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Volume 19, Number 2
February 28, 2013

Panama Spanish Schools in Bocas del Toro and in Boquete, by the beach and in the mountains

culture


Also in this section:
Books, Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas
Rómulo Castro & Mayito: Caribe Mayor III at Sanborn's
Sparky the Wonder Dog
School for Wives: Moliere by the Theatre Guild
Portobelo's diablos and congos
Rubén Blades on the person (not the persona)
Skylark: arranging a jazz standard with Ken Schaphorst
Movies, Pablo Larrain's No
Books, Woody Guthrie's House of Earth
Movies, Django Unchained


The Panama News uses its Facebook Page as an extension of this website, and that page has a far more extensive and up-to-date listing of events, particularly bands that will be playing in Panama, than this culture section does.


Did the Raging Queen
ever call at Bocas Town?

a review by Eric Jackson


Superstitions, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama
by Malcolm Henderson
139 pp in paperback
Self published, Panama 2012ISBN 978-0-578-11333-3
available in print or on kindle from Amazon.com

Him irie. Likewise his ghost. But if you are sleeping alone, put a pillow in the empty space beside you, lest the ghost of Marley crawl into bed with you.

And if you are one of those tidy people who does your own housecleaning to start the day, when you are done sweeping the floor turn the broom upside down. That way your day will go well.

Much of Malcolm Henderson's new book is a collection of Bocas del Toro folklore and superstitions, particularly from the West Indian, Indigenous and Chinese traditions. It then shades into oral history from several old timers whose minds are the vessels that store these traditions. The stories these people tell and the beliefs they report are an invaluable cultural source as well as a unique record of things that happened in their lifetimes. From these and other sources Henderson has also collected the local pirate lore, which shades from legend to solid secondary source history. He treats these differently with words like "some believe" to distinguish the former.

Henderson, a retired British infantry officer, labor activist and art gallery owner before landing on these shores, was part of the first major wave of expatriate retirees in Bocas and he has written about that rough-and-tumble scene. He has since moved elsewhere in Panama, but still gets back to Bocas. He wrote this, his third book, to preseve and explain bits of culture that might otherwise die with the elders who remember and to explain to an English-reading public beliefs and history that will not die but will continue to bewilder many a foreigner. In passing, a few pages at a time insterspesed among the folk legends and the accounts of several fascinating sources, he draws succinct sketches of five centuries of Bocatoreño history.

What can we say about the pirate lore of Bocas del Toro? By many sources it is known that the Bocas islands were used particularly by Englishmen, with or without royal charters, as bases from which to prey upon Spanish shipping. In that sense the area shares a tradition with places along the Caribbean littoral from Yucatan to Cartagena. But that sort of activity was illegal and except when boasting to royal sponsors its practitioners usually didn't leave written accounts of it. Court records about the few who were caught are rare and sketchy but oral traditions about the subject are widespread. Like the Old Testament and the Irish bardic history, stories will have been embellished, botched or falsified into legends but interspersed among these will be important facts. Henderson tells the legends and distills out the known facts

And the Tulivieja --- in Bocas does she just wail for her lost child, or is she the instrument of horrible fates for kids who disobey their elders? You have to know this sort of stuff in Panama, lest someone put the evil eye on you and really mess up your day. You don't want the evil eye, you don't want to climb your best mango tree if you have been bitten by a snake, and you SURELY don't want to walk on salt. Get your copy of Superstitions, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama to know why these things are so.




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Also in this section:
Books, Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas
Rómulo Castro & Mayito: Caribe Mayor III at Sanborn's
Sparky the Wonder Dog
School for Wives: Moliere by the Theatre Guild
Portobelo's diablos and congos
Rubén Blades on the person (not the persona)
Skylark: arranging a jazz standard with Ken Schaphorst
Movies, Pablo Larrain's No
Books, Woody Guthrie's House of Earth
Movies, Django Unchained


The Panama News uses its Facebook Page as an extension of this website, and that page has a far more extensive and up-to-date listing of events, particularly bands that will be playing in Panama, than this culture section does.




The Panama News Editors
Editor & Publisher - Eric Jackson
Contributing Editor - Silvio Sirias
Contributing Editor - José F. Ponce
Copy Editor - Sue Hindman (1944-2010)

© 2013 by Eric Jackson
All Rights Reserved - Todos Derechos Reservados
Individual contributors retain the rights to their articles or photos

email: e_l_jackson_malo@yahoo.com or

thepanamanews@gmail.com

phone: (507) 6-632-6343

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Mailing address:

Eric Jackson
Apartado 1011-00059 Estafeta Chame
Chame, República de Panamá