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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
V.I.P. Member
Posts: 375
(11/16/02 11:12:39 pm)
| Edit | Del All Hey Tom…. Those are NOT
sea bass dude!!!

One of the things about being down in Panama is… there are so many things to go see and do… and so many of them can get you into trouble.

Americans… had, and have, the unique honor of being a multiple minority…in Panama…

By being a Caucasian….

By being a Black….

By being a Soldier…..

And, a forth minority if you happen to be in Panama while any one others above are true AND an American….

General Trujillios was a unique dictator also….he liked us…. As long as we behaved ourselves….but this isn’t about politics….

Our unit, was a very diversified bunch…carpenters, metal workers and just about any other type of craft you could ask for. About half had completed college with the rest having a little college. So our unit skill level was considered to be high.

Absolutely everyone was an “RA”… A Regular Army… a volunteer….

We even had two or three pilots… and one was a commercial pilot., he joined the army so that he wouldn’t be drafted to fly…. Go figure….But… in order for him to keep his commercial pilots license… he HAD to fly so many hours a month….

Two guys were boat captains… one of a shrimp boat in Texas and one of a lobster trawler in Maine.

We used this “Group Skill Set” to our advantage.

This is a list of some of the places we visited…. And… remember… it’s a secret!!… If the CO or anyone at all in the Officer Corp knew that we had “Violated” country boundaries or even just had a HINT of an idea that we had left the country (Panama) we would have all spent time in Leavenworth….

The plains of Nazca, Peru
Poerta-viarta, Mexico
The Omec ruins, Mexico, Guatemala & Nicaragua
Pizzaro’s trail, Columbia, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico
Taboga Island….
Colon, Panama, home of Morgan the Pirates and the fortress he built in the 1600’s……

Oh Wait!!!

It’s thirty years later!!! Geeeeez… it think that the statute of limitations has run out already!! Ya Think??….

Oh wait!!!…

That last two were legal!!!

And one of these I will present first….

How about……Taboga Island?? (I visited there many times just to “get away from it all”)

Ok.. that one first….

The rainy season is finally over… the sun is bright (and HOT!)… and it is our “tricks” turn for some time off (A “trick” is a shift of work, Days, Eves , Nights. We were working rotating shifts. I believe they used this word instead of shift to be a variant of the word “Stick” …as in airborne lingo…..)

Some of the guys wanted to go to Taboga island, just off the coast and only about twenty miles from one island that later (much later) was host to the Philippine dictator Marcos….and about two miles from a Sardine cannery..

Absolutely GREAT scuba place…

There is a WWII cutter that is sunk there and had become a very beautiful coal reef with the gun turrets and other gun emplacements still visible after all those years.. and it has another smaller island that is joined to it be a narrow causeway that, during low tide, you can walk across and then explore the little island. That one had AA emplacements and bunkers all over it.… to help defend the canal during WWII.

So off we went, with all our scuba gear in tow…. A twenty minutes trip by shuttle-boat.

That was a restful trip also… with the flying fish floating just out of reach alongside of the boat as it zipped along, the sea breeze cooling the hot daytime temperatures.

AAAHHH refreshing….sometimes… one would land in the boat…. but since they are not good eating, they were just picked up and thrown overboard to fly again.

Once on the island… it was wise to get a hotel room. They use to let people just camp out on the beach and on the little hill (they called it a mountain), but vandals had ruined that for everyone. The hill was only about 200 foot high and they had a smaller version of the Jesus Christ statue that is down in Rio. About twenty foot tall and impressive, even if it was much smaller that the original.

I should have taken a picture of it… but I didn’t think to bring a camera on a scuba trip.

Once in our room(s), we would all retire to the patio bar for a Pina Colada. This little beachside bar made the best ones I have ever had.. everything was fresh, not canned, fresh pineapple grown right outside the hotel in their own garden, coconut, again, grown right there!! I would not have been surprised that they didn’t make their own Rum too!!

MAN!!! Those were refreshing drinks….

Sitting on the patio, sea breezes wafting over you, drinking , chatting and sometime just playing cards. We could only play hearts or war because gambling was against the law!! But prostitution wasn’t!!!! Go figure!!

BUT… we were there to rest…

If you sat on the beach all day, it was like those “Corona” beer commercials you see on TV… a little dark cloud would roll in and start to rain on you…. You didn’t mind at all… it cooled you off and you just kept the drink free of water by putting the little stone coasters they have on the bottle or over your glass..

And yes…. The ocean sounds JUST LIKE those commercials….. that is one of the reasons these memories are still fresh in my rather feeble mind.

Toward the evening, they served you dinner to you wherever you wanted it…. We were ALWAYS down on the beach!!

When it got too cool .. we would retire to the veranda… and enclosed patio, and continue to play cards, tell stories and so on.

Many of the women on the island, were prostitutes from the mainland. Since prostitution is legal, this island was one that was used as their “R&R” site.

