Archive for February, 2014

The Ray Of Light At The End Of The Tunnel.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on February 24, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell

 

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs

 

[Two Years BehindBars; Looking for that ray of light at the end of the tunnel]…… Two years ago, I wrote that as a title to a blog entry, had my hopes and faith that someday, keeping a positive mind along the way, there’ll definitely be that ray of light and of hope at the end of this tunnel of uncertainty.

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once” – Calvin Coolidge.

Our journey through and within the walls of panama’s notorious prisons; #LaJoya and #LaJoyita is truly like one through a darkened tunnel full of uncertainties, not knowing what awaits one in the tunnel as it goes deeper and darker; such is life in prison, many walked in naïve, while others came back to continue from where they stopped upon released. How each will be upon released is based on how they had lived when doing time.

 

Over fifty two months ago, I began my journey, others tagged along as they met the same fate that brought me here. Some were before me, who has got stories to tell, together we are the stories of men locked up, isolated from the supposed real world. But on the inside, it’s a world beyond walls of concrete, lived on the edge with one’s back always against the wall, a world where one constantly watches over his shoulder, and a world where words are supposed to be thought over before utterances are made; but in many cases, some tend to forget these basic rules that has hold true to prisons worldwide.

 

They say, there is only one force that hold true to the underworld; the law of gravity…. “what goes up, must come down”. History has taught us in the likes of Alcapone, Pablo Escobar, The Gray Brothers of East London, the cowardly Dudus (the yardie rain maker of Kingston who handed himself to the Americans and was handed down a 23 years sentence), Zwarte Cobra of The Netherlands, and many king pins who had risen to the apex of their careers but that force of gravity seemed to have brought them grumbling down.

 

Emails, phone calls, letters and publications in the Dutch media caused some storms and got the attention of the Dutch public to our plights; the government refusal to have us repatriated back to The Netherlands.

 

After so many bureaucratic wrangling, involving lawyers, NGO’s and other organisations that cared to listen to our side of the story and finally, the country’s former ombudsman who got involved after we had emailed him, telling our stories as it’s been repeated over and over to all those who matters. He finally, wrote and asked the minister of justice, the reason for his refusal to have us back home. In his letter to the minister, he had asked for a response by 1st of February 2014.

 

Finally on the 5th of February, the minister responded with an overhaul of the #WOTS process (the process that sees all Dutch detainees outside The Netherlands been returned back home to either continue their time or set free). It’s a pity, the ombudsman who fiercely fought our case resigned and left for another job in Brussels (EU).

 

Whatever will become of this new change of law, that will see Dutch detainees in Latin American prison have their fair share of been repatriated as other EU nationals, he will be credited for his role in bringing about this change. We had exhausted all the legal means to get the minister, and none worked,  until the former ombudsman stepped in and then came the change.

 

Though, it is yet to be signed in law (which takes a long while), but we know from the minister’s response that Dutch detainees in Panama, Venezuela and other Latin American countries won’t be left to rot and withered away. They like other Europeans who aren’t left behind by their governments  would enjoy the benefits of serving out their sentence under humane conditions, access to medicare and proper rehabilitation process. And most importantly, close to our families and loved ones and also enjoy the benefits of visits, which we don’t get here.

 

At the end, we might not be beneficiaries to this good news, as most of us have almost serve out our sentences here. Moreover, a new repatriation process has to be initiated, which can take forever to get processed. In the future anyone that will be dumb enough to get locked up here might enjoy a faster process and get to go home and continue with their sentences.

 

Thus, the good news that we can now be repatriated to continue out time back home is the bacon of hope, the ray of light in this never-ending tunnel of uncertainty.

 

“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” – Tony Robbins

 

MON, FEB 17, 2014

Lately, I tend to wake up at the same time every day to use the loo and end up going upstairs to get online. Some days I sleep early to wake and get upstairs. So far, so good, but competing with many routers hanging on the ceiling of the pavilion like little spaceships is something my phone can’t keep up. But the good thing with our sleep-loving-prisoners, while they are snoring away their time, the air is free for those of us who will braced the cold and sit out with phones in hands as we search for signal.

 

Had an earlier day in the gym which was scanty as most lads were out for our fortnightly visit. Like other visit days, there will be lots to eat, sell and drink (if proper liquor was smuggled in). A cell mate went out, though a foreigner, he’s married to a local lady and has lived all his life here in Panama. Whatever edible he has today will be shared, though I do pass some of the things they bring in.

 

Had an intensive #Back and #Biceps workout, trained with some mates who are full of zeal and energy on one day and gone with the wind of joints on other days. They are needed for some exercises that need a partner; bench press and squats.

 

The cop on duty allowed me out for a brief spin on the open, with the sun at its zenith, it was refreshing. Did some stretches and savoured the moment.

 

Back in and in need of fuel for my knackered muscles, the lads had rice and fried chicken sauce, made from what a mate got from visit. Wasn’t bad for a much-needed refuel. Still waiting for what I asked a released mate to get for me, hope he doesn’t play me a fast one, as many are known for such games.

 

Today, a special day for me, as my daughter turns 9 years old today. How many birthdays have I missed, so many to recall. Each year, I pray to be at the next one, but never made it to as they mark their earth day. I’m glad Schat is able to keep it together and keep the kids going and their performance at school and with their vocational studies. On her birthday, Schat became the devil advocate as she made my little girl sign a contract on her birthday that she will keep to her routines; piano practice, homework, help her siblings, help mummy with chores in the house, her swimming lessons and always be of good behaviour. Well, for a girl of nine years, she is getting to know that nothing good come easy. She will be getting a used blackberry as her birthday gift from Schat. At least I will get to chat with her once in a while. Won’t say I hope to be home by her next birthday, but if I’m home, then it’s good! Wishes ain’t horses, but not a crime to make one! #Hope! 

 

TUE, FEB 18, 2014

Another early day upstairs to get online, met an inmate who had an all-night vigil to update his Samsung Galaxy S3 OS, lad stayed up and downloaded over 500MB of data with our poor signal.

 

Spent few hours before heading downstairs, tried sleeping but couldn’t as some Ass turned on the water pump around 5:30am and got my mate cleaning to switched on the light. Decided to take the day off from training so I can get some good sleep.

 

As it would be, the gym was closed for the day as the Colombians were having a sit-in hunger strike protest aimed at their government back in Colombia. When Colombians (apparently, they make about 90% of foreign prisoners in Panama) are repatriated back home, they are locked up for another lengthy period of time, despite Colombia having an overcrowded prison system. From those who had gone, messages getting us, is that they had to pay for a sleeping spot on the floor and gangs controls the prison system. Everyone want to do his time at home, but when where you is better than home, then you rather stay put. The Guatemalans prefer finishing their time here as their prison system is one of the worst in Latin America.

 

Thus, as a sign of protest, food were not allowed in for the Colombians. Others that wanted to eat could get their food, cells without Colombians got enough food. Though majority of them definitely dined well, despite the strike. In my cell, they all opted for the no-food, exception of three Colombians who can’t be without food. When food came on the cart, three portions are served to my cell.

 

After the strike, the lad took to their dice, cards, and other forms of game to keep them busy.

 

It’s relatively quiet in the pavilion, it seems we are at peace with each other, but despite the tranquillity and deep down in our hearts, there are sworn enemies who won’t cross paths, always on the look-out for each other’s next move; such is the life in prisons.

