On A Quest For The Perfect Souvenir

On the Quest for the Perfect Souvenir in the Republic of Georgia

I’ve completely outgrown buying souvenirs every place I go. Now don’t get me wrong, I love seeing all the locally handmade items, especially textiles and sometimes it takes a very strong will to say no. But I do say no, because I really want to be a minimalist. Why? To be honest I hate to dust. That’s the reason. At any rate, I rarely buy anything other than food items that will undoubtedly be consumed and will never require dusting.

On the Quest for the Perfect Souvenir in the Republic of Georgia

Marta’s spoon at work draining off our first batch of Georgian dumplings. Yum!

A Cooking Lesson and a Quest

So, it came as surprise to both Jim and I when I was totally taken with Marta’s khinkali ladle. For one thing, I love handmade, especially crudely handmade, items. Her ladle looked like it was hand-carved and it was huge! On top of that, she flat out told me that it was “special” and there was no way I would ever find one to buy. Well, if you know me, I just cannot pass up a challenge like that. I was on a quest for my perfect souvenir from Georgia.

Luckily, it was only the second day of our time in Georgia when we had our amazing cooking lesson in Telavi, so I had the entire rest of the trip to try and find my own ladle, which I was going to buy no matter what. To Marta’s credit, I searched and searched and there were no huge, wooden ladles to be found. The other restaurants used colanders or metal ladles, but not wooden. Souvenir stores didn’t really have kitchen tools at all. They had wonderful stuff, but I was on a mission and only had eyes for ladles.

Our trip progressed and, as you know, Jim and I pretty much drove all over the country, from town to town. In many of the towns we passed, especially on the more rural roads, the locals would set up shop to sell passersby their wares. One town sold hammocks, another car parts and oil, yet another had special breads, but the one that I really paid attention to was the town that sold handmade wooden objects and baskets. Maybe this is where I would find that perfect souvenir. Vendor stall after vendor stall hung wooden items of all shapes and sizes and I kept looking for that ladle. All of the stalls had spoons, some quite large, but until the very last one, none had handmade holes bored into them. But yes, I found it.

Jim dutifully pulled over telling me to hurry so that we wouldn’t get stuck behind those trucks we had recently passed on this hilly route. I practically threw my money at the lady as she cut the string off of my ladle. I was back in the car in no time, triumphant! My ladle is definitely as large, if not larger than Marta’s! It is almost a yard long, and the spoon part is about 10 inches in diameter. It’s huge. It’s awesome. I was happy.

On the Quest for the Perfect Souvenir in the Republic of Georgia

 

Getting My Perfect Souvenir Through Security

Well, I was happy until I started packing for the airplane and guess what? My prized possession did not fit into my luggage. This didn’t really bother me too much, but I knew that everyone would be looking at it and maybe prompting questions from security, which, let’s face it, nobody wants. And as luck would have it, the very first security check it happened. You know those early luggage-checking machines that are located right inside the door of the airport? The handler looked at it, looked at me, I smiled, and he waved me through, but whispered to me that they might not let it through security…like I’m sure he probably shouldn’t have either.

We got up to the check in counter and the same thing happened again. The ticket agent called the manager. The manager came out, looked at the spoon, looked at me, I smiled, and he asked, “What is this?”

I answered, “A khinkali spoon! I love khinkali!”

“You love khinkali? You buy a spoon? Okay, but please they may not let you through security.” Now, I’m starting to wonder if my spoon was going to make it.

At the official security station, I put it through the machine, and guess what? The security guard asked me what is was. “A khinkali spoon. I love khinkali! I learned how to make it while I was here.”

“You make khinkali?”

“Yes! I can’t wait to make it when I get home.” I didn’t bother to tell him I’m not very good at it.

He looked at the spoon, looked at me, I smiled, and, and….he waved me through! My khinkali spoon was through security! We were going home together.

For someone who doesn’t normally buy a souvenir, I guess I needed to buy one with a great back story and what a perfect symbol for my dumpling project!

