Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It Takes a Village

Yesterday I was in such an intense conversation with Iris, thirtyish, from Switzerland, we almost missed the only bus from the trailhead that day. 

I get to meet fine people when hiking. These are people who put some effort into their travels. They discover and research trails, they put one foot in front of another to explore the trails. Besides, they usually have interesting stories: as well as hiking boots, Iris travels with dancing shoes because she loves salsa.

Somebody yelled out to us. The bus had just pulled in across the road, and we hadn't noticed.

We hopped on, grateful someone was paying attention. There were no more buses that day.

In the little town of Anbo, on the island of Yakusima, Japan, Iris and I said our goodbyes.

The hiking had been exhausting: roots, rocks, ropes, with jet lag and a cold thrown in. I couldn't face tracking down a food store, then assembling dinner back at the guest house. 

The miracle of the lady and the beer

In Anbo there appeared to be one open restaurant, a burger joint. I decided to break my rule and have a non-Japanese meal.

At the counter, I pointed at pictures of a teriyaki burger and fries. I asked for a biru (beer). No biru, so I pointed at OJ.

I sat at a table waiting for my meal to be cooked.

Like a miracle, an older lady appeared. Clearly she was talking about biru, and was trying to direct me into a neighboring business, a sundries store. 

The photo at the top of this post shows the juxtaposition of the businesses.

I selected a Kirin from the cooler. The lady directed me to sit at a little table in the store. No, I could not carry my beer into the burger joint.

After a day of hiking, the beer tasted good. 

Then the lady delivered my order to the table. 

Rather than let me pick up my order, she picked it up for me. This is a level of kindness I have found to be common in Japan.

While I ate I scrutinized the mixture of merchandise. Children's buckets and spades, nicknacks, candy, beer.

At the end of the meal, I dropped my tray off in the burger joint, then returned to the nicknack store to buy a can for later. I thanked the lady profusely as I headed out to catch the bus to the guest house.

Man cannot live on burgers alone

Other days I took advantage of the guest house kitchen. 

Here's my shopping baskets for two dinners.

I heated the dumplings (left basket) and the gyoza (right basket). Everything else I ate without heating.

Yakushima Island, Japan

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