In my last blog, I raved about beautiful and interesting Panama and what a wonderful time we had. With our website www.christmasnightinc.com we are mostly in the Christmas business. We work on the website and Christmas year round and it is hard to let go even on vacation. Since our vacation time is just before , during and after Christmas we often get to experience the way other countries celebrate Christmas (if they do).
Panama is a Christian country and the people love festivals and holidays. The truism and joke about Panamanians is that the only thing they take seriously is their holidays. There are 14 official holidays and many more local or regional holidays. While Carnival at Easter is the largest festival, Christmas is usually marked with a festival and ,in Panama City at least, a parade with floats depicting the Nativity among other Christmas things. Here are several pictures of the festival and float decorations.
While we were exploring the old section of Panama City known as San Felipe or Casco Viejo, we stumbled upon the factory where the Nativity and other figures for the parade floats were made. We were fortunate enough to meet a factory supervisor who is English who explained the process of carving figure from blocks of styrofoam and sealing them with fiberglass before painting and decorating. The Englishman himself was just as interesting as the factory, easily mistaken for a retired rock musician with a constant cigarette and the boast that a “wealthy wife” paid for his lifestyle, such as it was.
The old city of San Felipe is fascinating, with centuries old churches, refurbished buildings housing government departments, many great restaurants and the “Tourist Police” looking like a group of New York City cops, ready to go on patrol. We will definitely return.