Just heard from one of my cellmates who would’ve been better off working in the media as he’s very good in relaying gossips and intels going around the pavilion. Through the lad, I’ve come to know the little skeletons in everyone’s closets 😉 young lad whose childhood has been robbed from him through violence, growing up in a place the rich kids wear bullet proof vest to school; #GangsWar #DrugWar.

 

He asked me, if I know that a former tattoo artist from Puerto Rico who was sent packing from our pavilion to pavilion 8 is dead….. He was involved in a fight with another inmate, pulled jagged edge knife and threatened the lad. After much meetings, his pals wanted him to stay, but the majorities vetoed he should be sent out. And he was a heavy dope-head; snorts anything white and always rolling joints. The lad died of Heart attack. If he was still here, probably Doc would’ve saved him. Too bad! that’s one problem solved for the authorities, one less worries…. May his soul #RIP!

 

WED, FEB 19, 2014

Another early day, upstairs at our signal spot, which was astounding as signal was at its best. Refreshed my news apps, got enough news to keep me busy when doing nothing.

 

A mate who had twenty cops sent after him, was picked up for his interview with the fiscal; spent almost a year waiting for this day and yet to have a court date. Left me wondering if a year was spent on investigation by the fiscal! Shows how efficient they are, I hope he slips through as he did before. The lad got banged up after his old pals ratted him out.

 

When he came back later at night, starving after spending all day without food; only the bread he ate before leaving. He was grilled and bombarded for three odd hours with gruelling questions which he believes came from the Fiscalia-drogas office. Whatever the outcome of his case, hope he learn from this experience.

 

Hit the gym for a quick #HIIT Chest and #Abs workout, was gruelling but love it, though in sciatica pain, I made a good workout. Later went out to stretch under the warming sun. Needed it!

 

Back in, had a bowl of oats + banana with peanut butter which I got from the Shylock grocer who’s probably going to build a glass house with the money is ripping off from us with his over-the-top prices. Charged me twice the price for a pot of 400g peanut butter.

 

While in the gym, the president of the pavilion wheeled in a wheelbarrow filled with bags of chicken parts; wings, drumsticks and whole chickens. Wasn’t meant for us, well, could be for us, if we are willing to pay. Those chicken definitely came from the kitchen

 

We did get chicken soup later in the day, but there was not a piece of chicken, instead we had shredded chicken parts and more chicken skin. Some do feast on the skin, while others just go for the soup.

 

Spend the rest of the day upstairs by the signal spot, stayed till 2am before descending down to my bunk for the much-needed sleep.

 

THU, FEB 20, 2014.

Early headcount; barely had enough sleep when I heard my mates scrambling off from their bunks. Then the PA system went off as well with a wake up call for our weekly headcount. Quickly changed into my gym clothing, rushed me a cup of tea, brush up and wash off he sleep from my face before heading out. The tap was running, so the mate cleaning had to stay back and be the last to leave the cell, after filling up few tanks.

 

Outside, cold and windy, the rays of the sun was breaking through the early morning clouds as inmates gathered in groups, some with cups of coffee in hands, chattering whatever they felt need to trash out. Others were busy engaging in one or another forms of exercises; walking, jogging, stretching, push-ups, pull-ups on the welded bar behind the pavilion. Started with a few brisk-walking and took some spins on the field, did some good stretches to ease my sciatica pains, and few abs on the grass. The count was successful as everyone was accounted for.

 

Back in, decided to go for an early workout as I was already sweating from the warm-up. The early gym-rats were already on our free weights, got a few and prepared a dumbbell for a kettlebell-like workout. After a #HIIT warm up, decided to hit #Shoulders. Three lads joined me, and we had a superb shoulders workout, which I mixed with abs and rope-jumps.

 

Hit the fields after doing weights as the new cops seems to be a nice fella. Outside, continued from where I stopped during the headcount; jogging and some stretches.

 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

 

Called it a day as I headed back in, the gym was very bare as most inmates went back to sleep just after the headcount; prisoners don’t play with their sleep, they friggin take it serious. And that something which the system here has caused and made, turning most into couch potatoes. Despite the need to be active under the limitation and restrictions of mobility, many are leading a full sedentary lifestyle. Someday in the future they will realised the need to have exercised and moved while here.

 

Made me a bowl of oatmeal + peanut butter + banana; becoming my postworkout meal. Not bad as it’s filling and nutritious also.

 

Took a short nap during the day, seems the hunger strike or food-rejection is still going on and I heard it will be on for another two weeks. My cell only gets three-portions, despite the so-called hunger strike, some are growing fatter and fatter as they tend to grab anything that look and taste like food. Food is all that matters here, that some inmates live to eat and not eat to live; amongst them is one of my cellmate who is always munching on whatever available. He’s growing larger with each new day, he won’t be the first nor the last to serve out their sentence on bowls of food.

 

Upstairs by the signal spot is jammed packed with inmates holding and pointing phones, tablets in search of signal. Some are busy adjusting ropes that routers are hung upon high up on our ceiling. Those with routers and external modem seems to be getting the best reception. The last time I checked, there were more than 20 routers, soon the cops will storm us to get the routers. Whenever they choose to come, we’re prepared.

 

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

FRI, FEB 21, 2014

Another early day, water on the stove for a cup of coffee which I took upstairs with me. Signal during the early hours of the day is very strong, but as others switch on their phones and began browsing, everything goes down again.

 

Few hours and back to my cell, where I got ready for another early morning workout. Still scanty in the gym as I made my way outside. Warm and a bit windy, had a blast on the field, almost forgotten, today is the catholic mass which begins at 11am.

 

When I got in, it was too late, but managed to pull some arms workouts, got 3 sets of each. Packed up, but continued in the storage room. Couldn’t keep up as I felt light-headed, had to call it off.

 

Back in, showered, ate and tucked myself into bed. Checked my #BP before sleeping; 156/79! After the few hours nap, woke up feeling much better.

 

Went upstairs to get online, signal was better tonight, was able to download few MP3’s but friggin slow. Stayed up till late, which I will pay when the lads will wake me up for the general cleaning to move my reserve water tanks; though we have been having enough water lately, but can’t afford to take any chance by using them. Still gotta keep them, one never know when things will turn around for the worst……drought!

 

Finally left for my cell around 2am, not a good time. Walking through the dark passage with phone in my hand to light up my path (though, not everyone here will dare walk in the passage at such odd hour; many has gotten sworn enemies and even invisible ones). The passage was fill with aroma of sweet fragrance, a lady-like essence, didn’t take further steps from where I first perceived the sweet fragrance, then she emerged from darkness, her mini tight-fitting dress merging with the blackness of the night as she slide past me, bathed herself with her flowery fragrance and ready to ride the night; she is our night nurse, our lady of the night……the standing shemale! Got her buddy, probably a look-out positioned in a corner in the passage, while she goes about her tour of nightly duty. Know few patrons who probably makes use of her nightly service and I think many knows but we rather keep it our little open secret. Well, she did say hello….. Not the sort of feminine voice I’d expect from the wearer of such tight-fitting dress, but what came out was a hollow-deep voice which we are all used to now. Glad she wasn’t the thing I saw before hitting my bunk, later found our cheeky kittens that aren’t allowed in during the day, but they all sneaks in at night to rule, plunder and play while the lads are sleeping. They were two little kittens, their mum seemed to have abandoned them, picked them up, played with them, stroking their furs. When I dropped them, they actually followed me to my cell, funny furry things; at least better than some wankers here.

