Ok, that was quite a party. Carnival Panama 2010! What a blast! I am still picking the confetti out of my teeth. And will be pulling it out of my hair for the next 2 weeks.
If you have never been to Carnival in Panama, you have no idea of what you are missing.
Panama Carnival is not as big as the one in Brazil. But it is still the biggest party of the year. In a country known for its partying. And Carnival 2010 did not disappoint!
After the formalities of walking through the gate, showing your ID and being frisked. You are immediately shoved into a new world.
A world where everyone is singing and dancing. And throwing confetti. A little more unpleasant is this shaving cream concoction that is being sprayed into your face. I don’t know what it is, but is smells just like shaving cream. It must not be, because getting it into your eyes, which seems to be the objective, doesn’t burn like you would expect.
Every where you look, people are having a great time. The age range goes from newborn babies up to the extremely old. And everything in between.
The thing that stuck out, was that every one was having fun. And everything was done in fun. I admit, we didn’t stay all night, and people were drinking pretty heavily. So, I do see how some fights would break out later into the evening.
It’s probably not the best idea to toss a fist full of confetti into the open mouth of some drunk guy. But overall, everyone was OK and taking it all in stride.
Kids would toss confetti and it would break out into a confetti fight. With kids who don’t know each other chasing each other around laughing and playing. In our case, it was kids from across the world. Mixing and playing like they were friends for years. Even though they don’t speak the same language.
It is something that has to be seen to be appreciated.
And the food. Oh man, the smell of the food. I heard it called monkey on a stick. It smells so amazing on the barbeques that were spread out along the 3 mile long carnival route.
Ok, it’s probably not actually monkey on a stick. It is actually meat on at stick. What the meat actually is though, is a little more uncertain. Most likely it is pork or beef. But its kind of unclear.
Music is blaring from every corner. In most cases, it was great music. But, in a few places, it was so loud the speakers distorted into a sound that was a mix of sounds you would hear from demons in hell.
For the most part, it was a very family friendly affair, at least early in the evening. At one point, we were entertained with a transvestite giving a mock lap dance to a man he pulled out of the audience. Not really something for the faint of heart, but interesting no less. Definitely not something you would see in politically correct US or Canada. But here in Panama, kids and adults watched and laughed, as it was all in fun.
The first time you go to Carnival, it is very hard to know what to expect. But it is not something to be afraid of.
Make sure you are prepared and careful. Watch out for pick pockets. If you are adventurous enough to eat the street food, make sure you have the vendor cook it very, very well. To a temperature that will kill anything. Because you don’t know exactly what is in (or on) it.
And follow it up with a beer or three. Hopefully the alcohol will kill anything left over. And then I guess, hope for the best.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you, is close your mouth and cover your beer. They will get full of confetti otherwise. We are not talking about a little bit here. They are both going to be full.
No matter what your age, Carnival in Panama is something you need to see. The sites, the sounds and the smells are like no other.
It’s a good time for all. Kids play, adults dance and everyone is out to have a good time. Most items seem to cost a dollar. Except the bathrooms, those cost 30 cents. And the beer is only $0.39! Does it get any better than that?
Add Carnival Panama to your list of things of things to do before you die.
It’s an experience you will tell your kids and grandkids about.
The world is a very big place. But in some ways it is also very small. We are all just looking for a good time. And when we are having that good time, it doesn’t matter the language you speak, a smile is universal.