By Xindi Kang
University of California Santa Barbara, Media Arts and Technology
Some sketches and doodles made in Gamboa. Just some observations of the beautiful place and the beautiful peoplez.
I like sloths.
They move really slowly, and they seem to be smiling all the time.
I was really lucky to see at least two sloths every day during my 5 days there. They hang out in Cecropia trees and on fences.
I arrived in Panama in a state of panic. I had been stranded in SF for 31 hours before getting there … didn’t get much sleep at all during that 31 hours.
Leaf cutter ants are great. They’re always really busy, moving their pieces of leaves. If you try to block their highway with a stick, they’ll figure out how to work around it, and keep going.
Some times you just got to keep going.
My good friend and roommate Michal, who I met on my first night in Gamboa, was making some decorations for trees. She’s great. I like her a lot. We talked about buddhism, meditation, and … boys. Susan, our other roommate and good friend later joined the discussion. I liked staying in our little barrack when it’s raining outside. The rain sound gives me a sense of peace and comfort.
The little men on the roadsigns all have great butts.
Agoutis are a type of strange and cute animal native to Gamboa. They jump around places and seem to eat grass.
The Mimosa plants respond to touch rapidly. I’ve seen them in stores for sale when I was a child. Back then they didn’t respond as quickly. In China we call them “Shy Grass”, because they shy away the moment you touch them.
Michal used some power tools to drill holes in coconut shells. Some of them have rotten parts that are easy to break. She said “It’s funny how hard it is to penetrate it, but so easy to break it”. I though that was really interesting. Humans are like that too, especially their hearts.
Jen used a motion sensor for her project. I thought she said “emotion sensor”. I’d be down to have an “emotion sensor”. I can hold it in my hand and it’ll tell me how I’m feeling.
Peter gave a really great tour at Pipeline road. We walked through the rainforest and swam in a waterhole full of “kissy fish” (Red garra), at least that’s what they called it when I first heard of them. I’ve never seen them in the wild before. They come up and eat your dead skin, and they also bite on other stuff floating on the surface of the water.
Peter does research on Cecropia Trees. He told us about the the symbiotic relationship between the plant and the ants (leaf cutters if I remember correctly). The ants eat the tree, but they also protect the tree from animals. That’s why the sloths are so itchy all the time. It’s because the ants are bothering the sloths so they wouldn’t harm the tree. If you knock on the tree a few times the ants will come out of the hollow trunk and try to find where you were knocking, and get ready to attack.
On our last day we went on a tour to the native villages. A local guide gave another nice tour. There was a type of tree called the “Water Tree”. When you hit it you can hear the water inside of the trunk. The guide told us this type of tree grow really fast by sucking up all the water they can get. They grow to the size shown in my sketch in only a few years.
I bought a little sloth pendant made from Tagua seed, which is also called Vegetable Ivory. A little Israeli girl also wanted it … but she let me have it. She’s very nice. She also gave me a kitten to pet when we were in front of the field station.
Laser frogs are great. I forgot what they’re called scientifically. They make these laser sounds like “pew pew”, in the storm drains at night. I never saw what they looked like. But I enjoyed their little techno music sessions.