Shopping in the US is one of my favorite activities – I can do it from morning until night. Usually this is for clothes, shoes, or furniture, but when I’ve been traveling in the states, I’ve also done shopping for souvenirs. It’s quite different here, though, than in Costa Rica.
I recently came back from 10 amazing days in Costa Rica. One of the fun things we got to do when not exploring was to buy souvenirs. These were regular souvenir shops: no age restrictions. They sold a bit of everything: t-shirts, bags, pipes, mugs, and lots of wooden items. What kind of wooden items, right on the shelf? Coffee cups, shot glasses, models (cars, animals), bowls, penises, keychains, sculptures…yes, yes I did say dicks.
Amongst the rows of bowls, trivets, and vases were two shelves full of wooden penises. They were quite lovely – brown wood and black (the black ones larger), and some had little bowls on the balls for…rings or small items; others had can opener tops, and still other, smaller penises that had keychain fobs attached. All of them either had Costa Rica written in white on the surface or burned into the shaft.
Of the group that I was with, the teens thought it was funny and went off to look at shirts. One woman was horrified, and I didn’t think she could get out of the aisle fast enough. But the other woman I was with and I got the giggles, and we were comparing the sizes and shapes. She picked up one of the bottle openers – it was basically a penis lying on its side with the bottle opener part at the tip. She shook her head, still giggling, and then took it up to the counter, where she asked the clerk (in Spanish, but in English here):
“What is this?” waving the wooden penis in her hand.
The clerk nonchalantly replied, “It’s a bottle opener.”
We all laughed, and decided we had to come home with wooden penises, so we bought the bottle openers and the keychains. The clerk wrapped them well in bubble wrap, and they did clear customs and didn’t set off alarm bells in my carry-on. But really, what was a TSA agent going to do? If he asked me what they were, I was going to tell him, truthfully, “bottle openers and key chains.”
I did a lot more shopping in Costa Rica, but that is definitely the most memorable souvenir shopping I’ve ever done. And the best bottle opener I own.