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

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Parading Nation

(¡Lo siento! I wrote this post a while ago on November 28th, but computer gliches saved it wrong. Today is the first chance I have had to correct it, so please don´t be confused about why there was a parade today...it was Nov 28th. )
Panamanians love a parade! November is a big month of celebration in Panama. In addition to all of the national holidays:

November 3. Separation Day (from Colombia).
November 4. Flag Day
November 5. Colon Day
November 10. "Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos" The uprise in the Villa de los Santos against Spain.
November 28. Independence Day (from Spain)

There are local holidays as well. Every holiday gets a desfile, or parade. Large or small, November is full of parades. I was in Santiago one day and literally saw 6 parades of one float each (paying homige to the Virgin Mary) over the course of the day. Live music, marchers, some fireworks and a float and off they go to parade the streets. It happens with incredable frequency. Panamanians love to be in a parade!

Today they celebrated Independance from Spain...the official celebration are bumped to Mondays when their date falls on a Friday to make a two day weekend as many buisnesses work 6 days a week. I was lucky enough to be in town at the time and it was my first BIG parade. I had seen small one float parades...but never the full deal. This was cool. The parade was a celebration of Teachers day...and every float represented a school zone. The riena, or queen that graced the floats were teachers especially given the honor of being riena. Below are photos of some of the floats from today's parade.

Front of the float. What you can't see from this photo is that the young guys in the middle are scanily clad and painted with glitter paint so that thier skin shines an irridecent green.

Back of the same float. I really wanted the riena to turn around and put her arms around the big guys neck, but sadly that photo was not to be.

This float stopped and the band started up and all of the float followers did conga lines around the whole float for 5 minutes.

Dreaming of being a riena starts young...this girl can't be much older than 11.

I loved this one...it was the only one drawn by animals. Wonderful. They didn't even flinch at the fireworks popping off. The urn at the girls right side is full of candy for her to fling. They stopped right in front of me and she did the very picturesque job of ripping open the plasitc bag of candy and pouring it into the urn.

This ladies green fethers were something magnigicent to behold. She also gave me a great smile for the camera, but the young girl was quite sour faced.

This was a very traditional float and the dress featured is the traditional festival dress of Panama called a pollera. THey can be quite expensive...a really good one can cost more than $1000. I stand corrected, a friend of mine just told me that a good one made by hand can run $10,000.They are typically worn with enough beaded hair ornaments that you can't see much of the girls hair...it is just a mass of white beaded ornaments.

This lady had on a nagua, or the traditional dress of the Embra Indians. Hers is not as volunimous as most...most have yards and yards of material in them.

Girls in the pollera style typical for young girls. I guess it takes a while to accumulate all of those hair ornaments. Those flowers can cost $6.00 a set (they are made of intricate beads). A set includes one for each side of the head. My best guess is that the girl in the center has on three sets. Her head will be almost covered by the time she is 18 if she keeps collecting.

Cute girls riding in a car behind a float. I don´t know if the rest of thier outfit was cute or not...the windows were tinted and you couldn´t see a thing. I couldn´t help but wonder what the point was of this car being in the parade at all, but thier heads were cute.

An example of a small float. These are typical of the smaller parades as well. Not to ignore you gents out there: the man in this float is sporting the tradional 4 pocket dress shirt that is common in some central American courties, including Panama. He also has the traditional sombrero (hat) of Panama on. I really should do a post on what is a Panama hat because what most of you reading call a Panama hat is not the real deal.

Here is a nice heafty headress...when she wasn't waving she was holding it on and she was smiling the whole time.

A closeup so you can enjoy her outfit and smile.

This is my favorite of all the headdresses....look close to see the 8inch mirror ball that is part of the headdress. She was smiling for the camera, but not all the rest of the time...it was hot out there!

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