Another Birthday Behindbars!!!
It has been a long while since my last blog update. My life and those of my fellow inmates in this confined place are interwoven in a state of equilibrium and on a balance; such that when tipped, all hell will come crashing down!
Our lives are lived in codes; which are unwritten laws that govern how things are done here. Once you’re thrown in here, your survival instincts begins to manifest and starts working against or to adapt to the elements of the world behindbars.
Within the four walls of the pavilion are so many little open-secrets which are left inside the closets! We know, but we don’t talk; mostly about deals and double-crossing and marital problems (well no matter the type of relationship, there’ll always be fighting and bitching around); Jerry Springer will be delighted to run one of his shows here! lol!!!
Once a new inmate comes in, as it has become the norm here now. We received them on daily basis. They’re welcome with the normal catcalls and screaming to scare the wits out of them. Wonder when it will stop or end; maybe when we start taking turns to walk in the passage as there will be too much people to walk around at the same time and little or no space among us, I rarely venture out of my cell after my workout. Can sit all day and glad I use the books and internet access which will be gone soon. As of today (21st of August 2011) we are officially 480 inmates in a pavilion build for 216 inmates! My next fear is fire outbreak; all the electrical wiring are illegal, cable are held in place by plastic films made from ice-bags! Once an inmate is assigned a cell, which doesn’t happen anymore, he has to sort out all the basics that will make his life comfortable for the years he will spend here. Since my being here, haven’t seen anybody come in, walk into a cell climb unto a bed. You start with the floor and prays someone leaves soon, so you get a bed and that is if you are next in line as there could be others. Alternatively, since it has become the norm now to build makeshift beds in the cells; some cells now look like some tropical jungles with webs of trees, plants and stems hanging from nowhere!
And the mother of all fears; an outbreak of any sort of dieseases, that will be devastating. The clinic isn’t doing much now, that there are a handful of us that are Chronically ill. Expired drugs are issued and at every visit, one is being injected with the same vaccine, most inmates will take anything issued to them at the clinic. I for one have been given expired drugs for my blood pressure, and the bloody dope-head doctor said I can take it! An English mate is suffering from all known and unknown ills has been using expired insulin for months; doesn’t give a fcuk about it. He has been wheelbarrowed to the clinic on several occasions and at each moment, we all thought that will be it. But he came back looking for more El polvo blanco to snort; maybe that’s what keeps him going. Days ago he told me, he will be going home soon, but the Brits demands that a Doctor checks him and certifies that he can make the journey back to London. They should give him some El polvo to snort, that will keep him going till he arrives in London! 😉
Could it be life behindbars in a country like Panama is not what people will think, in most cases, as in mine; it’s hell on earth. So much has happened since my incarceration. Many walked in here with their legs and their little or no belongings, accumulated lots, some went on with their businesses; what brought in them initially, but along the way some were carried out in bodybags (Lifeless). Bloody scare the little Jesus out of any sane mind; as you know you could be the next.
After the Last two deaths; both due to criminal negligence from the authorities, promises were made, but none of the promises were kept. Such are we, humans; easy to err and forget too soon. But one thing they did and left in our hands is keeping the cells open 24hrs. Tensions among inmates had been drastically reduced since the cells are kept opened till 10pm; even after the cells are closed, many still go kerb crawling but without the cars; more easier for those indulging in the You-know-what activities under the cover of darkness without being spotted. But we know what should be known and even those they thought we shouldn’t know.
Maybe the tranquillity doesn’t come from the cells being left in our hands, but from the fact that many are binged drinking and shagging each other while the rest of us sleeps and ponders about our miserable lives. They’re having some gay time and moment.
The day’s routine is always the same in here; day in and day out nothing more than what is normal to the inmates of pavilion 6, La Joya. Those who wants to stay fit, hits the gym or the patio for walking, jogging, footie or softball when the cop on duty decides to open the door (always looking for reasons not to open the bloody door; dark clouds, fight in a prison in Colombia, some flimsy excuses), others gets up to poker and all sort of cards games, some on different types of board games, while the pussy-like men sits down everyday gossiping about the other man’s affair (very typical of my Colombian cellmates). Shouldn’t forget about the anonymous; our alcoholics who daily indulges in the crude brew of the pavilion. For the brewers and the distillers; they are smiling as their credit book is growing bigger with names and more names, since most purchases are done on credit. And most will never be paid, guess beating will do for the money (as it’s always the case with most debtors, enough beatings to cover the debt owed). But business and life continues irrespective how gloomy the market looks, knowing too well that cops can pop in for searches of anything illicit in the pavilion.
