Friday, October 16, 2009

Old Point sits on a Caribbean peninsula on the eastern side of the island Bastimentos, not far from where I served in the Peace Corps, I can actually see the Peninsula Valiente. Old Point has all the features of Peninsula Valiente, the rain forest, reefs, surfing, diving and the Indians. Although, there is one big difference; on the peninsula Valiente I was living in a wooden hut, on old point I am living in a Eco-Lodge…..okay, technically my wooden hut was a mini eco-lodge, but believe me there is a big difference. Interestingly enough the people that live and work on old point come from an Ngabes village called Salt Creek; apparently half of the population are people who have migrated from the peninsula. That said, I have had some interesting encounters with Indians in the area. When I arrived at Old Point, I was trying to get a lay of the land, walking around visiting people trying to get a feel for the place. Well one day an older Indian man stopped me and asked me what my name was using Ngabere (Ngabes dialect), I responded accordingly much to his satisfaction. He proceeding to ask me all the routine questions that Ngabes will ask a complete stranger (are you married, are your parents alive, do you like the Yankees), using Ngabere. Now you have to understand, most foreign tourist struggle to some degree with Spanish, but for a tourist to understand and speak Ngabere is unheard of. So I figured this guy has got to be a little impressed. He only feigned interest in my ability to speak Ngabere, whereas on the peninsula it was it was met with great interest. So I asked him where he comes from, and he said he was from Punta Valiente (my old site) but had come to Old Point in search of a wife many years ago. I told excitedly that I had lived in Punta Valiente and that really my name was Tuchi not Jack and the following conversation ensued (in Ngabere):
Old Indian: No you’re not.
Me: Yes, my name is really Tuchi.
Old Man: That is impossible; Tuchi speaks Ngabere much better than you.
Me: I guess I should practice Ngabere more, but I am Tuchi.
Old Man: You’re not tall enough
Me: What?
Old Man: Tuchi is seven feet tall and speaks much better than you do.
Me: Have you ever met Tuchi?
Old Man: No
Me: Then how do you know then, because I know that I am Tuchi, and you have never met him. (surely that will convince him)
Old Man: Tuchi took a woman and left and isn’t coming back, if he does I will let you know and you can meet him.

At this point I wasn’t sure what to think; really I wanted to laugh, because the guy was dead serious. I guess you never know.
Here is to being a legend in your own time, even if it is in a tiny corner of the world.
Tuchi (supposedly)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I am not sure where to start; it has been so long since I have published anything. I guess I can start by saying that I recently had my first child, that may explain the hiatus in my writing, as many of you (especially women) probably know it is a rather time consuming thing. Sophia Jasmine was born five days ago here in Panama City; she weighed six and a half pounds and was 50 centimeters long, which is apparently the average. I neglected to say anything in the blog because I am rather wary of speaking too soon, but now that I can hold her in my hand I feel that I am ready to present her to the world. I am sure there are a million questions that are going through your head, the first one probably being, how the hell did this happen. Well that is quite a story in itself one not easily explained in a blog, the story will be much easier over a beer, so if you catch up with me anytime soon the first one is on you and I will tell you a great story. There surely will be many stories to come in what will be a rather interesting life of my little sweetheart Sophia.

Is that the Doctor or the Daddy

A beautiful woman and some guy

Some things in life just are not fair, poor horse.

Some times there just are not any words.

How many people does it take to fix a beer truck

The beautiful Darien

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What is that falling from the board I am carrying? God, it is gigantic, it looked like a mangled wasp. Wait, is it in my boot? Oh shit, I feel it crawling up my leg; it is almost to my knee, aaaaaahhhhh, now little (or not so little) bastard is gnawing on my calf. What is happening to me, I feel light headed, is that the ground touching toward my face? Opening my eyes and seeing the soft blue sky looking down at me brings me comfort, wait, please don’t tell me that is a machete slicing toward my leg, surely it isn’t that bad, are they amputating already, can I have a second opinion? I hear a muddled tongue of Ngobere coming from the medicine mans lips, “Ñan teibiare kwra, ti ta mabe,” what the hell does that mean? I should have studied a little longer last night, god the venom is throbbing in my thighs, wait I know that one, “don’t worry tiger, I am here with you.” Jesus, what in the world does that have to do with the machete slicing open the blue sky as it reaches for my calf, I need my leg, or better yet I want my leg! what is the Peace Corps going to say when they find out my leg was amputated by a medicine man deep in the jungle? I feel I dull pain in my calf as the creature discharges more venom into my limb. Crunch!!!!! “Ya tare mabta bi niken kurera,” can someone please speak Spanish or any other language except Ngobere? Yes I understand you “the pain you feel will soon end,” tell that to the lymph nodes in my upper thighs that are throbbing like a teen’s heart at a Brad Pitt movie. What in the world did you do with the machete, is my thigh still intact? Wait don’t leave me, where are you going, are you really going to leave me alone in the jungle? Man, I feel light headed, I think I will just lie my head on this spongy moss and close my eyes till the Doc comes back, did I mention the sky was a nice lazy blue perfect for a nap. Aaahhh, that is sour, don’t you know better than to wake someone up when they are sleeping? Why am I being told to suck on a lime? The response by the medicine man, “didn’t your mother teach you to do what you’re told?” Coming to my senses I realize that my leg is killing me and so is my head, wait that sensation is slowly fading, surely it is not the lime. But I am being reassured by the Doc that it is. As I thank the medicine man for saving my life he laughs at me, telling me that most “men” would have walked it off in a few minutes, that we are weak race (Americans, as if we are a species).
Recap, a massive ant with a stinger twice the size of a wasp fell from the board that I was carrying into my rubber boot. After a second or two of jumping around it decided to sting me in my calf, thus injecting a large amount of venom into my blood stream. The medicine man disappeared into the jungle gathering the local remedies for the sting in a record time. But before making his exit he killed the insect with the broad side of his machete, hence the impending doom part. After being resurrected in the tropical rain forest we picked up our load and made our way down the mountain and back to (semi) civilization. Upon arrival the story of me being stung by a “dribe” spread through the village faster than a California wildfire, my ego taking the majority of the thumping. I would like to formally apologize to all American men for not being “man” enough and walking off the assault by the bizarre tropical insect. I think the only way I can regain respect is by bare handedly tear a shark apart in one hundred feet off water. For now I will keep my head a little low in order to avoid the ridicule, although let me tell you, that sting hurt like hell and I don’t care what kind of man you think you are, it would bring you to your knees.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

