April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Friday, December 21, 2007

All I want for Christmas....

Well, we still find it almost impossible to believe that it is the Christmas Season. It is not possible that you poor souls up north have snow and cold weather....and that we are missing it all. Mailing packages home for the holidays was a surreal experience...what holiday are these for anyway, it is too warm for Christmas.

Now, don´t get me wrong. Christmas is celebrated here, in some areas in much the same way as in the states. The streets are more full of sellers and buyers than normal - but the noise and music are much the same as other holidays. Here in Santiago, where I sit typing, there are plenty of christmas lights at night and wrapping paper for sale in all the stores (sold by the sheet). The Virgin processed last night, carried on by a croud of the faithful (these processions happen more often in a year than I would have thought before coming here).

On the island there isn´t much in the way of Christmas celebration. I have been told that Chrismas will be just another normal day. New Years will get more recognition with parties and special food. This leaves us free to make Christmas as big or small a deal as we want within our home. Very exciting to be totally free of outside Christmas imputs...no commercials, no christmas specials, no holiday traffic or holiday cookies luring me from the table in the office.

I did go to a Christmas parade with a boat load of children and adults from the island. There were about 60 of us loaded into a boat that is sometimes used to haul cattle (watching them load cattle is interesting!). The ride to port was a long one as the boat was so full and running just a 40hp engine. Just before we arrived at port there was a general changing of clothes and shoes and every kid had their hair brushed and was sprayed with deoderant or perfume because apperance is very important here.
The local government paid for the ride and provided a small dinner just to encourage islanders to go to the parade with thier kids. The parade started after the dark came and the rain left. It included floats pulled by semi trucks, a marching band, lots of music, and lots of thrown candy. There were also some fireworks and a band/orchestra concert afterwards.
We then piled back into a bus to go to the port only to find that the captain had not bought fuel when we arrived. As it was now 10pm buying fuel wasn´t possible so for a while it looked like we were going to have to sleep in the port area...not a fun prospect. Someone managed to track down and wake up a guy who could sell fuel and so we were able to leave. We arrived home at 1am. It was a long but fun night.

So what does a Peace Corps Volunteer ask for for Christmas? Well, it is different for everyone. Kevin and I asked for:
*hummingbird feeders to lure all the hummingbirds closer to the house
*synthetic travel underwear (synthetic dries fast and the ants like to eat cotton)
*letters / photos from home
*tyvec envelopes (it is hard to find strong mailing envelopes here and they don´t like it when we reuse them)
*and the biggie: a world band radio, meaning a radio that picks up SW bands. Stay tuned (haha...a radio reference) for a post about our experiences with the new radio.

So what are our plans for the Christmas holiday? We have friends coming to stay with us. Brook and Mac are another of the married couples in out training group and they will be with us from Sunday to Wednesday (if we can get them off island then). We hope to get the ingredients for bread, cider, hot chocolate, apple crisp, and other yuppy holiday foods. I hope to do luminaria on Christmas eve on our porch. I think that we will make christmas "poppers / crackers" for our host families and nieghbors to share the spirit and culture with them.

We are thinking of all of you and the wonderful cold that you are getting up there. We miss you (even if I don´t miss all the christmas craziness).

1 comment:

AAM4000 said...

happy holidays kevin and april, sounds like you've got your hands full with fun and festivities.