Notes To Mother
a journey by
Author – Jeff Berry
Edited by George Opacic
with Illustrations by Loreena M. Lee
extract – Green Bananas
What They Did
Then there was the problem of stowaways. One would think this would be a nautical curiosity today, but wherever it occurred, the US Governmental authorities viewed it most dimly.
In our case, it seems that one ship seemed to always be bringing stowaways with them from Turbo. They would board the ship with the banana carrying stevedores, when the ship was anchored in the stream. Often they would work the cargo, and then hide in a place they’d prepared during the loading. This meant that, in two days underway, the stowaways would piss and defecate their way through a complete hatch load of bananas. Almost the whole cargo had then to be condemned by the health authorities.
Worse still, the stowaways almost always brought drugs aboard for their own use and as a valuable commodity to trade with when they reached the States.
Quite naturally, the crew, or some of them, wanted to get wasted and laid. Booze and broads were on their minds. So, they started smuggling girls of easy virtue onto the ships while they worked cargoes in Colombia. This was tolerated as far as it went, but the females brought with them coke – the powder, not the fizzy drink.
That was a big no no. The problem was, while any infraction for stowaways brought a $10,000 fine, it could be tolerated if it only happened occasionally. Drugs, however, were a different matter. That meant the ship would be banned from U.S. waters for a long time. This was not acceptable to either the owners or the captain.
Human nature being what it was and still is, the problem was thrown to us at Brewster Marine Services.
We mulled it over and came up with the obvious solution: providing sexual services to deserving crewmen.
Since I spoke the best Spanish in the company, though it wasn’t really good, I was nominated to go to Turbo, visit some bordellos, with a view to entering into negotiations with the various madams.
You might say that my trip to Turbo, Colombia, was the beginning for me of overseas trips on behalf of companies. Alas, I have struggled with just the right wording to place on my personal CV.
cover photo and design by George Opacic