The one that got away

I found this lovely souvenir in a market stall in Bakau, Gambia. It stood out among the animal woodcarvings and batik fabrics. The seated wooden figure is covered with sead beads, conch shells and amulet bags.

When I asked the price, that stood out, too. It was my last day in the country and I only had a few delasi left, so I walked away empty handed. Later, I found a similar figure at a market in Dakar, Senegal.

Does anyone out there have any information about this bead covered wooden statue? Any information would be appreciated. I did a Google search and all I came up with was an ebay auction for two figures listed at $1,000! And the closest thing I’ve found would be beaded wooden Namchi dolls from Cameroon, but they aren’t quite the same thing.

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Filed under Africa, Art, Bakau, Home Furnishings, Souvenir, Statue, The Gambia, Wood Carving

Tortuga Rum Cakes named “Best Cruise Souvenir”

rum cakes from the Cayman Islands

Tortuga Rum Cakes

Foro the sixth straight year, Tortuga Rum Cakes have been named “Best Cruise Souvenir” by the Ft. Lauderdale-based Porthole Cruise Magazine.

Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff says that the consistent quality and great taste of these rum cakes made it easy to honor the company yet again. “I can’t remember a time when I returned from a cruise without [a rum cake] — or several,” he says.

Made from a well-guarded secret family recipe — Tortuga Rum Cakes have been baked fresh daily in the Cayman Islands for four generations. The history of the rum cake dates back to maritime days when the men would come home from their journeys with barrels of rum. The women of the islands discovered that the rum could be used to make these delicious, moist cakes. The Tortuga Rum Cake Company, which also produces its own rums, uses a special blend to give the baked treats their unique flavor.

Visitors to Grand Cayman can visit the headquarters to learn more about the history of sugar and rum, watch the cakes being made and, of course, sample some of the product.

The rest of us can buy products from the company’s online store.

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Filed under Caribbean, Cayman Islands, Food and Beverage

Quest for souvenir leads to heroic deed

All she wanted was a souvenir glass from Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe, but Jennifer Beza got so much more when she and her longtime partner, Mindy Lassante, interrupted a carjacking in process in the parking garage.

As they were leaving the lot, they could hear a woman’s cries for help. Lassante slammed the car into reverse and came to the aid of the woman just as her accused carjacker was demanding her keys.

Read more at in the Boston Herald.

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Filed under crime, United States

Shopping of Olympic proportion

In Vancouver, shopping is proving to be an endurance sport for anyone wanting to buy official Olympic merchandise.

Taking home the gold is The Hudson’s Bay company store, which is the only place to pick up a piece of Olympic history and news outlets have reported that fan are spending hours in line to take home a souvenir from the games.

Some of the most popular purchases are a $44 long sleeve t-shirt, a $50 men’s hooded fleece and a $400 authentic Team Canada Vancouver 2010 hockey jersey.

Team gear is not the only souvenir available in Vancouver; there are also the official Olympic mascots, including a Sasquatch (or yeti) called Quatchi and three other figures that combine aboriginal mythological figures. There are also hats, scarves, magnets, mouse pads for computers, blankets, bookmarks, coffee cups, pens, and replicas of the Inukshuk stone statue that adorns the official Olympic logo.

If you can’t make it to Vancouver, visit www.vancouver2010.com to order your souvenir.

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Filed under Apparel, Authentic, Canada, For Her, For Him, North America, Sports, Vancouver

43 years spent waiting for the ring

He has entire room devoted to the New Orleans Saints with such prized possessions as a football signed by the team, but there’s only one thing missing from Tommy Gara’s collection: “A Super Bowl ring,” he told ABC-affiliate WLOX in Biloxi, Mississippi.

That’s the one souvenir he hopes to bring home from his trip to Miami to attend this year’s Super Bowl game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Saints, which kicks off on Sunday, February 7 at 6:25 EST on CBS.

Check out this story about Gara.

