Today, we celebrate Dia de Campesino, the farmers day. A bit like Harvest Festival or Thanksgiving - Chiriqui style.
Dia de Campesino is the beginning of the endless parties, holidays, drum beating and marching through the streets that starts now and goes on and on and on and on..... until after Easter or the Orchid Fair in April, whichever is later.
All these parties require clothes. We started meeting with the seamstress for the new costume about 2 months ago. It was a pilgrimage walking up an unpaved road to her beautiful wooden house by the river to get measured and have the costume made. It is a work of art.
The costume actually consists of one skirt and no less than three tops, each one used on different occasions. Today, we use the same floral color as the skirt which is the most rustic; There is also a frilly white blouse with ribbon for fancier occasions; And the off the shoulder number with pompoms that is not strictly part of the uniform of this province, but all the girls want one anyway.
Huge thanks to a lovely Panamanian lady who took us under her wing and guided us through the process. It is great fun dressing up as Panamanian peasants. Actually, it is pretty fancy for a peasant; But I guess that is Latin America for you in a nutshell. Charming.
Today was 'Dia de Campesino' at Beatrice's school in Boquete. This is the day of the farmer. A day of folk dancing, traditional songs and foods. In this little Agricultural coffee farming town, this day is celebrated in all the schools sometime around the end of September. Most people here are farmers or sons or daughters of farmers.
I like the folk dancing here in Chiriqui very much as it is similar to Scottish Country dancing. They both have Gaelic roots. Here in Panama the folk dancing is less energetic and there is more, much much more, wiggling of hips and swooshing of skirts - but that about sums up the difference between Northern Europe and Latin America in general. Also, instead of tartan, the girls wear beautiful brightly colored cotton prints with small flowers.
The big surprise today for me, and another British mum who came to watch, was that the May Pole is one of the traditional dances of Panama. It comes from Bocas Del Toro and is in the Carribean tradition which was greatly influenced by the UK as well. So, if you thought there was nothing more English than dancing the May Pole - think again.