The very first step, before putting on any jewelry or adornments, is the hairdo.
Make a part down the middle of the head and put the hair into two pigtails above the ears. Braid each one, wind them up, and secure into a bun. Now proceed to insert the hair ornaments, first the hair comb in the back of the head, then the side hair combs, and finally the headdress.
Earrings may be made out of gold with precious stones in varying colors and sizes, such as ruby, emerald, or topaz.
The most popular earrings for women wearing a pollera are a tri-hoop made of jet (Zarcillos), a pendant of small coins shaped like a closed eye (Dormilonas), a pearl-drop decorated mostly with cultivated pearls (Mosquetas), and golden hoops made of pearls, coral and traditional goldsmith design (Tangos).
The neck is embraced with a "bone-cover" necklace or choker.
The pollera-wearer delicately and simply covers her clavicle bone by wearing a gold medallion or cross, which is strung through a velvet or black satin ribbon for the Montuna polleras.
The gold choker is adorned with hearts and very delicate butterflies decorated with pearls and filigree gold.
To decorate the pollera blouse and chest, there are several delicate pieces that resemble those worn by the Spaniards during the colonial era.
The cadena chata, which includes the cross of Caravaca, is a delicate chain with golden filigree decorations, the rosary can be made of pearls or other stones, and the showy cabestrillo has an ornament the size of a large golden coin and imprinted with a shield. Interestingly, the witch chain is known for springing open once it is moved.
Additional necklace options include the ducktail scapular, the open cord, the Solomonic chain, the single chain, the chains of charms, and the half orange chain. All are imbued with meaning and have a specific placement that allows for appreciation of each necklace's length, inlays, pearls, and designs, among other features.
Accessories for the Pollera
Additional accessories include buttons on the petticoats, bracelets that usually match the haircombs, and golden buckles and brooches to fasten the multiple chains and cords resting on the pollera costume.
Several different jewelry pieces accompany the pollera and are worn on the head, ears, neck, chest, and to adorn the dress itself.
Ornamental hair combs made of gold with a straight or oval cut and frequently decorated with pearls or sparkly gemstones frame the lady's crown.
Other major golden jewelry pieces for the head are: smaller hair combs, a palm-leaf dagger to one side of the head, and small patches or "golden thoughts" on the temples.
To top it all off, an elaborate hair adornment customarily wraps her head in a flexible floral wreath made of shiny metal, satin, fish scales, pearls, and colored glass or plastic beads. When the woman dances, this tembleque will delicately tremble along and imitate the natural movement of carnations and other countryside flowers.
In addition to such popular floral designs as guate flower, bride's bouquet, and white musk roses, the headdress may imitate animals like the scorpion or dragonfly, or represent other original designs inspired from nature.
Considered the most beautiful costume in the world, the Panamanian pollera is a colorful dress that exudes splendor, distinction, and elegance. Artisans execute every detail involved in the sewing, art, design, and style of each variety, the most well known being: white gala attire (Pollera Santeña); chintz peasant dress (Pollera Montuna); with openwork darning,embroidery, or cross-stitch (Pollera con Labores); household blouse (La Basquiña); and with colorfully striped ribbons (La Pollera Tireada).
The pollera consists of two major pieces, a blouse and a long skirt, both decorated in fine cloth.
The Azuero Peninsula, comprising the provinces of Herrera, Los Santos and part of Veraguas, is where to today artisans conserve the authenticity of the delicate and laborious process of tailoring polleras.
The pollera can be made from the following fabrics:
Linen: Tela de Hilo, El Coco, La Crea de Hilo, El Holán de Motitas
Cotton: El Percal, La Tela Confusa, El Opal, El Anjeo, La Zaraza
Every Panamanian woman dreams of wearing a pollera, which makes her feel proud of the customs and traditions that enrich this isthmus.
It's important to note that the pollera can come in any color, as with the hair adornments and shoes, all depending on its style, type, and category.
Panama proudly showcases the many customs and traditions that make up its rich culture, from diverse dances to colorful clothing.
Today we will focus on the national costume called pollera and pay homage to the seamstresses and artisans who play a fundamental role in creating such important articles that have gained world renown for their beauty and singularity.
The essence of the people in each region of the country is reflected and highlighted through the history behind their individual pollera ensemble.
Known as one of the beaches with the most tourism development and infrastructure in the country, excellent hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, banks, private homes and housing projects, and all sorts of commercial services have been attracted to Coronado.
Following the Pan-American Highway and after passing the well-known hill called Cerro Campana, you will be en route to this beautiful beach with large waves. The national decree passed in 2014 makes it now part of Panama's tenth province named West Panama.
Length: 15 full days
Route: Herrera, Los Santos, Pedasí, Boquete, Bocas del Toro
This interesting itinerary hits all the attractions, both cultural and natural, and will undoubtedly be an enriching experience for any traveler. The route takes you to countryside villages where the townspeople conserve their customs and traditions. Allow yourself to unwind on a visit to postcard-perfect Caribbean islands that are awash in vegetation and replete with tropical fauna.
