When you travel, you tend to pick up lots of useful – and useless – shit. Along the way, you can’t help but acquire new crap that you’ll have to cart around on your back. For better or worse, some of those things you’ll keep, some you’ll lose, and others you’ll be forced to bin at airport customs.
Braided wristbands, wanky accents, an appreciation of red wine and a new love top my personal list. Other unfortunate folk bring home tacky souvenirs and STIs, but that’s their own damn fault. I think that is it always nice to have a little (non-contagious) reminder of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen.
All the better if it costs nothing, takes up zero space, and has a somewhat entertaining story attached to it…
When I was in Peru, coming from Aguas Calientes to Cuzco, I picked up a little memento that met the above hobo criteria. At about 9pm, riding in a dark, crowded van, I was hungry. After a torturous, famishing five minutes of foraging around my backpack trying not to wake the sleeping humans around me, I found a pocketknife and began to carve up an avocado bought earlier that day. Ah yes, the avocado began to satiate the hunger beast. It was a wonderful moment – a wonderful moment that was brutally interrupted by a bump in the road that sent the knife blade one centimetre deep into my finger.
Take a look at your fingers, please. Barely a centimetre thick, the poor buggers. I was lucky to not hit bone, surely.
A fitting “Fuck!” escaped my mouth, and my partner, snoozing next to me woke up. ‘What’s wrong?’ he pried, putting a soothing hand on my arm.
“Don’t touch me. I cut myself!” I hissed through gritted teeth. The blessed soul sprung into action to find our first-aid kit (rookie mistake to not pack even a half-assed one of these bad boys). Switching into survival mode, I removed the knife, and began to suck my finger. The metallic taste of blood filled my mouth and the stinging kicked in. OH LORD, THE STINGING. Next, some impromptu, clumsy wound dressing by the glow of a phone, and my finger was okay. Throbbing, and no doubt really manky looking, but okay.
Now, months later, I am reminded of my time in Peru when I look down at my middle finger. The middle finger is quite appropriate, because the avocado tasted like ass. The scar, and now that memory, will never fade. Personal reminders of your travels will always be valuable and looked upon fondly. No matter how scarring.