The Palmasola Prison has little of a prison. It’s more of a little town.
I guess Josh already talked about our troubles trying to get in to the prison on Thursday. We had been in the line at 2:40 p.m. The closing time to let people in was 3 p.m., but they let us in at 4, so we had to pay. When I finally was able to get in, they wanted me to pay 5 Bs. I was so angry that they didn’t let Josh in and about standing in the line so long with my crying baby, that I yelled at the policeman, and he let me in without paying. (This was the first time I ever yelled at a policeman).
There was a second check point that also asked for 5 Bs. I asked why I had to pay, and they said because it was after 3 p.m.
One of the policeman was trying to make a big deal because I showed my passport instead of my national ID. He said that passport was for foreigners. He ended up letting me in. It helped that Jadzia was crying loud. A woman checked me looking for contraband, and Jadzia’s diaper too. However, she didn’t bother to check my diaper bag. What kind of checking is that?
When I got through the gates, there were no police inside. There were only prisoners. Some of them offered to help me find the person I was going to visit (for a price, of course). Since my friend in jail was expecting me, I knew he would be waiting. But I didn’t see him. I’m sure Josh would have freaked out had he seen his wife looking lost, surrounded by so many inmates.
It had been about 3 years since I last saw my friend. I looked around and finally found him. He appeared different than the other inmates. He was very peaceful. He wasn’t looking for me. He thought it would be easier to spot Josh, a tall blond gringo, than a short dark Bolivian, like almost all the women visiting there. When he saw me without Josh, he was sad and worried about him, and upset for all the burrocracy to get in (burro = donkey).
Then he took me to his place. Along the way, I saw a chicken restaurant, a church, many houses, a soccer game. Everything was crowded. The inmates try to use every inch of space they can. They pretty much live on their own there.
My friend bought a Coke for me next door. It was the coldest Coke I drank since I came to Santa Cruz. We talked for a while and caught up. I noticed he had a sewing machine for leather work. He was very hopeful that this year he will be released.
The visit seemed so short, but I was two hours there. I hope next time I see him, he will meet Josh and he will be a free man. He was also very delighted with Jadzia, and played with her for a while.
You would think that getting inside Palmasola was hard. Well, getting out was, too. When I reached the exit gate, they turned me back to another check point because I was missing a stamp (as if I didn’t have enough on my arm already). I ended up getting the stamp, but they didn’t check me at all.