Window in the Weather
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
22Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The flight from Cayman was a bit tense. Of course, after leaving Cayman behind, there is nothing but the deep blue Caribbean Sea between us and Central America. I had to dodge around a few large building cumulus, but nothing serious. The most nerve-wracking part was not being in radio contact with anyone, as we were too low and hundreds of miles from the nearest transmitter. Al we could was hope that Panama was expecting us, and that our permit for Panamanian airspace is on the level.
Just coming over the north edge of Panama, we hit the worst bit of weather on the trip so far
After a very late lunch (around 4 pm), I finally communicated with the office. Alex informed me that we were still in the process of negotiating something with our client regarding Ecuador, and we will likely be staying in Panama City for at least 5 days. And while we regretfully wish that 5 days could have been spent back on Grand Cayman, instead of in a huge commercial city that speaks Spanish, we can't exactly complain about being forced to play tourist in Panama, can we?
After dinner, I was working on downloading the photos you see here, when I heard a few loud bangs from outside my window (both our rooms are on the 10th floor overlooking the Pacific Ocean). The Panama Convention Centre is right across from the hotel, and it was coming from a large grass clearing between the ocean and our hotel
A fireworks display was under way, not 200 yards from the hotel windows. It was close enough that the glass shook in its frame with each blast. The explosions were practically eye level with the 10th floor. It was absolutely surreal. At least 20 cars alarms were sounding as the display finally ended.
And then, if that wasn't enough, I could then hear music coming from the driveway of the Convention Centre. It got louder. People started to gather along the sides of the driveway. And then, a parade float appeared, complete with an exotic looking dancer in an extravagant Flamenco-style dress. Behind that was another float with more dancers, dressed in large glittery outfits that were spread out above and behind their heads, not unlike the fancy outfits you might see at a stage show in Vegas. Photos couldn't capture it.
The music was coming from a brass band walking in a ragged group behind the floats. They seemed to all be playing a different song and yet also playing the same song at once
Panamanian music is an interesting blend of styles. Old Spanish music, like Flamenco, Latino influences such as salsa and merengue, and African or South American native drumming styles are just a few influences that have fused into several types of music all their own, such as cumbia, congo, and tamborito. They love to play music in the streets, and I believe I just got a first-hand look at this fun tradition. I am beginning to see where Panama City gets its reputation as a "party town".