Favorite thing you've brought back?

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Apr 22nd, 2005, 11:14 AM
  #1
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Favorite thing you've brought back?

What's your most prized souvenir, article of clothing, or whatever that you've brought back from a trip to Africa? I'm going to South Africa and Botswana in May and know about the possibility of baskets, masks, and carvings, but is there anything truly special you've found and could recommend? I love to find things that I can either display in my home as artwork or something I can wear - things that give me fond memories of my trip.
Thanks!
Karen
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 11:57 AM
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The first thing I do before any trip is to go to TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Pier One, World Market, etc., etc to see what is there already imported...the global market is making it very difficult to find something unique that you can't get at home. I have just returned from So. Africa. Yesterday I saw all the carved giraffes that I could possible want, including a 8 ft one, in Tubac, Arizona.
While in S.A., I did get several fabric items...batik and painted, table runners, pillow shams, placemats,embroideries, etc...all lovely, made there (not China),lightweight, easy to pack. Also, look for mohair items, silk scarves from AfricaSilk, fabulous leather items from the Ostrich industry, you will be very tempted to buy it all. Our USA exchange rate was poor, so we didn't buy much...we thought porportionally, the most expensive thing in S.A. was the souvenir shopping. Remember that great stores are in the duty free shopping section in the Joburg International terminal...do it all there! Most of the items I had bought during our 3 weeks , all over the country, were found in the airport. Shop till you drop..Enjoy!
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 12:47 PM
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I absolutely adore my soapstone carving of two "kissing" giraffes... More like two adult males necking but I prefer my interpretation!

I also love the two soapstone soap dishes with partially submerged hippos in them.

And of course my Nelson Mandela bookplate print, limited edition.

Oh and I have had lots and lots of wear from my plain purple fleece scarf and gloves from my 2001 trip to Botswana (didn't pack any as couldn't comprehend how cold it would be) and always feel warm in my pale green fleece with mombo logo from the 2004 trip.

I bought some lovely woven straw plates from Jacana and some beaded plates from Swaziland and lots of other little bits and pieces.

And some cute tiny little carved soapstone hippos from Governor's Camp.

That's all I remember for the moment...
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 12:52 PM
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Ah... soapstone carvings! I didn't realize I might find something like that. I went to Jordan last year and bought a couple of them (a camel and a fish) as gifts and was so mad later that I hadn't bought a couple more - they were quite cheap. Maybe I'll find something I like in Africa. I can't wait for this trip!
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 01:11 PM
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Mine were dirt cheap...

We're talking 2 or 3 GPB!

Oh and we got some really nice watercolour prints too... again, because they were prints not originals and not by a known artist, they were only a few GPB each.
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 01:27 PM
  #6
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From Egypt, it's the papyrus; also galabeyas - both great for myself and as gifts and they pack flat.

From South Africa, it's the carved and/or painted ostrich eggs - all arrived home undamaged. Subsequently, all have been given away as gifts to those who "just liked them." Do I see another SA trip in my future? Hopefully!

From East Africa, the batiks which I see first thing each morning I wake and the last thing before retiring. Bought these then and since in pairs which are great as gifts. Also a great necklace that after 15-years still gets admiring ooohs and aaaahs. On my upcoming trip, will have to find additional medallion/s for this copper wire necklace (and no green neck, either). After painstaking hours found great hemitite jewelry which would give Tahitian black pearls a run for their money.

Sure, I've got some small wooden carved animals - you won't see me walking thru an airport with an 8' giraffe, when these can be found Stateside at much the same price - some also in soapstone.

My limit for adult t-shirts is $15, so anything above that (due to a lousy exchange rate) can stay on the shelf. Children's t-shirts are notoriously more expensive anywhere we've traveled; the exception was in Zimbabwe where we found reasonable childrens shorts/t-top outfits - $12-$15/set - that didn't fall apart in the wash. Of course, my Singita T-shirt was a steal in 2001 at $12 (or $15).

And my favorite - the dolls. Surprisingly, it wasn't until my first Kenyan visit when looking for a gift for a friend's little girl, that the collecting began. Thereafter, on any trip, anywhere, I'd buy one for her and one (or two, or three) for me, and eventually for my neices - some even with amazing porcelain faces (these from S.E.Asia).

At the outset of a trip, there are so many things I wanted to buy, but unless I had that strong pull that I'd never find the item elsewhere during the trip - I'd wait. Get the lay of the land... what's available, the price, compare... wait to buy towards the end of your trip so you don't have to pack and repack your bags as you purchase more stuff (even if you've brought an extra bag just for this purpose), add to weight, and possibly damage items.

That's my list... and I'm sure I've missed something.