 

SAT, FEB 22, 2014

Slept around 3am, didn’t know when the lads got up and went about the general cleaning. The little lad didn’t wake me up, he removed all my stuffs and did the cleaning without me knowing. Glad he didn’t wake me, did thank him afterwards.

 

Was starving, had a cup of cinnamon tea that came on the breakfast cart and ate up the last of my lentils from last night; filling and nutritious. My mates went for cornflakes and chocolate. Someone dropped a box of whole wheat pasta on my bed, should be cooking it on Sunday with vegetables….. Just pasta and vegetables.

 

A mate came calling me out for workout, told him, not today, as I’m taking two days off to recuperate.

 

For lunch, cooked Ox-foot soup (bought by a mate) and lately, its the only thing coming in that is affordable (street price; $4, we pay $12 here), cooked it the Colombian way; #Sancocho, with green plantain, spices and seasoning and fresh vegetables and herbs (cilantron, parsley, spring onions). Wasn’t bad as we had it with white rice. Through my time here with some many cultures from different parts of the world, I have come to learn different and assorted types of cuisines. Have even learned from the Chinese here; but these ones here love frying and white rice.

 

Also in the course of my doing time here, I have also introduced some clean and healthy habits. When I first got here, the lads only drank cinnamon tea, I introduced some to green tea and other herbal tea. Then came muesli, which I asked Schat to buy for me, many jumped on the bandwagon, though few see it as strange food; a mate was said, it looks like horse feeds and tasteless. So far so good, it’s been a wonderful experience in the joint.

 

Took a power nap after my lunch and woke up when dinner was been served. Lunch came and gone; chicken nuggets and white rice. While dinner was pigtails in black eye brown beans. Let them passed, but my mates went for the pigtails, scooped some beans which I later ate in the evening.

 

Spent couple of hours upstairs, but couldn’t keep up as nature took toll of me. Got downstairs which was steaming hot from the heat of the distillation, the lads distilled two tanks of mash. Their clients need something to top up.

 

Surprisingly, the last of my Christmas wine is sold out. A lad who doesn’t mix well with alcohol, once drank and got so pissed, he had to be restrained as he was becoming aggressive; he was tied and left upstairs, where he had been drinking all day. Since that incident, he seems to have sober down, stick to his joints. Apparently, he is the cellmate of our shemale who had a physical brawl with her over some unpaid debts. In prison, debts are eventually collected through physical brawls if verbal confrontation fails.

 

Same lad, bought all of my leftover Christmas wine, and being aged, sold it as an aged wine should be sold; a price of a gallon for 1litre…..good bargain on my side.

 

Had another shower before hitting my concrete bed for the much-needed night rest.

 

“If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you!” – T. Harv Eker

 

SUN, FEB 23, 2014

Weekend is almost over, a new week around the corner. Much or nothing in stock for the lot of us.

 

Up from sleep to the wrangling of my cellmates and others who came to fetch water as it was running early today.

 

Sat up on my bed till the coast was clear, went through my morning rituals. A cup of cinnamon tea got my day started. Made vegetables salad of green pepper, cucumber, onions, dried parsley and oregano, added vinegar and that was my breakfast.

 

Another round of Ox-foot soup today, the only thing close to meat on sale in the pavilion. Cooked today’s with curry and a bit spicy. My mate boiled white rice.

 

After I woke up from my afternoon siesta, we had the soup which is by far better than our prison food. On the food cart for lunch was half-cooked white rice, and greasy mincemeat and for dinner fish cakes, lentils and rice, took some lentils for dinner; hope it ain’t salty.

 

My vegetable-grocer cellmate had all his fresh parsley bought by an old inmate who hawks and sells whatever is given to him; nicked, brought in or smuggled in. He’s the man to meet and he’s a chain-smoker. Asked him what he needs the parsley for; told me he makes tea with it and it helps calms him as he’s nervous. We’re all working on our second opinion to treat whatever ailments since we can’t get to the clinic for treatment.

 

Signal is very bad today, many are complaining of poor connection, yesterday whatsapp was down, I guess it was probably server problem, later worked at night, but fell today. 8:46:43 PM….. Upstairs by our signal post and it seems it’s going to be a very long night of waiting and searching for signal connection.

 

Hope it gets better later tonight, or else, I’ll have to wake up very early to try again.

 

The air is full of assortment of music; salsa, vallenato, ranchera and bolero (depending on the nationalities of the revellers), smokes from fags and joints and noises of inmates doing time the only way they know.

 

Lately my compatriot who seemed to have fallen apart is getting skinny and skinny with each new day. There’s rumours that dude is doping, well, each man has his cross to bear, but do hope he’s repatriated ASAP to Holland, there his problems will be taken care of.

 

Earlier today on the news, another Panamanian lawyer was sent to the other side by a lone assassin. He is not the first and won’t be the last to leave that way; lawyers in Panama are crafty white-collar criminals who sweet-talks helpless inmates into handing over large sums of money with promises of buying their way out or getting a low or minimal sentences for them. But their promises are empty, they so believe that being locked up, inmates can’t do a thing. But in most cases they are always wrong. Some inmates do pursue them for their money. And in most cases, ends with the lawyer being gun down. 

 

For the rest of us, it’s a waiting game, one played with the utmost care; living each day at a time while watching our backs.

 

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Valentine’s Day In Prison.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on February 17, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

Valentine’s week is here, not much as in preparation for the day in the pavilion; maybe our surviving shemale will have some surprises for the lads, you never know! But doubt if our trans neighbours across the wire fences in pavilion two won’t be preparing for lovers day in prison, they are know to take life damn too serious; carnivals, Christmas, and even their petty prison love which can become bloody and fatal. 

 

 

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

 

 

MON, FEB 10, 2014

Woke up to another week in the slammer, lots to do. After four years in the slammer, I have learn to take each day, each moment at a time; work myself through whatever hurdles or obstacles presenting itself at any given moment.

 

Woke up early to make use of the uncongested internet around 5am before others will rise; funny thing about prisoners in Panama, many are doing their time on their bunks; sleeping away their lives. Have always read of prisons being a place where inmates are under strict conditions. But over here, everyone does as it pleases, despite our unwritten rules, which are supposed to be a guide to our lives within the wall of these building.

 

Signal is always at its best on the early hours of the day, but as soon as all the phones, routers are set firing in search of signal, the competition to get online becomes tensed.

 

Breakfast is whatever comes on the cart or sometimes a cup of tea before hitting the gym. Today was packed with inmates feeling charged after a long weekend. A mate is dressed waiting to picked up for his release, doubt if they will come for him today. We went on #Back and #Biceps today, #HIIT and full #Hardcore, the cop was friendly, allowing inmates outside to run and workout in the field; but in batches, co-ordinated by our vice president.

 

Lately, water hasn’t been a problem as it used to be, we’ve been able to strike a deal with pavilion 8; a tube links us to their water system, whenever theirs is turned on, we get a bit for ourselves; at least, enough for each day, but our reserves are always filled and stored away for that moment of drought!

 

Not much for the day, couldn’t nap, despite being knackered and not getting enough sleep at night, due to my late nights and early rising. Hopefully, I’ll have an early night tonight.  

