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Old Friends and New Friends

Marino and Michelle in Parita

Seeing Old Friends

As we arrived Saturday night, Panama greeted us on the tarmac with a healthy dose of heat and humidity. It was a reminder of my thoughts last year to change the name of the blog to The Sweaty Anthropologist - and to figure out how the Panamanians are able to remain so stylish and well First night the three travelers from U.S.A crashed at an airport hotel, and we then met with Marino Sunday morning for breakfast for the big reunion.

The Church of Parita decorated for patron saint celebration

Hitting the road in our rental car, Panama gave us another reminder: we are in the tropics and it's the rainy season. A drizzle turned into a serious storm. Several times we were forced to pull over on the side of the road, as the rain hindered the visibility. Several other cars did the same, so it turned into a nice line with blinking emergency lights. The good thing is that these heavy downpours are often brief, so we made it to Parita around 4 PM. As you may remember, it is on the road to Santo Domingo. We visited with several of the people we interviewed last year, and gave them a small gift. I had created a photo book of Corpus Christi, and printed some additional photos of us with our research participants, so our friends would have these as memories. Seeing the smile at their faces - and hearing one person getting into a detailed discussion about the proper colors of the Diablico's costumes - was simply wonderful and reminded me of the deep significance of the festival we shared with them last year. Interestingly, Parita was getting ready to celebrate their patron saint Santo Domingo, which is the celebration we will be attending in the town bearing his name. There were posters in honor of the patron saint, and the church was decorated with flowers and red balloons, ready for mass. We were fortunate to talk with the priest of Parita, whom we saw last year but did not get a chance to talk to as he was occupied with the celebration. Marino and he had an interesting discussion about the status of the patron saint of Santo Domingo.

Santo Domingo

Kathy, Michelle and Marino outside the wonderful Hostel Kimmel

Reaching Santo Domingo, we're staying at what seems to be the only accommodation in town, Hostel Kimmel. Luckily, Hostel Kimmel is both comfy and homey, with only five rooms and a Yorkshire Terrier. Yes, I cannot deny that I already miss my own two Yorkshire Terriers. We hope the owner will be speaking with us about her experience with tourism and festivals in town. Today Monday was spent getting oriented in Santo Domingo, schedule interviews, conduct our first interview, and have lunch at the nearby beach.

Porto Memsabe

We also drove past the nearby port, where U.S.A actually had a base during World War II, concerned Japan would attempt to control the Panama Canal. At that time, the roads from here to Panama City were not fully paved and agricultural products, especially beef, were shipped to the capital by boat from this port. Due to the base, U.S.A facilitated the building of better roads to be able to get supplies from Panama city. The port is now mostly a fishing port. I think my students in ANT307 Anthropology of War will recognize the them of how technology, war, and culture affect each other

Posted 31st July 2017 by janni pedersen

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