Ana, a Kuna Indian, is selling molas to tourists passing her on the street leading to French Square in Panama City. She does not speak English, but understands much of it. She gives her answers in Spanish and takes US-Dollars as payment, which she brings back to her community living to the east of Panama City.
The colorful fabric Ana is selling is the most secure income of the Kuna Indian community, and women are heads of this community, partly because they are the ones earning the money by fabricating and selling molas. Those who are familiar with patchwork may have heard about mola technique. They are made of a certain number of matched pieces of fabric, artistically cut and embroidered. Kuna woman usually waer molas on the front- and backsides of their blouses.
Ana and her female relatives take hours to make the mola squares they sell in the city, and sell it for a price that is ludicrously low in the eyes of a European tourist: A 50×50 inch square, using one of the easier techniques, earns Ana about 10 dollars. But then again, 10 dollars is still a lot for a Kuna family.