the adventures of Pinocch
When Munchkin saw D packing his bags for a return trip to South Africa not three weeks after we had returned home, his first instinct was to plead with D to be taken along. Once he realized that he could neither hide out in D’s luggage nor guilt him into purchasing an extra ticket, Munchkin handed D his recently acquired Pinocchio plush toy so that D wouldn’t have to travel alone.
Now, the idea of an inanimate traveling companion is by no means an original one. There’s the Travelocity gnome, for instance. Among the people we know, one of our favorites is a former Moldovan colleague who travels with a small teddy bear, which frequently serves as a stand-in for her selfie shots.
When D’s college graduation approached, several of his friends pilfered a roommate’s favorite basketball shorts and spent more than a year tormenting him with photos of the shorts in all sorts of exotic locations. The shorts even made it to Ecuador, where D was serving in the Peace Corps, for a farm-inspired Andean photo shoot.
Unoriginal though the idea may be, it was completely novel to Munchkin, who could not get enough of the photos that kept arriving on S’s phone.
D traveled to Johannesburg for a work conference, but the trip coincided with the Presidents’ Day holiday, which enabled him to take a long weekend to go hiking in the Drakensberg and sneak into Lesotho for a day.
The scenery was spectacular, and D took plenty of photos with our SLR camera, but having a small, plush traveling companion also forced him to get creative with his iPhone photography.
For example, D spent half an hour hanging out atop one of the world’s tallest waterfalls to snag this shot of Pinocch with the colorful Drakensberg crag lizard.
Similarly, a visit to dilapidated primary school in Lesotho became a lot more memorable when D came upon a friend for Pinocch.
Most importantly, the little toy proved a surprisingly strong link. Even in the remote mountains where D spent several days he never felt far away from home because he was constantly sending Munchkin photos of his adventures with Pinocch.