Over the years we have brought back some unusual items from our travels. They are usually large and fragile and not the easiest thing to pack.
A massive King Cake from New Orleans, gently placed (yet still squished) in the overhead, plaster statues of Hindu gods stuffed into carry-on bags from Delhi, a ‘Bird Girl’ garden statue from Savannah and even didgeridoos from Australia, (via London!) bubble-wrapped in the hold. Sometimes we have to buy more luggage and yet it’s still touch and go whether the treasure makes it home in one piece.
So I was already wondering what huge, and most likely delicate, memento we would be bringing back from Nicaragua.
We had spent the day walking the small streets of colonial Granada, and were headed back to the hotel when we passed a six-foot tall papier-mache bear with an empty rum bottle taped to his hand welcoming us to ‘Mi Museo’. Clearly, it looked too strange to pass up, so we went in.
The one-room museum was filled with dozens of small glass cases and large paper-mache creatures. The young women, who only spoke Spanish, showed us around the cases filled with individual toothpicks encased in glass test tubes. Each one was precisely carved and painted to represent the famous, infamous and not-so-famous; Barack Obama, The Simpsons, and friends and family of the artist. Even with the supplied magnifying glass at each case, they were still hard to see.
After a few minutes, a small man walked in and introduced himself as the artist. He had wonderful, bright eyes, and was more than willing to talk about his art in animated Spanish. (We figured it out though a mixture of grade school spanish, a dictionary he kept on-hand and a lot of gesturing.) He continued his in-depth tour of the studio, pointing out to us who each toothpick was. We moved to the wall, where we finally noticed his paintings – each no bigger than the size of a postage stamp. Again we used the magnifying glass to examine volcanoes, dreams, and anti-war images, in all their tiny glory.
After an hour, the tour was still in full-swing and we had picked out a microscopic volcanic painting and a toothpick statue of a blonde English woman he had once known! We finally tore ourselves away, and he signed some documents to state that they were authentic and they carefully wrapped them into a tiny paper package.
Finally, at last, something easy to get home! Usually we have to worry if there will be enough room, but now we had a new problem – losing it in our luggage!