Travel With Me- Tucson Gem Show 1995

Posted by Kimberley Keehn on

After returning from Europe in 1993 I really struggled to find my place in American society.  I balked at attending university, and couldn't let go of my dream of being a world traveler.  My first year back from Sweden I attended a small Christian college near Virginia Beach, with a joint major, English and Theater.  I quickly transferred to a huge state college, as a Theater major, and lasted there three months. I just couldn't settle into the opportunities available to me at either university. On New Years Eve 1994, I jumped ship into a VW van heading from New York City to California with a group of complete strangers.

The van broke down in Indiana, during a huge blizzard in early January 1995.  The owner decided that we would all stay there together until spring.  I was definitely not planning to hunker down in Indiana, and so I bought a cheap plane ticket from Chicago to Las Vegas with another passenger in the van. We made our way by greyhound bus to San Francisco, and then down to Tucson Arizona.  Once we arrived in Tucson I remember calling my parents to let them know I was safe, and also to muse about the weather, here it was mid January and I was wearing a tank top in the sunshine!  There were oranges on the trees! I had met lots of new friends and had moved into a renovated school bus parked in a university student's back yard.  Most of all, I was happy.

I spent that entire winter in Tucson Arizona.  I think I had dreams of traveling to Belize, through Mexico, but it was just fireside talk at that point.  This was the first time I entertained the idea of traveling to Mexico.  We made a road trip to New Mexico and hot springs, and I traveled deeper into the Arizona desert to visit new friends on their recently purchased land.  I began to learn how to look after myself, and that included making jewelry to sell.  There was an artisan market once a month on Saturday night, and I sold some jewelry in shops along the main thoroughfare. I began to hear whispers of a magical event called the Tucson Gem Show.  As Tucson filled with gem buyers and sellers, I met nomadic artisans who made a living traveling and selling their jewelry.  I heard stories of their adventures in Mexico, and learned that you could easily live there as an artist. I drank up every bit of information they shared with me, and was in awe of their gem buying at the show. I longed for the life that they had created.

I often joke that the reason I opened Sayulita Sol was to have an excuse to travel to the Tucson Gem Show every year, and a budget to buy gem treasures.  It was this very first winter in Tucson, at the gem show, that unearthed my passion for gemstones and jewelry making as a career.  I founded Sayulita Sol in 2004, almost 10 years later.  But the seed was planted at the Tucson Gem Show 1995.

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