Archive for August, 2013

Fourth Birthday on the inside, where will the next be?

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on August 24, 2013 by doingtimeabroad

The healing process begins when one not only thinks about the past, but start thinking about the future and how one’s actions can influence that future.

01:13:36 THU, AUG 22, 2013

Like stories from the pages of a thriller novel, so is my life and journey in the belly of the beast. A journey that has seen me marked four birthdays behind bars. Each birthday brings bitter/sweet or mixed feelings of pain and joy; pains of regrettable past and knowing well that uncertainty lies ahead of me and joy of being alive to see this day and surviving the uncertainties that hangs before each incarcerated man.

Woke up knowing fully well where I am as I had barely slept since I came down from my sentry spot and signal reception post. An explosion upstairs kept me up longer; my red wine that I gave to my mate upstairs exploded as he didn’t take heed to my advice, “Always open the container every hour or two to let out the build-up gas in the container”. He always like doing thing his own way, forgotten that I’m the brewer and it’s my product. Well, the explosion caused us four litres of my best brew 😉
 
Every inmate who is concious of self, lives through two elements; pain and joy. For everyone of us here, survival is daily battle, in joyous moments memories that brings pains creeps in and mauled the moment. The Ups and downs of life is what makes a man stealth and toughened against what fate will haul at him.

The prison experience is one that takes away something that can’t be restored from a person. After reading an article on today’s newspaper “The Mail” (THU, AUG 22, 2013) about the British and Irish ladies facing trials in Peru over charges of trying to smuggled drugs out of the country, it comes to mind what they will face if convicted. Then another article by a British lady who spent five years in an Indian Prison, upon being released and till date could not get herself to function as she will want in the society. It seems #MailOnline has focused today’s edition on crime and prison sentence and in foreign lands.

Sometimes, one is left to wonder if it’s the authorities and society are the ones who failed her and others like the lady who did time in India; she was lured into crime like many….by greed, but not everyone, I know some here lads who loves committing crime for the sheer fun and kick gotten from it; the local #wankers.
Upon released, no help or assistance was offered to help get her back to a normal life. She lives and will always live with that pain and regret. Like many of us, the shadow of the past will constantly hung around her.

She is not alone, like many of us here, the stigma or criminal record as they called it will be slapped upon us like a sticker on a new product. It’ll be self-empowerment that can Spurr one out of the valley of self-destruct.

Rarely do we read of success stories of ex inmates, but with self-determination, there are few who will keep their eyes forward and refuses to look back and eventually come out of that cocoon of life tied to their past. But then, there must be facilities and instruments in place to help keep their focus on something better than the lust and relapse.

My fourth birthday on the inside; with each one comes a prayer of it being the last on the inside. The last and also make it out alive as not too many had been fortunate to mark their 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th birthdays on the inside, hauled in to begin a journey of uncertainties, but sooner do they know what fate has for them; as they struggled with their last breathe, their lives flashes before them, only then do they see and know what many of us don’t know; what is it to be dying and without your loved ones around. That reminds me of a recent research article I read online on the brain’s activity during one’s last moment before death; the researchers used lab animals, but they are convinced, that humans also shares the same fate with those animals (the human body works its best at such moment, the brain becomes very active).

Through my time here, seen men waiting for their release papers fell, gone and taken out in body bags, it could be through sickness or through fights as it happens more often.

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.“ – Aristotle

The lad who came back (apparently, he loves here) and was in an early morning fight on Monday with his partner in crime, over admission and acceptance. His older mate wouldn’t want to accept full responsibility. He got into fight with the old man and then got knife from his mates as many in here have weapons of all sorts stashed away waiting for when they will be needed for use. The lad threatened the old man and anybody who will come near him with the knife. Walked around the pavilion with the knife openly as if he owns the pavilion, that everyone should be aware and be warned. Little did he knew he was digging his grave and he just bought his express ticket to be kicked out of the pavilion.

After the incident, he was kicked out and sent to pavilion 8, where the #Lockup is more maximum than ours. He will roast in there.

15:14:54 on THU, AUG 22, 2013! My birthday….

Leave a man to drink freely without bounds, then will you see and know his true nature. The lads been drinking all morning for my day, while I sort out for the food; luckily we had grilled chicken in, should taste like chicken with the size of a pheasant, on the street worth less than $3, but in here we’re forking out friggin hot $12 for this tiny friggin bird. #Ave ……. #PrisonBiz #GetRichQuick 

They drank up my made-in-prison Red wine (fermented Welch’s Red grape juice, and got a cool sour red wine). No money to buy beer or other proper drinks that just got in. Since the lads wants to drink, they hustled a litre of the prison potent distilled liquor. Others had a sip and left, but these two lads stayed all evening smashing and with music..

