Panama Carnival

Go Au Pair’s Featured Country is Panama.

Panama is an exotic country that offers a vibrant mix of cultural influences and sights
and sounds that tantalize the senses. World renowned for its beauty, Panama boasts
spotless beaches as well as mighty mountain ranges. Fortunately, there are a lot of
activities in Panama that let you enjoy the country’s natural splendor.
Travellers in Panama can delve into the Island of Flowers or go scuba diving along
the Caribbean. Panamanian night life is also quite colorful, and there are various
magical islands to explore. Of all these amazing activities, perhaps the most exciting
event for travellers is the Panama Carnival.

Panama Carnival Details

Carnival has been celebrated annually since the early 1900s on the four days leading
up to Ash Wednesday. It is the most celebrated festival in the country and one of the
biggest events in the world. People book their tickets way in advance to attend and
are left with memories they cherish forever.
The town of Las Tablas is the best place to feel the true essence and spirit of
Carnival. The rivalry of the residents who live there leads to an exhibition of
beautifully designed floats and costumes that are a true feast for the eyes. There
are also fireworks, live concerts, games, and large trucks that spray clean water on
participants to keep energy levels high.
You can also enjoy Carnival in Via Espana, which is the main area in Panama City.
The Carnival queen is selected there and is featured in a parade and other related
activities. Some of the hotels even organize events that involve food and dancing,
further promoting the lively atmosphere of Carnival. The streets literally overflow with
people, music and joy.
Mardi Gras is arguably the biggest part of the Panama Carnival. The parade on the
main Carnival day in Panama City is better than any other before it, and people enjoy
themselves well into the early hours of the morning. It is so popular that is has even
spawned similar celebrations in other places around the world.
This information about the Carnival in Panama is from Veneto.

Au Pair Live-in Childcare is Flexible and Affordable.My name is Janine and I am a Local Area Representative for Go Au Pair. If you are interested in a cultural care experience for your family click here: or feel free to contact me at AuPairRep [at] gmail DOT com.

Receive $100 off your fees when you welcome an Au Pair from Panama into your home.

View available Au Pairs HERE.

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The Church of San Jose in Panama

The golden altar inside San Jose Church.  Rumor has it that this is the only valuable to survive

This month, Go Au Pair‘s featured country is Panama. Check out one of Panama’s attractions, The Church of San Jose.
One of the things you might want to see when you visit Panama is the famous golden altar of the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo. The Inglesia de San Jose (the Church of San Jose) is a small almost nondescript building on a narrow street in the San Felipe district of Panama City. Inside is the famous Golden Altar, which is made of carved wood and is covered in gold flake. Commonly known in Spanish as the “Altar de Oro” (Golden Altar), it was originally in a church in “Old Panama.” When English pirate Henry Morgan attacked the city the jesuits painted the altar black to hide the gold. The pirates left it alone, thinking it was worthless. After Morgan sacked and burned “Old Panama” the Jesuit monks of the Order of St. Agustine moved the altar to the new church and its present location.

Here’s a picture of the front door, so you’ll know when you’re there…

This plaque from the Rotary Club says “Panamanian – Believing in You. Take care of this monument, it’s part of your history. “The Church of San Jose” Initially constructed between 1671 and 1677, was remodeled in the 19th Centrury, is custodian of the Golden Altar, built in the 18th Century. Rotary Club, Panama”

One more landmark so you know you’ve got the right place. This is the bell tower from the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo, home of the famous golden altar.

And here’s what you came to see. This church gets quite a bit of tourist traffic, and they are kind of accustomed to it. But you should tread lightly and show proper respect if there is a mass being celebrated when you happen to drop in. It’s fine to take pictures of the altar, but not during a church service. I’ve seen some blundering tourists pull some bonehead moves in this place. As long as you understand that this is a functioning church and more than just a tourist attraction and show a little respect, then you’ll have no problems at all. And, you’ll find that people are very proud of the church and like to show it off.

A detail shot of the Golden Altar of the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo, Panama City. The altar is actually made out of hand-carved wood, and then covered in gold flake.

The church is filled with beautiful side altars, also hand-carved wood and enhanced with gold flake.

The church also has some very nice stained glass windows, this one dedicated to Saint Rita of Cascia, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes (no kidding).

And this one to Saint Augustine of Hippo.

These pictures and information have been provided by the Panama Guide.

This month, when you welcome an Au Pair with Go Au Pair from Panama into your home, you get $100 off your fees!

