky to have talked Cadil into letting me have his system, as we all know here in the centre, most people come to the computers just for the games and nothing else. It`s appalling how the state of these young men are. I partly blame the penitentiary system here in Panama. El Renacer was suppose to be a rehabilitation centre where inmates who had done most of their time and with less than a year or 2 left, will be send to get rehabilitated, learn some vocational studies or trade. Since I was transferred here, found out that most of the young can neither read nor write, then tell me how they will start and there are no facility for such training here.
I feel so bad as I my Flash drive with lots of important files were stolen, I wouldn`t have misplaced it, I know quite well someone must have nicked it. But it will be of no use to whoever has nicked it, as the content where mostly in English and all my Blog update before and after the New Year. I hope I find it someday. I now know why most guys hang theirs on their neck and walk around with it like a piece of jewellery. Gotta be more careful with my things, heard of how underwear’s and other items of clothing are stolen from lines when left out in the sun. Terrible how many years in incarceration rarely change anyone, one of the youth always prowl behind my former cell and look for what to steal, several times he had attempted but fail to steal anything of any worth. Not until days before I changed cell, while doing my turn of cleaning, he was able to nicked my mate`s MP3 Player, when my mate asked him, he offered to look for it and came back with news that he has found it and whoever nicked it wants $20 before returning it, and the worth of said MP3 player is about $30. If I was the one, would bother to negotiate, will let him keep it as he won`t be able to use it in the open and also charge it as he didn`t steal the charger. Then if he is seen with it in the open, he can be reported to the director, who will have him transfer to one of the so called Maximum secured prison (always on the news about escapees). How the MP3 saga ended, I wouldn`t know as I moved for my own of peace of mind. My new has been very comfortable and the mates are all but welcoming and open hearted.
Prior to New Years Eve; it has been a bit tensed in the centre as many among the Panamanians awaits the list of detainees that will be free on the 2/3 program, one of my Mates, who happened to be American – Panamanian, but used his Panamanian citizenship when he was arrested, he was among those waiting for their fate. Before now, they have all had privileges of visiting their families on important occasions, most returned in stupor from over indulging in drugs or alcohol (proper alcohol and not the prison brew). On New Year`s Eve, most part of the world were going into 2010 before us, so I waited with full expectation for calls or text, and they came from friends and my beloved Schat, many texted but most of the text wouldn`t come, sometimes it takes days before they arrived, had thought sms was suppose to be an instant communication, but I guess not in Panama. The texts were all a big comfort to me as I step into the New Year, I can feel how the excitement will be out there, the drinks and fireworks, told me love to have my kids see the fireworks display, but she was too tired to keep them up, she stayed through and my Daughter was able to see from her bed and heard the bangs of the night as she told me later on.
Over here, we contributed money and got ourselves a litre of white rum, guess not the original Cuban rum, but Panamanian Rum, I hope it wasn`t prison brew, as one of the guys from my former jail is here and I know him to be a brewer, back then my Italian friend was always high on his brew, but I wouldn`t have a go on it. But this night, I asked and was reassured that it came from outside, we all know how things comes from outside without official permits; pay the guards and they will get anything in for you. So we had our own share of the New Year`s celebration with our drink and music, talk about life and how we want to live the big life, guess that brought us all into these place. Deep in me, thought of finishing all I had started pop up in my mind and I knew in Prison, one has got all the time to do anything and change certain in life. Mine was to start working into rounding all my study programs I started. I can read all the books in the world while here and can take a music career as we have functional recording studio here in the centre with a professional producer from Spain (Canadian though).
Have mailed and my Schat is busy searching for solutions to my back to study problem, I hope we sort it soon, the moment I start with it, I can also write a permission to have a laptop and eventually, will get me online and then the world at my fingers tip. I`m happy that I can update my blog once in a while and check on real time event whenever I get the laptop for $10 a night, not a bad deal. Some times for $8 after much bargaining and lamenting what I need to do with $2. Now I`m so broke to get it and I hate running into debts, in prison, you have to watch who you take loans from, as some will do anything for a dollar.
Late into the Night as it hit midnight, someone came around, guess he`s got his sources and told us, that our mate will be going home and with 7 others in the Centre. As soon as family saw the list online, they also rang him to tell him the good news. Got his things ready and drank till the wee hours of the New Year. On 1st day of 2010, they all waited for the confirmation which finally came and out they walked away free men, did I say free, not totally free, conditionally, they have to remain in Panama for 6 Months and constantly report to a special unit within the 6 Months, after that will they be truly free to leave the country and some may get back to what brought them in at the first place, some I hope must have learned lessons as I had.
When our mate left, we didn`t hear from him until the 3rd of January, his girlfriend didn`t know he was coming out and left town, so he had no other option than to head for a waterhole and pissed himself, he partied all night and heaven knows what else he did, we all knew what he did. He used all the strength and energy he had been saving on whoever she was and such had the best of his 3 days as a free man. He finally got united with his Family and Pregnant girlfriend (whom he got impregnated on his first visiting permit sometimes in June or July before I even came here). Since then, he is been calling and telling us of fun and things he doing around. Family outings, clubs, picnic and spending valuable and treasured time with his family; what most of us foreigners will pay to have.
