There are few things I like better than getting together with friends in good weather and spending the day outdoors playing sports of some sort. This week I have had the opportunity to do that twice. Yee haa!
On Tuesday, Mum, Dad, Mika and I made the drive from Miyoshi to Otoyo-cho, just over the border in Kochi-ken. There we met up with Dave and his brother Michael, along with Happy Raft owner Mark, and off we went on a quick trip down the river. I had been a little worried about how the parents would like the relatively extreme sport of rafting, but they seemed to have a great time, especially Dad. The water was a bit low, so the normally huge waves seemed a little small to me, although for the first timers in the boat, I suspect they were more than large enough! I also got swept out the raft a quite early on in the day, which was unexpected, but I guess that’s rafting for you.
Mum and Dad left Tokushima for home on Wednesday. Unfortunately, something went wrong with their flights, and they were stranded in Amsterdam for 24 hours. I suppose there are worse cities to be stuck in, but when you’re trying to get home from a two week trip to the Far East, unscheduled stops in Europe are the last things you want. Although their visit tired me out completely, and although I was looking forward to having my room to myself again, it’s always sad to wave goodbye to them. I think now they understand why I have stayed in this crazy country for so long, and that was an important outcome of their trip for me. So while it’s good to be able to walk around naked again, and listen to whatever music I like, there’s a lot to be said for having someone there when you come home half-cut from an enkai, wanting to talk about saving the world. Yup.
No real rest for the wicked, however. After a couple of days at school catching up on work (and playing Uno with a cool kid called Haruki, the seven-year-old son of one of the new teachers), it was Friday afternoon all over again, and I was hauling ass back to Ikeda for Lindsay’s farewell hanami party. She couldn’t have asked for a better night, really. It was warm and clear, and the trees were simply beautiful. Check out the picture of the gang giving me their best peace signs. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was subject to what Nate was doing, since I was crashing at his house that night. So about 7.30pm, we bid the party goodbye, and made our way home to Nate’s. Soon after we got there, we were joined by Anya and Kelly, and proceeded to spend the night playing some Dance Dance Revolution (I have never, ever witnessed anything like what Nate was doing that night), talking about the theory of teaching, sex, and functional penises. Oh, and of course the obligatory snuggling.
Saturday saw us on the road to neighbouring Kochi-ken bright and early. My second chance to be outdoors this week came in the shape of the first All-Shikoku Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Sakawa-cho. We had an awesome time! It wasn’t a hugely attended event, but the small number (I think about 30-35) meant that we could actually have proper conversations with people, and make some cool new friends. Chris, the organizer (I guess you could call me the promoter, as I was able to publicise it island-wide through AJET) is a hardcore Ultimate player, and we listened in disbelief as he casually announced a schedule of hour-long games. Yikes! Play we did, however, and I am happy to say that I was in the winning team of the morning. The afternoon saw the format change slightly, but it was just as good fun and exhausting. During the day, I took not one, but two frisbees to the face. The first one, I ran straight into, and have a bit of a red mark where the disk caught me on the jaw. The second one was much more painful: it caught me right on the upper lip and I had to sub off to get an ice pack, and spill the tears that the blow had brought to my eyes. Damn, it hurt! Today, then, I am sporting a slightly swollen purple upper lip. Nice.
There was a BBQ on Saturday at a mountaintop clutch of bungalows Chris had managed to secure. It was a prime location, and the mood was right for really having some good chat, but I was so shattered from the day’s play and the late night on Friday that I hit the sack not long after 10pm.
On Sunday, we were supposed to have a second day of frisbee, and I think I might have actually managed to play, but the others were adamant that there was no way they were up for a second day. So that was that. Maybe just as well, I was, and still am, pretty sore, and we did have a ways to drive home. No matter. Plans are afoot for a second tournament sometime later in the summer, perhaps in Tokushima.
Two of my favourite smells in the summer, and two that I got to smell during the course of events in this entry: the smell of wet neoprene, and the smell of my skin after a day in the sun playing frisbee or rugby- sort of dirt and sweat mixed in with sun lotion. I love the smell of wet neoprene because it reminds me of days spent on the beach or on the river with good mates. Mark loves it too. I like the smell of my skin, because it reminds me of good exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise because you are having such an awesome, sociable time doing it.
The sports aren’t over yet: this coming weekend sees the third annual All-Japan Touch Rugby Tournament in nearby Mima-cho. 250 people from all over the country coming to our wee ken! It’ll be a lot of hard work, but I’m really looking forward to it.
So much to do. So little time left. Life’s good, yo.