Culture in and around Chitre

Trip Start Feb 25, 2008
Trip End Mar 18, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel El Prado

Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chitre is the capital of the Herrera Province. This is a largely Spanish area from early Spanish settlement days. Many of the residents in this province can trace their lineage back to Spain. They say a village has been here, in Chitre, since 1558.

So Fred and I decided to stray away from the beaches and see some more cultural aspects of Panama. After we dropped our packs off at our room at Hotel Prado, we walked to the plaza, and through the cathedral. Fred bought his mother a cross from the church. The church was built in the 18th century and is decorated inside in mahagony, teak and gold.

We ate at a local open air restaurant off the plaza. Then realized we could take a taxi to La Arena, where I wanted to purchase some local ceramics, and then could go to the neighboring village of Los Santos, and then we could get back to the beaches tomorrow. Originally we were going to stay in town two days.

So off we went, west to La Arena, a small village known for its ceramics. The pottery is styled liked the Pre-Columbian designs of the Ngobe-Bugle, who lived nearby. We went to Ceramica Calderon, where we bought two colorful plates direct from the potter, himself. We saw him working a pot, using a wheel he moved with his feet. He showed us the massive wood burning ovens that he uses to fire his ceramics. I would have liked to buy more, but you know you need to keep it light when traveling by backpacks.

After taking the plates back to the hotel room, we hired a taxi to drop us at the square in Los Santos, which is just over the province line in Los Santos Province. Los Santos is known as the "birth place   of Panama" because this is where independence from Spain was signed.  There are colonial buildings which date back to the early days of Spanish settlers. We toured the National Museum, which is where in 1821 Panama's Declaration of Independence from Spain was signed. It was very cool. We also went in the Baroque style church. Right inside the doors we noticed about 100 dead bees on the floors and the pews. A cleaning lady was washing the floor with some liquid that must have been poison to the bees. Don't know where they came from, but I was glad I didn't sit down on one!
We walked into a small restaurant on the side of the plaza and there on the wall was the 2008 schedule for the New York Yankees. I think there is a Panamanian playing with the Yankees, maybe Rivera??? Most baseball hats you see guys wearing are the NY Yankees.

Back to Chitre, the big city, and tomorrow we are off to the beach, yet again. This time it is Santa Clara.
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