in Old School

Getting straight on the day of the dead

“prohibido chupar hasta la medianoche de hoy.”

i stare back at the front page of today’s Mi Diario. “hasta la medianoche?” bastards. how’s the average gringo expected to remain sober until midnight?

i’m just lucky i have weed. i ask a native why i can’t drink today. she tells me it’s “the way we show respect for the dead.”

i don’t know, going cold turkey seems extreme. next year they’ll want us to give up sex. do the dead really care about all this? I mean – can’t we just pray, weep, and gnash our teeth like all the other good Christians?

i tell my girl i’m Irish. and we prefer to celebrate by getting shit-faced, fighting with strangers, then puking up on someone’s shoes. she’s not amused.

in panama, death is serious business. and all it takes is a maudlin holiday, and a snifter of seco to get the natives throwing rocks and blocking the transistmica. As a precaution all the stores around Panama city have covered the liquor shelves with brown paper.

they don’t even want us to see the stuff. in latin america, the day of the dead is a time for families to come together. celebrations vary from country to country, but most feature trips to the local cemeteries to refurbish, and remember.

in the same paper there are reports of busted-up coffins, and monuments. “how could a family let it get to this,” a writer laments. when the choice is food for the living, or flowers for the dead, is it really so hard to understand?

contrary to popular belief, there’s no relief in death here. every year the fallen get harassed by family members, whining about the high cost of maintaining the family plot. and like any family reunion, they’d all rather be secretly drinking somewhere else.

On Saturday, before the parade takes over via espania, torrijos and his cabinet will throw on their best guayaberas, and drop some flowers at the musty feet of manuel amador guerrero, the first president of the republic.

Guerrero was a Colombian who played a critical role in Panama’s independence from Colombia. they say he’s been dead for awhile now, but you’ve got to give the man credit, he’s still getting flowers.

i don’t even give flowers to my Panamanian girlfriend, and as far as i know, she’s still alive.

Care to Comment?


  1. Cojito,

    So you're Irish? Congratulations. I'm half-Irish, half-German. Which presents an interesting quandry: I don't know if I want to take over the World or just get drunk…

    Okay, Cojito, my apologies for slamming you so hard. You actually are a fairly decent writer when your brain isn't rum-soaked and your nasal cavities are full of the delectable odor of fresh quim.


  2. this is pretty stupid. i dotn think you understand the importance of this day. Alot of people died on this day, young people. The americans shot alot of people just for raising the flag of their country. So dont tlak about things you dont know about. show some respect. Life isnt only about getting shit faced youll survive for one day

  3. Cojito,

    you are correct, the satire and irony was missed by Catherine, as it is by others.

    I think she was (inaccuratly) referencing "day of the martyr's" the (pardon the pun) just passed weekend.

    PS where the hell are you and why the alck of posts?

  4. yeah, it's hard for native Spanish speakers. just as it's hard for gringos to fully grasp Spanish. it takes a lifetime to master a language.

    i've been out of Panama for the last year. my mom had a stoke and needed help. but i'll be back and writing about Panama again soon i hope.