An excerpt from the chapter “Travelling to Africa”
To me, shopping can be as enjoyable as a good meal, and when I travel, I look for mementos to bring home to remind me of that place. Sometimes I find them in a store; other times in more unusual places. I have a horseshoe from Patagonia, thrown by a horse I rode across streams, up hills and on wide open plains. I have two big, bleached-white conch shells with shiny pink interiors that I plucked from white sands under-water in the British Virgin Islands. They sit just outside my office in a blueware soup tureen that was a gift from my sister-in-law, Lynn. I brought home a handmade Bedouin dress, the only one of its kind, from within the walled city of Jerusalem; steak knives from a shop that also sold medieval-looking swords and armor in Toledo, Spain; and chunky glass knife-rests from a junque shop in Paris.
Every time I wear that Bedouin dress, I remember the hospitality of the shop owner, and the impact that being in Jerusalem had on my world view. In that old walled city, four major monotheistic religions live together in close proximity and in peace—something that reminds me about hope—like this conference did. Whenever I select the hearty, rugged knives from Toledo for dinner, I think of medieval Spain and knights in shining armor; these are knives for big steaks, not dainty fish. I remember when I bought them; it was during my first trip to Spain. I went with three girlfriends. We flew to Spain not long after terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th; it was a time when many people were afraid to fly. But we set off with determination, agreeing that we would not let terrorists dictate our travel, or the way we live our lives.
Holding those chunky, old, French glass knife rests in my hand reminds me of wandering through back streets in Paris and window shopping there. Then, I remember picnics with Alan, cobbled together with treats procured from small French shops and outdoor stands: bread, fruit, raw cheeses and wine. Memories are the opportunity to return to places I’ve enjoyed.
What would I bring home from Burundi?