Friday, April 11, 2014

Waiting with Fox

In Nubeoka, it is raining and I have to find a place for me to hide. Luckily, I find an open dressing room, in some empty sports complex. There is a floor and an upper bench. There are some nasty spiders on the floor and for some reason, they look scarier than usual. So I decide to take the upper bench to sleep but it's almost as high as myself and a bit narrow so I hope I won't fall from it during my sleep, that would be quite a bad surprise.
Luckily, I don't, I sleep with my guard up anyway.
In the morning, it is raining even more and I start hitchhiking. I won't make it very far, merely to Miyazaki. My driver is a kind but bitter. He just broke up with his girlfriend and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He seems to see it as a life-defining tragedy.
I try to make it more relative for him but it's all about point of view. I am a traveler, my mind gets carried a way by every wind. He lives in one place and his loss falls on him everyday.
My first action in Miyazaki is to find a shower. I have my strategy now and I can do it without feeling any stress. I find the most luxurious hotel, find the Onsen floor and jump into the pool of warm water. I wash, I shave, take care of my skin with expensive soaps. I don't even need to use my toothbrush anymore, they are available in a wide range.
After that, I meet some people exposing and selling pears and beautiful stones. I strike a conversation with them and that is when I meet Mami, which will become important for the future as one of the translators of my key hitchhiking letter.

Mami (right) and stones and people
But it is not until evening that I make my next memorable encounter. As the rain starts falling, I don't have any hitchhiking luck. The only ride I get is a nice young couple to Aoshima. Yongjin told me there should be some interesting cliffs but I don't see anything too crazy. It is too dark anyway to see anything. There is a tent and there is a bike and there is a cyclist.
She is a beautiful girl from Taiwan, she reminds me of Theo. She is cycling through Japan alone, she is going to Hokkaido. She is better equipped than me but it is amazing how everything she has been thought trough and has a purpose.
Her English is approximate but she speaks Chinese. I don't. On a trip like this, there are girls to which I feel a special connection and she is one of them since... maybe since that Korean hitchhiker on Jeju.

But this time, this connection will remain unspoken; my brain is too tired to communicate in Japanese and even more so in Mandarin.
Her nickname is Fox so I'll call her that. As determined as she is, she is also very shy. I feel a very rich mind, analyzing things, ideas and people but I have no key to unlock it. She meticulously blogs about her travels, she shows me her blog in Chinese. She tells me about a volcano she has seen. It is called Sakurajima and it is closed for visitors because it is erupting right now. She even shows me the pictures of the locked gates. I tell her that I am going to Yakushima, also a volano, inactive but in the middle of the sea. I think her blog will be the true key to the Fox' mind. My attitude of running towards the road with my cardboard with "Kushima" written on it amazes her in a nonsensical way. I think, for this trained cyclist who planned and prepared for this trip, I am the personification of random stupidity and she likes that I have survived the whole thing. There is a mix of curiosity, amazement and pity in her eyes.
Nobody gives me a ride and we camp. If it were a culturally more liberated person like Nata, I wouldn't mind climbing into that tent instead of sleeping outside on a rainy day. But that would be highly inappropriate. So we set the camp in the next best way. I sleep between under a roof, between the shop's front door and Fox' tent so I just miss 2 walls out of a 6 walls which make a room.

Fox is up at an incredible hour, I would swear she woke up at 5 and her tent is packed before I exited my sleeping bag. She mistakes my European laziness for exhaustion due to a demanding zero-budget trip. So I get coffee in bed and I finally pack my stuff when the shop owner opens his shop at six.
Me and Fox in the morning

It rains, rains and rains and nobody is picking me up. I spend the day with Fox. It is raining so much that we can't go anywhere besides this shop, we might as well swim in the rain. And there is nothing to do. And I am hungry. My food just run out and I won't get anything else because I can't hitchhike. I still have god knows how much in charity gifts but I didn't use money until now and I don't want to start. I try to live on free samples. Turns out that in that shop, there are free samples of biscuits that people can taste and I end up devouring pretty much all of them.
Fox buys sushi for lunch and dinner and generously gives me half. She can save me from hunger but not from boredom. There is literally nothing to do. English is hard for her and Mandarin is hard for me. Thank goodness I had the sense of downloading all episodes of Death Note on my tablet.

But after having witnessed Raito-Kira having killed L and then being in turn discovered by M I have to face the inevitable: rain has more patience than me.
"I will try to hitchhike,"
"You still think it will work?"
Fox actually never saw me get a single ride and is starting to doubt the concept of hitchhiking in its general sense.
"I think boredom will kill us"

And it didn't work and we are in for another night. Fox builds her tent and I lie on my mattress next to it.
In the morning, it rains less. She packs her bike and she leaves. She says that she doesn't need all of her provisions and I get a bunch of noodle soups. I don't really need to rip off travelers but she insists. We say we'll meet again in Tokyo and in Hokkaido but we never will.
We shared boredom together and I liked that time.

My next ride is a happy Japanese guy who asks me if I belong to the community of the free thinkers. I say that yeah because I like the freedom of thought. He understand that I smoke weed. He tells me that he smokes weed too and that it is very hard to connect with other weed-smokers in Japan because there just aren't that much. And it's a shame because there is a lot to share in that matter.

He also asks if I know about magic mushrooms. I want to tell him that I am open to mushrooms but the responsible way to do them is with a sitter (person who doesn't drug themselves and watches over the others). But it's a bit complicated to say in Japanese.
So my driver takes a small detour to mushroom country. There is a peninsula in the south of Kyushu and if you have been following my journey throughout these last few post then you'll have no problems finding it a map.

It is a protected region, home of the best Japanese horses. Next to the seaside, it is covered with green beautiful pastures. Many animals are wandering through them with freedom in their eyes.
Green! Welcome to horse & mushroom country
We stop at several places, those covered with horse shit are the best and we collect a few mushrooms. The landscapes are beautiful, the kind of place you could actually have a beautiful experience from them.
I enjoy the stunning views as we drive through the peninsula. I do fear a little bit that we are going to try the mushrooms. I have to have absolute confidence in the person with whom I am doing drugs with and I have just met this guy.
Fortunately, we stick to weed for the road and the mushrooms will be for his private use.

The relationship to drugs in Japan is interesting. Drugs in Japan are like women in Muslim countries. Either you don't touch them or you marry them and forget all the middle steps.
That is why if you happen to find a Japanese person who smokes weed, chances are he has gone all the way to cocaine. Reciprocally, if that person didn't try cocaine, chances are he or she is a drug virgin.
Moreover, drugs seem to be quite a big deal. It's not just smoking weed, it's being part of a community, of a group of people who understand something the Japanese government doesn't, a group of free thinkers.

In Kushima, I change my mind. I think about Sakurajima, the explosive active volcano Fox has told me about. And I want to go there, Yakushima can wait.