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Posts Tagged ‘Los Santos’


In the middle of the courtyard stands a majestic water fountain in the best tradition of the ones found in Spain, our Motherland.  I understand it was once illuminated, but I don’t know if lights are still there.  I haven’t visited Mi Pueblito during the evenings.

There is another fountain like this one near the place where I live, but the lights nor the water pumps are working.  Twice it has been repaired, and twice it has screwed up again.  Somebody from City Hall, got tired and left it without water nor light.  Still, it’s a lovely structure which reminds us of our Spanish roots.  If you have traveled to Madrid in Spain, you are probably aware of how proud the Madrileños feel about the Fountain of Cibeles in the part of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos.

In Panama, the Spanish traditions are best preserved in the Central Provinces; (e.g., Los Santos, Herrera and Coclé).  However, Los Santos and Herrera is where the true Spanish spirit still flourishes.  If you want to fully understand the spirit of this land, Los Santos and Herrera are the places to go.  The Pollera national dress, los Diablicos,  el Festival del Manito, el Tradicional Duelo del Tamarindo, el Festival de la Mejorana, the Festivities of Corpus Christi, Carnival, and the rich Panamanian typical music are all extraordinarily well preserved in these two  provinces.

Below are a couple of pictures of a water fountain that symbolizes our link to our Motherland across the big pond called Spain.  Here we go.

Snapshot of a water fountain located in the courtyard of Mi Pueblitos Spanish section. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

Sometimes black and white pictures are better looking than color ones. You decide which version is better. I have a tendency to look at the world in black and white, and all the shades of gray in between. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

Snapshot of a tourist friendly bench urging you to slow down and take a break during the tour under a scorching tropical sun. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

The same previous picture but without its chromatic features. Black and white pictures have their own particular way of creating photographic mood. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

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For those of you are not familiar with the Isthmus of Panama in Central America, let me explain that Canajagua is the name of a hill in the Province of Los Santos located roughly in the middle of the country.  This area is known by meteorologists as the dry zone of Panama with scarce precipitation during the year.  In Spanish, this geographical zone in the Azuero Peninsula is known as the “arco seco”—the dry arc.

Canajagua Hill is located in the Province of Los Santos, the cradle of Panamanian folklore. Its maximum height is 830 meters (2,723 feet) which is why it’s known as the “Sentinel of Azuero”. From this high mound you can clearly see the Azuero coastline, from Isla Cañas, Iguana Island, the Rock of La Honda, to the blue waters of the Gulf of Parita.

In the mid-60′s, local authorities built a road to the top of the hill, which was opened to businessmen to promote agricultural projects.  The results were highly detrimental to the area, since large forests were destroyed due to excessive logging.  About 60 percent of the area around Cerro Canajagua was deforested and the land converted to grasslands which have since been used for cattle fincas.

However, local environmentalists and government authorities are currently spreading the word of ecological awareness in an effort to gradually reduce the cattle ranches on the slopes of the hill.  It is expected that  the area will again be covered by forests.   At its peak, you can also find about seventy radio and television antennas, given its strategic position.

Below is a photograph of a restaurant found at Casco Viejo which bears the name “Goodies of Canajagua Restaurant”. I thought it was a good idea to explain the meaning of Canajagua and why it is important to restore its surrounding forests.  We have to take care of our fragile planet.  I’m sure you will agree with me on this issue.

Photograph of a worker's restaurant at Casco Viejo which serves typical Panamanian dishes at very affordable prices. The name Canajagua means a lot to the people of Azuero, specially from the Province of Los Santos. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

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The Province of Los Santos is traditionally considered the center of Panama’s Spanish folkloric heritage. The capital city, Las Tablas, is  famous for its carnivals, the Festival Nacional de la Pollera (National Festival of the Pollera), the Festival of the Patron Santa Librada, and the Festival Nacional de la Mejorana in Guararé.   The provinces of Los Santos and Herrera are important in Panamanian folklore because they are believed to be the birth place of the pollera, the traditional Panamanian dress.

Another well-known celebration is Corpus Christi, a religious holiday which dates its beginnings to the Spanish colonial era. It commemorates the institution of the Eucharist in the mix with pagan festivals represented by different dance, which today form part of the folklore of the region, this activity takes place in the City of La Villa de Los Santos.

