To my right I hear a hissing noise. It's some sort of spray can.
I turn to see what it is, and all of a sudden I can't see out of my right eye. The spraying continues and my face is getting covered in some sort of foam.
Am I getting maced?
Ten minutes earlier we were waiting in line. Alex Shalman came to visit us and see what Panama was all about, so we actually left the house. The line is so long that we can't see the front of it.
We don't even know what's at the end of the line, but we know that when we asked to go to Carnival, this is where the taxi driver brought us.
The heavily armed police start yelling something in Spanish.
"Foreigners in this line."
Oh great. We're going to have to pay a lot of money to get in. The line is so long that it doesn't even matter, though. We'd be waiting for hours.
We get ushered to a short line. They check our passports and let us in without paying. Wow... foreigners get special treatment for a Panamanian holiday? We're not in America anymore.
Then as soon as I walk in I get sprayed.
But it's not mace. It's some sort of foam spray. It's like shaving cream, and some random girl nailed me in the face.
That's not where it stops. For the next hour or two that we spend at Carnival we get constantly pelted with confetti and this spray. This is what they do for Carnival. They hang out, drink beer, and throw junk at each other.
I can't possibly express how many people are at this thing. I'd say that EVERYONE in Panama was there, but that would be an understatement. People came from other countries too. The sea of people spans a four lane highway which is closed down for the event for five days.
Looking down one end we can faintly see the elaborate pyrotechnics of a Reggaeton concert. It's "Tito El Bambino", who is apparently pretty famous around these parts. If we look down the other end we can't see past the enormous crowd. It just never ends.
The businesses on the sides of the road, like gas stations and stores, are barricaded off and shut down. Everything is closed during Carnival. In front of them are small booths selling street food, confetti, and spray cream.
There are little booths where kids can gamble their change on a version of roulette that has terrible odds. I lost 25 cents.
We walk to the concert and watch. It's a big production. There are half a dozen women dressed as princesses dancing in the background. Pyrotechnics are used in each song, including fireworks that fire out over the audience. In the middle of the crowd is a raised platform with a live TV show being filmed.
We've never seen anything like it.
After a few songs we decide to see what's at the other end of the highway. We walk and walk, getting pelted by little kids and girls. By the time we reach the entrance point, I have spray foam in my ear, one of my eyes, my nose, and a bit in my mouth.
Todd's hair is caked in it, and all three of us are totally covered in confetti. We're a bit of a spectacle with my hat and Todd's hair, so we're prime targets.
People see us videoing and cheer and get in the video with us.
Then something amazing happens. I'll save it for the video since words can't describe the triumph I experienced.
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We finally give up trying to make it to the other end. It's unreachable. No matter how far we walk we still can't tell when the crowd actually stops.
With huge smiles on our faces, we go back home. Carnival is awesome. Today we're going to Las Tablas, which is a small city in Panama that is known for its Carnival celebration.
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