Today I'm spreading out the rest of my grandfather's sand/rock/small-thing-picked-up-from-the-ground collection before your curious eyes. You may remember seeing a few rocks in the previous posts in this series (here and here). When my mother asked me if there was something I wanted from my grandparents' home, I believe the first thing that came to mind was this collection of neatly labelled sand samples that stood in the hallway bookshelf. And then I thought of the bookshelf. They're now reunited in my own home, and I'm also working on filling my own shelf with volumes of National Geographic magazines with those immediately recognisable yellow spines (with the kind help of my parents who keep renewing my order!).
When I opened the package that held these old c-vitamin bottles, I was surprised by the amount of Sahara sand. It's featured in a vivid childhood memory where my brother somehow dropped the Sahara jar onto the carpeted floor and vacuuming ensued, so I'd obviously made it a more of a disaster in my mind than it really was.
Somehow, for a child, these jars filled with coloured sand (and some lump, that I only as an adult learnt was a lump of earth from the Terracotta Army mausoleum) were the embodiment of all things exotic. It felt like no one on earth had ever travelled as much as my grandparents had. Of course they had only travelled more than anyone I knew (but I didn't know that many people at all), but probably a lot more than most ordinary Finnish people at the time nonetheless.
Kiviä maailmalta - Rocks from around the world, stored in an Old Spice box, with handwritten labels barely attached
Among the rocks there are bits labelled as coming from the Pyramid of Cheops (aka the Great Pyramid of Giza), the Temple of Karnak, etc., which honestly terrifies me a bit. Of course tourism was an entirely different business back in the days, but there's no escaping the fact that if everyone visiting the Terracotta Army or the pyramids took home a piece, there'd soon be very little left to see. Some days I feel as though I have some extinct taxidermied animals in my collections I feel really guilty about (I know, so not the same, but I have my sensitive days), but most of the time I'm able to just admire all the adventures these rocks and bits were collected on. I really like thinking how my grandparents built this collection piece by piece and my grandfather took the time and effort to write down places and dates either directly on the rocks themselves or on tiny paper labels.
My grandparents travelled on conducted tours with Finnish guides, but I still wouldn't go to all the places they went to. I'm not at all an adventurous traveller myself; I clearly prefer easy, English speaking countries that aren't too hot, but I'm willing to widen my perspective a bit, as long as I can avoid high temperatures (I get cranky just thinking about them, and V is a true heat hater). No feverish travel hopes or dreams at the moment, though, which is very odd after years and years of longing to go back to London the moment I return from a trip there. I'm currently quite happy staying put. Still, I'm sure the urge to go somewhere arises soon enough!
Where are you travelling to next? Should I go there, too? (Obviously I'm begging for travel inspiration with this question - self sabotage in progress...)