Hot damn! Is this kit really the last one in our first ever World Tour!? Yes, it is. Every trip I walk and walk everywhere, headed nowhere in particular but never feeling lost. This trip was different. The first day I walked around wondering when the hunt would begin. Day two started a bit slow until I turned a corner and saw a window display featuring… a huge honking papier-mâché pen.
No holding me back – practically running through the doors, but the rush of excitement was gone just as quickly as it hit me. Is this store only filled with fancy fountain pens and expensive laptop bags? Continued deeper into the store until I reached a hot mess of pens, pencils, and erasers organized by color. I shuffled through the entire rainbow display of goods but nothing grabbed me. Turned around and then I saw them. Ballpoint pens with so many beautiful details I couldn’t stop jumping!
Tested all four colors and couldn’t believe how smooth they wrote. And love, love the rubber body. Turns out the very Italian-sounding company, Milan, is a Spanish company known for their rubber erasers. The curved clip, the raised pinstriping on the back end of the tube, the grooved front tip… a lo-fi ballpoint pen totally tricked out and pimpin’. What’s not to love??
Every shop stocked a crazy large collection of erasers by Milan. Square, rectangle or triangle shaped… synthetic rubber, natural rubber, or plastic… white, green, or pink. Despite choosing an eraser as the STMT X Canada Mystery Item, the Spain Kit totally had to have a Milan eraser. Choosing not to go with an eraser is like wearing penny loafers without the penny. The eraser every shop stocked? The Milan 430. AND it’s the inspiration for the Writing Instrument? Done.
Two down and one to go, focused and super excited about securing the paper goods. Decided to hit it up a small shop we drove by on the bus coming into town. Opened the door and straight ahead, standing tall was a display case stocked full of notebooks. Spotted super rad notebooks – I want! I want! If Panama’s conquistadors are the rough and ready type, well then Spain’s conquistadors are the handsome boy, modeling type. Clean cut and sharp, love the image of the conquistador on the cover. Love the grid sheets and the Spanish margin that’s printed on every sheet, left side only.
Rushed over to the counter to ask about additional inventory. Homie who owns the shop spoke no English, and my questionable Spanish didn’t translate to anything remotely Catalan. Wild hand gestures, punching numbers on calculators, scrawling notes, pointing to dates on a calendar… nope, nothing. Homie kept shaking his head and finally I walked out empty handed.
Wandered a few blocks and spotted a corner shop selling a little bit of every office supply imaginable. Spotted some paperclips and walked up to ask about inventory. It’s like déjà vu. Homie who owns the shop spoke no English and guess what language he spoke? Catalan.
Lady Luck was on our side, ‘cause a customer in the shop walked up to me and asked if I needed help. Um… YES, please! After translating for us, we walked out and stopped for coffee. Shared my story about the previous shop and our new friend, Josep, wrote the shop owner an email. A series of email exchanges – the last one from Homie included hours. That must mean he has something for us? Yup – total score!!!
Language barriers be damned, we got tricks up our sleeves and love makin’ new friends. We traveled to 12 different countries in one year scorin’ amazing goods… still standing, rad and hungry for more.