 

Food is the same sh!t on the cart, salty, half-cooked rice, salad with maggots, salty nuggets or fat-laden minced meat; a lad once feasted on the minced meat, and had to be wheeled out to the clinic as he developed food poisoning. I always let that pass; not for anything else, but the fat in it, it comes warm, but once left to cool down, everything becomes hardened from the greasy fat. 

 

Signal is a bit slow, but allowed me to do some reading; news, sports and lots more. Finally left upstairs to have a good night rest as I was tired.

 

TUE, FEB 11, 2014

Woke up late today, slept late last night, despite wanting to sleep early. Couldn’t get online as it was jammed, but was able to chat with Schat briefly before heading to the gym; bit late today, but got enough for a full metal cardio workout; Chest, triceps, woodchopper, power and clean, and hanging leg raise and rounded it up with hanging leg raise for the abs.

 

My English mate placed a bet on a french Canadian, that he can’t benchpressed 200lbs, well, the Canadian hasn’t done anything in the gym before; but he tried 155lbs….. Seeing his lift, I told them, he could do it if he trains daily for days….. They had a set date for Monday. The lad wants to train with me before that day.

 

Back in, rushed my brunch of cereal and peanut butter and a cup of chilled gatorade.

 

Showered and wash up before hitting my bunk for a quick power nap; struggled to get some sleep, but couldn’t as the lads were in their talking mood.

 

Left for upstairs, signal is still slow; the pavilion became quiet as many were glued to their TV sets; watching one novela (soap) after the other #ComandoElite, and #LosTresCaines; one common theme with all the novelas or soaps on TV in Latin America, is the amount of gun violence, their lives is all about gun, guns and more firepower. Men don’t fight mano-a-mano! #Weaklings!

 

Spent few hours upstairs, but nature wouldn’t allow me. Had to call it a day and down to my cell for the much-needed sleep. Late though, but early for me. Finally crashed around 1am.

 

WED, FEB 12, 2014

Woke up around 5am, even before the bin man got up to emptying the buckets hanging on each cell door’s. Signal was superb at that time of the morning, downloaded videos Schat sent me via whatsapp; not the types to wank on though…. But videos of my kids skating on ice; shared them with my mates.

 

Working online and tweeting my saved tweets, set a pot of water on the stove for an early cup of coffee; while in the cell, had one eye on my phone as there are some lurking shadows that are swift in their movement, that was the case of my neighbour who left his cell by 3am for his group’s daily prayers; someone nicked his Samsung note… Lad just fixed the broken screen and wanted to fling it to me for 400 quid, no money, but told him to keep it as I was interested; fingers are pointing to some lads around his mates. Whichever, the phone is gone, hope his God visits the one that nicked His faithful’s phone while he was praying.

 

As darkness make way for the light of the day, many were rising from their slumbers, which they wished they could get more hours of sleep, to face whatever the day has for them. Not going back to bed, whatever hours I had was enough, dressed up to hit the gym, also praying the cop on duty will let me out. He did let me out on the fields; many were out jogging, walking and others were chatting as they drank their early coffee. Life for today just began, the day is pregnant with loads for us. Should be waking early if I’m to make it outside for an early jog and yoga on the grasses outside, thus, early to bed! Gonna be friggin difficult!

 

Did some good rounds of #HIIT on the field; mixing short burst of fast sprints with normal jogging, ended with stretches and yoga to ease with sciatica pain.

 

Hit the gym as it was still scanty, many were still snoring. Shoulders and arms, had a good workout… The English mate who placed a bet on the french Canadian to benchpress 200lbs on Monday, challenged me to benchpress 135lb x 35reps…. Accepted the challenge, did it and he owes me $20…. Good amount to get me some needed groceries; some people are just born gamblers.

 

Took the french Canadian through some training session; on lifting techniques, placed $10 on him to benchpress 200lbs x 5reps on Monday, hope my training helps him, as many are in doubt that he can do it.

 

Rounded up my workout with abs…. Hanging leg raise and crunches.

 

While in the gym, the lady (Govt official) in charge of all repatriation came around to speak with us, panama’s government is busy with repatriating as many foreigners as they can. After we spoke to her, she insisted that Panama is through with the Dutch detainees, but our problem hangs on the Den Haag’s refusal to accept our repatriation???? That’s the big unanswerable question, why the minister of justice wouldn’t want us back home!

 

But, later found out that, there’s been a respond from the minister of justice back home regarding our repatriation case. But we can’t download the pdf file as there’s no signal to connect online. Hope it’s something positive, should be time we get out of this jungle.

 

Whatever will be the outcome of this new development, it won’t take away our hope ‘the only constant in the midst of our uncertainties’

 

Becoming very hot in the pavilion; loads of cooking, and overcrowding as more and more are hauled in, while none is leaving. Tried catching some sleep time, couldn’t with the noise in the cell and the heat. Did some reading as I lay on my bed, better than lying there thinking or getting engaged in idle arguments with the lads who are always looking for whose balls they will break; sometimes, when there’s nothing to talk about, sarcasm comes into play, and loads of idle talks which sometimes goes over the top and flares up anger; thus, to avoid such messy situation, simply keep out of sight. Glad I can find solace in my books.

 

Couldn’t go upstairs as I was knackered and in need of my sleep, did some reading before nature called.

 

THU, FEB 13, 2014

Woke up around 4am, went out and got online, the line was free as I was the only one up and out at that time. Stayed up for an hour, before returning to me bed and get another hour and half of sleep. Got up around 6.30am to do my cleaning, being my turn for our daily wash of the toilet and shower room; pot of water for coffee and the cops showed up for our once-in-a-week headcount.

 

Outside, many took to the field; jogging, walking, while others continued from where they stopped yesterday in their chatting and lousy men talk; whatever each choose to do, helps with doing time.

 

Had a good quick cardio workout outside, though brief, but was fantastic. Back in, set up the bench for chest, but had to attend to water in the cell, as water was running and being my cleaning day, but not enough water for today. It only came in the morning, and we are down to one tank left; that will end up in the toilet. Glad I have some reserves (there’s always a back-up plan).

 

Back to the gym, before leaving, set a pot of ox-tail for what will be our soup; jointly bought ox-tail with two other cellmates. Street prices was $9, but in here, we paid $18, always twice the value #PrisonBusiness

The gym was almost empty as the lads had all gone back to their sleep; lazy asses! Prisoners here, hate been woken up from their sleep; we so cherish our sleep; who’s to blame? Guess the authorities; locked grown-ass men up with nothing to do, other than sleep, eat, drink, smoke, frolicking, fight and stab each other and start all over again with same routines till they either withered away or released to come back and continue from where they stopped 😉 

 

Had enough for my chest workout, was a swift one and was good enough for today. Definitely do need my supplements, hope for some soon. The thieving pot-bellied warden who was paid to bring in amino and protein, cut our stuffs and brought half of what was given to him. That’s what one should expect in prison business, always double-crossing. We haven’t seen him for about two months now. The rest of the supplements are history!

 

Very hot today, the cell is grilling, but upstairs is windy, it’s 10:54:41 PM…. Been upstairs watching highlights of the winter Olympic; at least something other than novela and Panama news which is always filled with violence, and if something better comes up like the Olympics; there’ll be a steady marched of adverts on the screen margin disturbing one’s view; bombarding viewers with ads.

