I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Adventures in shopping

This is a jewelry store in Puerto Ayora that has no relevance to this story whatsoever, except that it's a retail establishment in the Galapagos, and I loved the stylized art nouveau gate and windows.

Obviously, fabulous shopping opportunities are not on anyone's list of reasons to visit the Galapagos. There aren't any snack bars or souvenir stands on the beaches we've been visiting, and we carry cameras and water bottles and not much else -- our rooms on the ship don't even have keys. But I was walking back from the Charles Darwin Research Center with Cathy, another woman from the expedition, when we saw an art gallery and went in to take a look. They had some nice jewelry, and beautiful carvings of fish and birds and iguanas that I immediately coveted.

But what originally caught my eye were the tapestries, huge colorful weavings of stylized fish and birds, done by a Peruvian textile artist named Maximo Laura. They were expensive. Very expensive. But I fell in love with a red and yellow rendering of fish that seemed to capture the magic of the Galapagos, and I rather impulsively told the young woman behind the counter that I would buy it.

She started to fold it up. And then I realized I couldn't buy it. Carlos, our tour manager, had suggested that we might want to buy something to wear on Halloween while we were in Puerto Ayora, so I stuck a couple of twenties in my pocket before we went ashore. But that was all the money I had, and this was definitely not a cash purchase anyway. My credit cards were back on the ship.

I reluctantly put the tapestry back in the pile and left with Cathy for the meetup point. She, very nicely, told me not to worry, that we'd figure out a way to get it, she'd even buy it for me and I could pay her back. I tried to tell myself that I was better off, it was too expensive, but after lunch I told Carlos the story and he arranged for me to go back to the ship instead of to the farm where we were going to see tortoises in the wild.

And that's what I did. Another woman, Shelley, decided to come along to see the tapestries, and we rode back to town, took a very choppy zodiac ride out to the ship, collected our credit cards, rode another zodiac back to town, and went to the gallery. Where Shelley also bought a tapestry.

You can see samples of Laura's work here. They're exquisite.

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