November is holiday month in Panama. There are even more holidays in Boquete. Since every holiday means a day off – and sometimes includes the day before and the day after – not much gets done in November.
Every school is practicing for the desfiles (parades). This is really just drum practice. For the last several weeks drum practice has started before 9 AM and goes almost all day. For several weeks before the 9 AM practice, it began about noon and lasted until 6-7 PM. Now they also practice marching in the streets. Last week we saw them practicing after 8 PM. It is a big deal for these kids and their families.
At the school where I used to teach, our drum line was phenomenal. They practiced several hours after school. I often think how I would love to bring a few of them here to teach a few kids here some of the flashy things they can do. I really enjoyed watching them. I think the drummers here may be more traditional and focused on that rather than flash.
Women and girls will dress in traditional polleras. The dresses are works of art that take many months to make. The headdress is made of pearls and made in several pieces that are connected when worn. Many of the fabric markets cater to the making of polleras.
Today I was told that the best thing to do during all these ‘celebrations’ is to stay away. There is no way this new-comer is staying away from the excitement and pageantry. But, we will walk to town and leave the driving to people coming from other areas. I hope that I don’t become jaded and want to avoid these local celebrations after a few years.