My apartment is quite Spartan. No chachkis. No endless bookshelves. No stacks of magazines. No family or cat photos strewn about. Years ago I completely digitized my life, so I have no hard copies of documents or photographs. All videos are digital. I never check baggage. I only travel with a backpack, regardless of length or location of trip. Clearly, I am a minimalist. When you call a person a minimalist, you are describing their interest in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something, whether in art, physical belongings, etc., or in this case, travel momentos.
Given all of this, what does a minimalist like me do to commemorate having traveled to all seven continents? For me the answer was simple, cheap and easy to find cloth bracelets.
- Africa. This bracelet is from near the Hammam Meskoutine, Algeria, a thermal bath close to the town of Guelma. Meskhoutine Hammam means the “bath of the damned.” The site is known for its hot spring, waterfall and spa. Guelma is located in northeastern Algeria, about forty miles [65 km] from the Mediterranean coast.
- South America. This bracelet is from Taquile island on Lake Titicaca, Peru. Located in the Andes Mountains, by volume of water, it is the largest lake in South America. Taquile is a hilly island located 28 miles [45 km] east of the city of Puno. It is narrow and long and was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony and into the 20th century. Pre-Inca ruins are found on the highest part of the island, and agricultural terraces on hillsides.
- North America. This bracelet is from a small Tibetan shop on MacDougal Street, in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. MacDougal Street lies in the center of what is considered the “South Village,” a newly landmarked historic district. Originally home to a merchant class in the early 19th century, by the late 19th century the area was dominated by immigrants, largely from Italy. The architecture of the South Village is primarily tenement-style apartment buildings, indicative of the area’s history as an enclave for Italian-American immigrants and working-class residents of New York. The Italian immigrants built their own distinct parishes, to distinguish them not only from their Protestant neighbors on the north side of Washington Square Park [in Greenwich Village], but their Irish neighbors in the South Village.
- Antarctica. As there are no inhabitants and no stores to speak of in Antarctica [scientific research stations notwithstanding], my preparation for my trip to Antarctica also included the purchase of a cheap bracelet maker. The bracelet I am currently wearing was made prior to my clear understanding about how to actually make one the proper way.
- Australia. This bracelet is from the Haymarket neighborhood of Sydney, New South Wales. Haymarket includes much of Sydney’s Chinatown, Thaitown and Railway Square localities.
- Asia. This bracelet is from Siem Reap, Cambodia, the town closest to the incredible archaeological site of Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and a popular resort town as the gateway to Angkor region. It has a large number of tourist hotels and restaurants. This is much owed to its proximity to the Angkor temple complex, the most popular tourist attraction in Cambodia.
- Europe. This bracelet is from a craft shop in Howth, Ireland. Howth is a village and outer suburb of Dublin, Ireland. The district occupies the greater part of the peninsula of Howth Head, forming the northern boundary of Dublin Bay. Originally just a small fishing village, Howth with its surrounding once-rural district is now a busy suburb of Dublin. Howth is also home to one of the oldest occupied buildings in Ireland, Howth Castle.
So, if you see me walking down the street, grab my arm and ask me to roll up my sleeve. All seven continents will be there.