The pavilion now looks like a boot camp with campers sleeping on every little corner they found. The gym hall which is also our meeting hall, the church (Evangelical and Catholic), indoor contact sports (handball, Football, basketball and Volleyball)! One can imagine how so much people can utilise such a small amount of space and in an orderly manner. That’s part of the unwritten rules, when we came here, no warden or police issued any written manuals on how to live and survive this place; one’s survival is basically that instinct that has kept man through centuries to adapt to the different ages and times.
Most of us are in for minor offences, though blown out of proportion by the Panamanians authorities; there are inmates here who are in for crimes when one hears what they did, you are like Oooooooooh! WooooooooooooW!!!! But we’re all in the same boat of shit! Living with these fellas; who can do anything without a feeling is sickening!
From what I learn about the Latinos during my time in Renacer; it’s not about how big one is, it is how many people one has in his gang! That’s what gives them the strength to do what they want. Same goes here, i’m among the biggest here and properly among the strongest, but doesn’t mean I can just pick up a fight and walk to my cell knowing that I have beaten the hell out of that dude; but it means, after the fight, I have to start watching my back!
Unlike any conventional prison, surviving this place and going home in one piece is one hell of a miracle. We are surrounded with stuffs that could be used as weapons; we have heard how in the Panamanian’s pavilion a Sleeping inmate was doused with boiling vegetable oil; wasn’t meant to kill him, but to scar him for life and they did scarred him for life. Boiling water, oil, electric wires (State of Texas wouldn’t worry about frying their inmates) as fellow inmates could easily help the state while the other is asleep. ;-)Lol! Talking of electric shock; get little of that every now and then from our makeshift electric stove, glad the current is not as high as what we have in Europe; 220/240V! And the mother of all weapons of warfare against any threat; have heard there pieces among us, whoever has it knows why he’s keeping such here. Among the Nationals, we have heard how hand-grenades, guns, and ammunitions were taken during search, even in Pav2 housing the Trans, thought they were supposed to make love and not war! Lol!
Now, far more sickening manner and the silent killer of all; someone once walked in to my cell and told my mate who happened to be one of the financiers for any programs in this pavilion. The guy told him, he should be careful where and from whose cup he drinks or eat and should incessantly watch over his edibles; to a simple-minded person. There are people who are so wicked that they can actually spike other’s food or drink! Poison!!! That’s my greatest fear, as my mate’s recalls his mate drank a poison not meant for him, died and the person meant to be kill survived the poisoning. That’s how bad it could get. A man can take another’s life for nothing, just because you don’t get along or you stopped giving him coffee that you used to when times were good! Such is life behindbars!
Sometimes I lie-back on my bed watching roaches or ants how they went about their nightly activities; mating or moving food. Even the rats that I despised attacks my cereals in groups; seem to me everything in Latin America does what they choose to do in group; eat, fight, savage, just name it!
So also my kittens, they live a care-free life not a single clue if another world exist outside this world. Full antics, pranks and grace, the 4 cunning beasts have finally won the hearts of many. But still my responsibility to clean up after them, wash their bowls and care for them when they are sick. Don’t mind, so long nobody kicks or hit them, one of their arch-enemy has been transferred to Pav8; drunk Nicaraguan who doesn’t understand himself, took him getting to jail to discover that he is Metro-sexual, apparently that what he says he is. He can have sex with anything after binge-drinking and snorting. Cooks around my cat’s spot and always complaining and kicking them about. Now my cats got all the spot to themselves! Lol!
One of the two older ones who ate something poisonous is getting better; thanks to internet and forums for cat lovers where I got info on what to do. Manually fed it milk with antibiotics and it helped. Now can see the LiL devil walking and stalking! Seen their mum and heard that she’s taken in again; she is damn busy! Getting shagged and making babies for me! Lol! We need more cats as we are in competition and contention with rats for residency in pavilion6!
Despite all the odds of surviving in this place, from other inmates in the different foreigner’s pavilions in La Joya and La Joyita; we are in semi-heaven. Those that were taken to Pavilion 16 in La Joyita are in an open-plan pavilion with bunk beds, 2 Television and 2 stoves, 4 toilets and 4 bathrooms for over 300 inmates; in the beginning it was so good, but as soon as more were brought in, the infrastructures just couldn’t hold them. Latest from Pavilion 16; stealing and communicable dieseases are on the rise. My Italian pal who was transferred there can’t wait to be transferred home as his papers are almost through. And Pavilion 8, which is just behind ours was actually meant to be a modern prison, but since they also suffers from the population problems like us, the comfort it was meant to give inmates is not there anymore. apparently it has become the Maximum secured pavilion for foreigners, since walls have ears, once news get upstairs that one is planning anything stupid, that inmate is sent to Pav 8 or as it has become our policy here, involved in fight or don’t get along with the 10-Man leadership; they get you thrown out. The cells in Pav8 are smaller than ours and they are only allowed patio twice a week while we can get it 5 days a week. The good thing about Pav8; there are no cops just wardens thus, they get all and anything they can afford; Laptops, proper and good drinks from the streets, fags and you name it. Heard the numbers of Blackberries there is as much as the numbers of inmates. But one thing we have and they don’t; we’ve got something close to the real woman “Our Lady-like” and she is sure keeping many of the lads in a good mood!