 

Should be heading downstairs as signal is very low tonight. Need a good sleep as I will be up early tomorrow.

 

FRI, FEB 14, 2014

St. Valentine’s day; decided to take the day off from workout, woken early to get online, but no signal access. Back to sleep, which didn’t come by easily, did some reading; #CocaineTrain by Stephen Smith; a journey in search of one’s man grandfather, and also a brief history of #LaViolencia in #Colombia; covered some pages before nature finally took hold of me.

 

Being lover’s day or friendship day, prisoners ain’t left out in the love business; our surviving shemale, was dressed up as a true queen of the hive, in pink outfit, displaying out melon-size DD cups for those that will savour the beauty of it. Got me wondering what our newbies will be thinking, as many are from interior parts of Colombia and I doubt if they have come across men with such amount of boobs 😉 soon they will get use to it and some will crave for the comfort of it. 

 

Outside in the patio; few were outside working out, the gym was busy, but many decided to take a longer weekend. Outside, across our yard in pavilion 2; where all the shemales and Panama homosexuals are housed, the lads and lasses were all out in their full glory; many adorned in glittering latex bikinis, pink shorts, flowers adorned their well-done hair; these are the real Valentine’s people; with drinks, joints and el polvo; their night today will be a memorable one.

 

Inmates from the local pavilions were sending their courier services to buy distil and moonshine from our pavilion; they seems to have confidence in us, and no trust amongst themselves.

 

The ladees in pavilion 2 will definitely be having fun-filled night; there was rumour making rounds in the pavilion, that a lad who went missing for days, actual went #AWOL into Pav2 to have some good time. He must have sure had his kind of good time, hope he got himself protected!

 

For some of us, it’s fiesta as usual, music and whatever will help with the mood is on and it’s going to be an all-night affairs.

 

My #whatsapp  just stopped working, and a friggin message from the developer says it’s obsolete, I have to update the app; since signal went bad, I’m not bothered about updating my apps; almost all of my apps are due for updates. With out poor signal, that won’t be possible, gotta use them the way they are until things improves, if they will ever be!

 

With the state of things now, I will need a wifi connection to update my whatsapp, but who connect me to his?

 

Chat with Schat via other instant messenger; it’s always good to have an alternative; how I miss her and my musketeers. They can’t wait to have me back home, we don’t talk much about it, but we know we want it soon; my fate, like those of many Dutch detainees outside the #EU, hangs on the Dutch Justice Minister. 

 

Decided to hit bed early as I might need to wake up early on Saturday morning to try my luck on downloading whatsapp. And was also knackered, really needed the early night rest.

 

SAT, FEB 15, 2014.

Woke up exactly 3:30am to use the loo, done and kit up. Left for upstairs to try my luck at the signal spot, was surprise to hear music and inmates chattering as they kept on with cups from hands to mouth; passing one cup around. Later found out, there were two groups of revellers; one group on top of A16 and the other on top of cell A17, but how do they enjoy their music as they were in close proximity of each other; listening to different music on high volume, despite the odd hour of the day. Hope the leadership will get to see them, doubt that happening.

 

Upstairs, the signal was at its best, allowed me to download and update whatsapp, as for the more than 56 apps that need update, ain’t bothered so long they are working; whatever patches to fix bugs will wait for now.

 

Left for my cell after the update and few tweets, the lads were still snoring and farting; the latter which had become part of us, gases build up from the food we eat, and the lads always cook their rice half-cook. Well, my many cups of tea each day helps with flatulence.

 

Was able to get an hour of sleep before water started running, the lad doing the weekly general cleaning was called from his bunk upstairs on top of our cell. Got up, made a cup of tea and dressed up for workout; Saturday is supposed to be a free day, but since I took yesterday off, and felt rejuvenated, decided to hit outside for a quick spin on the tracks. Had a good run, but in pains from my sciatica nerves, need some strong painkillers.

 

Spent an hour on the grass stretching and manoeuvring my joints and lower back, the cop finally called in the set that were out for another batch to come out. Was worth it!

 

Decided to hit the gym for an all-rounder workout; touched every fibre of muscles on my body, started with power-clean and military shoulder press, rows, pull-ups, bench press, biceps curls and cable pull-down and kickback to hit the triceps. Rounded up with hanging leg/knee raise and rope jump to sweat it all out. The gym was scanty as many decided to have a longer weekend and in preparation for Monday’s fortnightly visit.

 

Lately, there’s been stories and rumours of juicing and increase uses of steroids in the population. A cubano who was once here briefly, left and is back again; apparently, trains very good. Think he did juiced on the street, told me, our little Chinese lads are all juicing, but don’t know how to train. He was pretty fast in taking note of the lads. Many are actually juicing, but lacks knowledge of training techniques. Got me wondering, of what use the roids when they can’t train. Some come into the gym doing the same exercises each day. I’ve decided to let them be, without correcting anyone; everyone has got reasons why he left his bed to the gym.

 

Back in and starving, made me a pot of oatmeal with peanut butter + cinnamon. Was filling and a much-needed nutrients after an intensive workout session. Topped it up with banana! Our milkman has got us waiting, well, those of us that depend on his milk, which are usually nicked from the kitchen; it seems that portal has been closed or extra secured. He’s owing me two bags of milk which had been paid for. For those having visit, they don’t have to worry as they get milk on every visit.

 

It’s Saturday and weekend; fiestas as usual in the pavilion, many are drinking, feasting and having some gay time with their mates. What more should one expect in such a place like this; slammed men, in their prime together, give them freedom of movement, knowledge to brew and distil alcohol, opened portals to smuggled in what can’t be made within their domain; guess one should expect total madness, but we are able to contain it and turn it into fun. Which at the moment seems to drown our sorrows and brings about such an euphoria which helps with the anxiety, fears and uncertainties of being locked up.

 

Looking around the pavilion, one will see lots of new faces, just this week, we had about 10 new inmates hauled in to begin their part of our uncertain journey. Many are trying to adapt and adjust into their new world and what will become their new home for the time being. Some with contacts to send money are buying sleep-spaces, bunks or building their little shacks on top of the overcrowded cells. Above all, they are trying to fit in comfortably into our world as they wait for their fate! 

 

SUN, FEB 16, 2014

Got up early, but ain’t bothered to check out for signal, felt so knackered; went back to sleep. Finally got up when water and the noise both began at once. Laid on my bed listening to some gospel collections as the lads hustled themselves through their morning rituals. Finally got about my day, had the rest of my yesterday’s oatmeal for breakfast after my morning rituals. Took a quick cold shower and back to bed, guess my yesterday’s workout is telling on my body and not having the proper supplements to support my intense workouts ain’t helping either.

 

Got two coconuts for my mate who cooked coconut rice, but the sauce made with canned sardine was not the right complement for the rice, but without money, we can’t afford chicken that came in and going for $15 a piece. Had mine with peanut butter, wasn’t bad at all.

 

3:34:03 PM, SUN, FEB 16, 2014!

Upstairs for about 3hrs and no sign of signal, likely I might stay up late tonight or wake up very early to get online and get my stuffs done.

 

Some lads are still busy with their fiestas, and with the music and drinks comes their drunken catcalls, if only they can keep it a bit quiet, which they can’t, as it won’t be fun without them hearing themselves howl like wolves. So long it keeps the peace, and not physical brawl, it’s all good.

