Patriotism in Panama

November is a month of "patriotic days" in Panama.  This last week, we had four.  Nov 3 was "Separation Day" when Panama "separated" (declared its independence) from Colombia in 1903.  It is called Separation Day because Panama already has an Independence Day.  More on that later.

Nov 4 was Flag Day with parades around the nation.  Nov 5 was Colón Day, celebrated in Colón at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal.  Colón is the Spanish for Columbus, as in Christopher Columbus. Yesterday, Nov 10, celebrated the "Cry for Independence" adopted by a small town in the countryside in 1821 to press the folks in Panama City to stop talking and do something about gaining independence from Spain.  It worked.  So on Nov 28, we will celebrate Panama's independence from Spain, but since it was small and not able to defend itself, Panama joined Gran Colombia (Great Colombia) in 1821, formed by what is today Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil.

This history is one of the reasons why Panama has been traditionally considered part of South America, not Central America.  Ask someone from El Salvador or Guatemala if Panama is part of Central America and they will probably set you straight!  But foreigners see a small nation next to another small nation in Central America (Costa Rica) and assume we are identical.  We are not.  Except for small groups further west in the nation, Panamanians even speak a different version of Spanish, called "tuteo", while Costa Ricans use "voseo".  Don't worry about it.  No one in Panama really cares.  We get along fine with the folks in Costa Rica.  We get along with both our neighbors, but we are Panama, the land bridge between two great continents and the water bridge between arth's two greatest oceans.  That is good enough!