Two days later, from the bow of The Odyssey Rich spotted Rimatara through the binoculars. He called for Ramona and she hurried alongside the cabin to the bow. He handed the binoculars to Ramona. “Look, straight ahead, that’s Rimatara,” he said.
“It looks beautiful,” Ramona said.
“Wait until you see Reao,” Rich said. “It is everything ever imagined about a Polynesian Island. It is flat with no hills to climb and the beaches are warm and go forever. The sun shines nearly every day all day. The people have little concept of the outside world of greed and corruption. Money is almost nonexistent. What they grow and catch they share and eat.”
“You are describing the kingdom of God,” Ramona said.
“I’m sure problems exist,” Rich said, “but there are no foreigners seeking to take advantage. I’m afraid if I stayed there I’d instinctively take advantage of them and upset the natural order. Everything on the island would be out of balance. It would be like introducing a species for which no predator exists. It would grow and eventually corrupt all the good on the island.”
“But what about me?” Ramona said.
“The moment you see the island and the people you will know you belong there,” Rich said, “and the moment the island and the people see you, they will know you belong there.”
“I never felt like a Kiwi,” Ramona said.
“Man the helm,” Rich said, “and ease her port. I’m going below and try to reach somebody by radio.”
Ten minutes later Rich climbed up the companionway. “Dead ahead is a small bay and a village. Hold her steady and I’ll drop the sails. We will have to motor our way through the reefs.”
An hour later they were on the island side of the reefs in a pleasant cove looking at the placid tropical village of Mutuaura. Rich tossed the bow anchor and Ramona the aft. They slid the dinghy into the still blue lagoon and Rich motored it to shore.
An old man flanked by two strong men walked from the village and onto the beach.
“Bon jour, mon amis,” Rich said. “Parlez vous English?”
“A little,” the old man said.
“We have sailed a long distance, New Zealand,” Rich said. “We wish to rest a couple days before continuing our trip.”
“Where do you sail?” the old man said.
“We will sail to Reao,” Rich said.
“I don’t know of it,” the old man said.
“It is many days northeast,” Rich said. “I am returning this girl to her father.”
“She have Maori blood too?” the old man said.
“Yes,” Rich said. “but her father is from the islands and her heart is with them.”
“You do a good thing to take her back to her heart,” the old man said.
“And you will do a good thing by giving us rest?” Rich said.
“You are welcome on our island,” the old man said.
“I have Fiji or New Zealand money,” Rich said. “We would like to purchase fresh vegetables and fruit.”
“Sure,” the old man said, “tell these men what you want.”
“For right now, we’d just like to relax,” Rich said.
“We will leave you alone,” the old man said and spoke in the native language to the two men. They returned to the village.
Rich and Ramona walked along the beach.
“Do you think we are safe here?” Ramona said.
There is no reason to feel otherwise,” Rich said. “They haven’t resorted to cannibalism in at least a week or two. And besides, we are too skinny.”
“How long do you want to stay?” Rich said.
“As long as you think best,” Ramona said. “Please stay with me. I am scared.”
“That’s alright,” Rich said. “I don’t plan on leaving your side.”
“Let’s go into the village and talk to some of the young women,” Rich said.