Everything you ever wanted to know about Panamanian culture could be found this weekend in Las Tablas at the Santa Librada festival. The festival has a distinct religious aspect, but the country’s culture and traditions were just as prominent.
Beginning on Friday, the Las Tablas bus terminal was packed with city dwellers who had made the 4 hour trip to partake in the annual festivities. Saturday was the official start of the festival, but the party started Friday night with the Pub Herrerano (a seco brewery sponsored outdoor nightclub that you’ll find at all Panamanian festivals) opening it’s doors to everyone free of charge. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Earlier in the night there were bouncers and police stationed at the entrance to check ID. After a couple of hours of the discotec being pretty empty, those in charge decided it would be a good idea to open the doors to the thousands of underage kids hanging out in front of the PH. Though mildly entertaining, it quickly becomes a nuisance watching 14 year old kids getting drunk. But I guess if I were that age it would have been a thrill for me too!
I spoke with a couple of police officers during the festival and they told me for the most part the festival was trouble free. A few fist fights took place, but that’s to be expected when tens of thousand of people are sucking back Seco and Abuelo for 4 days straight. I was amazed at how many people hit the bottle first thing in the morning after drinking the night before! Panamanians have got partying down to a science!
Throughout the festival there were dozens of traditional activities to take part in, from bullfights to concerts, sandal-making contests and the pollera pageant. Santenos and visitors to the province dressed the part for the festival. Many people sported their best, freshly pressed jeans, cowboy boots, leather belts (with their names engraved on them) and their sombrero pintados (Panamanian cowboy hat). I am sure some of these people have never set foot on a ranch or ridden a horse, but it was great to see so many people getting in to the spirit of things.
|Written by Rebecca Tyre|
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