Archive for March, 2014

The Long Wait.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on March 31, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

The Long Wait.

image

Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are with what you have and that will lead you into something greater. – Mary Manin Morrissey

The feel of proper keypad, wouldn’t mind comparing it to the feel of a lady, the speed of punching the pads could be liken to the speed of peeling off her clothes before the main event. That’s one point blackberry have over its competition with virtual keypads.

Touchscreen display and the virtual keypad has got their advantages but not when it comes to  speed-typing and when you are slammed up in a prison where nothing is certain, where surprises abounds us, and when you have to rush up your writing and publish it before they come storming. 
Despite not having a keypad phone, I have been tweeting with what I have and when I can. 

Life in #TheJoint has been one of uncertainty, the only thing that has change is the ever growing inmate population and our ever-rising temper and anger; many are losing the grip of life. Every little altercations sparks reprisals in words or actions, which could be fatal as most cases has been. 

The strength for surviving the pressure of life on the inside has always come from my ability to adapt, blend and improvised, and most importantly from my beloved family; not around for such a long time, couldn’t stop the kids and schat from having my presence around them. Our smartphones has been more of a blessing to us whose families are living thousands of miles away from us. #CommunicationMadeEasy! 

Few had done their time and gone to face whatever the world will unfold before them, some will er again and be hauled back in. Even, as they left, more are hauled in to filled up their places, sometimes five newbies for every one that’s released, doesn’t add up, but someone gotta be blamed for the incompetency and bureaucracy of the police, who are fun of throwing people into jails without due process. 

Anyway, I’m in and the only thing on my mind is a way out; which can come in different ways; legally, there are two ways; time done and released or in a bodybag, dead as a doorknob. Illegally, there are many options and alternatives open; #PrisonBreak, which comes in many forms, and the most used option; #Benjamins; money talks bullsh!t walks, with corruption deep into the core of the system, anybody can be bought to serve one’s purpose, and what oher purpose does a locked man have, if not to buy his freedom at all cost, even at the cost of his own life; seen many, tried that, knowing fully well the cops will shoot at at moving object, but they dare the cops and make the attempt and the cops did shot at them for sure. Using one’s life to save the same life; what a high sacrifice. 

The Long Wait:
Talking of freedom, finally some breathe of fresh air of relief. The Justice minister back in Den Haag finally agreed to a process that will see us repatriated back to Holland. In his response to the ombudsman questions regarding his refusals to have us repatriated back to Holland, he agreed to have Dutch detainees in Panama and Venezuela returned back to Holland but carrying over their sentences as issued in those countries. While inmates in the #USA will have their charges/sentences commuted to Dutch law upon their return to The Netherlands, as America is known to issue very high sentences; lucky them! 

Since the consul last visit in December ’13, we,ve been following news and events in Den Haag to know when they will finally and officially sign the new #WOTS into law, not until that is done can we begin a new process. One which could take ages, and will still go through the same processess, a gamble with one’s fate; could be rejected! Despite the odds of refusal, I’m optimistic that something positive is at the end of the tunnel, but then, prison has taught me to always expect the unexpected. 

In the meantime, we have been hustling and bustling our a**sess to survive the odds on the inside.  People might think of prisoners as hermits, but some lads are surely living the time of their lives on the inside, they won’t want to be repatriated back to their home-country jails as the condition there is worse than what we have here; the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know! They’d rather finish their time here than be sent back to prisons where they won’t last the first 24hrs, and majority has no families to return to; the war out there has gotten to many of them, and left them nothing to return to. Such is life, the life of a prisoner. 

Verbal and physical brawls has been on the rise, #PrisonViolence! Every little thing upsets the seemingly calm mood, we tend to be like a sleeping volcano waiting to erupt at any slight change in the situation; with us it could be words, tempers, outside stimuli, fear, complex problems, peer pressure and every other thing could cause anyone to erupt; even hunger has led to many verbal and physical brawls as the lads hustled each others for our meagre food portions. 

Outsiders will think of prisons as where men go to horned six-packs and washboard belly, little do they know, some men will walk in skinny and near-death after bitter experiences with rival gangs and cops before their arrests, but will end up eating their way into obesity. It takes a strong resolve to wake up every morning and decide to give life another shot, knowing at anytime it could all fall down. But many of us are doing that, everyday we wake up with our heart still in place and beating; seen videos of inmates chopping of heads and ripping our organs of fellow inmates out of gangs rivalries.  

Having Doc. in our midst has been of great benefits, inmates who had taken ill at odd hours, even during daytime were attended to by Doc, the last was an inmate who was on a drinking spree, but decided to take his stupidity to the edge; sat above his cell, drinking and chatting on his blackberry; fell and hit his head on the concrete floor, split his head, Doc had to use his towel and wrapped the lad’s head and more towels were used as cushion to protect his fragile head as he was wheeled out. The cops rushed him to the city where I heard he was taken right away into the intensive unit. He will pull through, but hope he comes back the way he was before the fall; he’s a nice lad, makes #Subway burgers with about anything edible. 