 

One of my cellmates wants to visit a friend of his in pavilion 8 (the second pavilion housing foreign inmates), after asking permission from the cop on duty, the cop directed him to our second in command who in turn demanded $20, just to see his mates. Well, I told him to get his mates on instant messengers and get on with their gossips. It’s all business, someone gotta hustle another to feed his demons; we trample on each other to get to the top, not different from the outside world.

 

Once read that the only force that works well and accurate in the underworld is the force of gravity; no matter who high one has risen, it brings you back to the ground. And prison is where you find many whom gravitational force has taken down, well with help of cops duh!

 

 

‘Life as a whole doles out the good and the bad at us; sometimes, individually we are not strong enough to come back after a setback, but with help from others we can brave the storms of life and have our comeback’ 

 

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~ Maya Angelou

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~ Maya Angelou

Prison Life: A Week, Through The Eyes Of An Inmate.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on February 11, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

 

I think setbacks and obstacles are what make our lives more meaningful. Every minute is a chance to surprise ourselves and evolve as stronger people physically, mentally, and emotionally. To quit or go through the motions is a waste of precious time and the chance to be something great. #PrisonExperience #PrisonCurious!

 

5:31:15 PM, SUN, FEB 9, 2014!

 

It’s been a busy week in the pavilion; but not different from past ones. Our lives are regulated by the same routines on daily basis, with nothing to do, many stick to what they know best; gambling, drinking, rolling and puffing on their joints, while the rest are busy with whatever helps them with doing their time.

 

My week started like others; daily morning rituals and hitting the gym, lately I have been waking up early as I have to make use of internet low traffic and get online to do what I need do, sometimes tried getting back for an hour nap which is never possible. But most days, ended hitting the gym for an early burst of #HIIT workout; thus, leaving my training partners who are late risers.

 

My mate who was due for released wasn’t picked up, likely he will leave by next week. Another stupid error from the direction upstairs, a lad in pavilion 8 was due to be released, a warden armed with his release papers came to our pavilion and picked up the wrong inmate; just because, they both bear same name! The wrong lad was picked sent for medical examination, which is the only time one get to visit the unstaffed clinic, on normal occasion when one is sick, there won’t be appointment made and pick-up. After the lad’s medical, he waited for car all day to take him out, no car came, he was brought back into the population. And same dumbo warden came for him the next day; but luck ran out of the lad as another warden knew the soon-to-be released inmate from pavilion 8, it was then they realised their stupid error, which would be a lucky moment for the lad who hasn’t had his hearing yet.

 

More and more inmates are hauled in, but no space to house them, the gym hall stinks of human odour grilled from the heat of the congested pavilion. And, they seems to be encroaching into our training space, which they have to move into after our workouts and the afternoon handball or basketball. No more four-a-side football games in the hall, as the lads had to be forced to move their stuffs outside. Thus, any activities that must be done in the hall, must be done in the second half of the hall; the catholic and evangelical churches holds their services in the same patch where we use as our gym; thus, the half part of the hall is our multi-purpose functional hall!

 

On Thursday, our headcount, came up very early and got the lads up with many struggling to get up. I have been up very early to get online, it went fast as there was none missing and the cops were good with their mathematics 😉

 

On my last blog, I did mentioned about our desires for the ultimate pleasure; a massive dildo was found during the search, and everyone denied ownership, the lads inserting pearls on their foreskin to take their partners to a place of no return in the final frontier of ecstasy. Well, it was supposed to be pearl from the beds of the sea, but I later saw one of the old lads who paid a younger lad to do him a pleasurable favour by inserting his young joystick into his rear….. Well, the old lad seems to be the one making the pearl; but from the look of it, it’s no pearl at all, but grinding dominoes piece until they achieved the desired shape and size; I saw one made into a heart shape and the other like a sphere, which will later be inserted under the foreskin of their little men;-)

 

And many are doing it, got me wondering when do they intend to test it? As not many are having conjugal visit, who knows, maybe it does work for those frolicking together under the cover of darkness.

 

Whatever goes on here, are what keeps the pavilion ticking and the lads going. Taken from us the little luxury, means dead sentence. Talking of luxury, can’t remember when I last had a sandwich with cheese spread, but stumbled on two cups of phildelphia cheese spread in my friend’s bunk, he actually gave me one. Who knows which truck they felt from, on checking the expiry date, which has become an obsession for me to check on expiry date before using anything; once got some expired medication for my high blood pressure and it was a six months supply. My little luxury and indulgence was supposed to be used before NOV 2013; got me wondering which store was selling out of date dairy product or had it in stock for that long. Anyway, my mates weren’t bothered as we had our bread spread and enjoyed the salmon-flavoured cheese spread. Though, kept me watching out for any signs of stomach upset, well, so far, so good, there aren’t any. Thus, we are safe, might ask him to send in the second one 😉

 

We had our voluntary compatriot who represents an organisation back home in #Holland that visit and assist Dutch detainees overseas. When the man came, I was about rounding my workout, had to leave unwashed, wasn’t stinking bad; maybe the stank of testosterone as I had a bad-ass deadlift and chest workout!

 

Upstairs, my pot-bellied compatriots with his two island mates out-hustled us for the meagre stuffs the man brought for us, I talked one into giving me a box of cornflakes. But our two older compatriots (the white ones) were left with nada….. The older lad on clutches had to leave as the lads wouldn’t give him none of their loots. The annoying thing here, these compatriots of mine ain’t using any of what they hustled; they are selling them among the population to use the money for whatever their addiction is.

 

#Weekend came and almost gone, for a moment, there was no moonshine or liquor in the pavilion; but one of my mate got two tanks distilled on Saturday morning to the demand of some partying animals, whose love for our prison brew is likely what is keeping them happy and going. Finally some brew in the slammer.

 

Saturday; being one of my free days to recuperate, woke up early to use the loo and ended up staying up to get online and sent all my saved tweets. Stayed up till the rest got up to joined me. And the lads went about their general cleaning. After the cleaning and washing of the cell, took a shower and went back to sleep. A mate offered me coloured rice, wasn’t bad as I woke up starving. Within the week, there’s been entry of luxury foods; beef, chicken, peanut butter, whole wheat bread….but not having dough meant one have to let them pass! Those with money could do their time in luxury like mob bosses in movies which is one pastime here.

 

Spend most of the day in my bunk, in-between sleep and reading. Having enough stuffs to keep them going, the pavilion was awake and alive with music and shouts of men doing time with all pleasures.

 

#Sunday; like most days of the week, got up to use the loo around 5ish, but ended up on my signal spot by the wall ( someone once asked me, if I’m praying by the wall; well, searching for signal on that wall is more like praying, hoping to get one message across the digital matrix and the power military signal jammers set-up because of the North Koreans)

 

Stayed up till the rest of the pavilion got up to their daily lives. When I finally called it off to get some sleep, heard footsteps running on the passage, thought of what we dreaded most; Search! But it wasn’t search…. It was some young lads high on testosterone and joints running with woods, and metals bars in what would have been a bloody Sunday morning. The fight got the sleepy heads from their beds.

 

Back to my bed to catch some sleep time, then came the catcalling; cops coming in, someone must have called them. They came in to picked up the lads that were involved in the early morning brawl. One as we got to know, look pretty quiet and skinny with his lenses; like a little professor, but he’s a walking killing machine, they say, he’s a sicario, an assassin! He was with the locals, but had him sent here as his life was on the line; which makes me wonder, why do killers get scare when their life is at stake? Well, he and his brawling; a Colombia, but born and breed in Panama, have been shipped to dine with the locals where they truly belong. Hope they survive the heat amongst the locals.