Things took a different turn when our headcount came up, party stopped as we went outside, then came the rain, heavy and cold, which will send many to my pharmacist-cellmate on Friday as many will pick up cold/flu from exposure to the sudden change of weather.

The headcount went amok as some inmates were sleeping, they had to repeat it three friggin times.

Back in and we had our sancocho soup; Colombians love that with their drinks or after getting pissed. By 8pm, turn off the music, but the lads continued with our new-musician inmate who does live show, with $5 one can get him belt out his best tunes. Had all on record, songs of missing love and of distress, of loneliness and of grieve. He sang songs that took the lads to time past in their lives and with the song came more drinks, as the cup moved from hand to hand, the lad sang along to old ballads.

By 9pm, told them, we have to call it a night as others will be getting ready to hit their sleep sack, but my mates wanted more as there was still more free booze. I took a cold shower from the rainwater we had earlier in the day and left for my signal spot, walking around, others were also celebrating and drinking, so strange how many people have their birthdays in August (makes me wonder if all Leos are Daredevils ;-), the other sets of birthday revellers did theirs all night, and apparently they had the proper stuffs; miller lite, aquadiente and whiskey. Good for them!
Up on my signal post, damn overcrowded with inmates with phones and routers hanging all over the skyline like satellites orbiting in space. With so much phones competing for signal from one network, one definitely need patience to wait, and that, I didn’t have tonight. My phone couldn’t compete with all the many routers and phones, I had to leave as I was getting cold, probably from the fresh rainwater I had used earlier on. 

Had to retired for the night and back to my cell for an early night. Was expecting one of the two lads to vomit, but none…. Probably the soup helped them. Back to my bed, popped some pronol for pains and vitamin C, should help with the flu symptoms coming up as many in my cell had pick it the cold flu; #Hard2Escape

A fourth birthday on the inside; I love to mark my birthdays, but four on the inside should be enough. Lying on my bed, memories of past birthdays; those celebrated on the outside came flashing, they brought smiles and also sadness when I think of the now, where fate has brought me to.

One can’t have a present without a past, but when the past brought pains and grieves, then one must begin a healing process. They say, Certain healing began when one not only think about the past but also about the future. In thinking about the future, I’m driven to start working for what future I so desire right now in the presence. With that in mind, thank God for the day. 

17:47:55 FRI, AUG 23, 2013!
Weekend; time for many to indulge and reload on whatever they need to keep them going.

Woke up early today; to use the loo as my bladder was about to explode. Got back to bed, but couldn’t sleep as the mind couldn’t sleep also. Laid back half-awake until others got up and began their day with the usual idle noisy arguments. Guess today’s was about the two lads who hijacked my party last night, they are our cellmates, but keeping them around free drinks is disastrous. Once they have got the lethal liquor into their system, it changes everything about them, last night, one of them was in his fight mode since the lad selling groceries in our cell didn’t like the noise. But after calling it a night, forced them to leave. One went crashing into his bed, the other climbed up to search for signal, but ended up sleeping on th spot.

Had my breakfast, and got ready for my workout, I have made up mind to workout no matter how I feel. Then came the catcalls, wasn’t one of warning of cops presence, but one that comes when there is a female or female-like presence in our midst. Sneaked out to see what startled the lads; there she was moving gracefully as she knew she has aroused the lads….. But she wasn’t just a she, but a lad who wants to become a lass. They call her Karina with a “K” and she seems to have loads of fans here. But she knows whom she belong to; the one who chats, pings and shares intimate photos and videos with through their new-found social media. Well, she did dressed to kill, on the outside she will be mistaken for a proper broad, not here, we all know she is a lad, who has got her ass pimped up with silicone, hope she had a good ass-job done as there could be leakage after much banging. She had her time and left while I was in the gym and that almost caused some lads dropping weights on their legs. #TheStrengthOfaWoman……. Ya right!
She came from Pavilion 2, where all the trans, and lads who claimed they are gays are housed; but all locals. And most are lads who had been locked up for a long time and decided they rather lead a female life, maybe it will help change their aggressive lifestyles as many are in for homicide. Hope their becoming lasses will help! Who knows?

