Parita, an amazingly well-preserved Spanish colonial town, is 10 kilometers northwest of Chitré. There’s nothing much to do here but walk around and take photos, but Parita hints at what towns in the Azuero must have been like in olden days.
Parita was founded in 1556 as Santa Elena and was later renamed. Work began on the town church, Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guzmán, a century later.
It’s a simple but attractive church filled with ornately carved woodwork. It’s worth a quick visit. A little museum in the back that houses silver ceremonial pieces and other artifacts from the Spanish era has been closed for renovation every time I’ve visited.
The townspeople live next to each other in narrow, block-long buildings with red-tile roofs set around the plaza and church. The pride residents take in the place is evident in the spotless streets and the riot of flowering plants that cover the whole front of some buildings.
It’s a supremely mellow place, and so removed from the flow of modern life that many Panamanians don’t know it exists.
Parita is also home to Darío López, a nationally famous devil-mask maker.
Getting to Parita
As you drive up from Chitré, the turnoff is on the left at a gas station. Those without their own transportation can visit the town by bus on the way to or from Chitré. Any bus heading between Chitré and the Interamericana can stop there. The fare is US$0.50 from Chitré’s bus terminal.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition