I have a history of buying the most inappropriate souvenirs when travelling. Not rude or anything, just whole heartedly impossible to travel with. I think it all started when I was six and went on holiday to Sydney. I (being a six year old) purchased a teddy bear with my hard saved pocket money, not inappropriate so far right? Well, if only customs had thought the same. When going through the airport the customs official decided that I was smuggling something inside my bear and wanted to cut it open to investigate further. It is a formative moment in a young girl’s life when a bulky Australian man approaches your teddy with a large knife. My family still reminisce about my sister having to hold back a mini-Runawaykiwi from attacking the customs man, as my mum tried to convince him to unpick the stitching rather than opening a massive gash down its stomach. And no, for the record I was not smuggling drugs in a teddy bear.
Continuing on in this theme was the ‘suspected’ souvenirs from all my teenage travelling. Now it’s important to remember here that while the rest of the world is concerned with bombs, drugs and disease at airports, New Zealand is all about biosecurity. Forget bomb dogs, we have dogs roaming our airports who sniff out apples. Yeah, New Zealand is not exactly a hot spot for terrorism. The problem being for a teenage Runawaykiwi is that she travelled with her school backpack, a school backpack that had had years of rotting fruit from forgotten lunches at the bottom of it (don’t judge me). Almost every time I went through the airport I would get an outrageously cute dog sitting next to me and a customs official asking me to empty my bag. And of course being me (nothing has changed really) I would bring out an entire sweet shop full of candy mixed between accounting homework and drug filled teddy bears* – the look of ‘fuck sake, sort yourself out girl’ on a customs officials face is one that can’t be replicated.
Things went on to a rather…larger scale from there. We were on a month long trip starting in San Francisco, I on the second day decided to buy the largest poster available at MOMA. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking buying a 2m long Rauschenberg when travelling? Oh that Rauschenberg, it was a massive pain to take through 8 airports, across country and of course half way round the world. To be fair, my Dad did get a whole lot of entertainment from it as he stalked my Mum around the streets of San Francisco.
Then I moved onto my twenties and nothing changed really. Again at the start of a month of travel (it was at the end of my university exchange, and I was going on an adventure on my way home) but this time in the spice markets of Turkey. A glass tea set caught my eye, because you know that’s what every university student needs… After bartering my heart out I got it; 6 glass tea cups, 6 glass saucers and a tea pot. Mental. It went in my suitcase, and I felt totally justified in buying 247 silk scarves to protect it while I travelled. Believe it or not it made it back to New Zealand in one piece, and of course I never used it and it was sold in a garage sale a few years later for $2.
I really don’t think I am ever going to grow out of this, just last month when I was in Marrakesh the only thing I brought back was a MASSIVE gold Moroccan pouf.
Sigh, I think I need a bigger suitcase.