Thursday, May 30, 2013

Panama in April

I spent a week at Panama in April.  I loved many aspects of Panama: an unexpected sense of pride and promise for a bright future.  They received their country 13 years ago, with tons of useful infrastructure, and with the complete revenue of the Panama Canal working full blast. They have the will and the means to build a great country and this is the start of a good foundation. They are paying attention to the environment, the arts and education.  How they have to pay close attention to corruption... the temptation to go the wrong way is very high.  Here are some photos of the old city, which shows how everything is ready to be rebuilt and beautified.

I met the Argentinian artist Carolina Antoniadis who had a Greek grandfather.  She was painting a mural at the Miraflores lock, the middle of the three locks the Chagres River runs through.  We started talking and she said she was participating in the first Panama Art Biennial.  She had no helpers and she was short of paints.  I offered to lend a hand and I spent two and a half days in bliss, helping her with her project.  The image she designed shows a cargo ship carrying a load of "molas" which are beautiful textiles produced by Embera women. They live in the area between Panama and Colombia, follow no strict geographical divisions, and continue to speak their own language. Here is what the mural looked like, unfinished. I also met Mabel Flores Rojas, a Cuban artist who works with women in prisons of Havana, and who participated in the Biennial (second photo).  And finally, an overlook of a tributary of the Chagres River where the big ships aren't allowed, along the Gamboa Eco-reserve.

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