Have you ever been on a quest for that perfect souvenir?

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Picking out that one item that will define your fantastic trip is always a struggle. Click here to read how I conquered my quest for the perfect souvenir from the Republic of Georgia.

42 Comments

  1. Great story! I also don’t personally buy or collect a lot of souvenirs from my travels, but I love to find something special that has meaning to me and reminds me of a trip. One treasured object is a baobab fruit from Tanzania that our guide bought at the market before our Kilimanjaro clmb. It went up Mt. Kilimanjaro with us and at the end every member of our 14-person crew signed it for us – a very special treasure that holds a lot of memories! We has similar concerns about security since it is a fruit but we had no problem.

  2. This spoon must be huge if it wouldn’t fit in your luggage (unless you only take a carry on, and even then…) Much better to get something useful rather than it gathering dust on a shelf (like all of mine!)

  3. Glad you could get your spoon on the plane, ha,ha,ha. I’m like you when it comes to souvenirs: I hate to dust. Besides there is no more room in my house for anything extra, so all I buy is food and sometimes clothes (if I find something that I know I can’t find here).

  4. That’s a great story. All the security folks must have seen how much you truly enjoyed visiting Georgia. It’s a great compliment to them. I have never seen a spoon that big. I have a plastic one that resembles it, but it’s not as special as a big wooden one.

  5. At least you didn’t have to deal with quarantine at the end of your trip. Living in Australia, there is always the question of whether a souvenir, especially one made out of any natural material like wood, will make it past the biosecurity guys. David and I aren’t really souvenir people so it isn’t a big issue for us fortunately.

    1. Lyn, I agree that Australian customs and security is one one of the toughest I’ve experienced. I once entered with my hiking boots and even though I’d cleaned them, they took them away, sprayed them, and I don’t know what else before I could get them back and enter the country.

  6. Such a cute story 🙂 I’m also a fan of more practical souvenirs (although, I did collect shot glasses from about every town in Australia lol). I’m happy you made it through security together. Hope you’ve been putting your sought-after spoon to good use!

  7. We rarely buy souvenirs anymore either, but I do like to buy unique gifts for friends or family if they have a special occasion coming up. I may rethink that when traveling to Australia though! Glad you got your spoon home!

  8. Lol, it happened to me sth similar in Hoi An. A pity that the tool I bought it is of very bad quality. Anyway, love this kind of useful “souvenirs”

  9. That is one large spoon! I tend not to buy many souvenirs because I am usually backpacking and would have to carry things round for months on end. I was like a woman possesed in cusco though. We had been on a tour and we stopped at the place where they dye and make all tablecloths scarfs slippers, you name it! The items there were lovely, but the company we booked through didn’t tell us we were going to be stopping there so we didnt have any money. I was devastated. On returning back to cusco town i searched high and low for the same quality items to no avail 🙁

  10. That is a great story. every one has a souvenir they have in mind that have to have. But the search doesn’t always have a happy ending. In Guadeloupe last winter my daughter saw other girls at the hotel wearing madras sundresses and decided she had to have one and of course she knew in her mind what she wanted it to look like. We went in to every dress store we could find in the capital and she wasn’t seeing it. Finally in the last store she did give up on her ideal and picked out one unlike the others we’d seen that she liked. And you know what? it’s adorable and she wears it every chance she gets. So it was worth the search.

  11. Interesting post, kept me engrossed. I generally don’t go for souvenirs, rather prefer to go for the memories and pictures to relive the experience at another time. But yes on rare occasions I do yield to the desire to buy souvenirs if not for myself than for others.

  12. I used to buy some sort of handmade souvenir on every trip, but I stopped long ago. They serve no purpose, after all, that photographs don’t do better! The only times I do buy something to bring home is, like you, when it’s something I can actually use. So when I was in Russia, for example, I bought a couple of pretty wooden trivets and a salad set, and I use them still.

  13. What an interesting read! I know that bringing things home can be a nightmare, especially when people do not know what things are. I am so glad you got it your souvenir home 🙂

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