Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Make a Joyful Noise!
Christmas is a time for celebration in Panama: big, noisy, joyous celebration. Last Saturday night, I roamed the streets of Boquete as thousands of celebrants gathered to watch a parade, eat delicacies from the carts of street vendors, and throw firecrackers. Yes, fireworks appear to be an integral part of Christmas in Panama. Panamanians must all have read the passage in the bible (in Psalms 98:4, I looked it up) where it says: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise."
On the day before the parade, one of the female attendants at the inn where I was staying, beckoned me over to look at something she was taking out of a small box. Several bright red and very tiny components of what I took to be a Santa's elf costume appeared, and she held them up for me to admire. I am very scientifically-minded, and in the interest of being able to report to you, dear reader, the absolute unvarnished truth about everything on which I report, with every detail just as accurate as it can possibly be, I suggested to her that she don the costume and that I photograph her in it. I was curious to see if the tiny bits of cloth would actually cover all of her interesting bits. She giggled, and informed me that the costume was actually for her little daughter. Drat! Another scientific opportunity lost.
Dressing up in costumes and marching in parades is as big in Panama now as it was in the U.S. and Canada back in the 1950's and 1960's. Many of you might be far too young to have experienced life in that era, so I will tell you that it was a time of parades, marching bands and baton twirlers -- things considered archaic and uncool by many of our jaded and disconnected youth. If you miss that noise and excitement, off with you to Panama where they will hold a parade at the slightest excuse.
Things in Panama are simpler in many ways. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, we all need to uncomplicate our lives just a little.
Let's all raise a glass to the simpler things in life!