Through My Window on the World
Patchwork Cottage Challenge 2006
When I heard that the theme was “through my window”, my somewhat quirky mind started thinking about my window on the world – all the stories I hear from people that I know traveling to places I’ve never been. More recently, I’ve also experienced the world with the people who come to my office for travel immunizations. With a little help from friends and family and a little creative writing, I’ve created a series of fabric postcards “as if” people sent me postcards while they were traveling. Each has a bit of the challenge fabric and is in a variety of styles in an attempt to portray the very different places I’ve virtually traveled to. On the back of each postcard are the short hand reminders we use when you come to us for a “travel consult”. Come travel with me and share my view of the world…
Antarctica. My nephew’s wife has the travel bug. She spent six months working in Antarctica “just because the opportunity presented itself”. Did she get to see the penguins?
Guatemala. A beautiful but poor country in Central America. My first memory is of a bus tour to Tijuana with Carlos as the guide. He had emigrated from Guatemala and made a point of explaining to my children how lucky they were to have free education while children on the streets were selling flowers to pay for theirs. My friend, Rowena, spent a summer visiting friends in Guatemala (the rug on this postcard is a sample of the local weaving). The doll is from Gina, who started her Kindness in Action travels with a medical mission to Guatemala.
Both sides of the Dominican Republic. Natacha got married there last year before coming to work with us. What she learned first hand – Dukoral DOES NOT have a pleasant raspberry taste and you can never use too much sunscreen. Her postcard has tulle for waves and a subtle salute to her wedding. Another coworker, Vivian, is just coming home from a surgical mission in rural Dominican. The other side of the Dominican Republic – Malaria, MDR TB (related to high rates of AIDS), Mumps outbreak last year, poverty. This postcard uses the same fabric but with the Red Cross square, a symbol of humanitarian aide.
Mexico. Mexico is the other hot travel destination for sun starved Albertans. My long time friend and coworker, Josie, immigrated to northern Alberta with her mother as a teenager, married a local farmer and is now enjoying her grandchildren. Her son taught my son all about He-Man in daycare and Josie’s preschool dental clinics gave my children the basics of tooth care. Her postcard is the Mexican Cross and she has shared the toast from her son’s wedding last summer. When traveling to Mexico, think malaria in some areas and hepatitis A is always a good idea.
Panama. We talked to a couple on the phone who were going on a Caribbean cruise, including through the Panama Canal. Their children had given it to them for their sixtieth anniversary and they were in their late eighties. Unfortunately, a few days later they phoned to cancel their appointment because the travel agent had explained that if they weren’t planning to leave the ship to explore, they really didn’t need anything. It was true, but we were really disappointed that we didn’t get to meet this delightful couple. This postcard is a mola – traditional to the natives of Panama – of hand dyed cotton.
Bugs (somewhere in South America). My nephew spent a year traveling from Spokane (where he had been working) to the tip of South America before he returned to Alberta to settle down. It was definitely of the “out on a limb” adventure traveling sort. I remember progress reports from his parents – including the two weeks were he was out of contact “hitchhiking somewhere in Columbia”. Shortly after he came back, we had this fascinating conversation about malaria (although a fellow traveller had chosen to travel with microscope, scalpel and slides to check for parasites when he felt ill, my nephew chose to take both types of anti malaria medication with him and switch from one to the other when he hit the chloroquine resistant areas), parasites you pick up on the beach, interesting infections that don’t heal in the tropics… Some of the interesting stuff that you don’t tell your parents until after you return safely!
Egypt and Petra. I knew about my daughter’s friend long before I met her as they shared an interest in competitive swimming. Last summer, I was getting the second hand stories of her trip to Egypt and with a side trip to Petra, Jordan. Her dad was even offered two camels in exchange for her.
India. Thanks to my friend Janet who agreed to write a postcard from India 20 years after the fact. When I think of India, I’m reminded of a story told by a feisty former teacher about landing in India during protests and demonstrations with her traveling companion, another tiny older teacher. When asked if they thought about leaving, her response was “Why? We’d come all this way to see India and we just waited until the worst of it was over.” Mind you, I’d also seen them face down a group of large, drunken boys at a high school dance with more success than the male teachers! In our community, we have a family from India who are good friends with a family from Pakistan, and the biggest problem is explaining to the parents that their children REALLY need immunizations when they return home for a visit.