 

8:15:57 PM, SUN, FEB 9, 2014!

 

The rest of the day has been very quiet, and I’m friggin starving, gotta make me something to eat. Signal is very poor tonight, hope it will be better tomorrow. Who knows maybe the tech guys had fine-tuned the jammers, hope not!

 

A sad news earlier this week got me into one of those swing moods; a good pal outside lost his young wife to cancer; such things make one on the inside to think about life in a different perspective. We strive to stay alive at all cost and by all means! But then, our loved ones, we only pray to meet them healthy and alive, even as they worry about us! Well such is life!

 

Still waiting for the response from the justice minister concerning our repatriation back to Holland; the former ombudsman has made series of investigation on the situation of Dutch detainees outside the EU and the government refusal to have them repatriated; the minister promised an answer before the 1st of February, but being a politician, one have to wait till when he’s ready! Politics like war is full of deception and so is life!

 

Life goes on, as we bust and hustle to live through the ordeals of each day. Above all, we have hope (despite also being our torment) that it will be well; someday!

 

 

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Prison: Seeking Of Fulfilment And Our Insatiable Needs For Gratification.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on February 3, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

 

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”

 

“[But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out.] He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.” – Aldous Huxley, from The Doors of Perception.

 

“Well, I think one of the Doors of Perception leads in here mate. We won’t be the same leaving”… From an Irish mate, who is slammed up for being at the right place (friend’s house) at the wrong time (when cops came to burst his mates.

 

SAT, FEB 1, 2014!

 

It’s been a very busy week, one filled with anticipation and full of expectations. But, one thing prison has taught me, is hope but don’t expect much from one’s hope and always bear in mind that wishes ain’t horses.

From out last consul visit, we were aware of a second visit from the lawyers at PrisonLawNL; apparently, we have no idea what was the outcome of their first visit, as they were to tender a report to the minister regarding our repatriation issues, till date, no feedback.

 

They eventually came on Thursday morning; our weekly headcount’s day, but as it would happen; bearing in mind, nothing is certain within and inside a prison complex. Just after our early morning headcount, and that’s when my flu started. The cops left for a search in one of the pavilion housing the local inmates. The lads being edgy and tired of getting search opened fire at the incoming cops, at the end of the shootout (Cops and inmates), eleven injured amongst them, cops and inmates were taken to clinic for treatment. Being very tensed in the centre, curfew; zero-movement was in place till late in the day. It so happened our visitors came very early in the morning, the centre not having an efficient communication system had to send them back; they eventually went to the female prison, to see the Dutch female detainees.

 

Thus, we didn’t get to meet them, and probably they are back in The Netherlands as I’m writing this. We wouldn’t know what news they came with, whatever they had for us, we will know by our consul visit which will be in the middle of March. Due to the workload at the embassy, our visit which was bi-monthly has been moved to every three months, which isn’t bad when compared with the so-called bigger nations like The US, Canada, The UK and others. And we still get our toiletries 😉

 

So much can happen in a small world like ours; people will think of prison as a dead-end, but to many inmates, this where life begins, and for people like me, it’s where one will hit his drawing board for new plans and proper brainstorming; like my thieving-lawyer once told me ‘when plan A failed, there’s still Plan B-Z’. At the end, one will come to see prison as place for a change and second chance to life or as a place to learn, acquire new skills and build solid network in one’s vice or trade 😉

 

Our pavilion has seen old faces walked ‘The long walk of freedom’ and also seen new faces walked in to begin a journey full of uncertainty, one they will live their lives controlled by their environment; they are no longer the captain of their boats. Their lives will be governed by our unwritten rules and by what they face every day which will determine their survival until the day they walk out alive or cold in bodybags.

 

My workout is taking a different turn as I’m focusing more on my cardio; but through resistance and weights training, since going outside for a run is never certain. I have been busy incorporating different forms of #HIIT exercises into my workout. Doing a lot of kettlebell exercises using dumbbells, which many have joined and they are seeing the results. Shredding more bodyfat as muscles are developing, my bench-press, deadlift is superb despite not using #Steroids! But munching on anything protein… Eggs, legumes (beans and lentils; Latin America favourites), meat and chicken whenever I get some, and white rice which comes with almost everything on our meal cart. Also drinking more tea and for a long while, no alcohol. Still got two gallons from my Christmas batch. Glad, still got some vitamins left, very helpful in supplementing the meagre food we get here. My body-weight pull-up is superb, even adding extra weight; using rope made from out empty ice bags; #innovation behindbars! More of bodyweight exercise as my back is still sore. Can’t afford to be grounded because of injury.

 

The Chinese celebrated their #ChineseNewYear; the year of the #Horse, they got in four litres of #RunAbuelo and a mate brought in a bottle of proper #Argentina #RedWine #Alegoria Gran Reserva (2007 Cabernet Sauvignon). Had a half-full cup, with my dinner on Friday evening, would have love more, but many also wanted more. Thinking of my prison-made wine from grape juice, not bad at all, in the mood for more, topped it with my ginger wine. And that was it! My mates took over and finished my wine 😉 lads are always waiting for just one reason to drink and get pissed. They always say, ‘everyday is weekend on the inside’

 

Another stabbing incident and a fatal one, a Dominican inmate who has spent more time on the inside than on the outside; think he’s someone the law will call #RepeatOffender! Since my incarceration, he’s been in and out three times and now the fourth one, in for robbery and homicide; he was refused entry to our pavilion. Thus, he was sent to one of the locals, within their pavilion, they are segregated according to inmates gang preferences; #PrisonGangWar. The lad being more a local that a foreigner blended in easily. As their on-going war rages, he was made the hit-man to strike on their enemies; these lads literally take these gangs thing to the extreme, tattoos all over their bodies singing praises to their gangs and to their fallen comrades.

 

On Friday, he found his prey; an inmate whom the system has taken everything from him, he walks around cleaning bin and helps us whenever we have our consul visit to convey our stuffs with his working-wheelbarrow for a dollar. Unfortunately, he was housed in the same gallery with the opposing gangs to the Dominican’s. Being an easy target, the lad picked on him, stabbed him several times, his intestines were held in place by hands. It brought a lot of pity on him as many knew him to be a very quiet lad who has been here for years, and the system has robbed the best part of him; many see him as mentally handicapped. The question now is, why did the lad picked him? He definitely knew what he was doing, picked the most vulnerable!

 

Like others who came in for a few years stint, but ended up doing the best part of their lives inside, the Dominican is bound to spend years after years here. Who knows, maybe he will join the bandwagon of religion and become one of the pavilion pastors like others who are supposed to be locked up but end up walking around with bible while wheeling and dealing with their peers in different pavilion; all in the name of the Lord! #LordHaveMercy

 

Bit quiet in the pavilion, but doesn’t stop the lads from having good time. Alliances are forged for the future as many found new friends and prospective partners. Some will want to switch trades to a more profitable one. Like anywhere humans are housed or crammed together in small enclosure, the frictions caused by contacts could lead to wear-out, such is our lives here; verbal brawls and heated confrontations, fall-outs amongst old pals in the underworld, payback and revenge. The last has kept a mate on full alert since his second time here, an unfinished business on the street has got him all tensed up and wary of everything around him. The lad is very hypertensive, always suspicious of every movement around him. Such is our lives!

