Thursday, April 8, 2010

Okinawa: Day two (Zamami Island, and camping)

Day two dawned cloudy, drizzly, but still warm relative to the frozen north we'd left behind in Honshu Japan. We boarded a ferry to the island of Zamami, not far from Naha (about an hour by fast ferry, two by slow). Both Zamami and Tokashiki were on our itinerary, both part of the Kerama islands.

BigBrother, Chi and I took the fast boat, and Cat and Adina had to go back for forgotten cell phones, consigning them to slow.

It turned out not to be a big deal whether you got there at ten or at noon, though, because nothing was open until 11 anyway!

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We wandered around the main town for a while, because luckily it had stopped raining for the time being. We stumbled upon a few things that would become significant later in our quest. We had goya (bitter gourd) champuru and Orion beer.

We found the school on the island and the accompanying koi pond.

Schoolyard koi.

We met a dog with a face like a teddybear. We inquired about kayaking and snorkeling, but the winds were too strong that day.


Once the others arrived, we hauled all our stuff along the road for a while until we reached the Ama area, where we were going to camp that night, breaking only to do a little beachcombing. And yeah I said camp. Wind and rain be damned. Although I kept having flashbacks to this time when I was a little kid and we were camping in a storm. I insisted that tents actually can blow away even when there are people in them. We had rented both tents and sleeping bags, and arranged ourselves in such a way as to fit all five of us (even Brother) in one tent, plus all our crap. It was kind of miraculous, but it was pretty big tent.

With that all set up, we rented bikes and rode back to town, stopping to visit our dog (later learned her name was Hana), then took the bikes to another beach. After that, the others declined climbing the rest of the mountain we could see, but I always gotta know what's around the bend, so I took it on. By the time they called me for dinner, it was raining and I couldn't see through my glasses; biking that hill was not the smartest choice of my life. But I really wanted to reach star-sand beach! Apparently, on the north side of Zamami there is a beach with little creatures that produce star-shaped tiny bits of.. whatever. It's only on Zamami and Taketomi that you can find this stuff, but I never did make it there.

We had dinner at a place we'd been trying to access all day (Deigo, next door to the kayak place, also next to the dog); we'd also been talking about trying Awamori, but hadn't found any yet. We asked at dinner at Deigo and they said they sold it by the bottle only. We were planning to go to a nearby drinking spot anyway, so we declined.

We wanted to spend as little time outside as possible by that point. It was dark and a little chilly, and raining for real. We made our bike-pack way across the street to Shisa, hoping to taste that Awamori.

When we sat down, we weren't totally sure of how to order. Something on a sign said something about 1000 yen per person, which confused me at first. We didn't see menus on the table for snacks or drinks... then the old deaf man set a bottle of awamori, a bottle of water, and five glasses down and we all just kind of looked at each other, bewildered at this mindreader of a man. After trying the strong stuff, we asked him if we could order fries, but that only confused him because they were already in the fryer. He later produced, unasked, a plate full of Fried Things. It was Awesome.

At ten, we had to return the bikes (six hour rental, though I doubt the dude was going to check in all that rainy dark), so we struggled back across our part of the island, a little drunk and a lot unable to see. Our ability to see did not increase once we got back to the campsite since we had not brought flashlights. Fail! We used cellphones and did our best to brush our teeth in the woods without running water (thank goodness for vending machines every 18ft selling water bottles). Then we all just crashed, I personally still in my clothes. If you saw what I saw of the showers, you might do the same.

At some point it began to really rain again in the night, and the edges of the tent got very wet. We all had to squish toward the middle with the effect mostly being that we kicked CatJET a lot. No one slept much, or very well. It was a bonding experience, I guess, pretty unforgettable at the least. In the morning we all crawled from our hovel and wrung out the things that had been near the edges, and packed up the tent and said good riddance to that.

1 comment:

  1. nice writing. i have lived in Tokyo for 13 years now and I have never been to Okinawa and I am thinking about camping while my mother in law is visiting in Tokyo. My sister lives in Franklin near Nashville.