Of all the photos and little travel trinkets and mementos I have collected, this is my favourite:
I was staying at a hostel in Salta, Argentina, when I met a young Japanese couple who were staying in the same dorm as me. One rainy day, they were perched in bed making origami cranes. To this day, I have no idea where they found origami paper or if it's just something they carried with them across the continent. I walked over to take a look and they offered me a paper, motioning that they would teach me. Next thing I knew, everyone in the dorm was leaping out of bed to get in on the action.
Origami is, thankfully, one of those skills you don't really need to explain verbally. Our professor's instructions, given that they only spoke and understood Japanese, involved a lot of pointing, eye contact, hand movements, smiles, and everyone nodding enthusiastically while pretending to understand them speaking Japanese to us more than once.
As I sat on the floor, the golden crane shown in the photo was beside me. The young woman had made it earlier in the day and was part of a collection of cranes placed randomly around the room. I thought it was so beautiful that I took a few photos, including the one shown above. I showed her, trying to express that I thought her craft was really special and I appreciated being taught.
By the end of the day, the entire floor was covered with more frogs, mutated birds, and crumpled balls of paper than cranes. Having a good laugh, we placed our weird zoo up and around the room on every flat surface available.
The next morning, the Japanese couple we gone and all of the origami had been cleaned up. All except one.
A small golden crane that was carefully placed beside my pillow.