In November 2010 I spent one month visiting my good friend, a Peace Corps volunteer named Catherine Aiello, in Panama. I spent 2/3 of my trip in Catherine’s site, a small village called Santa Rosa in the Darien. Most of the drawings are from my stay there, and if you can decipher my handwriting you will find many good stories and more information about my adventures. Enjoy.
The cover is a bit of a trick. This is a silhouette of the trees from Catherine's house, but the river wasn't located right in front of her house. The river was this big though, but not this blue.
This is Leka. Later in the book there is a little boy, Xavier, who they made fun of a lot. They would show him this drawing of her and laugh at him... which translated to me that he had a little crush on her. Especially when he blushed.
Prismacolor pencils depict Catherine sitting with kids at sunset. Clothes hang from the rafters of the house.
Chakira (Shakira?) is the word for jewelry. We spent a lot of time creating bracelets when I was there. We even sewed our own skirts one day.
This was a bracelet I designed (on this page) then actually made from beads while I was there. People liked the toucan, but the rest is more difficult to make out in beads.
Catherine's Kitchen. You can see all of her ingredients, spicecs, grater, sink, place where she stores her knives and hangs her cups... She lives in a beautiful treehouse.
Catherine's kitchen. You can see my puruma with the hummingbirds to the right. This was a gift of Catherine - and is a traditional piece of clothing (the height of fashion among Embera women) in Santa Rosa.
We talked a little about Drugs because we were in the Darien province - which borders Columbia and is a danger for drug traffiking.
Alexander & Migdalia were hanging out at Catherine's house so I did quick sketches of both of them. Kids spent most of their days wandering to and from different houses entertaining themselves.
Jackelin posed for this drawing after we had sat around reading Avon magazine's with Limita at the Casama house. I know, Avon... in Panama... at an indigenous Embera site... who knew?
Some of the delicious things we ate while I was there. Mostly we ate lentils and rice, sometimes with other things... and were fortunate enough to have smore ingredients for dessert!
Soriada and Cody in their families kitchen. You can see their fireplace is made of three logs that burn at the center. As you push them towards each other they continue to burn.
Catherine sitting with the nurse and another woman chatting. I wrote "Catherine looks like a monkey" but that's been up for dispute ever since.
Limita is one of Catherine's Embera host mother's. She was incredible, had an amazing and quirky sense of humor, and I adored her. I wish her long life, happiness, and many more dreams!
We traveled to Cucanati where I had my first taste of fish (not by choice) and drew two of Limitas grandchildren who lived there. Two of my better paintings.
Soraida, Coco bola, and Cody. I miss Soraida, and think of her often when I get up in the morning... wonder where the teenager yelling things at me in Spanish is? She liked to bust my chops on not knowing the language.
Chonculo, Jaime, Cochoche, and Chiricora. Jaime, the adult, asked me to draw his picture. Then, I think, out of a mix of embarassment and inclusion he asked me to draw the children, too. They sat there patiently for about 20 minutes and let me sketch them. Yes, Chochoche really just gawked at me the whole time!
Waiting in Santa Fe for the Chiva to kick up and leave... people sometimes lay on top of it or hang on to the back during their ride. Our ride was two and half hours long and very bumpy!
The man who smiles widely really did smile at me like that... for a very long period of time... long enough for me to draw him with that goofy smile on.
El Familias. These images, when put together, show you a crowd of children... similar to the crowd that surrounded us on Catherine's porch most days in Santa Rosa.
Casama. Sons of Buli & Maria, these boys are full of so much life! They are also the grandsons of Limita, and I know they will have full and interesting lives.
Mepaquito. They owned two parrots and their father, Ligario, was the tallest man in town - over six feet!
Caisimo. You wouldn't believe how difficult it was for the children to decide how to spell Caisimo - was it K or C? I'm not sure I ever got a straight answer. Grandchildren and children of Gloria (next page).
This drawing shows Elva holding her nephew, David. The story on the left, however, is mostly about Marcos who is drawn a few pages ahead.
This is a strange little story from Catherine Bashum (featured right) about homosexuality in Panama.
Buli is the father of Irving, Chuy, and Tin (he's so young! He started having children at 17). Chonti is his mysterious younger brother. All four of these boys are Guillermina's sons.
Chompimpo had a mullet and caught a small toucan with a slingshot one day. No joke, it was incredible... but I was glad when he let him go. Kachi hollered at me "buenos dias blanquitta!" but never got up the balls to propose.
My first true evening back in a city was spent in David. We when to an Argentinian restaurant, ordered delicious pizza (cheese!) and afterwards when to see Harry Potter 7: Pt. 1
Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine.... & Molly. They say this is the reason my journal couldn't be a children's book. I had not intention of making it PG anyway, and the conversation was too good (but took place later on a dinner).
A Very Peace Corps Thanksgiving was one of the most delicious meals of my life. I wish I hadn't been sick all evening afterward, but all the excitement was too exhausting! What a fantastic day.
Peace Corps volunteers enjoying breakfast. This was the picture in which I meant to draw Harold, but made a mistake and he was not there. Someday I'll get you, Harold!
Los Quetzales was the inn we stayed at for Peace Corps Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned delicious food? The countryside was absolutely gorgeous patchwork farms... but also very cold!
Catherine Bashum and Catherine Aiello join community members from Quebrada Pastor playing a very agressive game of dominoes. Everytime a piece was placed it was really slammed hard down on the table. Intense!
Tocumen Airport. This sketch shows the process I used throughout most of the sketchbook. First using pencil, then outlining, and finally using watercolors or colored pencils to complete the image.
Map of Panama highlighting some important spots I visited. Cuerpo de Paz literally translates to Body of Peace and stands for Peace Corps in most Spanish speaking countries.