Daily Archives: 2015-03-02

Pretty things! – Uturoa, Raiatea

Woke up early enough, but wasn’t all that excited to get off the ship. In fact, I entertained the idea of staying onboard. I really didn’t want to get any more sun. It’s not the most painful sunburn I have ever had but I don’t want to compromise my time in some of the future ports which I am really looking forward to. There is meant to be some world-class diving coming up and it would be a shame to be too burnt to enjoy it.

After room service came, I took my cup of coffee and wandered out to the promenade deck. We were just pulling into port and I was thrilled to see that we were not tendering. I love the freedom and ease that come with just walking off the gangway into a port. There was a small group of musicians playing us traditional welcome music. I loved hearing the pounding of the drums as it echoed through the metal corridors of the ship.

I decided since it would all be so effortless, I could get off for a “little” while and at least walk around. There wasn’t much to the town and I could probably cover it in an hour. After a slow start, we finally got off the ship. As we were checking out the touristy souvenir huts made of grass that were placed in an area next to the ship, I wasn’t expecting to but anything. I was pretty sure I was done shopping for stuff, unless I found something spectacular. I found lots of black pearls in shiny shells and jewelry of every kind. We found coconut bras in every cup size and hand dyed sarongs in colors of the pastel rainbow. I was temped by some wood carvings but remembered that it can be tricky getting these things back into North America. I am not savvy on what is permitted and watching too much “Border Security” has made me paranoid. That is why I normally just don’t bother with stuff.

There was one little hut that was something slightly different than the others and I was drawn to it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I just liked it in there. Then suddenly it caught my eye. It was the most stunning cluster of shells arranged into a necklace of carefully weaved straw rope. A lot of the shells were artfully cut so you could see their skeleton and they were placed together in such a way. There were lots of other necklaces that had the same idea but those were all made into shell patterns and were so much more tame. This one was extremely unique in that it was a giant cluster of every shell I had ever seen. It was gorgeous. I didn’t even dare contemplate it. It was so impractical. It made no sense to buy such a piece. Even though it was one-of-a-kind, hand made, and I would likely never see anything like it again. I walked away. I didn’t even show it to Michael.

We puttered around looking in the three supermarkets which were within a couple blocks of each other. I tried to figure out the difference between them, but I couldn’t. I did notice that they all had a particular odor and it wasn’t pleasant. I reminded myself that I have smelled much worse in places like India and Egypt. I put it out of my mind and tried to find some vanilla in the baking aisle, which is one of the things they are famous for in this part of the world. It was sad to see that the only vanilla they had for sale was imported from McCormicks. Ugh. They also didn’t have any Noxema skin cream to soothe my charred skin but I wasn’t counting on finding that so far away from home. Most people haven’t even heard of the stuff.

We went around the other markets and shopped the other gift stores. Once we finally felt like we had our fill we were getting ready to go. Michael had become obsessed with buying a black pearl for himself. He kept looking and looking and we finally found one that suited him. It wasn’t a perfect pearl and therefore was not all that expensive. He said he liked the imperfect ones…they are unique. I thought of the special necklace in the first souvenir hut. Since we had looked through every store and I think I saw more than a thousand shell necklaces, I realized how dramatically different that one was to all the others. There simply was nothing else even comparable.

I asked Michael to come, that I really wanted to show him something even though I was sure it was already gone. There was no way someone hadn’t snapped it up in the last few hours. When we got to the small hut, I was so excited…it was still there. The sweet little lady who took care of the shop had her head down and was busy working on another necklace. I asked her if I could try it on and with her heavy French accent and broken english, she said “of course!” It fit like a charm, and I was in love. I don’t get attached to things. I just don’t, and especially things that are impractical. Its quite a challenge for me to buy something just for the sake of it making me happy. Like my Elephant painting at home in my bedroom. It serves no purpose at all, but it was important to celebrate a success I had achieved.

It was marked $25 but the lady saw how much I adored it, and gave it to me for $17. I was so happy and touched that she seemed to understand how important it was for me to have it. She looked into my eyes and asked me knowingly, “It is your favorite, isn’t it?” I nodded wholeheartedly and hugged her, thanking her for sharing her talent. Just as we were leaving, she stopped me and produced a shell cluster ring, that seemed to match the necklace. She put it on my finger and smiled, sending me on my way. It was made with such love and every time I look at it, I remember that sweet woman, and the kindness she showed me.

Now, all that said, it is a treasure, but it takes some bravery to wear it. It’s massive! It’s not just a shell necklace, its THE shell necklace. I wore it tonight to dinner and many many people complimented it. When the polynesian entertainers onboard saw it, they were in awe. They fawned over it and commended me on finding it. I realized that if I had their stamp of approval, they who know and are from these lands, then I must have done well. A bunch of older ladies advised me to store it in a shadow box at home, to preserve it and keep it safe. I can’t wait to show it to my Mom, who loves shells and everything beachy.

During supper, we were sailing away and the rains started coming down. As I gazed out the window next to our table, I was surprised to catch another lucky moment! In the middle of the ocean off in the distance, a double rainbow had appeared. What a day!

Even though my skin is tight and I am red as a lobster, I kept my commitment to reaching my 10,000 steps. I didn’t walk enough today so we made our way up to the gym before hitting the sack. It was a little difficult to walk on the treadmill in flip-flops, but I didn’t have much of a choice. Since I had not worn any socks in Bora Bora on my long walk, my runners had worn deep welts into my achilles heel. Now they are raw and bloody and there is no way I am putting anything on them. Hopefully they heal soon, because walking 10,000 steps in flip flops create blisters between the toes.

Tomorrow is Tahiti and I am pretty sure I am going to take it easy. I have done no research so I have no idea what to expect…but then, those random days are often the ones that turn up the best surprises.

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