4th January 2010, When the Principal Lawyer in charge of my case came on the 30th December 09, little did he know that on the 4th of January I will be going for my declaration; thus give my statement at the Prosecutor`s office, as soon as he left, I was called up and told of it and also that I will have a general check up on the 12th of April, hope that comes soon. Asked my Schat to email both my lawyers and pass the message to them, which she did and I text and call them. I guess they knew about it, couldn`t sleep much as I waited for the dawn of day. As early as 5AM, the door was open, got myself ready, said some words of prayers and was out of the cell. Met my old mate from my former cell, he was also going out, to the hospital for check-up and many others. Before we left had my blood pressure checked by an inmate whose got machine, mine was too high and alarming, gotta to watch out and make some changes. We were 5 in numbers that left that morning each with a armed police. It was relieving to see the hustling and bustling of the outside world again. It was all a different from life in the Jungle, beautiful and people full of life and hopes. But still you can also see the emptiness of some as we drove through some ghetto neighbourhood in the city. Panama is a city divided in 2; the very rich and very poor, no room for Middle class. Saw kids picking things on the streets, hope they weren`t scavengering for food.
First stop was the hospital and all stepped out except me and my police; we arrived at the office through the back entrance, guess nothing good comes or goes through the back door. In chains, had to wait in a holding cell outside while we wait, had a little a nap as I had little of it last night. Finally we left, at the basement, thought of strangling the young cop, as it was so quiet and dark in there. He left his old revolver with the security as it is not allowed to bring in arms into public offices. Looking at him, he was such a nice fellow, so I let the thought drift away. In the lift we made our way to the 7th floor and there we were in a big office divided into tiny cubicles. The 7th floor looks as a beauty parlour, no male presence except my police buddy and I, all ladies in their twenties and thirties, on high heels and summer clothing. If this how offices in Panama are, wouldn`t mind looking for job when my time is done, most of the ladies will pass for escort girls in their outfits or one could thought of them as heading to a night clubs. Couldn`t help feeding my eyes and my cop friend also, we exchange some eyes gestures when we see some nice ones walk pass us.
Finally the only male that came out, happened to be one I have see before, then he offered to take my statement, I rejected as I wasn`t having lawyer then, If I had known I would have given my statement. He speaks American English, but denied studying or being an American, but I have my suspicions, that he is an American or with Dual Nationality. Anyway, my Lawyer had called him that he will be late as he car was staled, when he finally came, we were given a moment together, but he didn`t say anything or advice me on what to say. I guess I have made up my mind on what to say and we went about it and after barrage of questions, we were done. One of the girls chatted with me and talked about her love to visit Europe, but she can`t afford it, in my mind, she can take one of Panama`s produce and but her or sell her wares like most girls do in the country; heard how cheap the ladies are for a Tenner you can get laid and for a little more you have gotten yourself a wife. What a cheap way to get married.
We finally left and had to wait in the hold for call from the guys in Hospice, eventually they picked us up without the fifth man, he was admitted and he his police stayed over with him.
On our way back we got ourselves some chicken, we the prisoners paid for it, but the police had the most bite. Finally back at the centre, back to the depressing life and people. Saw the dude that makes appointment for the hospital, ran up to him to find out why he set me for 12th April, only to find out that I will be going on the 11th of January for my X-ray and the 12th April is a general Medical check-up. Was happy that he set the new date for me, I hope I can pay back his favour. Got some herbs from one of the Police chap and he said, he used it and many used it in Panama for Blood Pressure, hope it works.
Was advised to write for permission to have certain things brought it for me due to my medical condition, I hope when I do that I can the go ahead.
Back in my former cell, things hasn`t been too well as I heard, they are having trouble times and bad blood among themselves, especially from the guy that I had a brawl with before I changed cell, but we are talking now and he even lent me $5 and has cut my hair, I boycotted him, but he cuts more cheaper than the Panamanians, well had to go back to him and on 31st night asked him to lend me $5 and he did, I guess he regretted the fight, but we can`t turn back the hand of time, if I could that, I have better things to turn around and not the bloody fight over my reading at the wee hours of dawn. He had a go at the Panamanian who was returned from the States after doing 4 years in his 11 years sentence for trafficking thousands keys of Coke, he is a quiet guy who will not hurt a fly, he wrote and ask for change of cell, but the guards came as early as they can and told my Buddy he will leave the cell instead and not the Panamanian, they gave time to start looking for another cell, from all I heard, it will be hard for him to get another cell. I hope he does fine one and hope he changes his attitude about people and learn to live with others.
5th of January 10, at 4pm many are going home or to hotels for a day permit to be back by 4pm on the 6th, as we know they will be back drunk or too high to walk back into their cell. The last Christmas visit, many from the maximum prison never return, saw the director of Penitentiary pleading for them to return for God`s sake and the sake of their family, Hope they return. Only one inmate from our centre failed to return on the Christmas visit, and what a fool he is, he had just few weeks or months to finish his time and be release, but from what we heard, someone tried to get him shot and he stayed out to avenge. When he`s got, he will do an extra time and if he eventually pull the trigger on the other dude, then he is in for another lifetime. So we are waiting for the return of these men who are out on visit….