Sunday is Palm Sunday. Where does you church get its palms? I know that some churches order palms from Africa, others from other places. At Parroquia San Cristóbal, we don't order palms; we go get them ourselves from the tropical forest. We also get them for a few other churches in the Diocese. Every year, just after Diocesan Convention (which is always just before Carnaval), I write a letter to the good folks at Summit Gardens, a zoological and botanical garden on the way to Gamboa in the former Canal Zone, requesting permission to seek palms for Palm Sunday. About two months later, after the letter's journey through the bureaucratic nightmare which is the Panamanian Park System, we receive a telephone call granting permission. We usually go there on the last Thursday of Lent, just as we did this year.
San Cristóbal's Senior Warden and Sexton, Keith and Vicente, San Juan's Senior Warden and Sexton, Wally and Ricky, and Your Padre all headed for Summit Garden yesterday morning where we met Summit Garden's Juan. Juan's job is to cut the palms with his machete. We drove through the park past the tourists to the far reaches of the park. We parked the pick-up and prepared to head into the forest. I love the tropical forest; I love the way it smells and the sounds of the insects and birds. We even heard a troop of howler monkeys once we were deep into the forest. I took a lot of photos of the forest.
What we look for are palms that haven't opened yet. Juan chops them off the tree and we drag them to the truck. Tomorrow, members of the Altar Guild will separate the palms and clean them. I believe the Lovely Mona, member of the Altar Guild, will be cleaning and snapping photos tomorrow.
We were in the forest for about an hour and a half. As we tied the palms on to the truck, we saw the daily rains heading over the hills for the daily drenching.
Here are photos of the Great Palm Hunt of 2010
The Forest Path
Vicente and Juan
Old, washed-out bridge
The kind of palms we want
Ricky and Juan
The pick-up truck, loaded and ready to go!