Lately, we have been having and seeing too much presence of the locals in our pavilion, their pavilions are off-limits to us foreigners, venture in there, one will be devour. But they tend to have many business partners amongst us, and with corrupt cops, they are allowed in here and without search. Who knows what they have been smuggling in. Wouldn’t care about dope, joints, and booze, but weapons are their specialities.. Lately there have also been spike in verbal confrontations amongst the inmates here, and there’s always mention of plunging and scaling; many had devised other means to harm and scared, Hot water or hot oils. The locals uses these more often. They were once barred from cooking or owning any cooking appliances in their pavilion. But with time, seems the authorities had forgotten and they are back to cooking and frying, until somebody will be bathed in boiling water or oil, will the authorities remember what law were set there.

Had an intensive shoulders workout; touching all parts and also did some deadlift and hack squat and pull-ups. Then hit the hot sun to walk and run, with stretches to work my ached back from sleeping on concrete slab. Had enough to keep me through weekend as I rarely train on Saturdays, and Sunday is always a rest day. The gym is closed!

Back in, fortunate as water came gushing from our tap…. Had to washed my laundry which has been soaked for three days now. Friggin stinky…… Got enough water for the day’s use. Wouldn’t take us through Saturday. Hope there will be more for the weekend.

Trying to nap, but can’t…… Wondering mind!
Finally left for my signal spot, seems tonight is not the night as there is no sign of getting online. it’s 23:40:57 on FRI, AUG 23, 2013 …. Music was on but due to our new curfew, by 9pm all music were turned off. Being Friday and weekend, many kept on with their drinking and music but as low as possible. Despite our differences in nationalities, cultures, languages and in mentality, we strive to live in harmony as band of brothers… Well such we are, but band and bonded with one thing in common; #Crime.

00:04:33 ….. SAT, AUG 24, 2013!
Might as well hit my sleep sack and come up early to wait for signal in the morning.

01:26:25 ….. Decided to give it a try as others had drifted to their sleep-space, you can’t beat nature’s calls. Loooooool 🙂

The darker the night, the brighter the stars.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama, Doing Time Overseas!!!, Living Behind Bars in Panama, Prison Life on August 22, 2013 by doingtimeabroad

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment)

FRI, AUG 16, 2013 
Fortunately, I had signal during the early hours of the morning; was good for a while around 4am in the morning and that was when my grocer-cellmate woke up to hustle for his own signal and also boil his drinking water. Talking of our drinking water; those with money prefer buying bottled mineral water, while the rest of us drink from the tap whenever it comes, but I always heat mine up to kill the unwanted; which shares the water with us.

My training partner who was released couple of weeks ago had to spend three days in hospital to be treated for parasites/bacterial infections he picked up from drinking the prison’s water.

On my way down from my signal spot; met our gamblers deep into their game as they didn’t took note of the loner walking through the dark passage. It’s amazing how these lads stay up all night to gamble; well, when there’s nothing to do, what will one expect of them? Guess, nothing.

Forced myself to catch a short sleep as I needed it, half-asleep as the lads kept me up with their early morning lousy talks.

Breakfast was what I’m now used to; oatmeal and peanut, then hit the gym, which was almost empty as many weren’t with that mustard-see kind of faith to come out believing there will be water. Those with faith, sometimes prison faith can be a stupid one (seeing an inmate with knife, one gotta do something other than thinking he won’t use it) #Experience!

Having new lads who wants to train with me; guess they’re seeing results, many just wanna get to the gym to continue with their lousy talks they didn’t finish the previous night 🙂

We had intensive #Chest #HIIT workout and I added abs (Hanging leg raise), push-ups, pull-ups. Wasn’t long before we rounded up, that the heavens opened its water reserved and rained down on us; enough water for today. Patio was out of bound; when it rains, no one is allowed outside and movement is restricted in the centre #EscapeThings!

Seems the meeting with the director and the kitchen staffs did not have any effect on our food as the food still come as it used to be. I hope someday in the future, someone will make the change, for now, we’ll keep eating the basuras as they come.

Hope it will rain more later this evening or at night and all through weekend, we need it and more of it. The lads fetched from the pond outside for use in the toilet.

Our #BurgerKing guy is busy with making the best la Joya burger; many had placed their orders earlier in the week. A piece if $3, told him, I will only buy if he can make me triple whooper …..loooooool:-) don’t see myself eating his burger, friggin looks unhealthy, the lads gets the cheapest burgers (with fillers, fats and meagre or no meat), but many will be so happy to dine on it.

19:22:02 on FRI, AUG 16, 2013!

In my bed, feeling bit sleepy…. Result of my nocturnal lifestyle.

