Last weekend Casco Antiguo hosted a festival of the crafts. The day was characterized by scolding hot sun, frantic snow cone salesmen, and some of the neatest crafts I’ve seen in the country to date.
Any little person you’ve ever seen selling their handiwork on a street corner in Panama was in Casco Antiguo on Sunday. Giant white tents covered much of the plaza, under which artisans from all over the country displayed their intricate work. Looking for a small wooden frog crafted out of a petrified coconut, they had it here. How about a small bracelet woven with mini clam shells? They had that too.
Masks, woven baskets, they had it all. The food was quite interesting as well, including the traditional Panamanian meats and this hilarious older white man serving Brockworst. Kids ran in and out of the tables as shoppers perused the crafts. While we were hoping to get some good business and publicity from the event, we ended up benefiting more from its crepe stand where tiny ice cream-encased crepes sold for $0.50. Keenan enjoyed the crepes, and while I am allergic to crepe mix, the ice tea was very refreshing.
I don’t consider myself to be artistic in many regards. Although the sight of some of the stalls at the festival convinced me I could, in no time, produce something worth selling. Take, for example, the native Indian “dream catchers” I saw which looked like a confused collection of twigs and spider webs. What’s up with those?
Or the Brazilian stand selling a dish with a sexy name. It was made of, and I quote, “meat of nine different things.”
“OK,” I admitted hesitantly. “Am I allowed to know which ‘things’ we’re talking about here?” Unknowingly, I referred to the meats as female ‘things’ as all nouns in Panama are designated either male or female. This evoked a giggle from my audience. The mystery meat mixture looked more like kibble and upon tasting it, I nearly yakked all over this cute little Kuna girl selling designer molas.
The artsy vibe we’ve come to expect of Casco Antiguo was out in full force. Birkenstocks, dreadlocks, and guitars everywhere. And the day as a whole was quite delightful. To see Casco maintaining this neat imaginative core, so that artists like myself can really thrive.