Venice is the city of canals, gondoliers, and masks. I visited Venice and came back with an ornate mask. There were kiosk-type stores selling carnival masks alongside delicious gelato, stores selling souvenirs and masks and, of course, stores that sold only masks.
I ventured from store to store, looking for the perfect mask to bring home. I came to a store where the masks were on the expensive side but were exquisitely made works of art. I looked around the shop and was instantly drawn to two masks. There was the joker-musician, and the other was a mask with feathers and gilt. I couldn’t decide, so I came back then next day, and the store owner recognized me. I debated and debated and debated. They were both very nice–I couldn’t have gone wrong. I finally picked the mask with the feathers. This mask had a face in the center, with golden lips, a bronze mask around the eyes with gold lace (sort of like blindfolds), painted cracks on the white face for a marbled/cracked/old effect and red and black feathers coming outwards from behind the face.
Now, this was no small mask. As I packed my bags when it was time to go back to Spain, where I was studying, I realized that the mask would not go inside my carry on, it would be my carry on. That was okay because it was worth it. I arrived in Madrid with the mask in perfect condition. The next challenge would be getting my mask home to the United States. At Correos, the Spanish post office, they just happened to have a box that fit my bubble-wrapped mask. It also happened to be light enough to count as a “carta,” or “letter.” That meant the postage would be cheaper and the mask would arrive at home much faster than most packages. I put the mask in the box and wrote “frágil/fragile” all over it. I was not going to take any chances with that mask, which arrived at home in perfect condition.