Tatiana Delvalle always brings Panama in her heart, wherever she goes. In this article, Ms. Delvalle talks with us about her life and duties as the spouse of H.E. Mr. Delvalle, Ambassador of Panama to the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is your first destination abroad as a diplomat’s spouse. Does your experience here live up to your expectations?
Life in The Hague has been wonderful, much better than anticipated. We feel very fortunate to be posted in a city that offers an incredible variety of Dutch and international experiences. We appreciate the Dutch’s open mind, joyful and straightforward character as well as the opportunity to meet very interesting and friendly people from around the world, which makes the experience of living in The Hague, very unique and extraordinary.
The city of The Hague has a blend of nature, urban, and cultural environment. When we arrived in October 2014, we were surprised to see how beautifully the forest and beach embrace the city. We enjoy very much the possibility to cycle and walk around the city to admire the architecture, historical sites, and cultural and gastronomic offer. All of this decorated with beautiful canals, flowers and trees in a very organized and efficient way of living.
In addition, our experience is complemented by everything that The Hague offers as the city of peace and justice. It is amazing how this city welcomes so many international organizations and how important they are for the whole world. We have to take in account that all these international organizations have also made important decisions for the international agenda.
Last but not least, being able to be part of the presentation of Ambassador’s Willys Delvalle letters of credence to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life. It is a ceremony full of details such as the travel to the Noordeinde Palace in the state coach, drawn by two horses, followed by the national anthem played by the military band upon arriving at the Palace. This was a truly unforgettable moment because in just a few minutes we felt overwhelmed by the pride of representing our country, full of projects and goals.
As a spouse, you surely have certain responsibilities. How do you use your position to promote your country abroad?
I feel very proud to have the opportunity to represent my country. My responsibility as the Panamanian Ambassador spouse is to support and assist my husband and The Embassy team in promoting and sharing some of our culture with the Dutch and international community.
During our last National Day, I had the opportunity to proudly wear our beautiful and sophisticated national dress: La Pollera. La Pollera, is the traditional National dress of the Panamanian woman, usually worn on special occasions to honor our heritage and traditions. This dress made by very skilled ladies who hand craft it after learning the art of sewing from generation to generation, it can take around 18 months to sew the more elaborate ones. It is composed of separate pieces that consist of a shirt, two petticoats and the pollerón, made with very fine cloth and laces. A Pollera can have very different styles; the one I was wearing is called the embroider style. This Pollera was a very special gift from my mother; it has flowers and butterflies filled with orange thread.
A very important part of the Pollera is the head accessories called Tembleques (The term comes from the movement of the pistils of the flowers, as they should move when dancing). Tembleques are made of pearls, crystals and other materials. A shaking head can have between 12 and 14 pairs of flowers, depending on the size of the head. They are placed in pairs symmetrically on both sides of the head. Lastly the Pollera is not complete without the beautiful gold jewelry that complements it. The jewelry consists of 7 to 12 gold necklace, each of them with a specific name and meaning. The jewelry is full of symbolism related to Spanish heritage, religion and use.
All Panamanian women feel very proud when wearing our beautiful National Dress.
As a leading figure in The Hague’s spouse association, what are your main duties and goals?
I feel very lucky to be part of ASA, and better yet, to be part of the ASA Committee. When I first arrived, joining ASA helped me to meet other spouses, get to know the Diplomatic Community and the Dutch culture. It has definitely done a great difference in making my experience in The Hague a more fulfilled and rich one.
ASA’s mission is to promote relationships and friendship among its members and the hosting country. I have been part of the Committee for three years. At the present time I am an adviser to the Committee. The Committee works as a team. Our goal is to organize events that interests and enhance the experience of all members to make them feel welcomed.
The Netherlands has a lot to offer in terms of culture, art, logistic, agriculture, architecture, and many other disciplines. Some of the interesting places we have visited are, the Port of Rotterdam, Tomato World, Royal Flora Holland, Urban Farmers, Peace Palace, European Space Agency, Hall of knights, House of Representative and Dutch Senate, Anne Frank House, Rembrandt House Museum, among others.
In each visit we have immersed into the Dutch culture and learned how they excel. But not all is work, we also enjoying gatherings, hosted by ASA members, where we can get to know each other, share our experiences and taste delicious food offer from different countries.
But the greatest experience of all is to have met incredible interesting people and make lifelong friends.
Photography by Marian van Noort.