To My Yet Met Friends,
When I was younger, and living at home, my mother all ways used to say, “only boring people get bored.” So, right now, I am bordering on become a bore…. For the last week or so I have just been going through the motions here at the guest house. Wake up, clean rooms, fold sheets, wash dishes, dry sheets, hoover the hallways and eating onigiris. But, tomorrow is my last day here at Maruei Organic B&B.
There is not much to say about the last week. Normal work was done, food was eaten and I slept (quite a lot more than usual because of the heat) but yesterday was a bit more interesting than usual. I shall tell you the tale, now.
Yesterday was my day off. Finally I had a day off. I seemed like for ever since I have a full day free to do whatever I wanted to do. Of course that was not the case, for only 6 days previously I had had a day off but here all the days have seemed to roll into one and I still don’t know what day of the week it is. Being here feels like I have escaped reality. Here there is no days of the week, no date, no weekends, just what time each shift starts and how many onigiris there are for each of us for lunch. Anyway, as I said it was my day off yesterday. I had been told by Aya (the daughter) that the Irago cape was one of the best places in Japan for surfing, in fact the World Championship of Surfing had been held here last year. With that in mind, I decided yesterday was the day I would stand on a surf board. Aya kindly made a reservation for a early morning surf lesson with a pro shop called Keeper. Keeper was about 20km up the coast from the guest house, so Yusuke (the son) offered to give me a lift in his mini-bus to the surf shop, on the condition that I take one of Maruei’s folding bikes with me so I could cycle the 20km or so back. Of course I graciously accepted the offer and after loading the bike and myself into the bus, we were off.
We arrived at Keeper at 9am, unloaded my self and the bike and watched as Yusuke sped off into the distance. Knowing that my Japanese would be put into practice, I took a deep breath and entered the shop. 30 minutes later, dressed in a wet suit, carrying a long board and my wallet 5400yen lighter, I was standing at the waters edge looking out at a sea full of surfers catching the early morning waves in the baking Japanese sun. There were 3 other people taking the lesson with me. Japanese. Female. First time surfers. After the introductory pleasantries, the instructor took 5 minutes to explain where to lie on the board, how to paddle and how to stand up. After a further 2 minutes of dry land practice we were wading into the sea. At this point I was rather excited. I have surfed twice before but I had yet to stand up on the board. I was determined. I was focused. I was in the zone….. or so I hoped.
Lying on a board on the sand and lying on a board in the water is completely different. I know this but I was still surprised how difficult it was to keep your balance while paddling. I have been on quite a few lilos in my life time, so I had a little experience with lying on a long thing that floats. But I had never tried to catch a wave while lying on a lilo, so the next step was going to be touch more difficult. When we all made it to the where the instructor was waiting for us, we lined our boards up next to one another and waited. One by one, the instructor helped us catch our first waves by holding on to the back of the board while we lay on it, ready to hop up and expertly ride the wave all the way to shore, and as the wave arrived he gave us a little push and shout “立って!” (stand up!) and that was it. WE were learning by doing. I watched the other 3 students try and fail to stand up on the board during their first attempt. Then with a final few tips, the instructor give me a push and I heard the 立って and (while trying to remember all that he said when we were practicing on the beach) I pushed off from the board, set my feet and I was standing!! On the board!! Riding the wave!! I had done it!! This lasted all of 8 seconds then my momentum slowed and I lost my balance and fell off. But I had done it, stood up and on my first try! I was more than a little pleased with myself. Looking back, I saw the instructor grinning and giving me the thumbs up. YES!
The problem with standing up on your first attempt, is that my expectations, which before entering the sea were low-ish, increased dramatically. I now believed I could be a pro surfer by the end of this 3 hour lesson. These expectations were, obviously, overblown. For the next 2 hours I fell off the board during the motion of standing up more than I stood up properly. I was getting better. I was now able to catch a wave by myself, by waiting for the perfect wave, jumping on the board, paddling for a while and as the crest of the wave was underneath my board and I had sufficient speed, I attempted to stand.
When the lesson was over, the instructor told us to catch on more wave and ride it back to the shore. I didn’t disappoint him! The last wave I caught was the best of the lesson. I stood up easily and rode it for almost 15 seconds and almost reach the shore. I was very chuffed!
It was only 12pm but I was exhausted. After we packed up our gear and changed out of the wet suits, we headed back to Keeper Surf Shop for a shower and a spot of lunch. Keeper isn’t just a surf school/shop it is also has a Hawaiian cafe attached to the side of it. The name of this cafe: Cafe Lei Lei. The free “mini-drink” ticket I was given before the surf lesson as part of the lesson package, was used on a Pineapple juice. It came, and almost instantly it was drained and the was it for the mini drink. Along with my other 3 co-surfers, we ordered some Hawaiian home-cooking style dishes and ate in silence as we were so ravenous from a morning of non-stop wave taming. The occasional picture was taken, I tried to tell some jokes but my body language was obviously not tickling their funny bones, so in the end I just ate my delicious pineapple chicken (you see there is a trend here) and read the news on my phone.
Now, I am (in some circles) considered the whitest boy alive and because of this fact I burn very easily. I knew the weather was going to be perfect on the surfing day so I brought my sun cream with me and applied it generously to my arms, legs, chest, and neck. But when it came to putting it on my face, I must of been distracted because as I was showering (before lunch) my face felt like it had just been thrown into a pot of boiling water while it was still alive. This, as you can imagine, was extremely painful and, in fact, still is extremely painful! I looked around the surf shop for some pain relief and only finding “body butter”, I applied a healthy dollop of the papaya scented gloop to my forehead and rub it in vigorously, to make sure none was visible on my face. Then while perusing through the shops wears, smelling strongly of a massage parlour, I laid my eyes on a wondrous straw hat! Then and there I decided, as I had to cycle the 20km back home in the hot sun, to buy that hat. Which I did, and I just LOVE my new hat.
So with lunch and my fabulous new hat paid for I said my “good byes” and off I went, on my mini red bike, into the baking hot mid-afternoon Irago sun (no before heavily applying umpteen layers of sun cream). After 1 hour and 1/2 of intense small wheel cycling along the picturesque coast line, I arrived back at the guest house and promptly went to sleep. I napped until dinner time and that was the end of my magnificent, stupendous day off.
But dear readers, the moral of this blog post is: If you ghostly white and going anywhere near the sun or the sea, apply factor 50 sun cream at regular intervals or you’ll end up looking like a baboon’s ass. Trust me, it’s not a good look.
Until next time, fly my pretties, fly!!