Wow–my entire body is so sore. Even coughing made me gasp with pain earlier. And I think my face is either sunburned or windburned from running around and standing out in such strong winds yesterday; my forehead’s peeling, and when I got home and took a look in the mirror, my nose and cheeks were pink, and my lips look as if I’m wearing lipstick. My ankle also hurts, which was the deciding factor in why I’m not playing frisbee in Kochi today.
(Side note: It’s actually “Kouchi,” since the first kanji has a long O sound, but it’s usually written as “Kochi” with a line over the O. I’m always puzzled as how to type it.)
So, the usual list of highlights…
- finally meeting the ALT who lives in the neighboring town just west of us in Ehime Prefecture! It’s a bit of a long explanation…my town, Ikeda, is in the northwest corner of Tokushima Prefecture, and we border Kagawa Prefecture to the north and Ehime Prefecture to the west. You can get to Kagawa and Kochi (to the south) easily by train, but there’s no direct way from Tokushima to Ehime except via car. I’ve driven into Ehime before, to Kawanoe, the first major town across the border (only 30 minutes from here), and we passed an elementary school just a couple of minutes over the border (so about 20 minutes from my apartment)–my first thought upon seeing it was, “I’m sure an ALT teaches there, but I have no way of knowing who.” Dennis and I have exchanged phone numbers, so maybe we can start coordinating some cross-prefectural stuff now.
- receiving a set of miniature origami of the hina matsuri doll arrangement! I have no idea if this was something they made for all the visiting ALTs, or all the visiting female ALTs, or what, or if she inexplicably just gave them to only me, but they’re beautiful. They’re maybe 1″ to 1.5″ tall and wide, and really, really intricate. I have to put them into a more permanent decorative arrangement somehow.
- frisbee! (okay, I’ll stop now)
- met a bunch of ALTs from Kochi and a few from Ehime, as well as many of the usual ultimate frisbee group from Tokushima (Nate, Ellie, Mat, Anya, Kelly, Rory, Dan, Elliott), though a few regulars were unable to make it. Also met some really cool nihonjin from Kochi, who were fabulous frisbee players and great people all around.
- met a Kochi ALT from Jamaica named Kieran, and I immediately thought, “Halcyon.” (Kieran Halcyon is the assumed name that Corran Horn, a really awesome character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, takes when he enrolls at Luke’s Jedi academy.)
- did something to my knee and ankle–nothing bad that a day or two of rest won’t heal, but this is the first time I’ve done any serious athletics in months, since the last ultimate get-together. I probably pushed myself too hard. I’m also used to being able to throw a frisbee around casually for a while before we start up a game of ultimate, as a warm-up, but we took one exit too early on the expressway, and unlike American freeways, these exits are few and far between (and all toll roads), so we ended up arriving 20-25 minutes late.
- before lunch, we’d split into 3 teams, with several subs per team, and played 3 round-robin games to determine the ranking for the “playoffs” in the afternoon…our team had been 3rd. But then after lunch, they decided to start from scratch, and broke us up into 4 teams, with one sub per team, and simultaneously play 2 games, and have the winners of each battle it out for first–and my team ended up winning! Not from anything I did, because I was pretty rusty and fumbling a lot, and also not pushing myself too hard since my knee/ankle had started to act up before lunch, but it was still cool, and an extremely close game. Our prize was that we all got to split a big bottle of sake from the town of Sakawa, which has a centuries-old sake tradition.
- having the Ikeda train station try to contact me 4 times before I was able to call them back–Louise’s return tickets from her trip here for Golden Week are now confirmed as well!
- barbecue dinner (with my own veggie-only grill) and bonfire at some bungalows atop a mountain just outside Sakawa, a little ways west of Kochi City, where we spent the night. I rode with Mat, and we got far ahead of the rest of the cars who were following us (but stopped because they weren’t sure if we were going the right way) that we were able to stop the car several times and take some photos of the incredible view. I had fun, but I think alcohol (namely, a can of Sapporo Beer and two shots of sake) makes me uptight and cranky, which is sort of the opposite of its intended effect.
- had a guy, in his semi-drunkenness, start referring to me as “baby” (by far my least favorite of all those for-fun pet names/terms of endearment, ugh–hear my inner feminist roar!), and when I told him to stop, he actually did, and apologized, which was really nice of him (and a little unexpected).
- opted out of playing frisbee today because my ankle was still hurting, so I caught a ride to Kochi City with Mat, who’s in the process of taking the long and apparently really beautiful drive down to Muroto and along the beach, going east along the southern coast and then up and back into Tokushima. I just barely missed the 11 AM express up to Ikeda, and there’s a weekly and well-known Sunday open-air market that we both wanted to check out, so we parked and wandered around for nearly an hour.
- while wandering through the market, which was bustling and really charming, we got caught on camera by a camera crew, and smiled and waved a bit, and Mat said (in Japanese), “This market is really fun!” and I chimed in (also in Japanese) with, “It really is!” That pretty much guaranteed that we’re going to make it onto local TV.
- a stall was selling a box of FULLY VEGETARIAN SUSHI. It was astonishing, and really delicious! The inari and shiitake especially rocked.
- Mat showed me the Recent Calls list on his cellphone…out of the 30 most recent calls, 4 are from Jim, 1 is from Jenna, and 25 are from Stalker Girl. She’s still been calling him daily! He set his phone so that it doesn’t ring or give any indication when she calls so it doesn’t disrupt him, and he’s let the people at his church know to keep an eye for her and welcome her if she comes to their Easter service next week, which was a really rational and kind gesture, since she’s obviously in need of some guidance/outreach.
- we parted ways at the garage, my walking the 10 minutes to Kochi Station (it reminded me so strongly of an Indian airport–the same sort of beaten-down, dusty, tired look from the outside) so he wouldn’t have to drive out of his way and could start on his 4.5-hour drive. I got there with 15 minutes to spare for the next express train home, got stared at in Ikeda by people who I’ve totally exchanged greetings with numerous times before (one shopkeeper even stared at me with her jaw hanging slightly open), bowed politely at a car holding a local politician and his staff as they drove down the street my apartment building’s on while broadcasting election propaganda from loudspeakers on top of the car (and got big grins and bows in return), came home, took Advil, and got online.
And now, I need to go to the bank, pick up some photo printouts, and go to the station to pick up Louise’s tickets. Then, maybe I can take a long, hot shower and go to sleep early–I have a 7:40 AM bus to catch to make it for our opening ceremony at my junior high tomorrow.
I think I need to either post more often or just tone down the wordiness. These posts are freaking long, and I’m using a lot more web space than I used to…