The best of times, the worst of times. And then a full stop.
We arrived in Panama City to find that Carnival was about to start the country as it is throughout Latin America and Louisiana. The Panamanians take ti seriously and most abandon Panama City for the outlying countryside they come from or areas that are reputed to have “better” festivals. This results in massive traffic jams on the highways all over the country on the day preceding and the day after, we presume as that is tomorrow as I am writing.
The festivities are wondrous with two Queens for every festival, the “up street” queen and the “down street” Queen. Their regalia costs into the tens of thousands of dollars, the currency is US Dollars. We saw one queen wearing strands of US gold coins from the mid 1800’s. and a visit to a maker of the dresses priced them from a low of $8,000 to over $40,000 for the finest handmade dresses. They ride on elaborate floats through the parade route accompanied by dancing crowds and music.
Another feature of Carnival is “throwing water” it seems everyone has a squirt gun or more elaborate means of wetting down everyone in sight. Just in case this isn’t enough there is a line up of water tankers with low pressure water cannons manned by people to wet down all who dare pass. They also soak each other. We were prepared with minimal quick drying clothes and nothing that could be damaged that wasn’t in a zip-lock bag. The ambient temperature was in the mid 90’s so getting soaked actually felt good. We also attended a parade of beautifully dressed women – ages about 4 to 70 – who danced around a square repeatedly. We left after two circles. During our departure Carol tripped on a very uneven road edge and banged her head and cracked a bone in her right wrist so we are now in a hospital waiting to get permission to board a plane for home in California.
The biggest downside on Carnival is that the normal slow service has deteriorated. Restaurants where OAT had contracts for our meals closed without any notice. Even half the hospitals are closed. Everyone wants to be at Carnival. I’ll write about hospitals another time.
I will post many pictures when I am not on a stringent data diet.