While we were in Parque Central the other day, this Garífuna jewelry seller saw me taking photos and waved me over. He held up his display of coconut shell jewelry for me to see. I reached up to my ear and waggled my dangly coconut shell earrings to show that I already had some. In fact, I have several that El Jefe bought for me. I like them.
But the vendor started saying that his were better so to appease him, I took a look. He said, "Look how thick mine are. Yours are thin. Mine are better." I really didn't need any more earrings, but he showed me some that are made from the coconut seed − or other palm seeds, I didn't quite catch that.
The seeds are quite thick and a lighter color than the coconut shell earrings. They are polished very smooth and cut in half. These were carved to sort of look like a leaf. I asked, "Cuanto cuesta?" and he said, "L.50." (US $2.65) I nicely explained with a smile, "But I live in La Ceiba. I'm not a tourist." and he quickly said, "Oh, well, then it will be L.40." (US $2.12) (All this in Spanish.)
So I decided to get them. Meanwhile, El Jefe strolled up and the guy pulled a matching necklace out of his pocket and said, "You should get this for her, too." El Jefe inspected it and tried it on me and decided he liked it, so we got the whole set.
The necklace is made with a cord which is knotted in two places. This allows you to lengthen it to get it over your head and then adjust it to whatever length you like. It's simple but clever.
Then he showed us some rings and key chains, explaining that you could put the key chain ring on your finger to carry your keys so you don't lose them. He also showed how he soldered the loop so it wouldn't break. He was proud of his quality and workmanship. We bought a couple of key chains, too.
The vendor's name is Benjamin. He speaks Spanish, Garífuna, English (very well), and a little French. I had to admire the guy! El Jefe told him that I would write about him on the internet. He explained that he spends part of the day in the park (this was around lunchtime), part on the street, and part on the beach. He also gave lengthy directions to his house in case anyone couldn't find him, but we were completely lost after the first 2-3 turns.
I don't know what kind of metal the earring hooks are made of, but, though I'm extremely allergic to many kinds of metal, these don't bother me at all. I doubt that they are sterling silver, but maybe they are. Whatever the metal is, it must be hypoallergenic. What a bonus for inexpensive jewelry.
So, if you come to La Ceiba, look for Benjamin and buy some of his jewelry. His prices are reasonable (go ahead and pay the "tourist price". It's fair.) and the jewelry is nice, not to mention a conversation piece to have authentic hand-made Garífuna jewelry made from coconut shells or palm seeds. The jewelry would make interesting, inexpensive souvenirs to take home for your friends.
Benjamin receives the rare La Gringa thumbs up!
The following photos are of my other coco shell earrings.
The bottom pair are made of something else. I'm not sure what it is.
The photo below shows the back of the shells.