Au Pair Live-in Childcare is Flexible and Affordable.My name is Janine and I am a Local Area Representative for Go Au Pair. If you are interested in a cultural care experience for your family click here: or feel free to contact me at AuPairRep [at] gmail DOT com.

View available Au Pairs HERE.

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Here is a recipe from Panama Living in honor of Go Au Pair’s Featured Country, Panama.

  • 5 cups flour (unsifted)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup shortening (Crisco preferred)
  • 1 cup milk

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl.   Cut in shortening until it resembles crumbly meal.  Gradually sprinkle in milk stirring until dough clings together.  Knead 10 times.  Let rest 1/2 hour.Filling:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • hot sauce (optional)

Mix ground beef with all the ingredients except tomato paste.  Fry slowly in 1 tablespoon oil until cooked.  Mash around a bit so it’s crumbly.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste (so that it’s thick), stir very well.  Turn off heat and let filling cool.  Add as much hot sauce as you like.  On a very well-floured surface, roll dough as thick as you would for pie crust (can divide it into 2 parts if desired).  Cut 5″circles (using any container with 5″ opening) and place filling on center of each circle.  Brush beaten egg on lower edge of circles. Fold over and press edges with fork dipped in flour.  Fry in lard about 2 minutes on each side until brown.  Make sure there is enough lard to cover the empanadas— about 3 – 4″ deep.*Can be frozen unfried.  Stack between wax paper, sprinkling plenty of flour in between empanadas and wax paper, or they will stick together.



Au Pair Live-in Childcare is Flexible and Affordable.My name is Janine and I am a Local Area Representative for Go Au Pair. If you are interested in a cultural care experience for your family click here: or feel free to contact me at AuPairRep [at] gmail DOT com.

View available Au Pairs HERE.

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Create a “Mola:” Folk-Art from Panamá

Panama is Go Au Pairs Featured Country this month. This craft from Kid World Citizen shows how to make this well known art from Panama called a “Mola”.

San Blas Islands Map- Kid World Citizen

Beautiful Panamá: the tropical and mountainous isthmus with coasts on the Caribbean and Pacific that connects the Americas. Off the northern coast of Panamá, there is a string of idyllic islands (an archipelago) called the San Blas Islands. The Kuna Indians were driven out of Panamá by the Spaniards in the 1500′s, and took their boats to live on these islands. They continue to live there today, hunting, fishing, and maintaining traditions. One of Panama’s best-known handicrafts is the mola, intricate reverse-applique handwork made by the Kuna, and now an important symbol of their culture.  The layers of brightly-colored fabric form animals or geometric shapes, and are used to decorate the blouses of Kuna women. In fact, the most outstanding designs take hours of complex sewing to complete and is asource of status, and a display of artistic expression and ethnic identity. In the following intricate craft, your kids can make similar designs out of construction paper.
Panama Mola Multicultural Art Project- Kid World Citizen
Before gathering your supplies (construction paper, scissors, glue), show your kids examples of molas from Panamá. I bought this one in Central America; of course it’s fantastic if you can show your kids real examples, but thanks togoogle images, your kids can study molas on-line before they begin their project.Panama Mola Folk Art- Kid World CitizenAfter you’ve looked at the images, and noticed how the layers and shapes fit together, note the common colors and designs. Have your child draw the outline of their choice of an animal or plant onto a sheet of paper and cut it out.
Making a Mola Kids- Kid World Citizen
NextTracing Mola Design- Kid World Citizen, trace the figure onto another color paper.
When they are finished, cut out one of the figures slightly smaller than the first, and glue them together. Then the kids can begin to create layers of shapes to glue onto the figure. My kids started with a small black shape, glued it onto another color, and then cut that out leaving a bit of a border showing. By repeating this step several times with different colors, you get the layered look.
Kids Making A Mola- Kid World Citizen
The next step is to glue the figure onto the background, and then decorate the background with additional geometric shapes. The quality of a mola lies in its attention to details, its fine stitching, evenness and width of cutouts- this project took us all morning, but we loved the end results!
Kids Making Mola Art Project- Kid World Citizen

To learn more, visit the National Museum of the American Indian’s site: The Art of Being Kuna: Layers of Meaning Among the Kuna of Panama.

This month, you will receive $100 off your fee when you choose an Au Pair from Panama.