Our consul finally came  on Thursday, after three months of waiting, was relieving as we were at the state of drought, we were literally living on day to day by whatever comes away. Now we have enough toiletries to take us through till her next visit; sometimes they barely last two months. @Behindbars one learns to manage whatever he has, everything is rationed like we are in a state of war, hypothetically, we are at war with ourselves and the corrupt system. 

War with ourselves and war within; there is but one #OriginalSin that prisoners, criminals and even the cops hates… #Snitching! Nobody like a #Turncoat or #Snitch, especially if he’s one within. A longstanding inmate, who was probably one of the pioneers of the pavilion was thrown out of the pavilion, was involved in a physical brawl in the gym, stopped him from using our weights as weapon. His opponent was also an oldtimer who has done time over time, and keeps coming back; who knows if his life will be done here. He was lucky on the day of their brawl that we were there to save his head. Both were thrown out of the pavilion, the former, despite having his compatriots as the president and vice president of the pavilion was thrown out and other pavilions rejected him as many knew he’s a snitch; even the cops who were his partners gave him up; brings us back to our first rule in our unwritten rules; #TrustNoOne! As I’m writing and since the day he was thrown out, he has been living, chained to the public toilet in the admin block as nobody wants him, not even the locals which is always one’s last resort, but the locals are looking out to do him; reason he stopped working in the kitchen. Prison world is just like the underworld, a price on your head, you are a goner. Hope he survives this phase of his life. The other fella has gone back to pav8 where he was before his previous release, then same reason took him there, involved in a brutal fight. Some people are born troublemakers.

For a while now, we at peace with ourselves, exceptions of individuals battling their personal demons. Santa Claus, our Polish Sikh fella had his ten days old tablet taken during our last impromptu search, he almost flipped, many had their phones taken, a compatriot lost his iphone5. With time, all will get to purchase new ones. Friggin in need of a tablet or ebook reader; will help with reading of books, magazines and articles I have on my memory chips. 

image

Enough books to keep me busy.

Finally got hold of the packet schat sent last year to me, arrived in November 2013, but my consul couldn’t pick it up, had to wait till this visit. Got enough books to fuel my grey matter, while the weight rooms keeps my body in shape. It takes a great resolve to wake up everyday, knowing that you are following the same monotonous routines, well, once in a while we do things to spice up our lives; like a drink once a while doesn’t kill nobody. Internet has been a greater source of information as I find more things to do in the gym, which takes me from doing same thing everyday. There are some inmates who will walk in and do the same thing every Friggin day; wondering if they don’t get tired and barely see results! Incorporating yoga, HIIT, crossfit, GVT, and finally kettlebell (but we use dumbbells), the last has gotten many lads joined my group and they seems to love it. Got schat to get herself one and she seems to also like it; works out at home and her form is getting better. 

The new set of cops are sometimes nice as we are allowed outside for a 30mins of workout; individually or group of three’s. They do get tipped for their collaboration at the end of their 7-day shift. 

Religion and prisoners:
The first sight upon entry into the pavilion apart from our feral cats is a massive concrete shrine or altar with the statue of the virgin Mary and lots of rosaries hanging around her neck; I believe some are supplications left by the lads. And there’s always a faithful washing and polishing the tiles to keep it speckles and sparkling. Sometimes, the lad is seen napping on the cold tiles; probably pouring his heart out to his God. 

On the other hand, the evangelicals seems to have the most members; mostly among the locals, who are fun of walking around with their bible in their hands and knives tucked in their pants , in place of ‘good morning’ ‘good afternoon’ one hears #DiosBendiga (#GodBlessYou) ….. have heard it so much time that the words lost its meanings. Don’t see any blessing in someone getting plunged with a zigzag edge crude blade. 

Despite the violence, uncertainties and fear of the unknown, religion has given many hope for tomorrow and for the after-life, as many knows in the back of their minds, that the inevitable could happen. Thus, they believe the closer walk with God, a promised of a better life in the after-life is guaranteed. Others takes comfort in religion as a form of restitution for crimes they had committed, crimes which many don’t know. While the majority just want to belong and fit in with the norm. 

The prison walk is a long one, can be fast-tracked, but at a cost, a walk where one learns and relearn things in every little details, because one’s life depends on those details for survival.

It’s 07:13:25 on Mon 31 March. 2014 
Started this last night, slept off without saving the last entry, touched a button and everything went off, had to wake up by 5am to round up. 

It’s our fortnightly visit today, many are up, getting ready for the hour-long visit with their loved ones. There will be lot of food and lots of goodies hawked around as most of the things that will come in will be sold to meet urgent bodily or prison needs. 

