I spent Christmas with Sabine and Yoel's family across the river eating arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) for three days straight and visited people in the village. On Christmas Eve we all opened party crackers in typical Prior-Grosch style and the favorite prize was definitely a pirate's eye patch. Everyone took turns wearing the eye patch which looked great with the red and green paper crowns.
Christmas isn't a big holiday in rural panama, consisting of a day off, arroz con pollo, and peanuts, apples, and grapes if you can afford it. The day after Christmas I visited San Jose and one of the kids asked me 'Who is Santa Claus?' The Santa Claus frenzy hasn't made it to rural Panama yet but it's definitely taken root in the city. I couldn't help laughing seeing all the snowflake, penguin, and santa decorations around the city in 90 degree heat.
I'm in Panama City now and will be picking up my family at the airport tonight! Tomorrow we'll head straight up to the jungle to celebrate New Years. It sounds like people make a much bigger deal of celebrating New Years than Christmas; two pigs are going to be slaughtered, fireworks, and a stuffed doll (resembling a politician) will be burned in celebration in the village.
Happy 2010 to all!