Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The First Travel Souvenir

I received other keepsakes from my parents during family trips of my youth, but it's not often you keep a souvenir from your first independent travel and remember the story. My first significant travel experience outside the protective fold of my parents was on a 1985 trip to Mexico with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), chaperoned by a Spanish teacher from my high school. The itinerary included the exceptional pre-Columbian ruins at Teotihuacán, north of Mexico City. After a rainy afternoon walking the Avenue of the Dead and climbing the Pyramid of the Moon, the tour guide gave our group a pop quiz in the shelter of a bus. I was the first to correctly answer some series of questions about Mexico, and the prize was this little jade figurine. I still sometimes wonder about who made it and their story. Now, after years of "going places," our house is full of such totems, each bringing forth a visual memory that is itself the real treasure.