An unexpected African treasure – the best thing we brought back.

When Josh and I went to Africa, we certainly didn’t go to shop.

In fact, we each only traveled with a day pack….not even a backpack. I wore the same seven articles of clothing for four months straight. So it was a little out of character for us to decide to buy something like this, even though I think we paid about thirty cents for it.

wooden tool

In case it’s not clear from the photo: this is a wooden cooking utensil. We saw women using these as spoons, to stir big pots of stew simmering on the fire; as spatulas, to scrape browned bits from the bottom of a pan; as tongs, to lift small morsels onto a plate; and for seemingly endless other uses.

tool 2

We’ve used this tool literally thousands of times since we returned from our trip, years ago. Every time we hold it, we think of our travels, and of the food we ate while we were there. We remember the smoky cooking fires, the unique flavors, the unexpected ingredients…actually, they’re more feelings than memories. A visceral response. And it’s all from this utensil.

It’s still in really good shape for its age. Maybe a little splintered on the sides, but we like it that way. We’re pretty sure it’s going to last forever. Or at least until we’re able to return.

Have you ever made a similar purchase while you were traveling? What was it?


  1. Hi: Enjoy your postings. We are planning an African Safari for next June. I have UR points that can be transferred to UA. However, shows no availability for as far out as I can check right now, which is April 2015. I thought that South African being a UA partner, there would be little problem with availability. And other bloggers said they had no problem w/coach availability, We need to fly business class b/c of the distances and time involved.

    Any suggestions as to how I can book award travel in business class? We would be travelling to Cape Town on the outbound so would have to connect out of Johanesburg. We may be coming home from either Kenya or Tanzania, but most like Johanesburg.

    Any help you can give/suggest would be deeply appreciated.

    • Andrew T says:

      My amateur bet is you’re limited by your domestic legs, not flights to/within Africa. I’m seeing tons of business/first availability from DC to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian (Intra-African flights from Addis ar plentiful) and other options on Turkish. I bet if you do your award searches leg by leg, you’ll discover it’s the shorter flights that are complicating. And remember that if you find all of your legs are available, you can call United and they often waive the fee for over-the-phone reservations if you show them it was impossible to reserve it online.

      • Points Pixie says:

        Andrew – Couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m going to see if Gene can chime in – he knows everything.

        • Looking forward to what advice he can offer.

        • Alan,

          Andrew’s advice is spot-on. You will always find the best award space by searching one leg at a time. The tricky part is knowing which alliance airlines can get you where you want to go. When I am trying to figure out all of the various ways to get from A to B with miles, I often use a handy tool called Airline Route Mapper. You can download it here: You can filter routes by alliance or by airline. Try this and see if it helps. If you are like me, you will spend hours looking at all the cool routings! If not and you want a pro to help you, you can always hire an award booking service, like JuicyMiles. Good luck!

      • Many thanks; I’ll take your advice and try it.

  2. Andrew T says:

    On the subject of kitchen utensils, I go to Guatemala every year or two, and always visit the beautiful volcanic Lake Atitlan. I invariably find pumice stones floating with me in the lake, and bring one home to scrub pans with. Silly, yes, but when was the last time you waxed nostalgic over a lasagna pan?

  3. For me is was a find, not an actual purchase. It started out as a beautiful day in Venice, but suddenly I was caught in a cold torrential downpour. I was totally unprepared. I was running along a street and I saw a perfectly clean and dry red and white tea towel under an overhang that someone must have dropped. I used it to cover my head and keep the water out of my eyes so I could see enough to get back to the B&B. I still use that towel in my kitchen and it reminds me of one of my favorite cities in the world.

  4. Shaquanna says:

    Hi Kendra, long time. I enjoyed this post. I just thought about an item that I treasure. It is my Harry Potter authentic replica scarf that was made for the actors in the movies-starting with the third film-my favorite of them all I think. I bought it in London, and wore it to the WB Studio Tour there. I wear it from time to time in my everyday life. When I do, I feel a connection not only to the movies, but the place as well.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Shaquanna – Nice to see you on the blog again! I’ve missed you 🙂

      The scarf sounds unique – and how fabulous that it reminds you of two connections.

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