This was ONE place in all of Panama where you could talk to the girls without pimps, cops (who were really the “La Guardia National”.. the National Guard Army) interfering with you.

You couldn’t buy a girl for hell or high water because of the islands status as a haven…… and I must admit…. I liked it that way. I could talk and dance or have dinner with a beautiful Panamanian girl without having to “Pay” for the time. And, I must point out… if you were dating a “good” girl.. they would NEVER let you take them to this island… it would “Ruin” their reputation!!…

Sometimes, we would walk down to the old dock area… a decrepit thing, looked like it had been built when they first built the canal. We would scout the shallows for sharks teeth, sea shells of various types and just generally have fun playing in the shallows. Every now and then, you could scare up a small octopus or even a fair sized lobster…a “Rock Lobster” as they are called. About the size of a BIG Crayfish…. And very tasty too!!

No… not the octopus… it would be another thirty years before I would eat sea-snot!!!

If you went to the other side of the island, the beach there was not sand, but entirely of sea shells…. You could find clams over there. That is when I learned that clams do not ALWAYS reside in sand beaches. And some of these things were HUGE!!.

Night falls….but unlike the sun in the morning, it doesn’t go down or just click off… it goes down, down, down, slowly turning many different shades of red as it seems to melt into the sea…

Ah man… a beautiful sight!… and better still because some nights, some of the girls would be surf bathing in the waves as the sun goes down….sans clothing….nude….naked…….

I won’t belabor the vision any more….

The night is over before you know it…. We all slept like babies… Uuhhhh babies that Snore a lot… but restful anyway…

After a leisurely breakfast of fruit, rum, raw coconut and scalded milk (sometimes called “Black Milk”) , we adjourn to the beach.

What??…. what the hell is scalded milk you say???..

Well just what it implies… milk that has been heated very quickly and therefore “scalds” or almost roasts in the pan. You have a very hot steaming cup of scalded milk with a little black rum in it.. and NO amount of cold morning air will forestall your fun….

Once we form up… the gear is checked, regulators are re-checked, depth gauges and watches are synchronized, hoses are tested, bang-sticks checked and so forth. At least one guy in each group has a spear gun with him and four rods.

Oh… a bang-stick……an anti-shark device. A short piece of gun barrel that fits inside of a metal sleeve. The barrel has a cartridge literally glued into it and the whole thing was mounted on a short pole… mine was a .357 magnum cartridge. A few had .45 cartridges. You removed a pin from the sleeve and then jam the bang-stick into the fish, the barrel would be forced back into the sleeve and then against the firing pin, usually a fixed firing pin. When jammed into a shark, for example, It would jelly every organ in its body, thus, ending the attack and its life.

We don our gear and head for the deep… wading out until the water is at neck height.

Then is groups of three, we mask up and put on our fins…. And then swim away on an undersea adventure….

One group heads out to circle the island and get the “lay” of it…

One group circles the smaller island…

One group heads east toward the canal and shipping lanes..

And my group heads toward the sardine cannery…..

The oceans bottom is not deep here… no more than two hundred or maybe three hundred feet…

We follow the bottom until our depth is about a hundred feet…..we do not wish to go deeper… the swim to the cannery will take up too much air, so we do not want to have to decompress…..a hundred feet only requires about five minutes.. anything deeper takes too much time for our single tanks….

We are passed by fish of types I had never seen before. Not even in an Aquarium… huge fish, a virtual riot of color and form, and these are not even reef fish… these are normal ocean going fish…BIG SOB’s….

Damn!! And HUGE Grouper swims toward us… curious I guess…. he backs off and begins to follow us….he has to be a hundred pounds!! He is five feet long and maybe three feet high… and round!! Almost FAT!!

Above us, we can see the daylight streaming down to us… wavering, flashing, blinking on and off…. And fish in huge schools swim above us like hundreds of starling birds flitting there then darting elsewhere….flashing silvers , then dark, then gold then silver again, all as they move in unison…..

One of the guys hand signs that they are sardines….

Or maybe…. That his penis is small… I am not sure which!!!

And as we watch, they dart left and DAMN!!

What was that!!!!!

A Barracuda darts into the formation and decimates it!!… flash!! Twist!! Dart again….chunks of fish, scales, heads, tails sink toward us…. We just witnessed a barracuda feeding….. the sight of it is both beautiful & terrifying… that SOB could take an arm off!!! But he swims off, chewing and sated……for now……..

We are almost there….. two of the guys start up….. I guess that they are wanting to get their bearings… compass shows us on course…I look around and see that Rundles & Tappan are still with me….

Wait… why is James got his back to us??? OH!…. he is peeing…

If laughter can be heard underwater… that is what the rest of us were doing…. Nothing funnier then a guy whizzing in the ocean…. While IN the oceans at that!!!! And about fifty feet down to boot!!

Esse Quam Videri

Edited by: Mithrandir at: 11/16/02 11:30:16 pm
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