I bet you’ve been wondering what it takes to have fun here in Panama. Well, luckily I’ve got just the recipe! You start with the completion of a brand new Techo, or Roof for my non-Spanish speaking readers. Then after the sparkly new Techo is completed the required fun must commence with a few key ingredients. The first and most important ingredient for a fun time at this traditional celebration is the food. And , specifically the main dish which is called Mondongo. Basically, this is Tripe, or at least similar to it, let me be more specific….Cow intestines. I know….many of you may be saying..”Yuck!” I’ll stick to Non-Cow intestines please! And I would not disagree, but the traditional celebration of a newly completed Techo is aptly named a Mondongata because these fun-loving folks here love it! It’s Party Food! Shrug, I’m pretty sure we very likely have a taste for many things they think is crazy as well, so, let’s just roll with it, k?
You may be wondering how I learned to make this traditional dish, Hah! Do you know me? I’m not exactly the cooking type… luckily for me we have many fabulous ‘Typico” restaurants in town. A “Typico” restaurant is exactly what it sounds like, a restaurant that prepares ‘typical’ Panamanian cuisine. One reason they love this dish so much is very likely because it takes a lot of time to prepare, and most of their mothers and or wives just don’t have that kind of time to spend preparing this meal and so it’s a very special treat when they get it. So, as I’ve done for the last two Mondongatas, I ordered the food and picked it all up on the day of the party.
Mind you, Scott is unable to host a party without contributing his own culinary delights. But I wanted to make sure we served all the essentials for our Trabajadores , which is why I also ordered rice, beans and potato salad to go with that delicious mondongo. For many weeks leading up to our celebration the guys had been asking if Scott would make his smoked pork for the party in addition to the traditional food. Of course Scott was more than pleased to have a request that required him to break out the smoker. The rest of the menu included three different flavors of BBQ sauce, a huge lasagna, a cole slaw, garlic bread, and a seven layer taco dip. We wouldn’t want our gringo friends to go hungry, now would we? My girlfriends contributed the deserts which didn’t last long! I didn’t even get any! Uh, I may have been busy dancing…not sure..hah!
So, the food was covered and the next important ingredient for a fun time is of course BEER! And lots of it! I picked up eight cases of ice cold beer, a variety of the four national beers, Panama, Atlas, Balboa and Soberana. Wine happens to be my drink of choice, as I know many of my friends also enjoy a glass of wine , so we made sure to have plenty of that as well. So, food, beer and wine and….
Music! Oh yea! Here in Panama they like their music and they like it loud enough to nearly burst your eardrums! ( a loving eye roll here!) Yes, those of us who live here in Panama are well aware of the pleasure these Panamanians find in LOUD music! They like it to be so LOUD that it negates any need, or ability for conversation! Nope, one need not talk to anyone at a good Panamanian celebration! Why talk, when there’s eating and drinking and dancing to be had??? Right? Well….our ears may have suffered a bit but you know what they say about, “When in Rome?” I know, we’re not exactly in Rome, but….Our Trabajadores enjoy loud music, so loud music is what we had at our celebration! We are so lucky to have Ricardo! He’s actually our roofer and in addition to roofing he’s a music aficionado ! He does some DJ work on the side and so he has all the equipment for providing state of the art booming music for parties! And his collection of music genres is extensive, he has plenty of American Rock N Roll as well as lots of typical Panamanian music and lots of other types of music to please all preferences. This celebration had no lack of good LOUD dance music for all! I’m pretty sure the entire town of Boquete could hear our music, but it’s nothing new for this town. Panamanians just know when they hear LOUD music, that someone is having a good time, and no one has any issue with such a thing. A party with music as loud as we had would have been shut down so fast in our neighborhood in Los Altos! In Panama, people just seem to go their merry way and no one minds a little loud music.
