Carnavales Las Tablas

March 7, 2009 Comments Off on Carnavales Las Tablas

NadiaYou can easily say that Las Tablas is thé carnival centre of Central America. It attracks over a million people. Las Tablas Carnavales is, like many other carnival towns in Latin America, divided into Calle Abajo and Calle Arriba. K & I were welcomed into the Ruiz family, which meant that we were Calle Abajo. Although the origins are most probably coming from a physical divide of the town, nowadays they’re sort of clans. If your mom & dad were Calle Abajo, you will be Calle Abajo as well (even though you could be living in the Calle Arriba area). I guess that many people from out of town just choose their Calle nowadays.
Carnavales started with the crowning of the queens. As this year we celebrated 50 years of Calle Abajo, all former carnival queens made their appearance during the coronation service of Nadia, queen of Calle Abajo. Only my friend Jorge’s aunt didn’t come as she went on a retreat (she’s become much more devout catholic since). Anyway, picture left is of Nadia… queen of Calle Abajo 2009. Boob job at 16-17… so yes girls are mostly chosen on physical appearance and family.
So how does it continue? Tuna in the morning, with culeco (water hoses!). All kids (including grown-up kids) walk around with water guns (the big ones), and some massive hoses are connected to big lorries full of water. But all the water is welcome when it’s 36°C and the sun is right above your head.
Tuna in the evening, no water and people tend to dress up a little more.
The tuna is what you’d call the float in English, but the tuna also includes the followers, all dancing and singin rude songs about the “other Calle”, and a float with musicians leading the crowd into songs:

More films on Youtube:



Listen to the guys from Calle Arriba shouting Maricon to the gays in front of the Calle Abajo tuna. Because (MHO) there’s no gay pride in Panamà (God forbid!), the gay guys grasp the opportunity of carnavales to show off. I would not be surprised to hear that there are more gays in Carnavales Las Tablas than in the gay pride of Belgium (which seems to me a bit like a gay shame sometimes, but then again: MHO).
The ending of Carnaval is on Wednesday morning between 6am and 8am when the queens and their followers challenge each other with loads of gestures, shouting, loud music and loads of fire crackers ( after more than one hour of continuous fireworks, it seems like the whole city is covered in smoke)

Want to see more of Calle Abajo, Calle Arriba? There’ll certainly some more video on my Youtube chanel and more pictures on my Flickr Stream

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