Panamanians had a celebration to beat the band when Margarita Henriquez was announced as the winner of Latin American Idol on October 10th. Because we live in an area without much electricity, and because we don't watch much TV, I didn't know what was going on when it was announced. I was in Santiago, at a friend's house when the car horns started honking, and the yelling and the fireworks added to the general noise of celebration...celebration that continued for hours. Dancing in the streets would be a realistic way to describe the scene in many areas of Panama.
Panamanians were so excited that the volume of cell phone traffic was enough to overwhelm the cellular tower capabilities and cell phone systems collapsed...and were not fully returned to service in some rural area (meaning my house) for 2 days. The press conference held when she returned to Panama was carried live on several television networks....interrupting popular novelas (evening soap operas). However, her victory did not result in a national day off like the Olympic gold medal winner's.
Nineteen Central and South American countries participated in the contest. The two finalists competing were from Panama and Costa Rica...raising the tension with some friendly neighborhood rivalry. If you would like to see her sing, and she can belt it out, check out this youtube video: