I read recently that the new Samy y Sandra official video for Carnaval 2016 was out on YouTube so I thought I’d share it today. I’ve watched it a few times, but unless you’re Panamanian or lived here long enough to know a little about the country you won’t get some of the inside jokes or nuances. You’ll probably just think it’s loud and there’s a lot of shaking going on. And you’d be correct on both parts. So to help you out a bit I thought I’d share what little knowledge I have gleaned from my almost four years of living here.
The Azuero Peninsula is large enough for three provinces and is Panama’s southernmost landmass. Herrera province, Panama’s smallest, is to the north; Los Santos to the southeast, and Veraguas, the only province with a Caribbean and a Pacific coast, is on the western side of the Azuero. Samy and Sandra Sandoval are brother and sister from Herrera province and they are very popular in Panama. The peninsula (where we also live) is thought to be the center of culture and folklore for the entire country.
The video today is Como Gozo/ As Joy, filmed in Parita, Herrera. Samy and Sandra arrive by motorcycle down the main highway that runs down the peninsula. When we first came to the Azuero this road was under construction. When we moved here it was under construction. And after we moved here it was under construction. Happily, for the last year or so we haven’t had to endure bridge or road closures or diversions and it seems finally finished. And it is a thing of beauty compared to what was there.
The town of Parita itself is the main seat of the District of Parita. I’ve been to Parita a few times. It’s a cute little town divided by the highway. One area of town is quite modern but the town center remains an 18th-century colonial village and is quite pretty. In 1926, the National Institute of Culture/ Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC) declared Parita’s plaza, the surrounding houses and the church, Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guzman national historical monuments. Parita is the oldest of the Azuero region indigenous/ Hispanic settlements, founded in 1558 by the Spanish Governor Juan Ruiz de Monjaraz and the Dominican Friar Pedro de Santa Maria who named it Santa Elena. It was eventually re named Parita for the great Ngöbe-Buglé chief, Parita. The Ngöbe-Buglés once lived throughout the area and many artifacts have been found dating from the era. Parita is one of the Azuero towns well-known as a center for culture and folklore and for its Carnaval celebrations.
The setting for the video is in front of Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guzman and there is a water truck or culeco set off to the side. The church, built around 1656 features a central bell tower rising above the main door which is very unusual for churches in Panama, the doorway being considered one of the weakest points in a building.
Now, the story. The date on the phone that the main character looks at is the first day of Carnaval this year, although the coronations of las reinas will be the evening of the 5th, at least it will be in our town. The gist of the video is that the young woman needs some money to party with. Some people actually sell their appliances and other items to get money for Carnaval but, our main character sells some guandu or pigeon peas which grow quite readily on bushes around here and mixed with arroz con coco/rice with coconut.
Our enterprising character then hitches a ride to the bingo hall to increase her riches. And no, it wouldn’t be unusual to hitch a ride with someone on a horse in the campo, nor would it be difficult to find a bingo game ongoing. And I’m almost sure that one of the bingo women or her doppelganger was standing with me watching the desfile on Saturday larger than life.
The people in the video are joyful, they are dancing and singing in the country. When they dance and sing they are happy and they are enjoying their life. And because they are happy they are winners, as our character turns out to be…in the campo.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting some more pollera pictures.