Los Santos is the place to see the beautiful hand-woven polleras, the typical costume of Panama. Here you will  also find artisans who make masks of the famous “Diablicos” (Devils).  I will dedicate a special post to this fascinating subject in the future.

The Santeños have established numerous communities in the rest of the nine provinces of Panama.  Everywhere they go, they proudly carry with them their Spanish folkloric heritage.    Most of the festivities of November 10th are organized by the Santeños in different cities and towns in Panama.  The parade that took place at Juan Díaz was no exception.

I tried to capture the flavor of the Santeño tradition by taking several photographs of the folkloric event which took place in the small community of Juan Díaz, a short distance from our home on November 10th.   Please don’t forget to click on the photographs to expand and appreciate them better. Here we go.

Future Santeño carnival queens wear the traditional dress of Panama called "La Pollera". (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

Santeño boys and girls in traditional costumes take part in a parade celebrating the anniversary of Panama's proclamation of independence from Spain in Juan Díaz on November 10, 2009. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

A group of Santeño educators dressed with polleras (women) and montunos (men) take a break before the parade begins at Juan Díaz on November 10th. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

A student dressed with the Kuna Indian traditional dress poses for the camera. On the background you can see several Santeño children dressed with the typical "montuno". (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

An attractive Santeño baton twirler exhibits her marching skills during the November 10th parade at Juan Díaz. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

A close-up picture of an attractive "señorita" taking part of the Santeño's parade of November 10th at Juan Díaz. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

With this post I extend my warm congratulations to the Santeños scattered throughout the country for preserving the cultural heritage of Panama.  They are the legitimate keepers of the authentic Panamanian roots as well as the Amerindians who were the original settlers of this beautiful isthmus located in the middle of the Universe.  Good Day.

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Today is November 17, 2009.  We are still in the middle of the patriotic fever that permeates Panama during the month of November.  That’s why we call it, “el mes de la Patria”—month of the Motherland.

November 10th is another important day in Panama’s calendar. On November 10, 1821, the Grito de La Villa de Los Santos occurred. The Grito was an event that shook the isthmus to the core.  Rufina Alfaro, a young woman from the Province of Los Santos then shouted, “Viva La Libertad”.   In the company of a few improvised soldiers, with sticks and stones,  she took the Spanish military barrack in the small town of La Villa de los Santos. Not a single drop of blood was shed.  It was the beginning of our Independence from Spain.  Ever since, Panama celebrates this event with colorful parades in the Province of Los Santos and other major cities of the country.

My wife and I attended the November 10th parade in the small town of Juan Díaz, located approximately three or four miles away from our house.  The parade started at 09:00 a.m. sharp and ended at 2:15 p.m.  For a change, the organizers stuck to the time and schedule of the event.  There was no such thing as “hora Panameña”–Panamanian hour (being late).

The morning was bright, so bright it was difficult to take shots aimed upwards where the camera had difficulty filtering the excessive light emanating from the bright sun above.  You’ll notice several dark pictures, even though I tried unsuccessfully to retouch them with PhotoFlex, a digital processing software.  I apologize for those low-quality pictures; however, overall they portray adequately the event at Juan Díaz during said date.

Below are some bits and pieces of the November 10th Parade at Juan Díaz, celebrating Panama’s Independence from Spain in 1821–188 years ago.  Here we go.

The young generation of Panamanians gets ready for the parade with their typical dresses. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

A young lady proudly displays a pollera with the national colors of the Panamanian flag---red, white, and blue. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

Photograph of the symbol of the Panama Tourist Authority (Ipatcito), participant of the Juan Díaz parade. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

After an exhausting march, a student takes off her shoes and shows off an original pair of socks. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

Two young girls prepare for their turn to participate in the Juan Diaz parade on November 10th. I liked their neatly pressed light brown uniforms and white boots. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

Picture of three bystanders of the parade on attractive horses, specially the golden palomino which reminded me of Roy Rogers and Trigger. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

A group of musicians (murga) accompany a marching delegation with typical music from the Province of Los Santos. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

As you can see, there is a more relaxed atmosphere on this parade, compared with the formal one we showed you on previous posts—I mean the one held on November 3rd.  I plan to include three more posts on this event with pictures I’m sure you will find interesting.  I feel this is an adequate way to introduce you to my country—Panama.  This is how we honor our country.  Good Day.

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