The Priceless Goatskin Handbag

Why is the value of an object not fully appreciated until its gone?

When I returned from my three years in the Peace Corps, I had many artifacts and memorabilia. But with retirement and downsizing in my future, I began to unload some of my treasures that I had kept for almost 50 years. One was a goatskin handbag that I purchased for about $3 in Bamako, Mali in 1972. I proudly carried it on my West Africa vacation that included a riverboat journey up the Niger River. The memories of that adventure are as vivid as the ornate silver inlay on that door in Timbuktu.

About 8 years ago I parted with many artifacts at my garage sale including my goatskin handbag. The $10 in my hand was a meaningless reward for that handmade gem that carried my soul across West Africa. I was left with mixed emotions – happy with more space in my closet, yet empty with only this photo as a treasured memory.

Then Friends of Liberia (FOL), a non profit organization, held an auction of treasures collected from those who lived and worked in Africa. My heart skipped a beat, when low and behold, there was a handbag – just like mine.

Memories flooded my mind of that famous journey: when I was nearly abandoned by the riverboat in Timbuktu, flew on a plane with an open cook fire, escorted by two soldiers with AK47s as they deported me from Niger, and so many other adventures. Without hesitation, I snatched up that precious handbag…for just $35.

I have displayed it as it should be – in its museum-like shadow box. It has found its home in my Internationally-decorated office. I guarantee you, I won’t let this one go!!! Its priceless.

8 thoughts on “The Priceless Goatskin Handbag

  1. Great story Dear. Equally great photos. Those were the days, huh! What wonderful memories, AND they Do last a lifetime. Best “floor’ dancing partner I ever had! : – )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s one of my favorite pictures that you’ve showed me from Africa.! It’s collectively the backdrop of the ornamental door, the hip bell bottoms, the African purse, and the confident stance that make me so in love with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michelle. Maybe a false sense of confidence at age 20. I thought I knew everything back then and I could do about everything. Oh to be that young and naive again. I’d take it in a minute.


  3. So enjoyed your memoir… brought me back to my own days (or daze) as PCV in Colombia. Experiences were different, cultures are different… but we young women faced it all and never doubted what we were doing. PCV Colombia 1962 — age 21!

    Liked by 1 person

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