Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and most of us will be waving palms about as we enter the church. I know that many churches in the U.S. order palms from Africa. Here at Parroquia San Cristóbal, we go get the palms from the tropical forest. We bring them back to the church and the Altar Guild clean and prepare them for Sunday.
Yesterday, Keith, our Senior Warden, Vincente, our Sexton, Wally and Ricky from Iglesia San Juan, and yer own Padre Mickey went to Summit Gardens in the former Canal Zone, out between Paraíso and Gamboa, to gather palms. We go there every year. Summit Gardens is a zoo with playgrounds and picnic areas and is a fun place to visit. We, however, were not there for fun, but for work. We met up with our man Juan, who cuts the palms with his machete. Actually, when we first arrived, Keith went to talk to the manager (who is different every year; there is some kinda crazy turn around in THAT office!) and was told by his assistant that the manager was away for the weekend and he hadn't been informed that we were coming so no palms for us. Now, I write a letter every year to the manager, requesting permission to get palms and the manager grants my request every year. Fortunately, Keith went and found Juan, who informed the assistant manager that we have been coming here for the past ten years and 'sup witchoo? So, permission was granted.
With permission granted, we drove into the park and all the way back to the forest where we begin our search for the proper palms. What we look for are new shoots which haven't opened. Wally stays back at the truck and keeps an eye on things while the rest of us tromp about the forest. There were lots of beautiful butterflies flitting about but I couldn't snap any photos of them. We spent about an hour cutting palms and dragging them out to the truck. Then we all enjoyed empanadas y chicha. It was a kind of tamarindo chicha and very refreshing. Then the palms were tied to the truck and I blessed a few for Juan and the folks at Summit. Then we headed back to El Dorado and Parque Lefevre.
Today the palms are being cleaned and prepared for tomorrow. The Lovely Mona is on the scene there right now and will return with photos once the job is done.
Where do you get your palms?
Entrance to Summit Gardens
A great place for field trips!
Into the forest with Juan
These are the leaves in which Panamanian-style tamales are wrapped. Juan says they use these for the tamales they sell in the parque.
Bananas in the wild!
Hongos. ¡Cuidado! ¡Don't eat!
The proper palm for Palm Sunday
Juan at work
A video of Juan wacking at them palms. Notice Padre's superior camera work and his outstretched hand.
Palms ready for the truck
Tying up the palms for the trip back to the city