Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's Carnival Time Again.......

Picture a street full of people packed together, large tanker trucks full of water to hose down the crowds, and plenty of booze and you've got the basic idea of Carnival.  The four days leading up to Ash Wednesday determine the dates of Carnival, as the whole country basically shuts down and heads out to party. Panama's Carnival celebration is said to be the second largest in the world, second only to Brazil's famous fiesta by the same name.

Carnival Princess
from our
First Carnival in Capira

Throughout the country many of the small towns host their own celebrations with Las Tablas being known for the biggest. Panama City has closed down The Cinta Costera, which is basically the main road into the city from today till March 5th for parades and festivities.

Another Princess from Capira

The basic premise behind Carnival is the contest between two young ladies both striving to become Carnival Queen and represent their town. One is from the upper part of town or "calle arriba," while the other is from the lower part of town called "calle abajo." The queens are paraded around on beautifully decorated floats while people dance behind them in the streets to loud music.  Large tanker trucks called "cuelcos" bring welcomed relief to the hot, sweaty crowds as they hose them down while playing loud music. Locals dump beer, dish water and anything else they can find on the heads of party goers walking by.  Bathrooms are few so nearby homes may charge a quarter to let you use theirs, or even a tree in their back yard. Food and alcohol is sold on the streets to keep the partyers fed and watered long into the wee hours of the morning. Despite the booze, dancing in the streets, and scantily clad attendees Carnival in Panama is a family affair.  Babies are pushed in strollers while toddlers tag along to their tipsy parents, all just having a day of family fun together.

This was one of my favorite Pictures from
The Capira Carnival

Many of the gringo's here stock up on groceries, alcohol and other necessities trying to avoid a trip out in heavy Carnival traffic. If you remember when we first moved here we lived in Capira, a tiny town with a big party atmosphere. Since we were within walking distance we did four consecutive days of Carnival and stumbled back home after having a bit too much to drink. No plans to hit any of the celebrations this year but then we never know what might unfold.

Jody, Dave and Terry

Jody, Clyde and Terry

Yesterday was spent showing Panama off to some blog followers who are visiting this week. Jody and Dave from Ohio are here on their maiden voyage, seeing if Panama might be the right place for them to retire. We showed them some sights and introduced them to some other expats before sending them off on more adventures alone. It was great getting to know them and be able to share some of our knowledge with them.  And who knows maybe someday they'll be crazy enough to move here where we'll meet again.....along the gringo trail.

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