Yesterday was absolutely packed with experiences. For the first time, I neglected updating this journal and practicing vocabulary.
The man at the hotel reception said that there was a tour to a mangrove and waterfalls. I would have to leave the hotel by nine and would get back to the entry point at 12:30. There would then be a bus line to Uehara, where the ferry back to Ishigaki sails from.
Since there were not many other options, and definitely none fitting the tight schedule, saying yes was a no-brainer.
After the OK-but-not-too-impressive breakfast in traditional Japanese (or even Okinawan) style, the innkeeper brought me to the mouth of the river Urauchigawa.
I paid 1800¥ for the tour and entered a boat for 60 people, with about 15 on board. They brought us up the river, pointing out some fascinating natural phenomena, like the knee-shaped roots of the mangrove trees or little fish that use them to hide from predators.
After half an hour, we arrived at a point where rocks began and from there on, we had two hours' time to see the two waterfalls and get back.
Apart from the colorful cute lizards and flowers of great beauty, one thing caught my attention. The artificial elements of the path, like stairs were either of plastic or concrete, all made to look like wood. Pretty perverted practice if you ask me.
There were also many streamlets and miniature waterfalls on the way. I drank from some and was delighted. Only the warmth of the water felt unusual albeit logical.
The bus brought me then to Uehara, where I had a curry because I kind of needed a break from traditional Japanese cuisine, which had certainly something to do with the experience from the hotel (not that it was bad in any way, just meh).
The curry lacked vegetables whatsoever and thus it was also undersatisfying of sorts. A cup of ice cream made of local milk (Ishigaki is famous for cattle) soothed my taste with bravado, though.
The ship on my way back to Ishigaki scared me a little, in the light of the previous voyage. However, with the sunburn shrugged off and sleep caught up, it was an enjoyable ride. I even was online the whole boat trip, which surprised me.
I had two hours time in the port town on Ishigaki. A schematic map revealed that there was a sacred site nearby. Mercifully to my purpose of killing time, the sacred site had its entrance on the fourth of its four sides that I explored. :-) On the way around it, I stumbled upon another sacred site ("another shrubbery!") combined with a park with playground (with no swing, bummer) and some graffiti.
The sacred site revealed very nice huge broad trees, even riping papayas, also butterflies and altars. I enjoyed the calm shade there until I had to head for the airport bus.
The trip back was smooth, just my battery grinned at me with its 30% when we arrived. I had been thinking of charging for quite some time but didn't find an opportunity.
The first and foremost thing to do was check in to my AirBnB. My host sent me a code for a locked website with instructions to find the place. He was at work, so we couldn't meet.
I made it easily to where the instructions ended. Unfortunately, the info on which door exactly I should enter was so vague that I ended up asking around, which I fear may cause problems to my host, as AirBnB is in the grey zone of legality here.
Even though I asked, nobody knew, even as I was showing them the exact address. And also, I don't know whose fault it was but I haven't seen many house number tables anywhere.
I wrote my host and fortunately, he responded in a matter of minutes. It took some time and looking around and I was worried if my phone makes it but in the end, I managed. The moment of entering an apartment, not 100% sure if it is the right one, was quite adventurous though. Not necessarily in a good sense.
Next things on schedule were: 1) party! and 2) checking where the ferry to Kagoshima departs from, exactly. The whole English-speaking internet has been consistently silent on the latter, and some local tongues suggested there were as many as four ports in Naha city and the departure varied depending on day, ferry line and the current length of Emperor's nose hairs.
As anyone reasonable would also have done, I dedicated my focus on partying first. After all, this was my last night in Naha, and also the last night in a city for a few coming days.
You may call it a coincidence, and honestly it couldn't have been anything else: there was an open stage session in the next block, two minutes on foot from my adventurous apartment.
They said it was "session" (actually "sesshun" if I were to transliterate) and at first, I didn't exactly know how it was supposed to work. When I came in the place, called Gang, there was nobody tending the bar, the audience consisted of three people plus me and on stage there was a band of drums, bass and two electric guitars. They were playing 60's bigbeat. I recognized some song by The Shadows.
They were packed with Marshall stacks, Fender guitars and played as precisely and authentically as you could expect from Japanese.
The solo guitarist seemed to be agitated about my appearance and was trying to ask me something and I just wanted to ask someone (but for God's sake not the musicians!) if someone can make me a beer.
So I just did the Japanese way of komarimashita (i.e. looked bewildered and then bowed and said sumimasen) and just sat and waited what would happen.
After a another song this guy announced a break and morphed into a bartender. He introduced himself as Maruyama and when he learned that I also dabble into music, he invited me to play.
I was lent a guitar, a microphone, a bass player and a drummer. I rushed though the list of Fruit & Flower songs and started alphabetically by Allgemeine Sehnsucht and Alone. I am not totally sure how good it was because the vocal monitor was way too silent, and also for some reason, the drummer couldn't quite nail the rhythm for Alone until like 3/4 into the song. I actually wanted to cut it sooner and squished the interlude one chorus too early but then he caught up and I didn't want to end in the moment when we started to understand each other, so I played it full length after all.
I stopped after these two songs, convinced that if they want me to play on, they will ask. They asked if I was tired already, to which I countered that I wasn't but that the stage wasn't mine alone. They laughed and accepted.
In between I got reprimanded for not liking and playing blues. :-)
They (the Apache Gang Band) annexed the sage again. However, this was not my last word yet. :-) They started playing The House of the Rising Sun and I quickly looked up the lyrics and grabbed the mic. That was a lot of fun and a great conclusion to this pleasant evening.
You may call it a coincidence, and honestly, it couldn't have been anything else: one of the ports in Naha was like five walking minutes away from my place. I assumed it would have a 24/7 counter and it couldn't hurt to ask where the ferry departs from.
But as it often goes with assumptions, also this one differed from reality. The port was opening at 7. I started worrying because my ship should *depart* at seven. How was I supposed to get a goddamned ticket?
Researching the Internet cost me valuable hours that I would have liked to dedicate to sleep. And it looked like there actually wasn't any ferry on that day from Okinawa to Kagoshima whatsoever.
The only hint I found was on Google maps where the Kagoshima - Okinawa ferry line was marked as ending up in a specific spot.
I couldn't do much more than put all my cash on that one card. I set the alarm for 5:45 (which meant 2 hours of sleep) and before my consciousness was consumed by the void, it hovered over the massive drops of sweat on my naked uncovered body.