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Filed under Louisiana, Mississipppi, New Orleans, North America, Souvenir, Sports, United States

Roswell is out of this world

UFO MuseumA mysterious flying object crashes on a farm outside of Corona, New Mexico, in 1947. The debris, and quite possibly the remains of alien creatures, are taken to the Roswell Army Air Base, and an elaborate cover-up ensues.

Roswell, New Mexico, has built a reputation on UFO lore and conspiracy theories. The truth is out there, and millions of people have flocked to the town of 50,000 to find it. The UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street presents an overview of what has become known as “The Roswell Incident,” including exhibits about the timeline of events, eyewitness accounts, the cover-up and general UFO phenomena. Founded in 1991, the museum also has the largest selection of UFO souvenirs in the world.
Alien Fetus in Goo

One thing the museum store didn’t have was unhatched alien eggs, something a friend of mine had told me she had purchased on a visit to Roswell a few years ago. I followed green two-toed footprints over to the Roswell Space Center at 116 E. 2nd Street to pick up my own alien fetus for $1.75.

Space WalkWhile at the souvenir shop, I got more than I bargained for; I was introduced to the Space Walk, a dark tunnel filled with painted scenes illuminated by black lights. Conceived by local artist Larry Welz, the Space Walk is a journey through the past, present and future of space exploration as viewed from the deck of a space ship. Come to find out, you can see more of Larry’s work in the form of interstellar murals painted on the side of buildings (check out the one behind the McDonald’s shaped like a spacecraft on Main Street) or the alien eyes on lamp posts throughout town.

If UFOs are your thing, this is place to be. Better yet, make your plans now for the 2010 UFO Festival, which will take place July 1-3, 2010.

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Filed under New Mexico, Novelty, Roswell, Souvenir, Uncategorized, United States

Woodrow Wilson House extends exhibition of presidential mementos

Artillery Shell

Cracked artillery shell painted by French artist Émile Gallois (1882-1965). The painting depicts the town of Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine, France. Strategically situated on the Moselle River, Pont-à-Mousson was the scene of heavy fighting during World War I. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

What do you get the president who has it all?

Ideas abound at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C., which has extended its exhibit of 101 treasures from around the world through January 17, 2010. Included in the exhibition are an impressive collection of gifts, curios, and awards, many of which were presented by foreign dignitaries over the course of President Wilson’s two terms in office.

Among the treasures on display is a hand-painted French faience platter, weighing 32 pounds, presented during Wilson’s historic trip to Europe in 1918-1919. A stained glass medallion, also from France, features medieval glass salvaged from the Cathedral of Rheims, which was damaged by German artillery fire during World War I. Hand-painted porcelain plates, tributes from the King and Queen of Belgium, depict peaceful scenes of Belgium before the war. Elaborate gold and silver “freedom caskets” acted as offerings from the grateful people of Britain.

A lavish collection of gifts of state from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), including crowns, javelins, and a lion’s mane cape, were presented to President Wilson by the first Ethiopian diplomatic mission to the United States in 1919. Two sets of samurai armor were gifts from Japan. Other treasures include intricate ivory scrimshaws, examples of Inuit art, porcelain, silver and a beaded belt rumored to have been made by Pocahontas—an ancestor of Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Wilson.

Check out more photos of items in the exhibit here.

Wilson Peak rock

The top of Wilson Peak in the French Alps. Presented to President Wilson by the city of Chamonix, France in 1918. The mountain, formerly bearing the name of German explorer Dr. Piltscher, was renamed Wilson Peak by the Association of Guides and the Municipal Council of Chamonix on August 15, 1918. During the ceremony the American flag was planted on top of the mountain and at dusk the glacier crevices were illuminated by fireworks. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Silver Pendant Head piece

Triangular silver pendant headpiece with silver tassels. This headpiece was among the gifts presented to President and Mrs. Wilson by the first Abyssinian (Ethiopian) mission to the U.S. in July 1919. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Micronesian fan

Tortoise shell and coconut fiber fan from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. A traditional Micronesian handicraft, fans of this kind were used as personal accessories or for fanning the embers of a fire. Photo courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson House.

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Filed under Authentic, D.C., North America, Souvenir, Uncategorized, United States, Washington