PANAMá  |  Panamá City, Panamá Travel Guide
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Mi Pueblito

Mi Pueblito (My Little Village)

Life probably wasn’t as simple as portrayed in this faithful life-size recreation of a colonial village typical to the Azuero Peninsula a century or so ago, but its pastoral setting and air of authenticity will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Just off Av de Los Martires on the city’s west side, near the base of Ancón Hill, you’ll find whitewashed buildings in traditional colonial style, surrounding a central plaza massed with red and white bougainvillea blooms and a sparkling fountain. The small missionstyle church facing the plaza is furnished with extraordinary care, right down to its antique altar cloth and the schoolroom appears ready for students to flock in at any moment. There is a tiny parlor and typical separate kitchen, complete with 17th-century cooking tools and a wood burning stove made of clay. There’s a telegraph office, a pollera museum and a row of little shops where you can buy typical souvenirs and jewelry. You can sample traditional fare on the restaurant’s outdoor balcony that overlooks the square where full-dress performances of Panamá’s traditional dances, including the beautiful national dance called the tamborito, are held every Thursday evening.

Since Mi Pueblito first opened in 1994, two more complexes have been added. It’s now a trilogy of Panamá’s cultures. The Afro-Antillean town recreation pays tribute to the West Indian immigrants who arrived to work here, first on the Panama Railroad and later on the canal. The indigenous village honors the Emberá, Kuna and Ngöbe-Buglé (Guaymí), Panamá’s three most prominent indigenous groups.

Brightly painted Caribbean-Victorian architecture with lots of gingerbread highlights the colorful Afro-Caribbean complex. Alovely white chapel sits on a hilltop above the town and two houses show the vast difference in living conditions between the tiny home built for Panama Canal laborers between 1904-1914, and a prosperous West Indian home of the same period. Stop for a chat with the entertaining musicians strumming away in front of a row of shops or sway down brick pathways in tempo to soft reggae music floating in the flower-scented air. If you get hungry, there’s a brightly painted Caribbean sea-blue restaurant that specializes in seafood dishes, a bakery and a cafeteria. If it’s coffee you crave, follow your nose to Luis Beitia’s kiosk and he’ll brew you a fresh cup of Panamá’s finest. Take some home, too.

The indigenous area is the least fanciful and most authentic of all, as indigenous peoples have lived this way for centuries – and many still do. It’s in a lovely wooded area with a small waterfall. There’s a lookout here that offers fantastic views of the city and canal. Docents and guides, dressed in traditional garb, explain each group’s spiritual beliefs, traditions and life ways as you meander through typical homes and communal houses. You can watch artisans make traditional handicrafts and shop for molas, baskets, tagua and wood carvings, flutes and clothing.

Last updated November 26, 2007
Posted in   Panamá  |  Panamá City
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