 

Within the week, another escape amongst the locals, hardly does one hear of a foreigner escaping; the security here is more focused on the foreigners since we are the money bags for their thieving lawyers. Locals barely take private lawyers as they ain’t ready to fork out any money. But a foreigner, naïve, not knowing what awaits him or her upon arrest is willing to listen, trust and fork out thousands to lawyers who won’t do anything as in representing the client.

 

One of such lawyers was gunned down in the city of David, Chiriqui. Finished seeing his client, probably a local and a mean one and unsatisfied client. Had a stop-over for a drink, and had his last drink in this life, hope he continues drinking in his after-life! Many like him are milking inmates who don’t know how the system works, with false promises and hopes leniet sentences, early trial. But not all will walk free with their loot. Many will end up having accidents which is always inevitable in life;-)……. Accident does happen! Like an inmate whose hammock’s broke and had him slammed to the concrete floor with broken limbs and bruised face………’Accident does happen’

 

The flu came, knew it was coming as almost all my cellmates had it, did everything in the book on prevention; daily vitamin C, Oranges and other fruits when available and affordable. But it still got hold of me, and on Friday gave me sleepless night; blocked nostrils, fever, body ache, and just name it. Took a hot bath, had vicks rubbed on my chest and back, took necessary medication to deal with the symptoms and slept. Felt much better today Saturday, hopefully, by Monday, I will be much better to get on with my daily routine.

 

Lately, there’s been great influx of medications from the locals, inmates working in the infirmary, wardens and cops; and all the drugs are from the clinic meant for inmates. Seeing so much, everyone jumped in to get a cut from trading on it. The most had been for flu, cold, fever and also for worms. My pharmacist-cellmate has stocked everyone he could lay his hands as they came too cheap. Another mate had his warden friend smuggled some for him. Upon checking the expiry date, many of what they had gotten are out of date. Since the last time a doctor gave me #Enalapril for six months which doesn’t happen here, one only get a month prescription. Upon checking mine then, found out I was given expired drugs, had to dumped them in the bin. After I told my mate, the lad wouldn’t want lose his money. He kept them to sell onwards to those who don’t bother to check whatever they buy. A Jamaican female died after taking expired drugs given to her by a prison doctor and nothing was done about it. #CheapDead!

 

Our signal problem remains the same, always looking for a good spot with better reception and switching from one sim card to another depending on which network picks up better signal. I’m glad, I’m able to get online, get my news updated and read articles and most importantly stay in contact with Schat and the kids. Found out on Friday my little boy got into his first fight at school ;-), wifey said, he thinks it’s funny, he’s full of energy and need to channel it into something else. If his fight was for self-defence, no big deal! But otherwise, he must be talked into dealing with difficult people, like his pop his dealing with @Behindbars. He definitely need me now in his life, hope this will end soon. Can’t wait to be back home, so much gotta be done.

 

#Weekend before our fortnightly visit, which will be on Monday, many got their hair shaven, styled and groomed themselves, waiting for what will be a #Valentine’s day visit, gift will me made for their missus, and rent-girls. There’ll be a lot of smooching, cuddling and fingering as many tend to do.

 

Earlier today, talking of sex, fcuking don’t know how it feels like or taste like after all these years, but as the late Bernie Marc once told a mad man who told him he hasn’t eaten in two weeks and forgotten how it taste like…. Bernie answered him “Don’t worry about eating, as food still taste the same” …….it hasn’t change a bit”…. Thus, don’t even bother about eating….Lol 😉

 

I have heard about this from a mate before, some Romanian inmates are opening new doors to sexual gratification for these Latino lads, who probably only knew the old missionary, doggy and 69 positions and they friggin love anal sex. Now they are made to believe, inserting #Pearl under the foreskin will give you the ultimate pleasure in sex; will take one to new dimensions, open closed doors into another world of pleasures, will send the woman into ecstasy, a land of no return, meaning, she ain’t going back. And fuck….many are doing it. One of my mate was talking of an inmate in pavilion 8 (the second pavilion for foreigners here), who is a specialist in doing that, said, he will insert the pearl perfectly for a little fee. Well, my take on anything with prison; tattoos, piercing and pearl-insertion….. I ain’t doing no shit…… There’s so many infected with all kinds of infectious diseases here. will rather go home sound and better, healthier than I was when I came in, than go home with something that will give me a second thought about life. Incarceration has given so much thinking about life and why we live and for what? But using one’s money to buy one’s ills is out of place.

 

Whatever the lads will do to keep them happy, they will do….. It all amounts to doing time.

 

8:05:00 PM on SAT, FEB 1, 2014 ….. The grocery store upstairs remained closed today and tomorrow, thus, no ice! But many had things stocked up for such a moment. My brunch was fried green plaintain and fried eggs mixed with vegetables (salad that came on the lunch cart), made dip sauce; mashed garlic, ketchup, Mayo, dried parsley, dried oregano, hint of chilli, olive oil and black pepper;-. For dinner not sure what I will get….. A mate is cooking soup….might get a bowl which is what I need for the flu and cold.

 

The pavilion is coming to life with music from different parts of the pavilion. The lad who got the wine in just met me, promised me a bottle when next they are able to get some in; that will be one gift I’m giving full expectations…. Well my repatriation should paramount and top of my list, but since these things are handled by politician, friggin can’t trust that. whatever comes, let it be. But for the wine, I will be looking forward to it. The lad owe me a favour…. Once gave him a half-full container of creatine powder and I think he wants to payback with a bottle of wine.

 

Business as usual, baking, grilling, frying and cooking. A compatriot who probably has found solace in the church now sells vegetables, medications, and also cooks and sell. While he’s in the search and pursuit for redemption and meaning to his life, another had gone down-low; hitting lines upon lines of angel dust, selling his stuffs to meet his bodily demands. If the Dutch Govt don’t get him ASAP, pray his doesn’t become a sad ending. Well, have seen many who were like him, but ended up curing themselves as they couldn’t keep up with payment and dealers got wiser with each new day; after debts in thousands of dollars, many stop selling to clients who can’t back the IOU notes with cash! Many he will get to that point, his dealers will stop attending to his special needs.

 

Others are hawking top-ups cards, the only way to get money in from families or friends in Panama, is have them buy credit or top-up cards or international call cards, which inmate resell amongst the population to recover their cash. When the market is flooded, one can buy a fiver dollar recharge card for four dollars. But when it become scarce they can be a dollar more.

 

Prison; where men and women society rejects try to finding meanings to their lives. And those meaning can bring about a domino effect as families, communities, and even the country are affected by whatever meanings these ones will find while on the inside.

 

Like the pearl inserted under the foreskin to open doors into another world of sexual gratification and satisfactions. Prison, is a door way into many doorways; many will walk in through one way, but walk out differently…… The doorway meets pathways that will lead many into different dispensation!

“The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.”

HOPE: 

Hope is looking to the future with trust and faith. It is optimism in the face of adversity, without hope, we lose our will to live fully. Hope gives us the courage to keep moving forward. It can be elusive when we have suffered often, yet it is the light that can redeem our dreams. With hope we know we are not alone. There is always help we are willing to ask. There are gifts to be gleaned from what happens. With hope, we find the confidence to try and try again.