Rock painted by Goulds girl found in Swiss Alps, after little sister hides it in airport

In July, a young girl carefully hid a painted rock in the departures section of St. John's International Airport in hopes someone would find it and pass it along.

"I put it inside the airport by the doorway behind one of the poles inside," said Claire Mitchinson, 10, from her home in the Goulds.

Her older sister, Kate, 12, had painted the rock in red and black like a ladybug. Their mom, Tanya Sawatzky, wrote a note that went along with it: "I've never been on a plane before, I was hoping you would bring me on your trip with you!"

It turns out someone did just that.

Ariana Kelland/CBC

On Aug. 13, more than 4,600 kilometres away in the Swiss Alps, Vanessa Redolfi of France spotted a red rock under a bench near her chalet. 

"As soon as we reached our chalet I took a [photo] of the rock and I searched the Facebook group which was noted on the paper," Redolfi told CBC News on Monday.

The Facebook page NL Rock Art has amassed over 29,000 members, who post photos of their rock art and their findings.

Linking people around the world

Tanya Sawatzky said she was shocked when she saw the post from Redolfi saying she had found Kate's ladybug. 

"We thought security swooped it up, but we saw the post on NL Rock Art and we were floored when it was found 1,900 metres [up] in the Swiss Alps," Sawatzky said.

Since then, the two women have connected.

Redolfi has become fascinated with the idea of finding a connecting link between St. John's and Switzerland.

Submitted by Vanessa Redolfi

"I find this story fantastic and I am very pleased to see how something so simple as a rock can link the people around the world," she said.

The rock is safe in France with Redolfi and her children, but, at Kate's request, will be hidden in Morocco when Redolfi's parents go there on holidays this September. 

As for Sawatzky and her kids, they'll continue their family activity of painting, hiking and hiding. 

"It's kind of like a treasure hunt," Sawatzky said. 

"It has been great because screen time is not good for kids so to get him out looking for rocks and on trails, it's great."

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