Skills come in handy in life on the road

| Terence Chang 13 Jun 2019

We strolled around the Granada Alcaiceria in Spain for an hour, and saw many handicraft items and souvenirs that are made for tourists.

There were also duffel bags, leather bags and backpacks in loud colors, which were cheap but not appealing. The appealing ones were, however, not cheap, so we didn't buy any.

As we followed the pebble path up the hill, we came across a woman street vendor with ornament items laid out on the ground. Further up the road, a man was playing guitar and singing, guitar case opened in front with a few euro dollar coins inside.

The woman asked us to take a look at her goods, which were all "painstakingly" hand-made. I thought it was rather bold for her to "set up shop" right next to a famous bazaar. We were tired from walking, so we stopped to appreciate her handiwork as the busker sang on.

"I am Malik from Arnhem, the Netherlands. My mother is Turkish and my father Dutch," she said by way of introduction. Like many in her generation, she is taking a year off after graduating from university to travel and experience life.

Malik said she has been fond of painting and designing and making handicrafts since she was young. "But I've never imagined selling my handicrafts to pay for my travelling," she said.

She showed us a ring and told us it was "weaved" from a single strand of copper wire, for which she asked for five euros (HK$44), the cheapest of her items.

Malik told us she had taken part in environmental work in the mountains, and there she met a fellow environmentalist from southern US.

"We thought we would be able to do volunteer work in a foreign place with the locals under a common goal.

"But we found it hard to blend in, so we left early."

"My friend went to Morocco, and I am staying here for a while to earn some money selling my handicrafts before joining her in Morocco and continuing our journey," Malik said.

She said she avoided flea markets because they sell a lot of factory-made products.

She could go back to work in the Netherlands and her parents were quite willing to give her an interest-free loan for the travelling expenses, but she wanted to pay for her own way.

So we bought two of the cheapest items from her.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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