50 days or 1,200 hours or 72,000 minutes or 4,320,000 seconds, all of which equal one hell of a long time in the bush. Any way you cut the cake that was a long run without civilization. One must ask: What in the world were you doing out there for so long without coming in? The answer: A lot of reading, spear fishing, canoeing, hiking, body surfing, boogie boarding, fishing, basketball, pushups, aqueduct designing, bingo and last but not least enjoying the Caribbean from my Yucatecan hammock. Is the answer in any specific order? No. There were days when I did none of the above and there were days when I did almost all of the above, it almost always depended on the weather.
The weather on the peninsula varies from minute to minute or some times day to day. There were times when I would be at least two miles off shore diving for lobster and red snapper in water so calm one would think that there had been a massive oil spill that was weighing the water down. Then all of the sudden a wall of wind and water erupts from jet black clouds that were not there the last time that I went under water. Visibility then turns to a hundred meters or less, the direction of land becomes irrelevant because it is almost impossible to row against the wind and water even if you could see the land. So what is left to do? Go down for another lobster and hope that the canoe doesn’t fill up with rainwater, even if it does it doesn’t matter because they are made of wood. By the time you make it back up with your lobster the storm has blown over along with taking you and your boat a couple hundred meters farther off shore. Then the lip cracking sun reveals itself evaporating all the rainwater collected in the canoe in what seems a matter of minutes, those minutes then turn into an hour of laborious rowing that test the integrity of all the muscles in your body from the waist up. But in the end when land is but a stones throw away, you look down and see the fish and lobster that you will be eating that night, and think hell twenty days is nothing, not even a full calendar month.
Speaking of the weather, one usually imagines the Caribbean as a rather peaceful sea that is great for beach-loving snorkelers and sucking on freshly cracked coconuts. But for a few wretched months of the year substantial swells roll in from out there on that glassy horizon, making some very nice waves for surfing but not so good for trying to escape the peninsula in a small boat with a forty horse power motor. So what does one do? I grab my boogie board and make the forty-five minute trudge through the jungle to a stunning beach with a long right to left break of waves up to eight or ten feet. Running across the golden sand to the bright blue water diving at the last second to make my glorious entry into the Caribbean Sea, I begin to think; hell thirty days that is just one flip of the page in the calendar year.
Hiking to the top of hill through the thick foliage following the trickle of a stream that hopefully will be a new source of water for the village, I tend to forget the bug gnawing on my neck and the yellow horned pit viper watching intently at something that it can kill but for the moment is enjoying its superiority. Pausing at the top to enjoy the sweeping view of the surrounding islands and crystalline water lying below, then looking down the path I just came up I begin to think that is going to be a pretty serious climb with a hundred and ten pounds of cement on my shoulders. At that point I take a swig from my water bottle only to find a large scorpion lying in wait for some innocent green horn, but this is no green horn I came prepared, and with what better than an oversized machete that would make Genghis Khans kneels rattle. Wielding my jumbo blade I begin to hack recklessly at my water bottle only to realize that it is still connected to my hand, which I am not interested in losing. A well timed release of the bottle and a well placed slice with weapon severs the container as well as the bright green and red scorpion in half. The good, I am now somewhat safe from the paralyzing sting of the deadly scorpion, the bad, I am now out of water and have a rather long trek back to the house. So I sit down and collect my thoughts and get my bearings, I feel my butt become wet with the water of the stream and realize that I am sitting at the source of a seemingly inexhaustible source of uncontaminated water. So as I am filling the half of my bottle that is left and is not tainted with scorpion, I begin to think maybe I can do forty days in the bush, just so long as there is a cold beer in the cooler when I get back.
So as I sit back and enjoy my refreshing beverage from the cooler and watch the sun set on yet another day on the peninsula, I begin to think that this isn’t so bad after all, maybe twenty seven months isn’t so long in the end considering that I have already knocked out sixteen. But let me make something clear, on that 50th day or 1,200th hour or 72,000th minute or 4,320,000th second I was very much ready to make my exit from the wilderness and into the civilized world. There is nothing like a hot shower, a warm water shave, a soft bed in the AC and some news from the land of milk and honey. In the end when I get to live in the civilized world fulltime, I will probably miss some of the roughness on the peninsula because living out here is one hell of an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

One year, I really cant believe I have made it through another year in the Peace Corps. This is one hellava job, there really arent many that compare, and i only have one more year left before life goes back to normal, but to be honest i dont think that my life will ever be normal after this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Man, I really went nuts with my camera over the past few days, I realized it had been some time since I had taken any pictures. I took a nice long hike through the jungle to the abandoned WWII military base above my village, on the left you can see the old radio tower and the increadible view that they enjoyed.

I swear, the beach/caribbean never gets old!

We had to really toss those machetes around to get at the base because the jungle had completely reclaimed it.

Almost finished with the community building.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Here area few pictures fromKusapin where I have been spending a lot of time lately.