In less than 48 hours we will be boarding a plane bound for Guatemala (via Dallas). I can’t tell you how excited we both are for this trip. Even if it rains, which it might, it will still be warm.
Micah and I have decided to pack light and only take backpacks with us. We’ll be moving around a lot, so we’ll need luggage that’s easy to move on the cobblestone or dirt streets of the towns we’ll be in. You know what backpacks mean right? Limited space for souvenirs. Many trips ago, Micah and I came up with a souvenir buying plan. We decided that we only buy Christmas ornaments and food/drink stuff. The Christmas ornament thing works really well, particularly when we travel domestically. On the whole, WE (note the we) come home with just spices, an ornament and the occasional cookbook. Of course, Italy was a whole other thing, but technically, we only brought home our previously agreed upon items. It was my sister who brought home all the dishes (which we use and LOVE).
Remember the WE above? Well, I said we because I don’t always follow the rule when I travel alone. During my last trip to Tanzania I brought home fabric, a few paintings, spices (which are allowed), scarves (for presents) and the hanging wooden monkeys. Bad Catherine.
Last week I was sure that we could follow the ornament/food rule pretty well on the trip. There isn’t much room in out bags for too much stuff anyway. Of course, that was last week. On Monday I told my co-worker that I’d be gone next week because I was headed to Guatemala for a vacation. Turns out my co-worker lived there for 2 years and had plenty to suggest. One of his suggestions was an extra duffle bag for souvenirs. I told him about our souvenir plan and he laughed. He told me the textiles and crafts as so amazing (and cheap) in Guatemala that it would be silly to come back with just a bags of coffee and a few small things. Normally I would brush this comment off but it came from someone who travels 10 times as much as I do (and has seen the gamut of souvenirs) and because he is a straight man that HATES shopping. We’ve had discussions about his dislike of shopping before. If my co-worker says shopping must be done, then I believe him.
One of the items on our to see list is a visit to the Sunday market in Chichicastenango. I knew it was one of the largest markets in the country but didn’t know what that really meant until I googled it. We are going to be in souvenir buying trouble.
It’s a good thing I’m not really a big knitter. Look at that yarn! I could see the tapestries being a problem though.
To give our shopping purpose, I decided to make a list of ALL the people we’ll need to buy presents for throughout the year. I’m one of the those annoying people who has my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. I actually think I’m about a fourth of the way done right now because of the Tanzania trip. I feel like a list, in addition to bringing a smallish extra bag, is a good solution to what could be a shopping problem. In general, I like to buy stuff (I may not need) when I travel because I think it’s a great way to give to communities in need without giving. Giving to people forced to beg can get really tricky and can get dangerous. Check out this clip from the Haiti No Reservations episode to see what I mean. There was a recent New York Times article about this very issue.
So, a shopping we will go. I’m kind of excited but can already anticipate being overwhelmed. Hopefully the list shopping list will help with that.
Do have a shopping plan for when you travel? Also, if you are someone we’d normally give a gift to, let us know if there is something in particular you’d like to receive when the time comes.