I don’t think I pay enough attention to my Okinawa lately, or let me say in my blogs I have been somewhat neglectful. When you live in a place like this, and let’s call it what it is, paradise, sometimes you need to go away to realize how lovely it is.
I absolutely love traveling and I am living a dream that I’ve had since a child, to have a job I love (that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s challenges), enough money left over after the bills are paid and the ability to explore the world. This isn’t bragging, this is a total appreciation of everything I have in my life. I feel so fortunate.
So this week I decided to put a few of my local adventures out there for your consideration as Rod Serling would say.
Last week I decided to track down a little izakaya (a pub) that was shown to me by a local friend. My original trip in this little marketplace with its exotic aromas wafting from little wooden constructed counters and winding pathways was more than a year ago. There were at least ten, maybe fifteen little izakayas and all of them had all sorts of drinks, beer and awamori being most popular. In some places people had a guitar or a sanshin, there was a good feeling of companionship and sweet welcome as is the way of the Uchinanchu (Okinawan people). And the best part, I was the only American in the place. Many of the Americans I encounter here give us a bad reputation…it always feels better when I’m the only Caucasian in the room.
I was so proud of myself for finding this place again and even ran into a familiar face as I wandered through the little market. If you’ve ever seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this little area reminded me of that place at the beginning of the movie.
This izakaya was very welcoming, in fact the guy singing in the video above came out and motioned me in. I had a very strange but wonderful goya juice concoction that I have tried unsuccessfully to replicate with my Vitamix. Everyone was making a big deal out of me because I speak a tiny bit of halting Japanese, and am willing to make a fool out of myself. I met a young man and his sister who kept offering me his food and insisting I try it. Complete acceptance, it feels so good to be out with the Uchinanchu. It was a great night and they told me that every Saturday night there is music…I will return.
I took a walk down to the only beach in Naha and one that I have been meaning to get to. Naminoue Beach, with the shrine perched atop is the big spot for the New Year’s Celebration. The beach itself is quite small and unexpectedly there are four lanes of traffic in front of it. There was no one on the beach but a couple small gatherings of people on the side walk and a gregarious group having a private party under the bridge.
So, I don’t like to talk about work in this blog, but it’s been a bit hectic lately and I decided Friday night that I needed to get back out and about. Take a drive, get in the water and commune with the gods of the sea. Instead of taking the expressway…where you can legally go 48 miles per hour!…I would take 58 up to Onna. There are two major roads here on the West Coast, where I live is 58 and East Coast has 329. If you want to get anywhere you need to give yourself a lot of time. I was in no hurry so I loaded up Usher on the iPod and set off.
Humidity is incredible here and when I first arrived I was overwhelmed by it. I realized I had acclimated when it was 70 degrees and I was cold. I now ride with my windows open and it feels so good.
So this beach is one I have frequented for more than a year. Although it’s a resort area, people here do not spend much time on the beach or in the water. If they do, they are covered head to toe and have the ever-present umbrella.
I geared up and headed out to see what the East China Sea had in store for me….it turned out, plenty!
I took a little video of the puffer fish, he’s hiding under the log. Unfortunately I couldn’t get that close but you see how well he camouflages himself.
I did see my old nemesis the titan triggerfish, but I got aggressive with him first this time and he swam away in a huff.
So after dragging my tired carcass out of the water, I fell asleep on the beach and now have a lovely sunburn. But even the sunburns here are mild and gentle, I don’t know how that can be, but it’s true.
One final thing before I go…this is the land of Crocs….those awful shoes that I have disparaged since the first time I ever laid eyes on them. Okay, well maybe Mainland is the land of Crocs, since Mainland kind of looks down their collective noses at Okinawa, they don’t wear Crocs here. They have their own ghetto version of crocs you can find at Makeman or Don Quixote that you see everyone, and I mean everyone, wearing. Little old dudes walking around town, kids running down the street, guys on their scooters and motorcycles and now… me.
I am officially Uchinanchu!
Have a great week everybody!