Monday will be our fortnightly visit, but this time, it’s a family affair; thus, children are allowed to tag along with adults for the visit. Those with kids and family around will have the pleasure of their warmth embrace during the one hour visit.

Many will get themselves ready for Monday; grooming themselves to look their best. Every family visit is like Christmas to those with loved ones around and who will come to visit, as I have seen some locals whose families had turned their backs on them, all because the lads just love getting into prison. They can’t just friggin pretend to lead a normal life upon released, always ended up coming back.

02:31:14! SAT, AUG 17, 2013! Left my signal spot as it’s worthless sitting up all night without signal, the casino royale are busy with new members at the end of a dark corner in passage, now I know this is one demon that these lads has got to battle with, many amongst them will borrow to keep their game up. Thus, building up debts that will eventually get harder to pay with time, and at the end leads to what we all know; #Fight!

I didn’t get to nap in the afternoon, feeling sleepy…. gotta answer nature’s calling.. Sleeeeeeeep!

08:24:29 SAT, AUG 17, 2013!

There hasn’t been water since Thursday, we are surviving on the occasionally rain water; the one of yesterday has finished, how we will survive the weekend if it doesn’t rain is a hard bone to chew. Our prayers is that it rains as much as it can be.

Still on my bed as I’m taking today and Sunday off from working out.

Didn’t get internet access all of yesterday, it’s becoming very hard to get online, for now, we’ve got to live with what each day doles out to us.

Breakfast was our normal bread buns and sugar-choco drink, pass that and made me oats with peanut, not bad when one just woke with worms starts calling for their share of nutrients. Sunny and blazing outside, doubt if there will be any rain today, if it happen it’ll be a miracle.

Many are using the opportunity to play some outdoor sports; volleyball, softball and football. The cops seems to be co-operative, but for how long will they do this, maybe until one stupid inmate will try to escape, then we lose everything. Others are sitting outside savouring the sun and engaging in prison talks; most are idle-gossiping men engaging in lazy, lousy backbite-talk like sissies!

On my bunk, want to do some reading, but a cellmate won’t let me as he wants me to pass him some of my songs; stayed up all night to download my collections when we had uninterrupted signal; helped me as I have collections of latest albums, ebooks and magazines ;-), sharing it for free doesn’t make me feel comfortable as they won’t share theirs and I rarely ask. Wankers!

16:27:21 ….. Seems water will become history today, gotta watch out for what I will eat; having a bad stomach at such a time like this will be terrible as there won’t be water to use in the toilet. The pond outside dried up as we’ve all fetched water from it.

Waooooooooh!(16:36:08) The pump is running now, seems heaven heard our cries for water, pray it runs for a while so we can fill enough containers to take us through weekend. 18:42:15…. Surprise as the water is still running, but on a snail-speed and it’s water from La Joyita (we had our pipes linked to the ones supplying water to them).. Some types of nicking are legal..  for the benefit of everyone. When we had pipes bought and laid through the local’s pavilion to get water from same source, they vandalised everything and demanded money from us. Well….. Glad we had enough and most inmates got what should be enough for tonight. Tomorrow will take care of itself, we live for each day; #CarpeDiem

21:19:25 …. Up at my signal reception post, seems tonight will be futile like yesterday, only those with routers hanging high above the ceiling are getting signal. Will try one more night and see what will come of my patiently-waiting like my cats.

Another coral snake was killed in the gym hall, the lad saw it moving on his mattress, freaked the night out of him. The snake was killed; seems the rain is bringing them from the bushes around the centre to the pavilion where it’s warm and loads of warm blood. We’re in for mucho sorpresa!

“Victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.” – Og Mandino

Living in such a small community like ours, has turned many into minders; looking into other people’s affairs, not to watch over them but watching with green-eyes. They tend to forget their own crosses and the journey they have to make. Maybe it helps them with doing their time. The lite brawl I had with the lad in my cell has become the trending subject on their lips. Couldn’t fight with the lad; just too close for comfort. But being very young, inexperienced and above all Stupid; the lad thought he could fight me. He hung on my leg trying to lift me up; friggin look like a chihuahua humping a Rottweiler ;-).

Couldn’t see myself hitting or punching this lad who has grown to become like a kid brother after we have spent 3yrs together in one cell. Later told him, we’ve drank from the same cup of damnation, when he had no bed, he had his hammock above my bed and we shared so much together. After that brief thought, scarring him would hurt me as much as he does to him.

In the heat of the moment, I remembered this beautiful quote on temperance;

“Being a warrior is not just striking your opponents with the sword, but finding good reason to pull out the sword at the first place.”

