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I have to say this year I had one of my most creative costumes to date. I started my search with going to Piex (one of the few places to get Halloween costumes in Panama), but I could not find anything that caught my eye. Halloween was only a day away and I had NOTHING. Then an idea came to me at my desk at work, I will be a Diablo Rojo! In case anyone doesn’t know, a Diablo Rojo is Panama’s old transportation system that is in the middle of being phased out. They are school busses that imported from the United States and then outfitted with crazy colors, lights, and paintings of Jennifer Lopez or other celebrities on the back. It’s something that I could make myself and wouldn’t be too expensive and would be sure to grab the attention of everyone.

So immediately after work I went to Arrocha and bought colored paper, glitter paper, paint, tape, etc. It definitely felt like I was back in elementary school ready to start an arts and craft project. Then I made a stop to G de P to see if I could find some crazy light up stuff to add to my Diablo Rojo. They had these flashing rope lights and a horn that would be perfect. I also found a Panama license plate at a souvenir shop for $7 which is a little much but it would make my costume more authentic.

diablo rojo panamaI began crafting my Diablo Rojo costume as soon as I got home. Halloween was tomorrow and there was no time to waste. I had some leftover boxes and wrapped them in red wrapping paper for the base color and then outfitted it with crazy paint designs and a glitter gold grill. The rope lights I bought fit perfectly as a border and I used tape to attach the horn. I then found an airbrushed painting of Jennifer Lopez online to paste on the back of the bus. This took way longer to make than I had anticipated and didn’t finished until 2 am.

The best deal for a Halloween party that I found was sponsored by the Young Expats in Panama at Barlovento. They had an open bar for $10 and a Halloween contest with $2,000 in prizes. Can’t be that!

diablo rojo costume panama

So after getting no sleep from making my costume, I had a full day of work to get through and then would have to go to the Halloween party. I just kept telling myself if I win the contest it will be worth it.

I arrived to the party exhausted with a few friends and I don’t want to be cocky but it was one of the best costumes there. I had a lot of confidence that I would win the contest and be $2,000 richer. We saw a few gift baskets of Ron Abuelo sprinkled around and we joked about what if that was the “$2,000” in prizes.

ron abuelo basketThe contest didn’t take place until 12:30 am and YES, I did win! I was really excited to see what the prize was until they handed me one of the gift baskets of Ron Abuelo. It consisted of two bottles of Ron Abuelo and a hat to be exact. I’m not sure why they advertised $2,000 in prizes, probably just as a way to get people to go to the party, but at least the prize was something that I enjoy.

Experience Panama


I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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