Panamenian Typical Costumes and Peasant Week.

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata.

(second part of the blog Traditional costumes of Panama and some Central & South American countries)

As the Peasant week of Panama comes closer I find myself looking for traditional costumes for my kids. And I realized Panama has one of the most complex and elaborated costumes of the world! No wonder they are also one of the prettiest and most expensive costumes. Only the “Pollera” (dress) can cost up to 6 thousand dollars, and when you add up all the accessories and jewelry that can be around 300 and 500 dollars more.

Now that is if you purchase fantasy accessories and jewelry. The tradition dictates that the “tembleques” (hair accessories) are made of pearls and the jewelry pure gold, for a total of up to 50 thousand dollars! There is also different kind of Polleras depending on the region and type of festivity : Pollera Montuna Santeña, Pollera Coquito, Pollera tireada, Pollera blanca and Pollera de Lujo.

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So it was time to decide the kind of pollera I wanted my daughter to wear for their “Gala tipica” at school and Veronica, the Chef here at Casa the Montaña, offered to help me making her dress. I was so excited! I went looking for all the accessory’s and my son’s costumes around the town of Boquete, and found this little store with tons of different dresses, tembleques and shirts for my son.  This is where I found out I knew nothing about these traditional dresses as the owner told me each dress has rules of how many tembleques and jewelry should each of them wear, the color and type of the shoes and how should I style my daughter’s hair!

So I decided to investigate a little deeper and this is what I found:

Pollera Montuna Santeña

This is one of the most valued skirts and most appreciated by the people of Las Tablas and its surrounding areas, precisely because of its bright colors and the delicate touch of the work done in the shirt, which always match the color of Pollerón. Even though this is not considered a Pollera de Lujo this beautiful style for sure captivates the looks of the people.

The Montuna Santeña or Zaraza is complemented with earrings, a flat chain, the Guachapalí chain and the Tapahueso with a gold medal, for the head a set of combs with a tortoiseshell frame with a thin gold blade with pearls and bright stones inserts, a pair of buns and a pair of Colored Tembleques known as Pimpollos.

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Pollera Montuna with Basquiña

When I saw this Pollera, which is so simple yet beautiful I decided this was the one I was going to do for my daughter.

This Pollera is an stylized model of the Pollera  Montuna Santeña, it uses a solid color or pattern skirt with a white shirt called Basquiña.  The headdress for this pollera could be a set of colored tembleques on one side of the head with hair combs.

The jewerly for this Pollera as opposed to the Pollera de Lujo does not need too many colors, one or two colors is fine, but you can add pendants (Zarcillos).

I almost cried of joy when I saw my daughter all dressed up. My son went also as a Montuno which consist of a off-white shirt, jeans and “cutarras”, sandals originally made of leather.

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The white Pollera (Pollera Blanca)
This pollera is made with fine white fabric embroidered with designs and also in white thread. La Pollera Blanca is within the category of Luxury Polleras and is made in similar way. For its white elegant color is usually used for weddings.

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The hair is decorated with fine” tembleques” usually white . The jewelry for this Pollera is unlimited and can be used with all the items that you can get but avoiding saturation so they can be appreciated.  In the head the combs that are used are the “Balcony”, the “Thoughts” and the “Large-comb” at the back, and a ” Pajuela”, which is a leaf form comb.

The earrings can be “tendrils” and in the neck you can use the “Tapahueso” or a fine “Golden Necklace” in its replacement. The chains you put on the chest are made of gold and are usually seven of them.

The shoes used for this Pollera are lined in silk or satin matching the grating and streamer color.

Luxury Pollera (pollera de lujo o gala)

pollera-de-lujo

The Blouse  consists of a basic frame of a shirt that covers the sleeves. On the outside is composed by the top opening of the shirt adorned with braids and two roundabout pieces, a top and bottom one slightly gathered together  and worked with different labors, braids and lace.

 

These Polleras carry a special work made by national artisans that are sewed directly to the white fabric.  Among the names of these techniques we can find “Talco en Sombra”, “Sombreado”, “Calado”, “Zurcido” and Talco al Sol.  When these parts are finished they are assembled together with a type of lace that is handmade called “mundillo.

Because most of the parts of this Pollera are handmade it will take between 6 months to one year to be completed which is reason why that makes this pollera a very expensive one.

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There are a lot of photographic companies where you can rent this pollera and take pictures with it without the necessity of buying one. Here at Casa de Montaña we have amazing gardens where you can arrange to take beautiful outdoor pictures!

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A local family moves to Boquete

Blog by. Maria Isabel Zapata

 

panama. aptm mariaWhen my husband first told me he was thinking about moving to Boquete my first reaction was: What in the world are we going to do there? I thought of Boquete as a small village with nothing to do. I had different plans for us in the city, and even though I wanted a change, I never thought of Boquete as that great change. We were living in a small apartment, my father in law, my husband, my two kids, my two dogs and me! Beautiful view of the city but too expensive for what we could pay and not enough space.IMG_1436

So my husband decided I should come and stay for a few days in Boquete. We arranged to come for Christmas and spend it with his partner, so I could meet him and see where my husband was going to be spending most of the time.

It was a long 7 hour drive with the kids, I would have preferred to come by air. We arrived late in the night so all we wanted was to sleep. It was so nice and different to wake up with the twittering birds and a nice cup of coffee.

My expectations were not high but as soon as I got to Boquete, everything in me changed. Everything was so calm and people were nice and polite. The weather was perfect, and my kids were so happy. Just driving around town and seeing the beautiful gardens of Boquete made me feel at peace.

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IMG_1446The berries! Oh I love berries! It was a little difficult to find fresh berries in the city. So it was a great thing for me to be able to have fresh ones. I specially loved the strawberry and cream tarts from a German bakery. The owner makes the cream fresh and by hand. I have to confess that every now and then I can’t resist the temptation and I have to have one.IMG_1465

I met Debra on this trip and spent Christmas with her, Pascal and friends. I have to say that they made me feel like at home, and my kids were so incredible happy. My husband so calm, that I just didn’t want to leave. Trust me when I say, that’s how you will feel here at Casa de Montaña.

We went back to Panama City and decided to definitely move to Boquete. It was a sweet and sour decision for me. I loved Boquete and couldn’t wait to move, but I sure was going to miss my girlfriends and it was hard for us to leave my father in law, since he didn’t want to move with us. I decided to see my friends for one last time since we were moving soon

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We already knew where we were going to live, since we were taking Pascal’s old house. If you decide to move here and don’t know where yet, here at Casa de Montaña we have an over view tour of Boquete, in which you can see the different neighborhoods. We can also help you set up an appointment with a realty company here in Boquete.

I was really excited about moving, but there was something else I wanted to do, which was to find some volunteer work to get me out the IMG_1804house and spending a few hours a day with adults. I’ve been a full time mom for the past 3 years and now as my children would be in school it would be the perfect time to do something on my own. That’s how I found out that Manzar and Terry where looking for someone to volunteer in the office part-time.   Debra suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to gain some new skills in the tourism industry. How amazing was that! I felt like everything was in the right path and went ahead and set up a skype interview with Manzar and Debra.

So now it was time to pack, and let me tell you… you never know what you have until you have to move! It was a kind of stressful moment, but even though my kids were wondering why everybody was packing their toys and what were we doing, they behaved so well they even helped us pack!

You might wonder what made us take the decision to move here. We wanted a change of life. Better quality for less cost. We really got tired of the city and small apartment. We wanted a nice house with a garden where our dogs and kids could play, and not have to worry about the cars passing by. Being here on Christmas made us realize this was the place.

IMG_2361Finding school for our kids wasn’t too difficult either. We wanted a place near Casa de Montaña, so that I could go pick them up after work. We found this little place called Aprendizaje Divertido, just a few blocks from here. The teacher was lovely and the kids there looked happy. We didn’t look for anything else and decided right away. Since my little baby is only one year old and has always (and only) been breastfeeding, it was a hard adjustment for her not to be with me for half a day. The teachers were so lovely and understanding of her feelings, it helped her feel better and now she is very happy. IMG_1874

Moving here was the best decision we could have made for our family. We now live in a house with a garden and fruit trees. My dogs can be free and they even have little furry friends around the neighborhood they visit (without our permission!)

We have breakfast outside every Sunday morning, and there is so many things to discover here that we never get bored. So far we have visited Volcan, Janson’s Coffee farm and Cerro Punta. We go for walks around town every time we can. We love visiting the gardens, being able to have a cup of coffee with a beautiful view, but most of all we love the great quality of life our kids are having here.

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña! I assure you, you won’t want to leave!

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