Saturday, February 24, 2007

Feb 5, 2007

today is my last night in panama city before i go on my excellent adventure. i could have left today, but after all the wedding festivities, i needed one day to unwind and figure out what my itinerary would look like.

the wedding was fantastic, as you can imagine a presidential wedding would be. the night before was the rehearsal dinner, which took place at the miraflores locks in the panama canal. I was in the middle of having my first cocktail when all of a sudden, i saw a huge cargo ship passing by. I rushed outside to see this engineering wonder of the world with my own eyes. When the locks open, the boats squeeze through with the help of these little tug-machines. I could have watched the ships pass all night long, but there were other things to do... like meet the president! Gab and I got our picture taken with him and shook his hand, which he's probably quite used to doing on a regular basis because the conversation didn't go much further than the polite, "mucho gusto." Then we had dinner and watched a performance of traditional panamanian dancers.

The day of the wedding, we missed the bus from the resort to the church and so we ended up getting a ride in the presidential caravan, and actually rode in the president's own SUV (although I don't know where he was.) the ceremony was in an old church in a part of town called Casco Viejo. Apparently the air conditioning had broken down in the church, so it was HOT HOT HOT in there. There were about ten bridesmaids occupying two pews and when i turned around to look at them, I saw them all using the wedding programs to fan themselves, so i picked one up and followed suit. Gabriela and I were sitting next to the center aisle of the second pew. So i'll be in all of the wedding pictures from the ceremony and i imagine the family members will be asking themselves, "who's that random girl in the second row?"

when the wedding was over, we hitched a ride back in the caravan. the reception was outdoors at a five-star resort called Playa Bonita. when the bride and groom arrived, fireworks burst in the air and sparklers exploded when they danced their first dance. There were about 500 people at the wedding. On each side of the stage, there were gigantic video screens like you would see at a rolling stones concert, hooked up to a roving cameraman filming people on the dance floor, so sometimes you would look up and see yourself on the big screen. half way through the evening, a traditional afro group performed a wedding ritual dance with live drummers and singers. The bride and groom donned large golden crowns and danced in the center of the crowd. There was music and dancing all night long, from the moment you arrived until apparently 4 am. the music and dancing didn't stop even when people ate dinner. There were flip flops in the ladies restroom so you could take off your uncomfortable stilettos and get back out there. Even with flip flops, i was exhausted because I'm not used to dancing in the heat and humidity, and in a ball gown nonetheless. So i had to retire around 1 am. Gab went back to the room around 2 am, and was trying to talk to me but I don't remember a word she said i was so out of it.

the next morning after breakfast, we enjoyed mojitos by the infinity pool at the resort. and since it was superbowl sunday, later on that day i attended two superbowl parties, which really made me feel like i was in the twilight zone. I mean, I don't even watch football in the US, and here I am surrounded by panamanian Bears Fans, and at the second party Colts Fans, drinking miller genuine draft, eating buffalo wings and nachos. it was truly surreal.

So tomorrow I'm off to a town called El Valle where I hope to do some horseback riding and other types of adventurous exploring. gotta get back out in nature. I miss the monkeys!

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