Tropical Island Part 2: Sand, Critters, and things that go bump in the night.
During this week of seminars I was given the very simple instruction by my better half, “Don’t get into trouble.” Easy!
I have a particular penchant for the Ocean. Perhaps a little odd considering I grew up nearly 1000km away from the nearest ocean. It’s my dream to end up by the sea; the amount of life, environments, and pure wonderment that is harbored by the oceans is completely mind boggling. For someone who loves the outdoors, especially the aquatic parts, this draw is irresistible. So I did what anyone who would be relaxing on a topical island for a week who just can’t sit still would do – explore the beaches!
The seawall was fantastic to walk along, and jumping down during low-tide gave me the opportunity to see various types of crabs, fish off the shore, different bits of washed up critters, and keep me entertained for more hours than I could remember. I might’ve picked up quite the interesting sunburn on my ankles during this time – I guess wearing tall cycling socks all summer long and then forgetting that fact in a UV-rating of 9 for hours on end can lead to bad consequences – but the sun was great, the water was warm and wonderful, and I loved every second of it.
Hermit crabs became my favorite animal to watch. Seeing how they moved, how they differed, and even a couple housing-fights with other crabs/snails proved quite entertaining. The beach would be still as you walked, but as soon as you stopped and stood still, hundreds of shells would come alive and begin moving all over the sand. Like I said, entertained for hours.
Not a bad way to spend the day. Kept this up till the sun started setting, and Jen finished up with her Seminars for the day.
Dinner at the hotel was fantastic; outdoors, starlight, slight winds, sounds of the ocean in the background and everything served grilled on metal skewers. Various types of fish, beef, shellfish all grilled to perfection. Lets not forget the amazing Sake too. Need to have proper Sake, right?
After a dessert of rice served in a leaf, I went on with my headlamp (everyone travels with a headlamp, right?) and decided to see what wonderful creatures come out during the dark hours on the beach. I was not disappointed!
One last thing that I noticed while outside was every time I would shine my light into the grass or woods, I would get hundreds of tiny lights shining back. I could never see what it was until I took a real close look. With an emerald green shine back at me, every set of eyes wasn’t just a pair. It was 4 pair. One pair flashing back, the other 3 pair just staring at me. Apparently every single set of eyes belonged to species of huntsman spiders (think Wolf spiders back home.) Hundreds. Now, I thought this was completely fantastic. Seriously. Spiders don’t creep me out too much unless I know that 1) they are dangerous 2) they are aggressive. Preliminary research on Ishigaki showed me which spiders were poisonous, and I didn’t have a troop of spiders following me down the dark path waiting to have some international food for tea, so I decided I was indeed safe and didn’t need to run screaming into the night. I did, however, meet a friendly dog and his owner. The only thing I think we understood of each other was こんばんは。 (Konban wa – Good Evening) That phrase, mixed with a friendly golden dog and a smile was all that we needed to communicate.
My adventure did come to an end finally. Hearing the click-clack of crab legs everywhere and various night-time birds on the entire walk back to the hotel left me with warm fuzzy feelings. Even came across a rather large Moray-looking eel-thing in the water over a bridge at one point. The seawall was beautiful at night, and not knowing what I was going to run into next kept the pulse up, but was easily mellowed by the sound of the waves in he moonlight. Mission see Night-Time Critters? Success.
The next day would bring us to explore an even older part of the Island in terms of preserved culture. And with that, I’ve decided to split this into more parts. Tomorrow I bring you Part 3: Taketomi Island, and how to get a good hangover drinking Awamori.