At the beginning of the second month on Jinja, Casey and I awoke to a wonderful sight: four baby chickens! We called them Caska, Grey, Les and Ninja.
We also had some rather exciting visitors in June as globe trotters Alex Hennessey and Michael Graziano came to stay.
Mike and Alex are embarking on their “Global Degree” – a challenge to visit every country in the world before they hit 30. They filmed Case and I on the island and put together this lovely video of their time on Jinja:
You can learn more about Global Degree at https://www.globaldegree.tv/
You may have noticed in that video the quick shot of the composing toilet. It quite simply had to go. HAD. TO. GO. Seriously. Oh my God. Maybe they work well in a dry, arid environment, but here in the tropics it was the most disgusting thing I can imagine. So you lift the lid… and thousands of tiny flies emerge from… you know that bit you plonk your ass on? Yeah, that. Oh but that’s not all! Heaven forfend it might rain! Then you have these black leach-slug-woodlice THINGS sliming all over the outside of the loo, drinking the water, I dunno.
And then there’s the process of emptying the damn thing. So, people turn up at your gaff, leave their shit behind. You then roll it in some sawdust (like that’s going to do ANYTHING) and pull a lever and some of it will drop into the tiny plastic shelf under the crap barrel. You then pull out said shelf – full of shit and piss and sawdust and bugs – smelling like a Glasto portaloo on the last day – and CARRY THE [email protected]”%ING THING dripping brown urine through the kitchen, down the stairs out down the path to the far end of the island.
And then because the shit shelf was a fraction of the size of the shit barrel, you had to do that again. And again. Usually 6 or 7 times.
NOT WANTING TO DIE of dysentery or cholera or the bubonic plague, Case and I decided that enough was enough. Bill and his worker Edwardo were kind enough to run me to the mainland where I picked up a septic tank, a flush toilet and plenty of plastic piping.
It was time to right a terrible wrong. First up, I had to dig out a massive hole.
Then Case and I had to put the septic tank in the hole…
…fill the tank with water so it wouldn’t float…
…discover it wasn’t quite level so had to empty the damn thing before resetting and refilling it.
Then, back in the house, we had to reinforce the floorboards before cutting a hole in the floor where the composting toilet used to be.
Connect all the pipes, make sure the flush works and… eventually… voilà!
Casey and I were due to fly back to the UK near the end of June. I would be going to the Glastonbury festival. I’d be back here in Panama at the beginning of July, but Case wouldn’t be coming back with me. We would still be together, but she had stuff she needed to do.
We resolved to make our last week together on Jinja as magical as possible. And so we made our final pilgrimage to Rana Azul…
A few days later we took the boat over to Red Frog Marina on Basimentos Island.
From there we walked through the jungle to Red Frog Beach.
It felt like a story cut prematurely short – a great TV show cancelled in its prime.
My good friend Kendra (who I climbed the Great Pyramid with) had volunteered to look after the place while we were away. We had tried to get her friend Mohammed (who I also climbed the Great Pyramid with) into the country, but even though we got him a Letter of Invitation from my lawyer in Panama City, the Panamanian authorities would not let him into the country for love nor money (we tried both). So Kendra wound up looking after the place on her own. It was only for 10 days so we figured it wouldn’t be too bad – Kendra’s a hardy soul, originally from Boston, she’s been roughing it in Egypt for the last 5 years… she can totally handle herself. Mohammed would wait up in Guatemala (where he could fly) and meet with Kendra afterwards.
So Kendra arrived, four days later than expected. Bill and Janis took her under their wing and were even good enough to drop Casey and I off in town in the pouring rain.
Casey and I said our goodbyes to Kendra and our wonderful neighbours and then travelled back up through Costa Rica to San Jose.
We flew home via Houston in the USA.
And before we knew it we were back in Liverpool.
However, all was not well in Bocas.
On the first night Kendra was alone on the island something really quite terrible happened. One of the reasons it’s taken me so long to post this blog entry was that I’m new here and I didn’t want to upset anyone by blabbing about something on the internet that isn’t public knowledge. But one of our neighbours – a guy called Stig, who I had met once at Rana Azul, was set upon in his own home by 3 masked intruders who proceeded to beat him half to death and then set him adrift on a boat in Tierra Oscura bay.
Since this event I’ve heard several accounts from people as to why this happened, and that it wasn’t a random attack… but still… Kendra was alone, on a strange island, and everything was playing out in real time on the VHF radio network, it was a Saturday night, speedboats were buzzing past the island… if it had been me I would have run a mile.
Thankfully, our wonderful neighbours Bill and Janis took Kendra in, and made sure she was okay. This all happened while Casey and I were travelling back the UK. On the Monday Kendra decided to head to Guatemala to meet up with Mohammed and my other wonderful neighbours Marcy and Kent said they’d feed Campesino the dog and our chickens.
Needless to say, once I get back I won’t be leaving the island again for a long time.