Holidays in Panama

The view from Holly and Scott's place

The view from Holly and Scott’s place

Although it’s been two years since Mark and I moved to Central America, this Thanksgiving (also our 4th wedding anniversary!) was the first we’ve spent here. Friends hosted a traditional Thanksgiving spread at their house. We took a cab to their neighborhood, and could smell the food as we rounded the corner to their house. Yum! Our contribution was a key lime pie, not a typical Thanksgiving dessert, but the dessert that I felt most confident about making. It turned out well, even though the limes here aren’t “real” key limes. And, the other couples our friends  invited were interesting and friendly, so (from our end of it anyway) the social part of the day was just as delightful as the food. 🙂

Then, on Friday, Holly and Scott invited us up to their house for an impromptu dinner party with them and their house guests, Kris and Joel, who are bloggers from David that I’ve wanted to meet for ages.  Watermelon gazpacho for the appetizer — wow, who does that for an impromptu meal?? The food was exquisite, and afterwards, we sat on the deck sipping wine and  gazing at the bajaraque coming through the hills. Another perfect evening with new friends.

But, it’s wasn’t only Thanksgiving. It was the weekend of the Panamanian Independence Day festivities. Yes, there was another Independence day earlier this month, but that was from Colombia, and this one is from Spain, the big one apparently. Dozens of buses have unloaded in Boquete for the celebration, which during the day consists of lots of marching bands (heavy on the percussion) and tons of street vendors selling all sorts of meats on a stick, gelato, souvenirs, umbrellas, you name it. All of which is delightful, like going to a huge street festival in Philly.

The bands generally lead with a pretty girl and a banner

The bands generally lead with a pretty girl and a banner

...Followed by other pretty girls twirling around

…Followed by other pretty girls twirling around

In two bands, there were males twirling around too -- very progressive for Central America, not known for being GLBT tolerant.

In two bands, there were males twirling around too — very progressive for Central America

And then there's TONS percussion, generally men, not women, but again -- some of the bands from other areas were quite progressive in their role assignment

And then there’s TONS of percussion, generally men, not women, but again — some of the bands from other areas were quite progressive in their role assignment

But the drums are the main attraction, and it's amazing to see them flung around like this!

The drums are the main attraction, and it’s amazing to see them flung around like this!

Not everyone can keep up with the drum swinging antics

This guy kept up with the rest when it came to drum swinging, he just needed a little direction

the only female drummers I've ever seen

the only female drummers I’ve ever seen

But night time?  Ay yi yi yi yi. A different story altogether. About a half mile from us, is the big disco in town. And for the holidays they make it even bigger constructing a HUGE outdoor  stage and dance area. And a half mile may seem  like a long way, but apparently, sound travels across the river quickly, hits the hill that our house backs into, and bounces right into our house. It sounds like we’re there. I suppose that could be a selling point .. “Experience the thrill of a Panamanian disco without leaving the comfort of your living room”but when the thud boom thud of the tecno music starts  at 9, it doesn’t SEEM like a selling point. It’s was 4 nights in a row now until 3 am. I hear the DJ shout “ARE YOU READY?? and  ARRIBEN LOS MANOS!!  Seriously — people really party from 9 until 3? I thought that was just an urban myth.

entrance to the outdoor disco

entrance to the outdoor disco – those huge things covered in plastic are some of the speakers!

The temporary stage

The temporary stage

(By the way, for anyone else dealing with this sort of thing, we found a website (www.simplynoise.com), that streams free white/pink/brown noise. We turned it up super high, high enough in fact, that the volume alone raised my adrenaline for a while, but after a while I got used to it, and it really did drown out the disco noise.)

Sigh. So you see, in spite of wonderful friends, a plethora of fabulous cooks, and beautiful views every where you look, Boquete isn’t quite paradise. But still —  it’s close. 🙂

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