DY: In Just a Few Words (#51)
It's illegal to come home empty handed, isn't it?
One of the great things about traveling is the opportunity to spend hard-earned dollars on mementos. I’m always in search of good stuff at a good price. You know what I’m talking about. Those amazing, unique items you can ONLY FIND in (fill-in-the-blank city you are currently traveling in). They are worth EVERY penny, right? I highlighted two such purchases in blog #34 (scroll down to check that one out - I’ll wait…) The truth is those were just the tip of my “Davis’ Hall of Fame Travel Purchases” iceberg. Here are more examples.
On our first trip to Italy, I got a taste of Orvietto wine while having lunch in the Tuscan foothills. I wasn’t the wine drinker then that I am today, but I figured this wine would make a great gift for family and friends. The restaurant had the wine nicely packaged in 3-packs. So, to keep my balance going through airports I bought two of them, one 3-pack for each arm. The Saturday after we got home, I went to the local beverage store and - lo and behold - there were multiple bottles of the identical Orvietto wine sitting on the shelf. I shlepped through the Rome Airport, JFK and Cleveland Hopkins when I could have simply gone to my local store. Not smart.
Some years after that, we went to Zimbabwe. We picked up various items along the way, most particularly a wonderful mask that sits on our mantel to this day. I did an accounting of the items we bought in Zim and it was $450. For an additional $600 I had a crate built to ship our goodies home. We live in the era of the new math, but that certainly doesn’t add up. Not smart again.
Another day we found ourselves in Saigon. This is not an easy story for me to tell and, momentarily, you will know why. My dearly beloved purchased a hookah, which is a pipe that can be shared by multiple people. I just need to say this, so please cut me some slack. My research indicates a hookah is frequently used as an opium pipe. I want to be very clear I would never purchase such a thing because I would have no use for it. I used to smoke Winstons, but never opium. That pretty much says what needs to be said about either of us. What makes this even more concerning is that Karen’s hookah is on display in our house for all to see. I don’t want to throw her under the bus, but readers need to know what I have to deal with. Transparency is a good thing. Opium is not. Also, I later discovered you can buy a hookah in the US. Who knew?
And then there was a trip to Chile when I came upon a spectacular marble bird. I knew it was valuable because it weighed a lot. I had never seen anything like it. Wonderful colors. A real keepsake I had to have. Surely it was unique. We arrived at the airport for our flight home. As we went past the shops in the duty free area, we came upon a long table with what must have been at least 30 birds absolutely identical to the one we purchased. In case you are wondering, the bird is still in our house today if you’d like to stop by and see it at the same time you look at Karen’s hookah. So much for uniqueness.
Here’s another narrative. The very first cruise we took stopped at a section of Haiti owned by the cruise line. There, we came upon a wood carving perhaps two and a half feet high. It was heavy, too. The detail was beyond description. So, one more time, we rigged up some sort of box with some cardboard and rope from the cruise line. We got it home o.k., but it was winter and within weeks the treasured memento had split in multiple places and went out the door on trash day.
And then there was our visit to a marketplace (aka souk) in Tunisia. Before being let loose to deal with greedy vendors, our guide gave our group a little talk. Never give the vendor what he asks. In fact, never pay 50%. Get him down below that. And so off we went. One of the ladies stopped at a stall and appeared to like something. She asked the price. The vendor said $5 U.S. Putting the good advice she had received from the guide, she replied, Oh no, I’ll give you $10.
Be assured that nice lady will not be on my next shopping spree.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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