Visit Go Au Pair at

Panama’s Wildlife- Go Au Pair’s Featured Country

Panama’s biodiversity is staggering – the country is home to 218 mammal species, 226 species of reptile, 164 amphibian species and 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world. Panama also boasts 940 avian species, which is the largest number in Central America.

Bird-watchers consider Panama to be one of the world’s best birding sights. Quetzals, macaws, amazons, parrots and toucans all have sizable populations here, as do many species of tanager and raptor. The best bird-watching site in the country is Cana in Parque Nacional Darién, where you can see four species of macaw, golden-headed quetzals and black-tipped cotingas. Another fantastic birding spot is Parque Nacional Soberanía, where hundreds of species have been spotted along the famous 17km-long Pipeline Rd.

One of the most sought-after birds is the harpy eagle, the national bird of Panama. With a 2m wingspan and weights of up to 20lb, this raptor is the world’s most powerful bird of prey and a truly awesome sight. The bird is recognized by its huge size, its broad, black chest band with white underneath, its piercing yellow eyes and its prominent, regal crests. The harpy’s powerful claws can carry off howler monkeys and capuchins, and it also hunts sloths, coatis, anteaters and just about anything that moves. It’s best spotted in the Parque Nacional Darién around Punta Patiño.

More famous than the harpy eagle is the elusive, emerald-green quetzal, which lives in habitats throughout Central America, but some of the best places to see it are in Panama. The male has an elongated wing covert (train) and a scarlet breast and belly, while females have duller plumage. Parque Nacional Volcán Barú is a top spot for sighting them, as is Parque Internacional La Amistad. They are best spotted in the breeding season from March to June when males grow their spectacular trains and start calling for mates.

Panama’s geographical position also makes it a crossroads for migratory birds. Out of the country’s 940 bird species, 122 occur only as long-distance migrants (ie they don’t breed in Panama). From August to December, North American raptors migrate south into Central America by the millions – at times, there are so many birds that they make a black streak across the sky. The canopy tower in Panama’s Parque Nacional Soberanía is a particularly good vantage point for watching this migration.

In Bocas del Toro, keep an eye out for kettling hawk migrations – October is the best month to see them in large numbers. The migration of turkey vultures over the islands in early March and again in October is another striking sight. These big, black-bodied, red-necked birds can streak the sky and are able to soar for long periods without a single flap as they migrate between southern Canada and Tierra del Fuego.

Primate lovers are also drawn to Panama. Among the country’s many species – including white-faced capuchins, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys and howler monkeys – are some fascinating varieties. The Geoffroy’s tamarin, for instance, is found nowhere else in Central America. These tiny, gregarious monkeys can live in groups of up to 40 in lowland forest, and many weigh less than a pound. They’re identified by their whistles and chirps, mottled black-and-brown fur, white chests, and of course, their diminutive stature. They can be spotted in Parque Natural Metropolitano, Monumento Nacional Isla Barro Colorado and in the Darién.

Big cats prowl the jungles of Panama and although you’d be extremely fortunate to catch even a glimpse of one, their prints are easy to come across. Jaguars, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundis and margays are all found on the isthmus. The jaguar is the biggest of the bunch and is the largest cat in the Americas. Jaguars (and pumas) both need large tracts of land in order to survive. Without them the big cats gradually exhaust their food supply (which numbers 85 hunted species) and perish. They are excellent swimmers and climbers and are commonly spotted resting on sunny riverbanks.

Panama’s offshore waters host a fascinating assortment of creatures. Reefs found off both coasts support a plethora of tropical fish, and visitors to the national marine parks might spot humpback whales, reef sharks, bottlenose dolphins, and killer or sperm whales. Underwater, whale sharks, black- and white-tip sharks and occasionally tiger sharks also visit.

One of Panama’s biggest coastal draws is the sea turtle. Of the world’s seven different species, five can be seen in Panama at various times throughout the year. All sea turtles originally evolved from terrestrial species and the most important stage of their survival happens on land when they come to nest. Although you’ll need a bit of luck and a lot of patience, the experience of seeing hatchlings emerge is unparalleled.

Arribadas (arrivals) are rare events that occur when thousands of female sea turtles flood the beach to lay their eggs. This happens occasionally on Isla de Cañas when 40,000 to 50,000 olive ridleys come to nest at a single time. This chance event most likely occurs in the wet season (usually September to October) during the first and last quarter of the moon. Although scientists are not entirely sure why these mass arrivals occur, a common theory is that arribadas are a defense mechanism to overwhelm would-be predators.

This information is from Lonely Planet.

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