One thing I noticed about Panama when I first moved here was that it seemed kind of difficult to find authentic handicrafts. Admittedly, there are plenty of tourist booths along the streets in Las Tablas, but the stuff in them is mostly not specifically Panamanian. I wanted gifts for my family that were made locally, and would be readily identifiable […]

Handicrafts at Panama’s Annual Artistan Fair

“Hoist the Jolly Roger” A Photobucket Photo It’s just past nightfall, that point in time where it’s hard to see what is truly happening. Picture a group of angry peasants armed with clubs and very sharp machetes pouring onto a beach on the western coast of the Azuero Penninsula. Their targets are the some half-drowned, exhausted, ship-wrecked pirates, who have […]

How Las Tablas Got Its Name

Calle Abajo Carnaval Queen
Did you know the flamboyant spectacle of Carnaval in Las Tablas, Panama was started with a Church fight back in the 17th century?  It seems back then the fervently religious Spanish colonists were divided into two factions, each with its own patron saint.  The Hermitage of Santa Cruz celebrated the Holy Cross on May 3, and Caledonia celebrated Santa Librada […]

CARNAVAL Prep: The Tale of Arriba and Abajo

Candles and Perfume – who can think of them without thinking of romance? Now, imagine a sultry night. Let us say it is a night in, perhaps, late March of 1945, the first night of Carnaval for that year. The Visual Feast Imagine hundreds of women of all ages, lovely in their pollera dresses, the skirts spread like wings as […]

The Romance of Las Tablas Carnaval

Guarare, Panama, a small town just west of Las Tablas, is “the home of the chuco-chuco,” at least according to the song “Yo me voy a Guarare.”  A chuco-chuco is a percussion instrument, similar but not the same as the güiro which is found in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Like the güiro, the chuco-chuco is […]

Music: Chuco-Chuco Percussion in Guarare