Friday, November 8, 2013

On a Siputa Quest

8 November 2013

The wonderful wood carvings in this blog come from the restaurant at the Gizo Hotel.  We’re not staying there, but it’s one of the few places on island with a restaurant open for breakfast.  We’ve also had dinner there, and this is where we saw the dance group.  (Last night we were there, and there was a string band playing country western music.  We nearly died trying to not laugh, it was just so bizarre!)  But I really like the wood carvings – posts, tables, chairs, barstools – just about everything seems to have these beautiful carved designs all over.  And who can resist sea turtles?

I’ve seen women wearing these lovely peasant blouses, with decorative pintucking and smocking across the top, a little embroidery, and maybe some crochet work on the edges.

So today, while we were in the market, I finally asked one of the vendors who was wearing this kind of top – “I love your blouse, where can I buy one?”
Of course, this woman didn’t speak much English, there was some translating back and forth, another woman came by with the same kind of top in a different colour, more talking and laughing and women bonding, and eventually the young girls at a different table called over and gave me directions to the shop.  Another woman told me it is a shirt from Kiribati, one of the not-so-far-away island nations.  A third woman told me this is a siputa (pronounced SEE-pooh-tah) so that I could ask for the correct item.

And I went merrily on my way, while Richard talked with Jendrik, our dive guy, who we ran into – the market is always the meeting spot, planned or otherwise.

I went to the shop I was told to go to – very nice and friendly people, but all out of siputas.  They sent me to another shop, where I found ice cream, but they also were all out of siputas.  They sent me down the road, I couldn’t find the store he told me about but I reached the place it should have been before (if you know what I mean – it was the one place I knew on the road, I asked if it was this side of that or beyond, he said before) – anyway, I asked in a shop and the lady knew exactly where to go – the tailor across the street sells them.

I told you, this was a QUEST!  So across the street and up the rickety wooden gapping stairs I go, into a clothing shop – school uniforms, ladies’ wear, children’s wear, all kinds of things.  I explain to the young woman at the counter that I’m looking for a siputa.  She shows me several, but they are either in gingham or in floral prints – and I really wanted the solid fabric kind, because it shows the embroidery better.  We discuss this.  She calls another woman out of the back.  I discuss the siputa with her.  She says, “Yes, we can make that for you.”  Turns out she’s the person who makes them! 

So we look at fabric, and I show her the weight I’d like.  All cotton, no polyester.  We discuss color.  I decided on pink, and she visibly relaxed, gave me a big smile, and said “I really like pink too.”  (More womanly bonding.)  We measured a shirt on me for size, and we’re all set.

I now have an order in for a hand-made siputa, in pink, to be picked up on Monday.  All for under $20 US.  I’m thrilled!

We took today off from diving – need some time to get rid of that evil nitrogen, and yesterday’s dives were a little deep.  Plus Richard has a bit of sunburn (our malaria meds make you susceptible to burning), and I have bites on my legs where I sat on the tree yesterday.  Yeah, some tree insects attacked me.

Anyway, so that was our exciting day today – market time, a siputa quest for me, and a day off from diving to relax, read, play online, book a room for our next island nation.

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