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Sights and Sounds of Bocas del Toro

PANAMA | Tuesday, 23 October 2007 | Views [1775]

The Central American Caribbean coast is a very unique cultural area. Similar to the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica, Panama's population is rich with diversity. The Bocas area has an Afro-Caribbean feel, people are strikingly different physically from Guatemala or Costa Rica. Tall, dark skinned descendants of American, Colombian, Jamaican, French Antilles blacks, several Panamanian Indian groups, Latinos and mixed Spanish Indigenous backgrounds. People here are very musical. Each night the percussion and horn sections of bands are out in force in the parque central, playing their hearts out and marching in the streets. During the daylight we can hear band members practicing from their stilted wooden homes. The atmosphere is fun, festive and extremely laid back. Most people cruise slowly around the island on bikes, ever so slowly, and by 10:00 p.m. things here are pretty sleepy in this island town. Street vendors line the streets of parque central, selling all kinds of fried things- chicken, potatoes, platanoes and other types of things I can't really recognize, but they're all fried up, with lines of people waiting to eat. Ice cream men push their carts, bells ringing.

Homes here on the island are made of wooden slabs and perched up high on stilts. We are told that the Banana Company original constructed these when they first began developing the industry. They're fairly sturdy, with holes for windows. Cotton curtains hang heavily in the heat, and every once in a while a little old lady or man will peek their face out the window. People here are friendly, and passing on the street the phrase "buenas" rings out throughout the day and night.

In the morning, we awake to roosters, and the pitter patter of rain on the aluminum roof. One thing I love about homes in Central America are the aluminum roofs and the sound the rain makes... it's great to fall asleep to.

Tags: Culture


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