All last week the parades continued throughout Panama. Schools from all over the country travel to these parades to take part and to strut their stuff. The largest of them was in La Villa de Los Santos on the 10th with 96 groups+ participating, beginning at noon and going into the wee hours of the next morning. There were also parades in Santiago and Pocri and probably a few more that I don’t know about. Many of the schools are in perpetual motion during the week traveling from parade to parade. On Wednesday around mid morning we traveled to Chitre to do some errands and met up with the beginnings of the parade in Pocri. On the way back in the late afternoon we met up with the tail end of it.
While we were in Chitre we needed to buy an item at the DO It Centre and of course they didn’t have it in stock at the store. It needed to be brought in from the bodega (warehouse) it was explained to us, and it would take two days to get it in. It wasn’t unexpected that it wasn’t in the store, many stores in Panama don’t carry a large amount of stock. We agreed that we would buy the item there and return for it when it came in and I told the clerk that it was the same story every time, the item always had to be brought in. He explained it away as being because of the Patria celebrations. I told him that I realized that November was “the month of getting nothing done” in Panama and he laughed and agreed with me.
November is an interesting time. Similar to North America, and I imagine many other countries, workers are entitled to the statutory holidays off and overtime pay if they work those stat holiday days. I can’t recall any months in North America however; that have four statutory holidays all within the space of a few weeks. Take into account the other statutory holidays during the year, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Carnival, Easter (don’t forget Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday) and there is a heck of a lot of paid vacation for the working people. We’ve learned that we have to plan purchases such as gas and groceries, travel and bank withdrawals around the holidays, I kid you not the bank machines often get emptied and are not refilled during the big holidays.
Someone asked me last week what my favourite part of the parade in Las Tablas was and as always my quick response was the children. And so, here’s more of the Desfile de Patrias de Las Tablas and the children…in the campo.