Of all the new arrivals none raised hairs like Aleska our Fem-like inmate (fembot; Austin powers), was on my bed when I heard the catcalls, it was a different type; one with whistling and a different kind of catcalls. The LiL lad in my cell burst in and tried talking between breathes of our new intake; got tits, not the ones with our steroid-addicts, but such like the ones we see on porn films. And also look Like a she. Damn wouldn’t be the last to see, went and saw for myself; seeing is believing and saw for myself! Have a fem-like person in our midst did elevate the mood of the guys in here.
Didn’t take long before she fell in love and got hooked up, but didn’t last long as the dude was transferred to another Pavilion, now she is doing manicure and massage; not the type of massage I need for my sciatica pain. Cique does better, glad I’m getting better as I have been down and bedridden for days due to the right sciatic nerve on my leg! Though parts of my right leg and foot are still numb, hope exercise will help restore full sensitivity.
Don’t know if there is or will be any other pain comparable to sciatica pain; damn thing doesn’t stop, goes on and one, popped painkillers upon painkillers, instead of easing my pains they knocked me out and I can’t sleep due to the pain. Stayed up for 4 nights, Became the watchman of my cell. My sleepless nights turned me into the coon (Southpark) ;-)!!! From the footsteps of whoever was going to use the loo, I could tell who it was; what a life! My LiL kittens came calling as they didn’t see me around their corner. Sly came by and actually popped into the cell, what smart-ass animals they are. They didn’t starved as some good-spirited fellas help fed them.
Since I’m a bit relieved and can move around; but a bit limping. I have been to wash their bowls and get them fresh water and sort out for meat for them. They will survive!
It’s exactly 02.20hrs on 22nd of August now and what a coincidence time and date, and it’s my Birthday; wouldn’t wished this on my enemy. Spend a birthday in Panama jail, far away from loved ones. Pathetic how life could be, but so glad my strength is not one seen from the muscle-bound body of mine; but my strength to come out of this place stronger is from within, deep on the inside of me lies a well and resource of strength, hope and the desire to go through this dark tunnel of life and get to the end where there will be not just a ray of light but beam of lights! A different man! Everything can be taken from me, but not the will to survive, that has been man’s greatest wits and it has pushed man to conquer frontiers upon frontiers. Such is all I have and needed to see me through life here.
It’s my heart’s desire and prayer that my next birthday doesn’t take place in this place!
Some of my fellow got such affinity to this place, that they kept coming back after doing time (I actually meant years); guess most don’t really have anything to live for on the outside. Like the Nationals, who rather prefer life here to life outside as they can’t adjust to fast pace of the world outside.
One will wonder what keeps most of us busy as there aren’t any government programs or whatsoever for rehabilitation of inmates. The gym and patio plays a good part in the time process and one’s ability to read helps a lot. And the mother of all time-buster; internet and all the smartphones within the pavilion and those that could afford the luxury of laptops as I heard there are couple here. Others like my English-speaking mates in the cell before mine; make good use of their time watching every flicks there’s on this planet and ones that can find their into our pavilion. Well, if it’s helping them with the time, not bad.
Finally build my bookshelves paid through my teeth, my latinos cellmates couldn’t and wouldn’t understand why I should spend $75 for 3 layers of welded metals and planks they wouldn’t pay 20 bucks for. They think i’m stupid, might look that way, but I feel satisfied as I have enough space to stack all my books and magazines and my peanut butter and powder milk away from their prying eyes and itching fingers.
Like other pavilions, things grow wings and fly; people are losing things and nobody steals, maybe sly and his cunning musketeers of sister are nicking things and selling them to the other cats in the alley! Lol! My washed clothes are hung right on my bunk to dry, forget about the sun. Harry porter (the young Russian drunk), he’s actually from Latvia, but no bloody difference from Russian as he drinks like fish. Recently spotted a black-eye; found out that he stole an American’s iPod and sold it for 100 bucks. The Dude beat the hell out of, but that doesn’t stop him from what he is.
He should have been thrown out but due to prison bureaucracy; he is a big client to the distillers and one of the biggest distillers happens to be a member of the board! They run things here.