The "Land of Bananas" is accessible by various modes of transportation from Panama City. Direct daily flights from Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport bring you to Colón Island, in the district of Changuinola in Bocas del Toro, in about 45 minutes.
You can also get there in ground transportation, by bus or rental car. Busses depart daily from the Albrook Grand Station on a regular schedule of 8:00 pm and 12:00 am. Either the Panama- David route or the Padafront line charge approximately $25.00 for the trip. Busses go as far as Chiriquí Grande, and if you decide to stay here to rest you can find lodging at the Hotel Emperador, Hotel Buena Vista, or boarding houses.
To reach the island in car, backtrack a few kilometers to Rampala and then head towards Almirante (63 km. away) and ask for directions to a parking lot by the dock. If you travel by bus, they will drop you off directly at the dock. There you can take a speedboat and arrive at your destination of Colón Island in around 20 minutes. Boats depart from the dock all day from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Once you land on the island you can relax in an environment of singular natural beauty and a tranquil way of life. This is what has allured a variety of cultures, including Europeans and Americans, to make it their home away from home. The Caribbean-style of houses built on stilts and seaside restaurants serving an array of seafood steeped in coastal flavors are a simple way of welcoming you to enjoy your stay.
Entertainment options abound on the Bocas archipelago, from nightlife at open-air bars to island-hopping tours. The natural attractions of beaches, palm trees, birds, and a rainbow of colors play up the region's paradisiacal beauty. Be sure to include a visit to Bastimentos Island National Park, located north of Colón Island, to witness an intact tropical rainforest and a marine ecosystem that encompasses mangrove islets and coral reefs. These preserved natural areas serve as a refuge for amphibians and habitat for marine species such as the Hawksbill Turtle.
A trip to the highlands of Chiriquímeans cool temperatures, coffee, flowers, rivers, trails, and farmland with flavor-packed products such as strawberries. Get ready to see places that will enchant you, starting with the chilled waters of Caldera River that give way to the majestic "Valley of the Eternal Rainbow". Aromatic flowers in motley colors delicately dot the slopes of the towering blue mountains surrounding Boquete, inviting you to go on a hiking trip across the countryside. The scenic views, abundant trails, and pleasant climate, punctuated by a gentle rain that refreshes the fertile land, are reason enough to engage in outdoor activities. This mountainous area is situated about a 5-hour drive from Panama City and 46 kilometers from the city of David on the Pan-American Highway.
Virtual Tour of Highlands
This trip is known as a cultural tour that prominently displays the customs and traditions that reign in the countryside. The proud peasants are famous for extending their hospitality and inviting you to become a part of this great experience. The regional cuisine is prepared simply but showcases the exquisite flavor of the country's interior provinces. This route through the region of Azuero seeks to emphasize its natural attractions, folk culture, antique dwellings, and the history surrounding the villages, all of which the townspeople lovingly exhibit during the local patron saint festivals and fairs.
The Azuero Peninsula is accessible by bus from the Albrook bus station for a B/.8.00 fare. You can also take a flight from the Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport bound for the Alfonso Valderrama Airport in Chitré,located in the province of Herrera. Renting a car is another option that will allow you to go on several trips along the fascinating routes that cross the Azuero Peninsula.
Make a stop at Sarigua and see the phenomenon of salt concentration on the land, influenced by the tides. The Sarigua National Park covers an area of 8,000 hectares of “albina” or semi-desert coastal areas that hold ancient pre-Columbian settlements. Nearby is the very picturesque town of Parita, where the Colonial Plaza flanked by antique houses is preserved and serves as a venue for all the folk festivities the town celebrates.
Continuing on this same route to the province of Los Santos and surrounding areas we can visit more villages where the drum, pollera dress, patron saint festival, delicious meals, and attractions that enrich the senses are of touristic interest. This region can also be reached by taking a bus from the Albrook Bus Terminal in Panama City. The journey takes 4 to 5 hours and the bus fare is $10.00 per person.
Once in Los Santos you can visit the Nationality Museum located in Central Park that shows replicas of mud and thatch homes, a design that kept them cooler. The entire community participated in building these houses, amidst songs, dances, and meals cooked over the wood-fired stove. Only a few of this type of construction remain today in some villages.
Another notable attraction along the route is the town of Guararé, known for hosting the Mejorana Festival. Nearby, the beautiful beaches of El Puerto, Bella Vista, Mongagre, and El Rompío are extensive, flat, and quite safe for children. The capital city of Las Tablas is internationally recognized for its carnival celebrations and festival for their patron saint the Santa Librada, also known as or St. Wilgefortis or Virgin Moñona. Las Tablas also has nice beaches, such as Las Comadres, El Jobo, Uverito, La Candelaria, and El Estero, on the Pacific coast, the majority with restaurants and lodging facilities. If you are interested in trying on the typical costume, La Pollera and Montuno, you will have the opportunity to rent the dress and all its accessories and have a gorgeous photograph taken for an incomparable keepsake.
