…tradition is the mechanism that binds us to the past; tells us where we come from, and who we are, in order to plan ahead hoping that its value is sealed in the minds of our new generations. ~ Fundación Amigos de Pedasí ~
This past Friday the 30th and Saturday 31st of October, Pedasi celebrated the XIII Festival of culture and folklore with the Desfile de Carretas and the running of the bulls. This is usually one of our favourite events and for all Pedasieños and Panameños that travel to our small town to watch the cart parade and take part in the other events surrounding it.
The coronation of Miss Pedasi, SM Maria Fernanda Barrios Batista in the cancha (basketball court) was to begin at 7:00 on Friday, with tipico (traditional) dancing afterwards. The fireworks that signal the beginning of the Tuna at 5:45 that was to begin at 4:00. The Tuna is a group of people who sing and parade the new queen around town. The main event was to begin at 7:00 although the fireworks were later again. By then we had decided to stay in for the evening, deciding not to attend the Halloween party being held at the local watering hole nor the coronation. It had rained for most of the day, our road was muddy and was a bit chilly and we had been out in the wet for a good part of the day looking for a solution to our internet situation, but more on that in a later post.
The cart parade the next day was to begin at 1:00. I wandered down around 2:00, SU followed later. A deluge of rain soon began to fall so those who had gathered hunkered under whatever shelter they could find. The parade finally started around 4:00 leaving from the gas station on the south side of town, down the main road and around the streets to the parque central. A big problem was that the delay allowed the participants more time to drink, and drink they did. The original idea of the festival was to help preserve the folklore of the community, to give alternatives to drugs and alcohol and promote pride in the culture and music. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched many underage youths walking around town with alcohol thinking they had it disguised as something else, that there was a big fail this year in that regard. There is normally public drinking at this event but I’ve never seen so many large bottles of Seco the cheap Panamanian cane liquor being carried around.
Following the parade was the running of the bulls. Pedasi is the only place in all of Panama and the Americas where this activity is still experienced. It involves letting two bulls loose, first a small one, then a larger, in parque central that then run through the streets until the bravest or drunkest of men catch and tie it. Usually I like to stick around to see people scream, run and take protection in doorways, on benches and even on the park statues. This year, seeing that the sun was beginning to fade in the sky, that the parade seemed to be coming around for a third time and remembering the sight of a horrific accident where I saw a man get knocked right out of his shoes last year I decided to skip the bull running. (The story is that the man deliberately stepped in the way of the bull. It certainly appeared that way to me as his cup of seco also went flying. The man lingered for a while in hospital before finally succumbing to his injuries.) There were many people leaving when I did. SU had already returned to the house, he likes to be around for when one of the wayward animals ends up on our street and at least one or two usually do.
I recently asked for comments on what readers would like me to put in some of my posts this month. One suggestion was to write about what I liked and disliked about Panama. I’ll create a larger list but today I’ll start with this; I really love the people, their kindness, pride and their generosity of spirit. That is why I’ll be posting some of the faces of the celebration in the coming days. What annoys me is that every holiday, fiesta and celebration in our town seems to need to be celebrated with copious amounts of alcohol and most often always public drunkenness. I have talked to some of my Panamanian friends about this and many of them avoid the fiestas and celebrations for this very reason. In my opinion (and in theirs), the traditions have eroded to become big drinking parties. This is our fifth carreta and it seems to have morphed into something it wasn’t intended to be…in the campo.
To see earlier posts related to La Festival de las Carretas you can click on the links below:
La Festival de las Carretas 2014 ~ ¡Qué Hermosa!
La Festival de las Carretas 2014 ~ La Coronación y La Pollera
La Festival de las Carretas, la Cultura y el Folklore 2014 ~ ¡Bailar!
Desfile de carretas en Pedasi ~ Young and Old
Desfile de Carreta ~ Dancing
Another Look at Carreta
Fray ~ Refriega, Lucha, Combate, Melee, Fight, Combat
Introducing Seńorita Pedasi 2014
The Cart Festival ~ Traditional Carts
From the Crowd