A Festival of Firecrackers

Happy New Year!

Bam! Happy Panamanian Occasion! Flickr Photo by Skley

It is a rare occasion in Panamá that is not punctuated by the sound of firecrackers.  Firecrackers light the night, they pop throughout the day.  Some sound like a really loud bowl of Rice Crispies and some are like cannon exploding. There have been nights I was convinced that we were under invasion by an armed foe and the city was being pounded by artillery.

For Panamanians take their firecrackers very seriously. – On days when there are no fiestas to celebrate, they set them off for practice.  I know of one family which felt it more imperative to buy firecrackers for Carnaval than to pay their light bill.  A gringo acquaintance commented that his subdivision was spending money on firecrackers that he felt should have been spent fixing the potholes in the streets.

But this man obviously didn’t understand the essence of the Panamanian cultural imperative toward firecrackers.  They are not “just” firecrackers.  For it’s never what a thing actually is that counts, it’s what it MEANS.  And in Panamá firecrackers mean strength, independence, personal power, cultural power.  They mean fun, good times, family times, Panamanian times of togetherness. Celebration.

Firecrackers in Panamá are a giant YES!

Yes to life!

Viva Panamá!


Fireworks store in Las Tablas

Where to Buy Fireworks in Las Tablas

In Las Tablas fuegos artificiales (firecrackers)  can be purchased at La Moñona, a small enterprise located more or less next door to Cochez on the road to Chitre.  It has a giant parking lot, and a fairly wide variety of types.  Prices range from B$4.25 to B$50.

Tel.: 994-0211   Email:  comunicacion_visual@hotmail.com.