Sooo Disappointing ~ Desfile de Carretas 2015

…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 


About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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10 Responses to Sooo Disappointing ~ Desfile de Carretas 2015

  1. Nice post. I don’t have a problem with the drinking of alcohol, it is only when it becomes too much and people’s bad behavior comes out. I can’t stand that aspect. Have some moderation, people, and all will have a good time.

    • indacampo says:

      Normally there is public drinking at all these events, it’s normal here. Unfortunately due to the delay in starting it went beyond normal. 🙂

  2. cicero3332 says:

    I agree that excessive drinking detracts from festivals in Panama. Drunks are obnoxious, be they Panamenos or ex-pats. Panama’s alcohol consumption is already higher than in neighboring countries, and is rapidly rising. So this is a public health issue the country will eventually have to confront. Much as the USA confronted drinking and driving starting in 1980.

    • indacampo says:

      Good point and I agree. I don’t think the current government will address it though since most of the participants in the Desfile were drinking the Varela Bros. product. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Rain and drunks – what a shame. Sad that so many people confuse celebrations with a full out drunk-a-thon! Anita

    • indacampo says:

      It was only in the mid twenties temperature wise too so a little chilly for us here. My friend made a good point that the organizers likely didn’t mind pushing the alcohol to avoid the complaints about starting late and to alleviate the boredom. The rain had stopped for a good hour or so before the parade began.

  4. pklainer says:

    Karen, I so agree with this post. The deepening of the drug and alcohol culture in the villages is a big change from the 1960’s. When I’m in Rio Hato after dark now, Minga insists I go back to the villa along the highway instead of through the back roads, saying that the groups of young men hanging around drinking and smoking pot no longer respect a woman alone at night. One of Minga’s adult grandsons is a full-on addict, and when he showed up at a family function six sheets to the wind she marched into the front yard and sent him away. I know it caused her great pain, but she refuses to have him around as a model for the younger ones. By happenstance, I was watching 60 Minutes last night and the show had a segment on heroin in Ohio, which has invaded all parts of the society. I’ve never been a drug user or a heavy drinker, so I don’t get the appeal. And I hate to see the simple village festivals, so important to those who live there, trashed by drunken revelry.

    • indacampo says:

      The unfortunate thing is that this event and the culture and folklore group have an affiliation with the Catholic Church in our pueblo. It seems that an event that started out with good intentions for the local community has turned into part of a tourist attraction that invites people to drink their faces off as has Carnaval week. Even the patria celebrations this week are an excuse to party all night and are used as fundraisers for the Carnaval queens for next year. They’re just waiting until after midnight (it’s Dia de los Muertos today no alcohol or noise) before the party begins. It will probably go until 6:00. It’s definitely an environment that promotes drinking. I know more than a few of my friends and neighbors will be avoiding parque central this week.

      • cicero3332 says:

        According to Mitzi at Buena Vida, another change besides the much heavier alcohol consumption is that younger women are now overindulging as well, something their mothers rarely did. When alcohol abuse becomes widespread among women of childbearing years, then it`s easy to predict a corresponding rise in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The babies born with less than full blown FAS are difficult to detect, even in los estados unidos. But their brains have been permanently injured.

      • indacampo says:

        We also had a very good conversation about the state of the desfile this year with both Mitzi and Dania. I was correct in thinking that alcohol consumption at the event seems to have escalated this year whereas the intent was to encourage abstinence or at least moderate consumption. My thinking that the fundraisers that have taken over the Patrias Fiestas are something that only began a couple of years ago was confirmed also. Matzo also said that the school group wasn’t given an opportunity to perform this year despite the time and preparation they took with their dances and outfits. Apparently the disco and drinking was more important.

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