There is no village to speak of near the dock where we landed, but there is a small market area with a few local residents selling colorful wraps, carvings, black pearls, and shell jewelry.
Because it is late in the day, most vendors are starting to pack up, but we wander through the half-dozen or so that are still open. I was thinking maybe I could find a few gifts here, but I’m not seeing much that catches my eye and not really in the mood for shopping. On the other hand, Lane thinks I should buy a black pearl, but I already have one from Fiji and don’t really feel like I need another. Besides, I don’t know that much about pearls and it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing I want to buy from someone selling their crafts at the beach.
Except that this one woman – a tall, elegant woman with a mass of dark hair and a lovely accent – has incredibly intricate and delicate carvings and jewelry. It’s a little too New Age spiritual-feeling for my taste, but beautiful and of incredibly high quality. Wow.
It’s too expensive to give as gifts, but very reasonably priced for what it is – it’s hard to leave something so exquisite behind, but it isn’t really something I would wear.
As I’m trying to make a decision I flip over the piece I’ve been considering.
I’m not sure what I was expecting to find, maybe a hallmark indicating that it really was sterling, but I know I wasn’t expecting to find “Zealandia” clearly stamped into the metal. Zealandia? Here? How? Is it stolen? A knock-off?
I turn to the elegant woman with the lovely accent.
“This says Zealandia on the back.”
“Oh yes,” she answers brightly. “That is what we call our company.”
I look down at the piece in my hand as the pieces slowly click into place in my brain. I’m incredulous: “You sell your work in galleries in the United States.” It comes out as more of statement than a question, but she affirms that this is true. For the first time I look directly at her – almost a silhouette in the late-day sun, the mountains and blue waters of the bay forming a picture postcard behind her – and explain: “I love your work. I have several pieces.”
By now Lane has found a beautiful black pearl tinged with blue and green. He thinks I should have it.
It is seems like a perfect remembrance of our time here.