My cellmate once went after his debt from another inmates, the inmates who didn’t want to pay pulled strings to have him and his biz partner moved. Thank God for the quick intervention of our now-released former president who stepped in and stopped the action. If not his intervention the eviction would have been flawless. Because of that, I don’t lend or borrow to/from anyone. Maybe from my fellow compatriots as they know on pay day, they will get it from me.Lol!
Up all night as it’s my style now, since i’m not working out. Can’t wait to resume my workout, but more of yoga until I regain and get my right foot to work properly.
Back home, the kids are doing pretty well, schat has been busting her ass to make sure they lead a normal life despite my absence; burns candle at both ends to make ends meet. Studying, working, her role and my role. Pathetic what I have wrought on her. I hope and pray she holds up and remain stronger till the day I walk into the door of my home. Our church and few true friends has remain supportive, but i’m left to wonder how long will they stand firmly with her? Good Lord, be her enduring strength and grace to live each day; one day at a time. Got a pack recently with stuffs and books to keep me busy for a long while. Sometimes we never realise the importance of another until distance and separation comes between. Such is my story!
Was opportune to go out for the family program last saturday, sitting out all alone and watching fellow inmates cuddled their loved ones and kids, families eating together. The kids played as if it’s normal, many have come to understand Daddy has to be here for a while. Gifts and homemade food were brought. Those of us who are thousand of miles from our families will live to curse the day we made the decision to leave them.
Many will go home changed; good or bad. My former Jamaican cellmate who did 5yrs, left a little bit different from what he was when he came in here. For a year or two he was in isolation as he was a danger to himself and others. Till his last day he never got himself, my fears goes to his family and spouse; how they will adjust to his new personality. The post-traumatic syndrome, hope he finds cure and help as the clinic here weren’t of any help to him.
Many are like him in this place, so the best way to get along is not to get along; stay to oneself and keep the distance. That’s one of the unwritten rules here. I hope it helps.
My cell has been very tensed, one of the new guys left as he doesn’t get along with the so-called pioneer of the cell; who wouldn’t contribute a cent but wants from everyone and when he doesn’t get, he gives that envious eyes!
I’ll hold and keep my distance and respect, but I pray he doesn’t cross my path! Good Lord!
During my few days on my bed with sciatica pain, he thought I was faking; will never wished such pain on anyone, but I will one him. He should have a taste of the pain and see what life is all about. Glad I’m getting better.
This may be my last blog as the antennae has been set up, speculation that they will be up and running soon. Till then, we will see how we can get around it. Can’t reach my english mate back in Renacer, likely the antennae has been turned on. But then, hope the authorities knows and understand that what happened in the Venezuelan prison complex could happen here. The phones has been the only means for many to help relieves the stress that comes with this place. Taking that from us and dumping 5 public phones with only 2 working won’t help the over 400 inmates here. Hope they are also prepared for what will come next.
Another Birthday Behindbars; never did I dreamed or thought of it in a moment, that I’ll one day mark my birthday behindbars! Such is life if one treads on the wide and fast lane of life; sometimes things happens for reason unknown and unforeseen!
Rarely think of the process as we have all come to know that it takes forever, the one virtue of life that we all have to come to learn and acquired is “Patience” and we need a truck load of it and the father of all virtue “HOPE”, what will the world of an inmate be without hope? It will definitely be hopeless! It keeps us going day in and day out! Even when we went on hunger strike after two deaths within a month; no food were allowed in. Our Asst. Consul came in with Bread and peanut butter and fruits for us; that was what hope could do. During my days with the damn pain, she did all she need do to get me the painkillers and dropped them at the clinic, but bloody and lazy Panamanians didn’t bother to call me. Still waiting for their call; that’s how efficient the system is. A matter of death and life? One will kick the bucket and one-less problem for them. Many of us here lives on self-medication, back home, you ain’t advice to try that at home; being your own doctor and pharmacist! But in here we have people who will inject you with anything injectable and those that will prescribed anything so long there’s an ailment; there must be a cure! Only God knows what has become of my cholesterol, never been tasted to see how it is! Many are living with silent sickness they can’t tell nobody! Hope they ain’t airborne!
Life continues as our struggles to find peace within continues! Most days and nights many will wear smiles as the only thing that brings that to these lonely souls is “Remembering” the meer memories of moments past in time with loved ones brings that broad grin on our lips and change the mood for a moment! We have been striped off every dignity but those good old memories can’t be taken from us! Such moments bring Hopes and fear! Fear of tomorrow! But for now so much is worth remembering; those good moments we wished never ends!
Thank You Dear Lord for another year to my years! Strength for tomorrow and for each day at a time is all I ask! Wisdom to live through the maze of life behind the walls of this place.!!!