I'm traveling to Jordan in the near future and would like to see about bringing back some wood--olive? Any advice, dos and don'ts, for buying and bringing back wood from that part of the world? Is it possible? Is it advisable?
Potential complications: I'll be in the city (Amman) most of the time I'm there. I don't speak Arabic. I'm traveling with someone who does, but whose patience for wood procurement is likely to be limited.
Not looking to frame a house or anything, just some chunks for pens and other whatnots and assorted doodads.
Boy, that's a good question...I know all around here you see public service billboards telling you not to pack up firewood when you move within the US because of the uninvited "guests" you could be transporting when you do. I don't know if the Customs folks would be concerned about that sort of thing or not when you're crossing borders internationally.
BTW, I was just down the road from you several times last week. My MIL had her glaucoma surgery (and many followup visits) at the big Geisinger clinic in Danville.
My in-laws went to Israel a few years back and they were able to bring me back a few chunks of olive wood. Basically they were at a market and found a booth that sold carvings, mostly nativity scenes, and asked if the guy had any chunks they could buy. The guy gave them several small logs that were about 4" in diameter. All the wood is cutoffs from when they prune the trees at the vineyards so that's about as big as you'll be able to find. I suggest you get as much as you can. I have a friend who imports it (he is Israeli and has family over there) and even getting it at cost is too rich for my blood.
It's a pretty cool process. Apparently, the root of the wild olive tree never dies, but it doesn't produce much fruit. So they cut off all the branches and graft on branches from cultivated olive trees. Every so often, they cut off all the branches and graft on new ones. I think that it's due to small branches being more productive than large ones. This has been going on for thousands of years, with the same root being pruned and regrafted over and over again, leaving them with a steady supply of cutoffs to carve into nativity scenes and make cool turnings out of. Paul even used the process as an illustration in Romans 11.
Romans 11:16-18 (New International Version)
16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
I think it all depends on the species. If it isn't exotic or rare etc. there isn't much trouble. In another thread the question of "rare wood" came up although it became clear the wood that was being mentioned wasn't actually rare but simply foreign (jatoba). In an article in Fretboard Journal some months back there was an article about rare and diminishing supplies of exotic woods used to build guitars (various rosewoods). Guitar manufacturers have been carefull to abide by the laws of the countries exprting these products, but because of the amounts of money involved there are those who haven't. I had no idea but violating these laws and getting caught can land you in as much trouble as if you were smuggling drugs. The involved countries Columbia, Brazil, and others, know the value of these woods and they don't play games with those who are cheating their economies. There is a huge industry of essentially "poached wood" and it is a big problem. It was an excellent article and had much more to do with trade, carefull use of a limited resource, and much less to do with environmental concerns. I would check with the appropriate agencies to see which species won't cause you any headaches.
My wife and daughter were in Honduras on a mission trip last summer and brought me home a chuck of Mahogany (2x10x20). They asked their guide early on in their trip about getting some wood (for me) and he handed my wife this chunk as they were heading for the airport to come home. After a quick bag re-packing, it passed through customs no problem.