101020We couldn’t believe how hot/muggy it was.  I guess that was feeding the heavy rain that fell during the night.

okinawaokinawaThe morning came and we tried to get up and going as early as possible, which ended up not being that early.  Today we had to ride the length of the main island on the ‘cub.  The rain subsided and the sky looked like it was clearing, so we made a move.  We went a slightly different route towards Nago City today, following the east coast for much longer.  It’s much more unpopulated/rugged than the stretch into Nago along the west coast.  Beautiful villages and tropical scenery.

okinawaI saw on the map a waterfall that was only a very small detour.  It was another todoroki falls (the other was a slightly terrifying one in Tokushima), so I had expectations.  I shouldn’t have.  While it was nice (and worth the detour), there was nothing exceptional about it.

okinawaWe didn’t travel very far before we stopped at a michi-no-eki and had a feast on an Okinawa donut-like treat called sata-andagi.  Little deep fried balls of deliciousness.

okinawaNo sooner than the feeling had returned below the waist, we were back on the buzz box of a scooter, travelling south as fast as we could.  The skies were actually starting to give a glimmer of hope.  The patches of blue were getting larger and the sun was winning over the rain and the clouds.  The first beach that we found we pulled into and inspected.  It wasn’t amazing, but it was nice.  There were a few families there swimming in the clear, calm waters.  We stuck our feet into the water, looked around and decided to try our luck further on.  Hoping for something better.

Wrong choice, from here on all the beaches that we tried to go to were private beaches charging entry fees.  It just feels wrong to pay to go to a beach.  I can appreciate that they probably clean/groom the beach, but it still feels unfair.

We kept heading towards Naha City, getting our hopes up each and every beach that we approached until we eventually just gave up.  Conveniently, it was also about the same time that the clouds came back and the rain started.  At first it was just a nuisance, but it didn’t abate.  We tried as best as we could to waterproof ourselves/luggage in preparation for heavier rain.

It was also about the same time that we were beside the US bases.  I’d frequently hear on the news of the complaints of the residents about the noise of the planes, and the presence of the soldiers.  Hearing is one thing, seeing was another.  There seemed to be planes taking off/landing every few minutes and there were dozens of cars being driven around by plain-clothed soldiers (and possibly their family/contractors etc).  Even though we’re quite used to a large western presence (in Niseko), it was still surprising for us at first.  We could now sympathise with the Okinawa residents.

okinawaWe took a small detour through Naha City, heading straight to Kokusai-dori, the main entertainment/shopping area in town.  We headed straight to the most tourist-oriented restaurant that we could find and ordered ‘local’ specials.  For me it was the taco rice, and for Risa, the ladies set (which included more goya chanpuru).  It wasn’t bad (I say that a lot), but it didn’t exceed my already lowered expectations.

We finished our (extremely late) lunches and re-entered the rain for one final push to Yaese Town, where our next generous couchsurfing host was living.  She was also an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) and she didn’t finish work until 6PM, which left us with a little bit of time to kill, but also not enough.  We headed towards her house when the rain finally came through on its threats.  I haven’t been rained on like that for quite some time.  It was at the point that I couldn’t tolerate the pain of the rain hitting my face (plus I couldn’t see a thing).  We pulled underneath an apartment building for some respite for a few minutes (where there was also a tradesman of some description also waiting for the rain to stop, laughing at us and our situation).  I was pretty sure that I was as wet as I could get (though, still concerned about my camera and our clothing).  We went back into the rain for another 15 solid minutes of painful rain before we arrived at her apartment.  I hadn’t really thought about it, because we were over an hour early.  I’d (briefly) considered just waiting outside, but we were cold (plus it would have looked mighty odd to her neighbours) so we headed back to the McDonalds to get a hot snack (coffee/hot apple pie), but the air-conditioning inside the store was so strong that it wasn’t warming us up much.

By the time that it was time to return, the rain had subsided considerably, almost making us look foolish by the time we finally arrived at our host’s apartment, thoroughly wet (and sad looking).

She let us have a hot shower and change into some dry clothes.  While we were doing that, she was busy cooking up a big feed of fried rice, and I have to say (well, I don’t actually have to say it) it was a good feed. Very satisfying.  Of course, she didn’t need to feed us (and we were aware of this) and the fact that she did was fantastic.

And, if her hospitality couldn’t get any greater, once we’d finished gorging, we started talking TV shows, and naturally we started talking about Dexter and how we’d been missing it for the last few days.  Next thing you know, she was streaming it for us to watch!  What a spectacular way to finish off a mixed day.