 
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 03:19 PM
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I have a fantastic multicolored mohair scarf that I bought in Stellenbosch and wore all winter. I also have a lovely carved necklace bought also in Stellenbosch with elephants that everytime I wore it got tons of compliments. And of course there are the lovely Rust en Vrede wines we carried home. One last bottle we are saving for dinner when we have moved into our new home at the end of this June. Oh, and very nifty stainless grapefruit spoons we use quite often, purchased in Capetown. I can't help but enjoy our trip over and over again because we brought home things that we use frequently. (I brought my admin a beaded ostrich feather duster that is such a hoot, I wish I'd got more!)
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Apr 25th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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On the last night of a 2-week trip to Kauai and Maui, both my husband and I got our first tattoos. As my screen name indicates, mine is a small Plumeria blossom. I fell in love with these beautiful flowers with the intoxicating scent the first day on Kauai, and it seemed the perfect souveneir of a wonderful trip.
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Apr 25th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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So sorry, didn't realize the board I was on. (It is my favorite souveneir, but not from africa, LOL)
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Apr 25th, 2005, 04:28 PM
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The favorite things that I have brought back are my nocturnal dreams of Africa and my ability to imitate hippos (comes in quite useful in domestic squabbles, although sometimes at the risk of injury to myself).
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Apr 30th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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From the African Art Centre in Durban we bought a very special wood carving. Philamen Singweni collects pieces of wood from the streams after the heavy rains have pushed trees down (he does not cut living trees down for his work). His specialty is birds. We bought a bird with a fish lying next to it and with a fish sticking out of its long beak as if he is about to swallow it. This carving is ONE piece of wood, no joins! Its just incredible. It must 1 metre long. The African Art Centre displays and sells alot of brilliant works of art from the Africans.
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Apr 30th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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It's very hard for me to pick a "favorite", because I love nearly everything I've brought back from Africa. Two of my favorites: a set of antique bone-handled fish forks and fish knives from an antique shop near the Market Theatre in Johannesburg; some beautiful, smooth, shiny rocks that Jim picked up off the ground in Malawi, and that we display in a carved African ebony bowl. I love the fish forks and knives so much, because they're so rare in the US. (We American clods just eat our fish with the regular knife and fork!) Another favorite is a woven tapestry from Lesotho. It's of native mohair, and the scene woven it depicts is a market day in Maseru. I also have a couple of sets of place mats made of Lesotho mohair. We have a soapstone chess set and board that Jim bought from the artist, by the side of the highway. Anything carved from verdite is special, as verdite occurs only in southern Africa. We have lots of verdite animals, and I have a pair of verdite earrings. You'll find people selling things at intersections all over South Africa, and in general they'll be of good quality, but for things like mohair items it's best to go to one of the shops in someplace like Sandton City mall or the V&A Waterfront.

Toys made of wire are fantastically creative, and widely available. Something I once saw but didn't buy (I am still kicking myself!!) is a wooden carved Nokia cell phone, perfect in every detail.
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Apr 30th, 2005, 02:47 PM
  #13
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The mohair tapestry sounds like something I'd love! Are they common (as in, if I see one, do I need to buy it right then, or will I see many more later)?
And verdite? I'm not familiar with it. What color is it?
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Apr 30th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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My favorite souvenir was a lion hairball found in North Luangwa--and the price was right.
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Apr 30th, 2005, 10:45 PM
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I thought I'd pop in here, haven't been on for a while. A 3 panel story quilt from Zambia is my single favorite item, other than the photos. Also bought the small wooden carvings from a working royal African village in Zambia, the feathered Ostrich eggs in SA, pewter salt and pepper shakers from artist Carole Boyes, beaded necklaces from the design centre in Cape Town (the most appreciated gifts). One of the happiest impulse buys was a beaded "doll" I found in the large chain music store by the waterfront. It had a tag explaining it was the product of a local project. I really like that doll. There's so many wonderful things to buy in Africa, at all price ranges, and I guarantee they'll give you fond memories.
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May 2nd, 2005, 09:10 AM
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Karen, the mohair tapestries are not generally sold by the roadside; you'll see them in shops, and there will likely be more than one shop selling them in a large shopping center. But even so, you may want to buy them when you see them, rather than scour all the shops.

Verdite is a dark moss or forest green. It is opaque, not translucent like jade.
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May 2nd, 2005, 12:45 PM
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A hand carved "blood bowl" from Kenya and an exquisite hand woven shawl from Swazi are my two favorites.

I live near Busch Gardens in USA and most of the animal (carved giraffes,soapstone animals, etc.,) can be found in USA shops.
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May 2nd, 2005, 01:09 PM
  #18
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I am going to have such a hard time deciding! Bowls, wall hangings, masks, baskets, verdite, fabric items... wow.
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May 2nd, 2005, 02:11 PM
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I have lots of wonderful carvings etc but the best -- by a landslide-- its an gorgeous 2 carat near perfect zanzanite (dark) necklace purchased via a wholesaler in Joberg. My absolute favorite piece of jewelry. This is what you want to bring back!!!
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May 2nd, 2005, 02:52 PM
  #20
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My daughter has already put in a request for jewelry of some sort - so that will be high on my shopping list.
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