Upon my recent return home from Costa Rica, my USA passport stumped a customs official as he inquisitively examined my face. Traveling with my lifelong Pakistallion (that's half Pakistani, half Italian) friend Sara and her Jamasian (that's Jamaican Asian) friend Suzanne and the rest of our first- and second-generation multi-ethnic seven-member crew (a.k.a. Mini U.N.), we looked like an all-American non-blonde melting pot. Wood bangles, bead bracelets and string bead necklaces are in right now.
Personally, I believe it was our accessories (yes, our accessorizing) rather than our collective looks that confused the Costa Ricans about our American cultural identities. No white tennis shoes, no athletic or college T's, no sunburns, no cut-off jean shorts and no flippy, product-mandatory hairdos among us. We weren't pointers either.
Sara and I, having been twinster pool rats since the age of 3, additionally have synchronized shopping instincts in common. We're psychic shoppers. Among all the souvenir trinketry touted to tourists, we B-lined for the amazing, thick, exotic wood bangles, bead bracelets and string bead necklaces that fell to our waists. They're sturdy, gorgeous, artful, look great with anything and take a look from summer through fall. Classics, they're in right now.
Sara directed me to a heavy polished cuff, demanding, "It won't fit my wrist, so you are buying it." OK. I did. I love it.
We paid pennies on the dollar for what similar styles are going for, but you can still find deals locally on these must-have items without connecting flights and our resort room rate. Get totally tropical with bamboo bangles, $3.99 each at World Market at 116th Street and Keystone Avenue, or stretchy big wooden bead bracelets for $20 each at JC Penney. Wooden bead bracelets start at $11 at Good Company, 113 E. 49th St., 925-4559. Upon calling Forever 21 about wooden accessories, a great place to pick up affordable trendy pieces, I was told by the huffy sales associate, "You'll have to come in and check for yourself." Bad customer service aside, even with my legwork you'll still have to do a little traveling around the city to scout out these super sought-after jewels. Wood bangles look great while eating fresh fruit, drinking lots of water and/or Mojitos and getting doses of vitamin D by indulging in some outdoor sunshine.