Posted tagged ‘fugu’

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”

March 14, 2014

The day is bright with sun but it’s a cold morning, a 25˚ morning. Icicles hang from the edges of my roof. Snow still lies on the ground but the roads are clear. The weatherman says tomorrow will be a warm day. We might even hit 50˚,  but this winter has made a skeptic of me. I don’t trust a warm day. It’s Mother Nature toying with us. She probably giggles when a warm day makes us hopeful knowing that the cold is just biding its time, waiting for its turn. It’s inevitable.

When I was last returning from Ghana, my carry-on was so heavy I couldn’t lift it into the bin. I asked the man beside me, and he was quite happy to help, but he did mention how heavy it was. The reasons were two pottery bowls and a few other breakables I didn’t trust to my checked luggage. The bowls were nothing fancy but are common ones for grinding peppers or ginger.

Souvenirs are tricky. When I was a kid, I tended toward pennants, magnets or plastic gewgaws made in China. Each had the name of the place we were visiting. I remember buying snow globes and plastic dolls dressed in regional costumes. Quality wasn’t an issue for me.

From the beach I brought home colorful shells and dead starfish. The shells stayed around a while, but the dead starfish would start to smell, and my mother would make me throw them away. The round nautilus type shells were always my favorite.

When I was in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, I bought cloth and had it made into dresses which I wore every day. They weren’t really souvenirs. I sent home as gifts wooden animals, heads and giraffes. Ghana didn’t have any giraffes. I bought leather bags and woven baskets, but I used them. One basket became a lamp shade. When I was leaving Ghana, I bought a whole collection of the African Writers’ Series, a fugu (smock), some cloth and not one gewgaw. I would have bought a snow globe but it would have been weird to find one in Ghana.

No matter where I have traveled, I’ve bought souvenirs. Among them are a pottery tea set from England, platters and dishes from Portugal, wooden figures from Russia, cloth from Ghana, a tagine from Morocco, curtains from Dublin and a tablecloth from Hungary.

I didn’t think about it when I was buying everything, but in retrospect it seems as I had grown-up so had my souvenirs.

“I didn’t know that the world could be so mind-blowingly beautiful.”

October 15, 2012

The day is perfectly beautiful; it’s so warm and sunny I have “unbattened” down the hatches and opened windows. I feel as if  sitting inside is wasting the day so I keep going out to the deck and just standing there to enjoy the warmth before the rain starts or it gets cold though I don’t know if either is predicted. Weather just changes so quickly this time of year. It rained last night. I never heard it. The only way I knew we had rain was the wet street.

Yesterday it rained during the ceremony. Fewer people were there than expected, but the hardy ones came anyway armed with umbrellas and wearing rain gear. I was a fashion statement, a fashion statement for Ghana anyway. A reporter from the Cape Times took my picture and interviewed me. She asked what were some of the difficulties of living in Ghana. I came up with a lack of cole slaw. She also asked about Peace Corps, and I said it was the most remarkable experience, an unequaled experience. She wanted to know about what I was wearing. I swear it was the matching hat which caught her eye!

I’m going out and about today. I have an appointment at noon then I can roam. I have no set destination, but I’ll stop if something catches my eye. Back roads are favorites of mine. I like to go places I’ve never been. You can never get lost on the Cape. When you hit the ocean, just go in the opposite direction. Almost any road will lead to a main road as there are so few of those. Figuring out where you are is usually easy.

On The Amazing Race last night they were in Bangil, Indonesian, and it was beautiful, strikingly beautiful. I immediately put it on my wish list of place to visit. I haven’t ever been to Asian so I’m figuring it might be, in a year or two, my next destination. That will give me time to plan the trip and save enough money.

I love my life, but for this, I wish I were wealthy. I could just pack a bag, book a trip and leave.