I Bought A Thing!
I bought a Thing with my birthday money from my mother-in-law, and I want to show it off.
It’s an El Camino bracelet – they are a travel-specific sort of ‘charm’ bracelet. The blue glass bead is a ‘region bead’ to represent Asia; the smaller beads (they call them ‘steps’) are for countries. I started with places I’ve lived the longest – US, India and Denmark, and there are punched oak/mahogany wood spacers. I am excited about it – I wanted to find a way to physically ‘track my travels’, so this came at a perfect time. Adam and I have a scratch-off map which I received as a Christmas gift some years back, but we are using that only for places we’ve both been. I have a Pandora bracelet – but how do you pick a charm for Jordan, or Istanbul, or Copenhagen? Pandora’s travel charms are either very general (a suitcase, a globe, a passport) or limited in specificity (less than two dozen countries enameled with their flag). The El Camino team have a great business model – I’m jealous I didn’t come up with the idea first! You can buy a single or double bracelet (double being one that loops around your wrist twice), and then add region beads or steps for countries and other locations (sometimes cities, sometimes islands…). The region beads are different colors (see the blue glass above), while the steps are metal and engraved with the name of the country (or in the case of the small steps, a city or other location). For anyone who wants to keep track of travel – they have 240 countries and a number of cities (Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York City, Toronto) and locations like Bali. For someone who loves to travel, this is excellent – you’ll want to buy the countries you’ve visited, and then keep traveling to fill up the bracelet/want to buy a step every time you travel. The quality is excellent, with only the wooden parts being a concern to wear in the water (and with good care, and prompt drying afterward, those should not be an issue); the cord is a synthetic, the region beads glass and the country/small/custom steps are metal. It is also the kind of thing that I can add onto, now – and I have a lot of beads to catch up to where I am in my travels! Alas, “not all those who wander are lost” takes up one too many characters to fit on a custom step/bead! And I refuse to abbreviate ‘are’ to ‘r’. My only quibbles are that I wish the region beads had the region engraved on them somewhere, but they’re glass beads and etching them en masse would be a pain – and that I ordered a 36cm bracelet and it’s not quite as loose as I’d like it to be, so I should have ordered a 38 or 40cm one. If anyone out there wants to get one, and wants a 36cm chestnut bracelet band… if you order a 38 or 40cm one, I’ll swap you! 🙂 I ordered on the narrow side because I didn’t want it to slide the way my Pandora bracelet does (going over parts of my hand, at times!), so I was hoping a tighter cord wouldn’t wriggle as much), but it turns out that I misjudged the amount of space I’d have to budget for the steps as they’re added and it raises the cord off my skin.
That said, I’m not going to get rid of my Pandora bracelet by any means – it was a gift to me from colleagues at CARTUS, and I get warm fuzzy feelings every time I wear it. I look forward to wearing them both together at times! Adam and I are thinking about getting some for some of the regularly traveling women in our lives – as well as the fact that he’d like one, too!
** AN UPDATE (12/04/16): I’ve had a lot of questions asked on this and Gmail kept feeding comments to my spam(!) . I checked this morning. ElCamino steps do fit on Pandora bracelets; Pandora charms may have a hard time fitting on an El Camino, because of the loop at the end (it needs to be able to be flexible to fit through the narrow circle), and also the fact that an EC band is basically flat. I’d buy El Caminos for a Pandora, but not sure I’d buy Pandoras for an El Camino.**