|Written by Editor|
|Friday, 13 October 2006 10:48|
Panama City has all the safety of lunch with a blind contract killer. â€œUm, excuse meâ€ the hit man would say, running his hands over my face. â€œAre you about five foot eight, one hundred and fifty pounds?â€
I spent my last birthday on a beach wearing stupid linen pants, sipping champagne from a glass that had my initials etched into its stem. That was great, but too yay-yay for me. This year I wanted to do something different and raucous. Something wild and mischievous. While many people who come to Panama are familiar with our techno-spray-painted public busses dangerously called Diablo Rojos, it is their deranged vehicular siblings, the Chivas Parranderas, that are truly a force to be reckoned with.
Riding a Chivas Parrandera in |
The side of a Chivas bus is crafted entirely out of wood, completely open but for a few ropes which serve as guard rails for overexcited riders. The inner confines have no semblance to a normal bus, as there are long wooden benches that sort of resemble pews in a church, except in this case instead of a bible, there's vodka, ice, and cranberry juice in front of you. You see, the point of a Chivas Parrandera, against all laws of civility and decency, is to cart you around the city and get you wasted. A party bus, for lack of a better moniker.
After meeting up at a pre-determined starting point and handing over the dinero, you board the bus and the mayhem begins. Contrary to everything you were taught in grade school, the next few hours are spent hanging out the door of a fast-moving vehicle, drinking poisonous fluids with strangers, and running across the street without holding hands. When the bus is in crowded areas, the on-board mariachi band starts humming away on their saxophones and trumpets, and the hostess encourages all riders to scream out to onlookers as if to say, â€œwe're having a better time than you are, and you know it.â€
The only thing the bus is missing is an area in the back to pass out.
The hosts and hostesses are very good at what they do and are well-versed in the touchy art of controlling drunken people without pissing them off. They will, for example, stop on the side of the highway for the light-bladdered of the group to use the bathroom as well as take any special route you request: perhaps through your neighborhood or along the Panama Canal where you can call out to tugboat captains, â€œI'm having a better time than you are, and you know it.â€
The bus costs a double sawbuck which entitles you to all the liquor you can drink and a dinner buffet of small greasy goodies and gumdrops. You can sign up at their office or over the phone (the information which I have listed below) and I believe they do it every Friday and Saturday night, depending on demand. Try it out. It's my birthday.
La Chiva Parrandera
Calle 46 Bella Vista
Edif. La Exitosa
I have also listed some options and additional information that could be useful:
1. Public Chiva: $20 per person, for a minimum group of 15 people. It includes Open Bar (Ron Abuelo and Seco Herrerano with mixers), Ice, Bartender, hostess, live music (Murga) and typical food snacks.
2. Private Chiva: Ranges from $480-$560. Set rate, no minimum required.
Changes depending on requirements. These are the options:
a. Full Chiva Parrandera, up to 32 max: Includes everything described above, $560.
b. Full Chiva Parrandera, up to 32 max: Does not include snacks, $520
c. Chiva Parrandera w/out booze, up to 32 max: Does not include alcohol, $480
d. Chiva Parrandera w/out booze, up to 32 max: Does not include alcohol or snacks, $450
e. Chiva Parrandera w/out murga, up to 40 max: Does not include live music (Murga), $480
ï¿½ The set amount of time is always 3 hours
ï¿½ The bus tours through the main streets in the city, those being, Calle 50, Via Espana and Ave. Balboa. The itinerary is the following:
ï¿½ Pick-up group at place of choice (near Calle 50, Via Espana or Ave. Balboa)
ï¿½ Tour around town
ï¿½ Head to the Causeway
ï¿½ Stop to have the Snacks
ï¿½ Head over to Iemanja, free entrance but not free drinks
ï¿½ Stop at the Flag Plaza as you head out of the Causeway
ï¿½ Back to the meeting point, or drop-off place
ï¿½ The snacks are mini typical Panamanian fritters, such as hojaldres (made out of flour), tortillas (made out of corn) and yucca.
ï¿½ You choose the pick-up place, could be anyplace within the main streets of the city.
ï¿½ It will drop you off any place you request within the city, most people have it drop them off at a club or bar so they can continue partying.
This article was co-written by Matt Landau and Aliza Elbert
|Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 23:18|