Apples, Episode 62, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich examined his map and surmised a good day or so of sailing would put him on the shores of Vanua Levu, the second largest of the Fiji Islands. The seas and sailing were good, but this was the wet season. It rained nearly the entire distance.

Sailing due east Rich entered Savusavu Bay. Tucked into the southeast shores of the bay rested the small town Savusavu. Rich found a dock there and tied up.

At first glance, it seemed to be an active place with a stretch of bay-side businesses. The natives paid him no mind, which meant his kind was nothing unusual. As was his custom, Rich’s first order of business was to restock.

He walked by a hardware store. A small two-wheel wire cart caught his attention, perfect for hauling food supplies back to The Odyssey.

Rich rolled it to the counter.

The store clerk appeared not totally familiar with U. S. currency. Rich smiled suspiciously at the owner as if to say, he knew it was most likely a ruse to sell the cart for at least three times its value. Rich haggled vigorously, for not doing so, he would not earn their respect. If not, word would spread in advance of him to a grocery store and he would have been at their mercy.

At the grocery, he loaded the cart with staples, canned foods, and couple cases of Coke. They appeared honest and receptive to foreigners and only charged 10 percent for the exchange fee. Rich rolled his cargo laden cart proudly down the street.

Rich approached a small fruit stand on the way back to The Odyssey. A heavy woman sat on a stool barely able to hold her. Rich spotted apples.

He stopped. “Good morning, madame,” Rich said, “I would like six apples.”

She smiled and handed Rich a brown paper bag. “You pick the best,” she smiled.

Rich gave them a brief inspection and placed six in the bag. He placed the bag on the cart and approached the woman. “I haven’t exchanged my money yet, but I really like apples. I’m willing to pay more for something I really like and for the trouble you will have to exchange my U. S. dollars.”

“It is no trouble,” she smiled, “but I still overcharge you.”

Rich handed her five dollars. “Is this fair?”

“I am not sure, but that seems 10 times fair,” she said.

“Do you know of children who may not have much to eat?” Rich asked.

“Some,” she said.

“See that they have some apples,” Rich smiled.

She smiled. “Wherever you go it will be a good voyage.”

Rich rolled the cart back to The Odyssey. He unpacked the cart and stowed it in the forward quarters. He didn’t want it on deck. Salty, once told him to have as few things on deck as possible; the fewer things on deck, the fewer things to trip over.

Rich brewed some coffee and poured a cup. He sat for only a moment and he heard a rap on the boat. Rich climbed on deck. On the dock stood about ten children from five to maybe twelve years of age. Each held two apples.

“Vinaka vinaka vaka levu,” they said.

“Your welcome,” Rich smiled.

The children smiled and filed away all taking bites from their apples.

“Interesting,” Rich said to himself, “they were not going to eat until saying thanks.”

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