Christmas in Panama – Panama, Central America

Fiestas Patronales is a celebration of independence from Columbia and Spain. I stopped at a sleepy roadside canteen where the dust from the road appeared to float in and settle on the tables and chairs. A small happy man came out, in the shape of a toad, and told me what I would be eating for lunch: pasta and basil sauce. “I find the best basil all myself,” he said modestly. I pictured my toad-man dodging in and out of a small basil forest, jumping and grabbing at the choice leaves. He brought out the pasta and basil sauce, then propped himself up on a stool in the corner and watched – swollen with pride – as I took my first bite. I could have been eating a spoonful of snake bile Jell-O and I would have said it tasted great – the man’s culinary ego was at stake.

Getting to the beer aisle of El Rey, the grocery store, was an exercise in cattle herding – happy people loading everything party into their carts: grills, beers, meats, hats. I even saw one guy trying to exit the store on a small pink bicycle which had pompoms coming off the handlebars: the kind of thing you might see a four year-old girl pedaling in her driveway as she eats an ice pop. This man appeared to be under some sort of influence because when – to make small talk – I asked him what he was going to do with the bike, he looked at me with this satanic ogle then, appearing to lose his balance, collapsed onto the floor and passed out.

Saturday at 11:26 A.M., a middle aged man wearing construction boots and a fanny pack passed out in an empty and deflated baby pool.

Saturday at 11:23 P.M., a young girl appearing to report – in this all-enthused drunkenness – on the baby pool incident claiming she was a lead anchor in Canada.

Saturday at 11:35 A.M., a middle aged man wearing construction boots and a fanny pack staggering in circles, seemingly sleepwalking, holding an unopened Bacardi Breezer.

Matt Landau is a travel writer and internet marketing consultant in Panama Investment and Panama Travel, Central America.

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