Priscilla Kibbee

I love to travel all over the globe shopping for textiles to add to my wearable art. I have taught quilting to school children in Nepal, seminole patchwork to seamstresses in Thailand, and jackets and embellishment to quilters in Turkey where I also served as a judge at 2 of their International Quilt Shows. I have created garments for 5 Fairfield and Bernina Fashion Shows and teach classes on embellishment and wearable art. Lately I have been leaning more toward making art quilts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Trip to Panama

Hotels in Panama which I have been staying in have gone up around 50% or more in the last two years. A hotel I liked two years ago at $27 a night is now $48 for example. And since I spend only 6 hours or less in a room the night I arrive I don't want to spend a fortune. I want clean, safe, a hot shower and no bugs. This is my new room in an older section for $36 with sparkling clean white marble floors and a marble lion outside the front door of the hotel. It also had a nice restaurant which i never had time to eat in. The morning after I arrive its off to the Domestic airport at 4:30 am for a 6 am flight to the San Blas Islands.

We landed at Carti, an airport on the mainland. Some of the boats at the dock.

Some Kuni's landing on the mainland. Note the lack of traditional clothing.

On my first morning there my guide, Orlando, usually takes me on a walk around the island to purchase molas. I was asked to wait in this outside kitchen while some women went to fetch their molas. Great opportunity to snap a couple of photos. They are grating cocoanuts on the floor. I would love to take photos inside one of the houses but didn't dare even ask. I usually find at least a dozen women to purchase molas from. On this trip I found very few women selling them.

I spotted quite a few turtles wandering around various islands.

My boat was a carved out log with some trim and leaked. We would start off dry as a bone and have water sloshing around the bottom well before we returned. A bit unsettling.

One of the Columbian trading vessels which stocks the small stores on the islands. They trade for cocoanuts.

My first days purchases back in my room. Now I will have the laborious job of taking the blouses apart.

Day two three kuna women came over from another island and rode with us to our destination. I would have loved a closer photo but that was not possible.

We arrive on Malatupu and Orlando (barefoot of course) leads the way.

School children. They wear similar uniforms on all the islands.

Every island has a yard for basketball or other sports.

A local shaman took me into his hut and explained the use of medicinal pots (I bought a mola with them on which you can see on previous blogs)

We stopped on another island for lunch which we brought with us. I was offered a low carved out log to sit on as no one seemed to have the plastic chairs found everywhere. No chairs...but a cold Coke Zero was easily procured. And this darling little girl tried to lure me into purchasing her beautiful mola. At $50 I had to refuse

Lots of beautiful sail boats and an occasional big yacht anchor near the islands.

This house has a draped passageway to the outhouse and possible bathing area.

Back on my island a birthday party was going on in the yard next door. Unfortunately it would have been impolite to take a closer photo. The children were seriously well behaved and had a pinata, played games and sang songs.
Off to the airport. It was an hours ride over the water to Carti, an airport on the mainland. And we left in pitch dark with me hoping the boatman could find his way in the dark through the channels surrounding all the islands. With lightning striking in the distance I sat wondering what lightning did when it struck boats. The landing field begins in the woods and ends in the water.

The restaurant
The barefoot Kuna station manager discusses the situation with a Panamanian soldier. At first it was announced (in broken English) that the plane wasn't coming. It had gone to another airport instead.

After a fretful half hour (there is no second flight here...the next one is tomorrow) it was announced that the plane was coming after all. Whew!

Checking the Panama City skyline in the way in. When you arrive in Panama City from the San Blas Islands you have to show your passport to be allowed back in the "country". The reverse is true on the Islands where you also have to check in with your passport and pay a visiting fee, in my case $6 for three days. The Islands are a separate territory co-governed by the Kuna and by Panama.

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Blogger Patricia said...

WOW! You go through a lot to get those Mola's. You are very brave! I am such a "Chicken Little" in big planes---I am not sure I could really get up in the air in such a little one---and a little boat, in the dark! I get dizzy just thinking about it.


July 8, 2009 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Priscilla Kibbee said...

When it arrived the last morning I was just really happy that it was there...never mind how small it was. I was leaving Panama the next day and if I missed it I would really have been in the soup.

July 8, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

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