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See: Getting lost, driving in circles, looking stupid
The main streets are lined with a variety of shops, mainly warehouse-sized establishments selling incredibly random things. Looking for a replica samurai sword for $2, you can find one here. How about a fake finch that looks like a real finch from about five feet away, but up close more resembles a beanbag? You can find that here too. Shoes, bathing suits, jewelry, board games, religious paraphernalia, finch posters, finch toys. It is down the aisles of these stores that you never quite realized how much stuff you actually need.
I would highly recommend stopping in at one of the local fondas or restaurants, where stewed beef, grilled chicken or barbequed pork will only set you back a dollar or two. The feel here is real rustic Panama, no fussy fusion restaurants like in Bocas del Toro. No cookie-cutter American chain restaurants like in Boquete. No tone deaf tourists wearing t-shirts that say "Panama Canal or Bust!" like in the City. Las Tablas is what Panama's all about: quiet rural towns rich with tradition and abound in culture.
That is, until the town is in full party mode when quiet, rural Las Tablas transforms into frat row; its streets, balconies, and parks resembling the tattered tailgating lot after an Orange Bowl win. If I ever get around to studying the drinking habits of Panamanians, Las Tablas during Carnaval will be my center of operations. In case you didn't know or haven't noticed, Panamanians love to consume alcohol and there's no better place to observe this spectacle than Las Tablas where hundreds upon thousands of revelers migrate like finches to drown themselves in any liquid with an alcohol percentage over that of mouthwash.
See: $.50 beers, 100 degree heat, thousands of people passed out everywhere
For Carnaval, the town splits into two opposing groups: Calle abajo and Calle ariba, each of whom have their own fireworks, dances, queens, and basically try to outdo the opposite bloc. Heated alcohol-induced rivalry at its best.
You'll have to reserve a hotel room well in advance if you plan on coming for these parties. Be sure to go with someone you know and trust because as fun as Las Tablas can get, it can also possess a nasty sideâ€”one about which a made-for-TV special might surface: â€œWhen Good Las Tablas Partiers Go Badâ€.
See: Small-scale theft, physical aggression, drunk driving accidents
Las Tablas, Panama has a semi-feel of Louisiana to me. While you can't get hand grenades or hurricanes or po' boys or crawdads, you can get a vibrant taste of rural Panama: one that's unaffected by nice cars and fancy suits. It's the capital of Los Santos and one of the neatest places to stop in Azuero. Check it out. I've included for your reading pleasure, the dates of the my favorite crazy party/festivals this place throws:
Villa De Los Santos: The Fiesta de Corpus Christi is held from Thursday to Sunday 40 days after Easter and is one of the wildest festivals in the country.
Feria de Azuero: Another notable festival in this town, held from late April/early May, including folkloric dancing, agricultural events and competitions among local singers performing regional songs. Do not join in the competitions unless you have had a few drinks.
Carnaval: For a truly rowdy Carnival, head over to Las Tablas during the four days prior to Ash Wednesday. Go and get polluted.
Fiesta de La Pollera: Another site to behold when on July 21st all the young women model Polleras and dance around. In reality, just another excuse to drink.
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