We had good food, lots of cold beer and wine, loud loud booming, ear piercing music and ….let’s not forget what goes with Music! DANCING!!! Whooohooo! yep! Not everyone enjoys swaying to the mad beat of loud music, but, I just love it! I’m not particularly ‘good’ at dancing and I don’t pride myself in any ‘mad skills’, but I just enjoy dancing! Dancing’s really not Scotts idea of a good time, which doesn’t bother me one bit! Give me a couple good girlfriends to dance along with me and I’m in heaven! Susan and Luana danced, laughed, clapped and sang along and made me laugh and smile all night long! The Panamanians aren’t the only ones who know how to have a good time! Even John and Bond got up and shook a little booty with everyone! hah! But I think the star of the show was Edgar! He’s not one of our workers, he used to work for us but just didn’t work out so well,( shall we say, ahem, he’s just not as interested in working as he is in dancing!) so we terminated him. But he’s related to Federico and we were happy to have him join us , the more the merrier and all that! 🙂 Edgar really should be a Zumba instructor, the kid has some serious moves! And he not only has the hip hop down but is , of course a fantastic latin dancer as well! Thank God I couldn’t see what I looked like cuz its so fun to be lead around the dance floor by someone who really knows what their doing, makes you feel like you’ve actually got some ‘moves’! hah! Which I”m well aware is just a delusion, cuz’ this girl most certainly does not have any moves whatsoever! Pfffffft! But I enjoy a good delusion once in awhile, who doesn’t! We all managed to enjoy a bit of Bailando. As the party progressed we old ladies were thoroughly boogied out!
The last ingredient that these gringos added to the fun recipe, is an element to a party that I also really enjoy….games! Whooohoo! Gotta love me a good clean competition or two. We had Corn Hole…you know this one, it’s the one where you throw the bean bag across the room and try to get it into the hole in the piece of wood! This was a new one for our guys and they were all smiles ! Especially when the Jefe was involved , boy did they enjoy playing with him! Of course, as the night wore on and more beer was consumed that’s when the betting for actual money started! Oh boy! We also had Darts, cuz’ whats a party without darts, right? This one could have had the potential to get dangerous, what with the consumption of copious amounts of beer and those sharp things flying through the air, but no one was injured and fun was had by all. I’m pretty sure Scott and Edgar had to have a tie breaker from Corn Hole and decided a game or two of Darts could be the deciding factor in the Championship! Which of course the Jefe won….could it be that Edgar went easy on the old guy? Who knows! But Scott was all smiles and everyone was happy!
Our artistically inclined friend Bond helped to cap off our fun filled night with a little artistic endeavor we like to call…”Friendffiti” (this is when friends let friends drink & spray paint!)! Given the fact that all the walls in our new house are still just concrete blocks, soon to be covered over in repello…he got a hold of some spray paint and began to lovingly bless our new walls with art. Hah! The rest of the gang joined in and you’ll see by my photos that our new house has been lovingly christened by our artistic, hoodlum friends. 🙂 And they got some pent up hooligan behavior out all over our new walls! I’m really gonna be sad to see it all covered up! How often do you get to embrace the vandal inside? I was happy to provide an outlet for our rebel friends, and they were kind enough to grace us with art for our new house! It was a wonderful ending to a night of celebrating our new home.
Now, here’s where I must explain and apologize to many of my good friends here who may be wondering why I neglected to include them in this Mondongata….Ahem…so….why didn’t I invite you? Not because I didn’t want you here, because as you know we subscribe to the widespread belief in ‘the more the merrier’…and its always merrier with all the people I like. But that being said, I know you’ll understand after I explain why I couldn’t have all my friends here this time. I only invited a couple friends to this last Mondongata because I really wanted the focus of this celebration to be all about our workers and not so much about us and our friends. It was important to us that our guys felt that this party was for them. It was meant to be a celebration to express our appreciation for all the amazing hard work that they do for us. I wanted to keep the number of gringos down in an effort to make them feel more comfortable. I’ve seen at other parties we’ve had that often the Panamanians and the gringos have a tendency to stay somewhat separated much of the time and I just wanted to avoid this. Mind you, I don’t mean to say that we don’t all mix and that my friends don’t make an effort to befriend our workers, not at all! But, I think they have a tendency to feel shy and more reserved around too many gringos. I really wanted all our guys to feel free to cut lose and enjoy their party. So, this is why I decided to keep this one smaller. When our project is completed we plan to have a huge party with everyone we know and I’ll follow this same recipe for a good time because it’s a damn good recipe! I can’t wait to celebrate with all my good friends. The end of this long long road we’ve been on is most certainly reason to celebrate, I think I may even have to add one tiny ingredient to our fun making….Fireworks!!!Oh yeah!!!