Politics is raging in the country as parties gear up for the May presidential election, one presidential candidate did mentioned introducing life penal to help curb the rising crime rate in Panama; who knows what the Panamanians will think of him, as no country in Latin America has life-penal! 

Another candidate in his portfolio said, he won’t be building prisons like the current president, but will focus on rehabilitation and providing a way out of crime for the youths. That sound good, but he’s not winning, as he’s not one of the three major parties #Decisiòn2014 #Panamà

Should be getting ready to hit the gym, an early workout will give me enough time to do other things. 

As our journey continues, so is our wait; for us the Dutch detainees, the great and long wait for the politicians in Den Haag to finally sign into law what will become our fate and those of others that will come falling after our time is done! 

Our time will done and we will be gone, but our footprints will leave stories to be told… #ThePrisonExperience!

image

A bird caught by our lazy cats, but rescued by the lads before they devour it. Hope the lads won’t be grilling it. The cats are becoming too lazy for the job of rat-hunting; who knows maybe they have truce. Cheeky feline things;-)

“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you.”

Too Distracted to Have a Purpose.

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama with tags , , , , , on March 8, 2014 by doingtimeabroad

Too Distracted to Have a Purpose.

After reading this article from #IronManMagazine, I felt the need to share it with my readers, before posting it on my blog, I have copied, pasted and sent via email and other social media outlets to my contacts; of whom the most are my fellow inmates and ex-inmates. Hopefully, the ones that sneak and read my blog will be greatly relieved as I’m not writing about our miserable lives, how we are getting mashed up from Marathon binge-drinking sessions on our Prison brew or distill, helping ourselves to lines after lines of angel dust, blowing our time away from puffing rolls after rolls of El joint or crispy, and trying to do out do the next man standing. At behind bars, it’s always hustling or being out-hustled.

I’m forced to use touch screen phone as my BlackBerry with keypad has finally packed up, and I’m thinking of what options is available, either buy a new one or send it out to be fixed and pay to get it in. Buying a new one should be much bettee
… Mind made up 😉

To send a phone outside, one have to pay just as having it brought inside, the runners profit from both sides of the operation, no gestures for a good old client.

The carnival came and gone, life goes on, but with many hitches, we fight, brawl and still try to get along, while tolerating each other’s nuisance. In an overcrowded place like our pavilion, we learn to live taking whatever is thrown at one’s face with a pinch of salt; one thing I have come to understand about Prison and prisoners; don’t take anything personal, allow and use sarcasm as a booster and stepping stones to move higher. You will surprise the critics and haters alike;-)

We ate bracing up for another round of serious hunger strike, since the director of Corrections and Prisons in Panama made a statement that, it’s all heaven on earth in their Prisons. The Colombians with the help of other inmates are embarking on another round of hunger strike; food, groceries, lawyers and not even consul or embassy visit will be allowed. Their demand: that the Colombian government change the terms of their repatriation. When they are sent back home, they are locked up again in prisons far worse than where we are, those gone before, had to pay for sleep spaces on the floor, constantly harassed by gangs. And time spent are worthless and useless as they are not rehabilitated or resocialised to get back into the society.

I hope this protest will send a message back home to the Colombia government.

When it was ours: The Dutch inmates, we rallied lawyers, statemen, MP’s, journalists, Clergymen and even fellow inmates to our cause and at the end, the minister listened. And now? We are back to the waiting game, to see if for sure we will be going home and how soon?

Life in the pavilion seems to in a deplorable state, as more and more inmates are dumped in. The elderly and aging inmates are the worse affected under this pressurised conditions, sicknesses of all sorts and no immediate medical attention. It is still the old system; pay and you get your name on the list to the poorly staffed clinic. I have been on the waiting list for as long as I can remember. Like others, there’s still a speck of hope.

Tensions has been building up, and many led to fights, where knives were drawn but no bloodshed. Inmates thrown out for breaking rules which others violates but are still here; #AnimalFarm….. All animals are not equal, some are more connected. Well, so they think, forgetting we are all in the same gutter.

Health, well-being, survival are some of my driven forces that keeps me going. Fitness regimen is keeping me focused and eyes and heart on my family is one reason and purpose that keeps me going despite the Negativity and swing moods that comes with incarceration.

One will think of Prison as a place where there’s no distractions, maybe in some countries, but not in a country like Panama, where the jails are overcrowded that one lives and breaths the stinks of the next man standing. You yearn for a quiet moment for yourself, and it’s a luxury that’s is unattainable. To breakthrough these obstacles, one has to be focused and purposed in his heart to survive.

An article worth sharing, given me something to brainstormed on and work my life to a Purpose; right from the bottom of the pit.

TOO DISTRACTED TO HAVE A PURPOSE.

By Dave Draper.

