I used to collect eggs from all over the world during our travels - ceramic, crystal, stone, beads, etc. But I ran out of space on our glass shelf.
So I started buying gifts for family members and friends during our travels. That really mounted up, with siblings (Charley was the oldest of seven), parents, sons, aunts, uncles, etc.
Now I try to take at least one quality photo on each trip that I can blow up to 11" x 14." We have two walls full of them, but at least they're conversation starters and memory prods.
On the South African trip, the only things I bought were small Christmas presents for the immediate family. Our tour operator hadn't scheduled shopping time. We found items in hotel gift shops and managed forty-five minutes in a craft market in Johannesburg. I discovered a 250-pound wooden hippo there, which would forever remind me of the "Danger: Hippo Crossing" signs along the Zambezi River in Zambia. Charley insisted I curb my enthusiasm!
I observed we had different kinds of shoppers among the fourteen of us. Grandmothers like me were always on the hunt for kids' outfits, headbands, books, toys, and girls' accessories.
The die-hard shoppers rushed from shop to shop in the airports and at the craft market. They compared prices for items on their lists (like African fabrics) and returned them, when possible, if they found a better price. They knew the managers in each hotel gift shop on a first-name basis.
The professor who accompanied us from Brown University had lived in Johannesburg and planned to grab a taxi to her favorite shop as soon as our plane hit the ground. Unfortunately, a traffic jam (perennial, in South Africa) prevented her excursion that day, but eventually she sneaked away and did some damage.
Then there were those who needed a second (or third) opinion before coming to a decision. A choice between two heavy stone necklaces necessitated a lengthy discussion. "Do you think she would wear something this heavy?"
"Yes, but the stones are more neutral in this one, and she could wear it with more."
"True, but the colorful necklace is less expensive."
"Do what you wish!"
In the shop at Thornybush Game Lodge (next to Kruger Park, South Africa), I pointed to a woven blue and brown handicraft hanging on the wall. "I love that basket!" I told the sales lady. "Would you mind getting it down so I could look at it?"
She was snickering as she handed it to me. "That's not a basket! It's a Zulu woman's headpiece!"
I looked at the loose weave and realized anything small in this "basket" would fall right through. So I put it where it belonged - on my head. Just then Charley walked into the shop. "Why do you have a basket on your head?"
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.