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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Around the World in One Afternoon

Tapestries from Bali and Guatemalan dresses swirl in the September breeze, painting UB's sidewalk with colors and threads bursting with culture.

For 20 years, Linda Martin and her husband Matthew have offered UB students a trip around the world laid out on a small vendor's table in front of the Student Union.

From flush sweaters and fuzzy mittens to bold tapestries, the two travel the world and collect traditional wardrobe to share with others, bringing these treasures to UB once a year.

The cultural couple spend three to four months outside of the country every year, travelling to South America, Southeast Asia, and everywhere in between.

"We [scuba] dive, and hike, my husbands a writer, and we kind of get a slower pace of life," Linda Martin said.

The adventuresome duo met unexpectedly on a hitchhike through Colorado.

Linda was living in Fort Collins while Matthew was hitchhiking through the area. With concoction of mutual friends and a local festival, the two were destined to meet and have been married for 26 years.

Matthew was raised in a military household and had grown accustomed to travelling every 18 months. Linda had always lived in Colorado but enjoyed exploring her home territory.

Together, they created an unstoppable travelling team.

"[We] drove to the border of Texas and took a train to Mexico and realized how much further we could go," Linda Martin said.

From Mexico, their imaginations drove them further south.

"We spent the first 12 or 13 years [of our marriage] traveling to Central America and we would just drive down to Guatemala or Honduras or Belize or Costa Rica," Linda Martin said. "Then we started going to South America [regularly] for a few years. And now, we mostly go to Asia and we'll fly there and take busses or trains."

Today, the two regularly travel halfway across the world on adventures that take them scuba diving in the waters of Indonesia or hiking on ancient trade routes through Tibet.

Linda and Matthew harvest the rich, cultural threads from their travels and bring them back home to Burlington, Vt.

With Linda heading the vendor table, they travel to festivals throughout the summer, college campuses along the northeast in the fall, and set up a shop during the winter in their hometown.

"She is awesome and I wish she would actually come here more," said Elyse Brown, a fifth year senior history major. "What I love the most about her stuff is that none of it is ordered from companies and stuff like that."

Students who attend UB every year recognize the vendors and expect to see their table, as one would expect the changing of the seasons.

Caitlin McLeod, senior fine arts major, has visited Martin's table every year since she started going to UB.

"I've probably bought something every year she's been here," McLeod said. "[The clothing is] really well made and super, super warm and keeps you warm when it's 20 degrees outside...that's why I like them."

Linda and Matthew have permission from the University Commons to set up their table. A representative from First Amherst, the organization that leases the space for the Common's shops, explained that the Martins' give students and staff a little extra something on campus.

"I like that all of her tapestries are from Bali," said Jacob Wilding, a junior geology major. "The coats and hats are from Nepal which is also awesome."

Stefan Dosch, a junior environmental engineering major, is a proud owner of five tapestries and two coats. He appreciates what the Martins' represent and the world they bring to UB.

"My house is more beautiful on the inside because of her," Dosch said.

The couple will be outside the union with their table on Wednesday and Thursday before packing things up until next year.




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