Continuing in the same direction we find Pedasí, a town that has captured the interest of investors who had faith in its virtue and beauty. As a result, today this place has a large tourism business and appealing residential projects. There are refreshing natural attractions to be explored in the vicinity. Only seven kilometers away is Iguana Island, set in a lovely seascape and site of the largest (40 hectares) and best preserved coral reef in the Gulf of Panama.
Go on historical, religious, and cultural tours, practice extreme sports, explore nature, sample typical dishes, and more.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
Along the Azuero Peninsula route are typical food vendors where you can sample the countryside flavor. Delight in trying a delicious tortilla breakfast, a rich stew, a refreshing tamarind beverage, or a classic dinner known as toldo of chicken and rice served with potato salad.
General Tour Activities:
Tour churches and historic villages
Vista La Pollera and take photographs (in the city of Las Tablas)
Relax on beaches
Purchase traditional crafts and dishes
Length: 7 full days
Route: Cerro La Cruz, La Laguna de San Carlos, Valle de Antón, La Pintada, Nata de los Caballeros, and Aguadulce.
We start the next tour heading to all these beautiful sites that are west of Panama City.
The first stop is 58 kilometers from Panama City, arriving at the town of Chicá. The entrance is just before Campana, turning up onto the road on the right hand side just across from the famous "Enchanted House", which is a private estate but with an aspect that makes the locals tell ghost stories. At the Ministry of the Environment (ANAM) station, you are advised to stop and record your personal information for security reasons. The entrance to Cross Hill is 3.1 kilometers down the road and marked by a curious sign that reads "FARM I'M NOT HERE". The trail to the cross is well maintained and marked, but do take care climbing up and down the rock if it is muddy and the ground wet. The hike up can take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The adventure continues and next we invite you to the Laguna de San Carlos, known simply as "The Pond". Surrounded by green mountains and set in a natural landscape, the lake is a good place for you to practice sport or subsistence fishing and catch a variety of fish, such as sardine, common carp, and black crappie. It is located west of the hill Cerro Picacho, in the village of La Laguna, district of San Carlos.
From the lake in San Carlos we descend to a magical valley, El Valle de Antón, that abounds in flora and fauna by virtue of its favorable climate.
Tectonic activity ages ago created what are now the tourist attractions of The Sleeping Indian and Gaital and Iguana hills that encircle the crater of a dormant volcano. Lodging options in El Valle de Antónare in hotels, hostels, cabins, or a spa center. Feel free to walk around the area and enjoy the landscapes. El Valle is blessed with hot springs that boast healing properties. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe over 100 species of animals and 180 types of plants and trees from the well-marked paths inside El Níspero, the local zoo and plant nursery. El Valle de Antón is located 125 kilometers from Panama City. Turn off onto the road about 4 kms after passing San Carlos and you will reach the town in another 28 kilometers.
Next stop is at the picturesque town of La Pintada, recognized for their handicrafts and high coffee and citrus production, especially oranges. It is here where artisans display their skills in making the traditional Pintao, or painted, hat, as well as in pottery and other crafts. To reach La Pintada, first drive to Penonomé, the provincial capital of Coclé. At Simón Bolívar Park, take the highway next to the police station and in another 15 kilometers or so you will arrive at the charming town of La Pintada.
Very close to Penonomé, some 30 minutes down the Pan-American Highway, you will find the towns of Natá de los Caballeros and Aguadulce.
Natá de los Caballeros
The main attraction in the town of Natá de los Caballeros is its Church of Natá,whose walls relate that it was one of the first cities built on the isthmus during the colonial era, and a few silver pieces from the 17th century conserved inside the church merit it being declared a National Historic Landmark. Natá is also known for its strong development in the sugar, dairy, and shrimp industries.
Visit the Santiago ApóstolBasilica and San Juan de Dios Chapel
Visit the natural springs
Yet another quaint village we encounter in our excursion along the Pan-American Highway is Aguadulce, or fresh water, named after what immediately bubbled up from a well dug by the first settlers. It is nicknamed "The Land of Salt and Sugar" for these major industries in this region. Aguadulce is situated on a vast valley some 195 kilometers from Panama City.
Visit the Salt and Sugar Museum
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Along the Pan-American Highway you can find restaurants serving international fare, as well as roadside snack stands where you can sample dishes that are typical of the region.
Each town also has shopping centers with stores selling clothing, food, and gasoline. There are banks and ATMS accessible to visitors, and travelers can spend the night in hotels, hostels, cottages, or homes for rent at a range of prices.
General Tour Activities
Go on hikes
Visit swim spots and rivers
Photograph the landscapes and sites
Buy regional fresh fruits and vegetables
Relax at spas
Purchase exotic plants
Nightlife in casinos