The world according to the airport gift shop

During layovers I make a little game of learning about a place only from what I see in its airport gift shops. It shows me more of a caricature of the place, but I wonder, a caricature from whose point of view? Is the caricature drawn by the travelers or the locals? In other words, do the Chileans want to sell us penguin and moai chotchkies or is that just how we want to think of them?

A moai model stands guard over shelves of stuffed penguins and flamingos in an airport gift shop.
A moai model stood guard over shelves of stuffed penguins and flamingos in one of the airport gift shops.
An airport gift shop displays copper yerba mate tea sets in its window.
The airport gift shop also displayed copper mates in its window.

IKEA: a living space odyssey

Strips of blue tape outline future furniture on a white wall.
The blue masking tape we used to visualize our furniture had a charm all its own.

We’ve been busy assembling furniture. A couple of weekends ago (yet it seems like months) we went to an IKEA in the Chicago suburbs to replace the relics of my bachelorhood that were our living room furniture. We actually rented a small moving truck and spent the night in a hotel so we could complete our errand.

The modular, do-it-yourself nature of IKEA furniture requires a lot of decision making; compounded by the problem-solving needed to furnish our smallish living space and that Lore and I are very careful people, we were inside IKEA for much longer than is healthy. Perhaps not seeing the sun for 24 hours is part of what IKEA is exporting from Scandinavia. I certainly ate and drank my quota of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice for the year.