The famous bush hat, the canteen and the web gunbelt that Gen. Omar Torrijos wore everywhere in his ceaseless travels through his country lay atop his flag-draped coffin today as thousands of people filed through the city's cathedral, hurried along by ranks of uniformed members of the National Guard.
Hasty preparations continued everywhere for Tuesday's funeral of the Panamanian leader who negotiated the canal treaties of 1979, but even his mourners stopped and browsed in the crowded shopping districts near the cathedral, a reflection of the mercantile prosperity Torrijos brought the city.
Three days after he died in a plane crash on the jungle mountain of Cerro Juan Julio, the trappings surrounding Torrijos' burial, the international delegations arriving to attend it, and the mood of the city itself seemed to be a reflection of the unique personality Torrijos impressed on this country in his 13 years of rule.
High-ranking officials from the United States and Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will be gathering here to pay respects to one of the few men -- dicator and populist, rabble-rouser and statesman -- who befriended them all.
Washington's delegation includes the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. David C. Jones; the vice president's wife, Barbara Bush, and Special Ambassadors Ellsworth Bunker and Sol Linowitz, who handled the complex canal negotiations for the United States.
Early this morning Torrijos' body was taken to the top of Ancon Hill, which deminates what was for most of this century the U.S. Canal Zone. A ceremony was held as U.S. flags flew at half mast to commemorate the first time the general would officially come to the site. Tuesday he will be buried in Ancon cemetery.
After today's ceremony the coffin was brought back through the narrow streets of the city, among the rotting wood walls of balconied tepements and breathless crowds of Panamanians braving the wet heat of the season.
The National Guard High Command carried the body of their late commander-in-chief up through the press of mourners to the cathedral where it will lie in state until Tuesday.
Some of the colonels had tears in their eyes. Among the common people filing by the coffin the numbness of disbelief still held sway or occasionally gave way at the sight of the had and belt, as it did for one older woman with a small child at her side. Her cries of grief drowned most of her words. Only a few were intelligible -- "God . . . country . . . need."