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Panama doll in traditional costume Panama: Dancing the Tamborito

I folded my Pollera carefully and placed it in my backpack. It was very pretty, with a mixture of blue, reds, oranges and violets. I was on my way to dance class where I was learning the Tamborito, which is one of the many folk dances of my country, Panama. The Pollera is the dress that women wear to dance the Tamborito.

My name is Katrina and I am 16 years old. My father is a postal worker and has always wanted me to be a folk dancer. He loves Panama a great deal and in order to show his love for his country, he wanted me to learn as much about Panama as possible. 

I was so excited on the night of my first performance. As the curtains opened, the drums began playing, the singers sang, and we all danced. The audience loved the show!

After the show, Papi found me and smiled. He said, "As a reward for your hard work, I am taking across the Panama Canal. We'll leave in the morning to catch our ship."

I could not wait to take the boat tour. I lived in Panama all my life, but I never crossed the famous canal. This canal connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean so ships can pass through. It is a fifty mile trip that cuts across Central America.

My dad told me that it took 34 years to build the canal -- starting in 1880 and finishing in 1914. Over 80,000 people helped to build the canal. They had to dig through mountains and swamps. As they were digging the canal, over 30,000 people died (many from malaria).

We left the theater and hailed a cab. We sped through town and soon were traveling across the Bridge of Americas, which is the entrance to the canal from the Pacific Ocean side. At the port stood our ship with its lights twinkling like stars in the night. I thought of our Christmas tree last holiday standing in our living room. I felt that papi's present was as wonderful as any gift that I have ever received. I looked at my father, hugged him and said, "Thank you, papi."

Map of Panama. Panama is the capital.

Map of Panama.

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