The cells were opened around 6 am, and we were allowed to leave. We cooked our own food. There is a roofed garden for prisoners from the assimilated block. Most of the taps have no running water. We had to carry buckets of water upstairs and then, wash in an enclosed shower. Since we were allowed to work on our cells, we put wooden partitions around the toilet.
Everyone can wake up when they want. One of my fellow prisoners suffered from insomnia. We were as quiet as possible in the mornings, as to not disturb his sleep. In the evenings, we tried to cook ourselves a good meal with ingredients from the outside.
The food inside the prison is toxic, and in any case, not enough. Many prisoners who eat the prison food, the prison rations, get sick. Beriberi disease is very common. The infirmary hands out medicines haphazardly, and they are not always effective. It is best to just avoid getting sick.
Everything tastes burnt, it’s overcooked. You have to sort through the food they give you to find what is edible and what isn’t. At least the assimilated block is spared the prison food. However, it is set aside for the ‘assistants’; they are prisoners from other wards who come in to do maintenance work, cleaning, cooking, or laundry.
There is not much to do during the day. There is a small field where you can play football, five against five, when the prisoners from the other wards return to their cells. The assimilated prisoners are allowed to stay outside for a while and do some exercise or go for a walk in the yard in the evening. That is where I was told stories about MACA, the country, and the former prisoners. It passed the time. We were allowed to go out and talk with other prisoners. We tried not to make any noise, because that too, was a privilege paid to the guards.
We sat and talked to each other about our jobs. I met a civil engineer in construction, a naval engineer, a Canadian businessman. We discussed work, travel, culture, or food; anything that let me escape for a while was welcome. We knew that there would be no justice and that all we had to do was pay the judges to get out and then everything would be over. So, talking about justice was useless. It is clear to me that it is useless to fight about the merits of the case, but that I can do something about the form. That is why I pressed the guards and the judges for procedural errors. Sometimes, even if the prisoners do pay, they are not freed.