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Partytime in Panama!

So we're still stuck in Panama, but I'm not complaining, because I got to go to a HUGE festival!

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Portobelo - Pretty good name for such a pretty place!

A friend and I went to a town called Portobelo on the Caribbean Sea. It is a famous city because back when Spain took over this area and took all of the gold from this area back to Spain, they used to store it in Portobelo. So lots of pirates used to always attack the nearby boats, and even took over and destroyed the city once.

My friend and I went there to enjoy the beach and eat coconuts.

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Not what we expected to find on the coast!
Well it turns out that we went to Portobelo on the day the city celebrates its birthday, and we found ourselves surrounded by drummers and dancers in all kinds of costumes.

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Ashiveika and Kaisa show how it's done in Panama
The party started with a modern performance by our new friends Ashiveika and Kaisa, and other teenagers. Ashiveka is 14 and Kaisa is 16. Their dance had all the energy of a Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul video. They said they like to dance all night until they can't dance anymore.

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Smooth and refined - Tipica
Then came a traditional dance from when the Spanish used to live here. It's called Tipica. The dance is very sweet. The man and the woman move their feet quickly and shake their hips a little, but they never stop looking in each others' eyes, and they never touch each other - they just come real close. For music they use a stick drum, a shaker, and an accordion.

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Fast and raw - Los congos
Then came a totally different dance called Los Congos. This dance started back when African slaves were brought over by the Spaniards to work on farms. Some of the slaves escaped. In this dance the men and women dress in old clothes and pretend they are escaped slaves and owners. The women wear brightly colored dresses with huge flowers in their pulled back hair. The women who danced tipica were small, but the women who dance Los Congos are big and can stand up to the men when they dance!

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Keeping the beat on the congo
Ashiveika and Kaisha taught me how to shake my hips, congo style, and we stayed there dancing after the competition until after midnight.

Gee, sometimes getting stuck in a new place isn't such a bad thing after all!


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