Going through life without a particular purpose is okay. You get by. You don’t go anywhere, but the days pass. There’s television—with the Super Bowl, pro wrestling, reality shows, infomercials, dramas, sitcoms, news and video games. We have food and drink, real and man-made, fast and home-delivered. There are drugs and alcohol. Our wandering attention is captured by the endless dilemmas presented by the news media, the hopes offered by advertisers and the general threat of daily living in a post-9/11 world.

Purpose? Who needs, considers or has time for purpose?

Purpose, I might point out, is often interchangeable with goals and motivations and is cousin to reason and incentive.

We are choked with entertainment and distractions and goofiness. I’ll just slap on my earphones and listen to some sounds on my satellite radio while I check out my iPhone. Yo. “Terminator IX” is playing at the Coliseum of Theaters, and I can purchase tickets with my credit card over my cell phone.

Several dynamics are at work obstructing purpose, the main driving force in a productive and aspiring individual, community and society.

• In today’s delirious world a person can be too distracted to have a purpose.

• He is rendered shallow by the senseless frivolity surrounding him and fails to consider the need for purpose.

• He recognizes the value of purpose, realizes the commitment, dedication and hard work it necessitates, but chooses ample distractions to avoid its responsibilities.

• The importance of purpose is clear; it is hastily installed, yet as hard as he tries, he can’t sustain its requirements. The lure and clutter of amusements are too demanding and overpowering.

Purpose never had a chance.

Life without a purpose is like a hand without a thumb; you can scratch, point, tap, count up to four, but you can’t get a grip on anything. You can grasp, but you can’t hold on.

Folks without purpose fall asleep at the wheel, get off at the wrong station and put their pants on backward. They get by, they make it through the day, they may even have family and friends and a good-paying job, but beneath the first layer of skin there’s Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is a modern invention that efficiently replaces real substance. Cheap, lightweight, a great filler, it insulates and withstands hot and cold—the perfect substitute for purpose where purpose does not exist. Styrofoam is everywhere today. I suspect I myself have pockets of Styrofoam.

Occasionally I notice that I’m zipping along yet neither moving forward nor back. I look down, and lo and behold, my pants are on backward. I hate that. Not the Captain of the Bomb Squad—without a compass, adrift in thin air, altitude unknown, zipper to the rear and targetless.

Mayday. Mayday.

No panic; been there. It’s just a warning, like the blink on the dashboard that indicates our seat belts are a nuisance; a painfully welcome and familiar signal to arouse and remind us to watch where we’re going and what we’re doing and why —huge and ripped or lean and mean—if we want to get there.

When purpose wanes, when motivation recedes, when a goal is not in sight, I become restless, sluggish and stale. I, as you, am unlike my video-game, fast-food counterpart, and the condition soon becomes evident and quickly unacceptable. Steps must be taken to overcome the stall in my forward movement, my flight, and I look toward my training to amend the minor disaster. I have observed that my personal life and my training are inextricably entwined, and fixing one gives health to the other. And the closer I look, the more I’m convinced it’s my training that determines the desirable flow of my life—events, moods, energy and spirits.

Training without purpose is like shopping at the supermarket without a shopping list, an appetite or any memory of what’s in the refrigerator or on the shelves at home. You wander the aisles and finally come home with a 25-pound bag of Doggie Chow.

So what if you don’t have a dog? It was on sale.

You know why you go to the gym and eat right. The list’s as long as your arm, yet you sometimes forget. Life’s like that. It rolls along with ups and downs, through hot and cold, and moves in mysterious cycles. We’re eager and joyful and hitting the mark day after day, and then the mark eludes us—we become irritable, withdrawn and careless.

Speak for yourself, Draper.

We wonder why we bother. We punch at the air and kick inanimate objects and hiss. Swell. Now we’re soft and puffy, and the weights feel like they’re bolted to the floor. No more veins, pumps gone. Good-bye, cruel world.

But wait: Don’t flush away months of training and sacrifice in one pull of the handle. We gotta continually feed the fire within. The flickering embers grow cold if we don’t review the reasons for our efforts, relive our successes, revive our goals and remember we’re special, sort of.

• Review regularly takes place in the subconscious—preparation.

• Reliving our achievements is occasionally done when we feel generous and slightly numb—encouragement.

• Revival of goals must be done at appropriate intervals with intention, humility and high hopes, as often as it takes for them to become certain and real —reinforcement.

• Remember, we know people who don’t have goals, never heard of them or made them and forgot them—dead men walking.

Your goals, your level of motivation, concentration of incentives, clarity and depth of reasons—your decided purpose—determines your training efficiency and effectiveness and joy. Think “why” before you lift, and lift hard.

Time to rest the wings, bombers. Last one to leave the hangar, douse the lights, would ya?

Tomorrow we fly like eagles.…

— Dave Draper
For more from Dave Draper, visit http://www.DaveDraper.com
image

“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you.”