Its 3 a.m. and once again I find that my brain is not able to shut down long enough to get a good night sleep. Also, it is Independence week here in Panama and in the distance I can hear music as neighbors are partying to celebrate their national holiday.
Panama is very proud of its independence. When we first came here in November 2010, Neil and I both remarked on the number of flags all over the grounds of the City of Knowledge which is across the street from the Miraflores Locks in Panama City. At that point, we did not know much of the history of Panama and found the number of Panamanian flags very appealing visually.
What do all of these holidays mean for those of us who live at the beaches? Neil and I took the dogs for a walk this afternoon and we were amazed at how many cars were parked in people's yards. It seems like most of the people from the city head to the beaches for the 5 day weekend. Many yards have 3 or 4 cars and some upwards of 10! There seems to be high spirits among the Panamanians with many pool parties, barbeques and family gatherings.
After the first year of living in Panama we learned the significance of these holidays on our daily lives. The grocery stores are very busy and may run ot of basics like milk and chicken. As recently as last year the gas stations would run out of fuel, but we now have several new ones along the highway and I don't think that should be a problem anymore. The banks are very busy and on the Friday night before the holiday traffic coming out of the city can be brutal. Likewise, traffic heading back to the city tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday) will be very heavy. We have heard people say it can take an extra 2 or 3 hours to get to the city after long weekends. As Panama Roadrunner, we don't generally send drivers out on the days when everyone heads back to the city after long weekends.
Many of our fellow expats stay pretty close to home during long weekends. The roads in Coronado are very busy as are the restaurants and the stores. Its not unusual to hear music playing somewhere all night but as long as it is not right next door to me it is not much of a nuisance.
The holidays surrounding Independence week are:
November 3 - Panama separated from Coumbia in 1903
November 4 - Flag day
November 5 - Consolidation of the separation from Coumbia
November 10 - Declaration of Independence
November 28 - Independence from Spain 1821
After Panama became independent from Spain in 1821 it joined the Republic of Gran Columbia until 1903 when US president Theodore Roosevelt helped to arrange Panama's independence as a measure of protecting the US investment in the Panama Canal.
We have Canada Day and the Americans have Indpendence Day, but Panamanians are proud of thier indpendence and know how to celebrate in style!