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Panama Wedding Etiquette

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Written by Matt   
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 16:30
In the golden age of rock music, generic the back rooms of concert venues were knee deep in beer bottles and general party paraphernalia. You see it all the time in movies, malady these trashed hotel rooms or tour busses and I never really grasped how drinking could get that out of control. Until today that is, when I woke up with a furious headache and three live crows in my apartment living room gnawing on chicken bones.

“What the…” I said and they all immediately looked up like I had interrupted some sort of Sabbath meal. The crows were the silver lining of the disaster, having entered through my balcony doors which were propped open still with giant empty jugs of vodka.

Max the dog had taken a giant dump in my kitchen and the amount of empty Balboa cans were enough to finance, upon refund, a small Panamanian wedding like the one we attended back in November.

It was held in a small rural town called Capira, no more than forty-five minutes from Panama City, and on our way, my friend Carlos said we needed to stop and buy leather.

“Is tradition man,” he said. “Buy some leather for gift in wedding.”

Given the cultural blunders I’d been making back then, who was I to be rejecting advice? So we stopped at a tannery in the Panamanian countryside and I sponsored about $50 in rough, smelly leather which the man – an older, weathered looking guy whose skin looked, quite appropriately, like leather itself – strapped the load to my car.

He asked me if I wanted any meat, and then, if I wanted any fresh cow urine, “a cure for all diseases,” he said, while pointing to his head. “Baldness too.”

I pictured him coating my head with cow urine using a giant turkey baster. Then I covered my mouth and laughed so hard that bullets of soda came flying out of my nose. Carlos  was satisfied with the leather and at the wedding it was a hit. While this is not to say that all Panamanian weddings require the gift of fresh leather, cow urine can be a subtle way of expressing disapproval.
 
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 16:38
 
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