I let my anger weaned off and told him to. give me some arm’s length distance; but he’s like a dog who doesn’t know when his master need to be left alone. I think, the incident has drawn a line between us for now. And the end, there was no good reason to strike him, despite his mouth that doesn’t shut 😉

12:11:39 on SUN, AUG 18, 2013!
Enough water to do my washing, many got dirty clothes piled up from days without water. Had my clothes washed, but bad weather outside. The pavilion is alive with our Sunday’s activities; church services by the two main denominations, later on the gamblers and gamers took over the hall.

Had a power nap all evening, woke up late at night, couldn’t get up to my signal spot as I needed the night to read and write.

As others went early to bed awaiting tomorrow’s family visit; time to spend with their loved ones. Others were busy drinking and gambling the night away; what started as friendly affair turned into drunken brawl on the early hours of Monday. Two mates who met each other here before being released, hooked up on the streets for some monkey business, things went pretty sour when they were busted and brought in here again. Now both are fighting for who should take responsibility for the crime; what a friendship! Can’t help but laugh at their folly.
Well, they aren’t the first nor will they be the last in such a dilemma; seen many took to brutal means to get their co-accused take responsibility for crimes both are accused of committing. Most will owned up to what they are accused of others will stick to their denials, others will become turncoat, rats, or snitches as the Americans call them. Whatever their lot; it is theirs to bear, we all have our different music to dance to.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

MON, AUG 19, 2013
Our fortnightly visit; but today’s is different as it’s a family visit, heard it’s once in four months. The only time children (only two) are allowed in with adults to see their incarcerated loved ones.

Still water crisis in the centre and it hasn’t rained today. The gym was almost empty apart from baggages and mattresses of inmates who sleeps on the half of the gym’s floor. Had a #Squats and biceps, but didn’t have the zeal, pulled myself through most of my sets, went outside to run and savoured the warmth sun; that was much refreshing.

The lads back in from visit with smiling faces, some wore worn-out faces as it’s still a nightmare they which they won’t wake up from; being slammed in the belly of the beast. So much food in the pavilion, but always careful, no water when diarrhoea strikes, thus, I’m careful with what I’m offer and what I will eat.

#BreakingNews; just came up on the news, an inmate died in La Joya (our centre) of #Tuberculosis. Nothing shakes a healthy man, than when you know the real killer is invisible and around the corner. With our overcrowded pavilions, and breathing from each other’s breathe, one has no where to run to from this invincible and invisible killer. And no many here knows how to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze; we’re in for an endemic!

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” – Marcel Proust, (In Search of Lost Time)

Another Old inmate; different from others as he is a fitness addict, collapsed and was taken out. He was referred by the doctors at the clinic to the hospital in the city. But the cops brought him back, citing their usual code “NO TRANSPORT”, The man was lucky as the cops on duty pitied his condition and took him away. He has been admitted since last week Friday and still there; clearly shows how serious his condition was. Before an inmate is taken out, he must have a near-death experience; can be knife plunging in his organs or sick to the point of death. Then will the cops do something!

From sources close to the family of the dead inmate, they had informed the authorities about the conditions of their sick son or husband, but like others, he was ignored and left to died; of what use is he to the society? Doubt if any…. And who knows what his crime was? Could have been homicide, robbery or simply a suspect like many languishing and waiting for a never-ending investigation, when not found guilty, will be released without compensation for those wasted years; this is jungle justice!

20:00:36! So much to eat today, but mostly unhealthy choices as these lads just love fried food; everything is better fried. Had what I found healthy and full for the day. We eat and live each day for a time and as it comes.

La Joya has just been cut off from the electricity grid; the prison has been thrown into total darkness. Who knows what’s happening. When it happens like this, the cops get panicked as they patrol the perimeter more often. Nobody knows how long this blackout will last, if it remain this way all night, might as well sleep upstairs all night, sleeping in my congested cell will be like baking myself in an oven.

So much goes on in our world; The belly of the beast! Not a days goes by without a major incident happening; but so much happens and they are never reported. The sleepers operate in secrecy and their deeds are seen when it happens. The belly of the beast is well alive with the break of each new day with its hustling and hassling;  #SurvivalOfTheFittest

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” – Kenji Miyazawa

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

#Crimewatch #CrimeAndPunishment #Panama #Nederland #Justice #Justitie #Tuberculosis #Aids #HIV #Lockup #Gevangenis #Drugs #Crime #CriminalJustice