Oil (Azerbaijan) From time to time, we get men coming in for immunizations before heading off to work in foreign oil fields for incredibly high wages. Often, however, they come and go from some very primitive and unstable areas without even worrying if their tetanus shots are up to date – I guess it goes with the spirit of adventure. One such inquiry (48 hours before her husband was set to board the plane) was about Azerbaijan, next door to Iran, Russia and Turkey. This postcard is actually made of fabric printed by an Iranian women’s coop.
African Safari. A Kenyan safari seems so exotic, but you can do pretty safe tours if you wish. My virtual safari was courtesy of an internet quilting course I took primarily because the instructor's partner was Richard Leakey! Malaria, TB and AIDS as well as numerous other diseases are part of the picture.
Humanitarian Aide (Burkina Faso). About twenty years ago, we started supporting Foster Parents Plan in Burkina Faso, because we knew nothing about the country, it was very poor but somewhat stable and the program focused on the entire village rather than a single child/family.
China. In 1988, Calgary was blessed with the visit of a family of Chinese great Pandas in honour of the Winter Olympics and everywhere you looked there were panda graphics. My friend and coworker, Kris, had more stories to tell about the Great Wall of China from her trip a few years later. SARS, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis B, Avian Influenza…
Japan. Canadians tend to go to Japan to teach English as a second language. What else could a Japanese quilt be but Sashiko?
Thailand. People travel to Thailand to learn mixed marshal arts, experience first class snorkeling and exotic tourism. Another reason to travel to Thailand (not that anybody has ever admitted it to me!) is child sex exploitation and the drug trade. Stay away from the border areas with Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia – if the chloroquine and mefloquine resistant malaria doesn’t kill you, the bullets will. The fabric on this postcard is the last bit of a beautiful two yard panel of cotton grown, spun, woven and printed in Thailand.
Avian Influenza. The big question for most travelers this year is whether they need to worry about the “bird flu”. Concern has spread from the Far East to Asia, Europe and Africa. And likely it will be in North America on the wings of the migratory birds soon. Advice – stay away from sick or dead birds, eat poultry and eggs well cooked, wash your hands and get your flu shot.
Philippines. Ask me about the Philippines and I’ll think Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis Virus, Hepatitis B, MDR TB and women immigrating to Canada to make a living. Recently, however, I met a family planning to visit her parents on an extended vacation and who showed us another side of the Philippines. “My family has built us a hut on the beach”, she said. “Oh, dear”, we silently thought. Last time they were in, she brought proud pictures of family in front of the “hut” – a two story house minus the kitchen and including plumbing and electricity. Looking her island up on the internet shows beautiful white sands, tropical gardens and a standard of living for some that is similar to North America. My postcard has the “hut” tucked away amongst the flowers.
Guam. Thanks to my son Kyle who agreed to send a post card from his almost last destination on the “Afghanistan World Tour, 2002”. For six months, I learned more about geography, travel and current affairs that I thought I needed to. Like his cousin (Bugs), Kyle also kept the serious stories until he was home and safe. In a phone call from Guam, he talked about completing his world tour of bar coasters – Edmonton, Washington, D.C., Germany, Kandahar, Dubai, Diego Garcia, Guam, Hawaii, Edmonton.
Hawaii. Not the hot travel destination it used to be, but still a lovely warm getaway for snow bound Albertans. Penny and her family spent the Easter break last year in Hawaii and are counting the days till they can afford to go back. Thanks to Jardin, age 10, for sending me a postcard. The fabric actually comes from a Hawaiian shirt bought by my daughter’s friend for her and inherited by me when she got tired of bright red polyester with black palm trees.
Mysterious Places (Papua New Guinea). My first travel clinic memory is of a family of six going to Papua New Guinea for two or three years. I’d heard the name, but really had no idea where the country was or what to expect. In short; just about every immunization available, be prepared to treat for malaria, and travel not recommended to specified areas due to “lawlessness”. The official website mentions a walking trail for the truly adventurous and also tried to give my computer a nasty virus.
The Future (Australia). In my dreams, Lorri the world traveler is going to participate in the World Masters Games in Sydney (October 2009) with a little stop over in any quilting store she can find. My niece and nephew actually have aboriginal names, courtesy of their parents’ stay in Australia when first married. In addition to kangaroos and such, you also need to watch out for Ross River and Murray Valley viruses when the mosquitoes nibble on you – take your netting to the outback!
New Zealand. Here’s another virtual trip. The hand dyed fabrics in this postcard actually came from New Zealand via EBay. I hear it is a beautiful country and there is this little quilting cruise from Australia every year…