This morning after breakfast we left Sunset Beach Guesthouse in Okinawa, and drove to the airport.
Aki and his wife holding their baby, stood on the road and waved us goodbye, until we could no longer see them in our rearview mirror.
The old man working at the toll booth, was so warm and friendly to us, clutching Jules’ hand with both his hands and wishing us a great day as he handed us our receipt and change.
We joked that he was so warm and friendly, that he did all he could to convey his overflowing warmth towards us, except reaching over and kissing Jules…..
Jules joked that the guy simply was unable to reach him…and that otherwise, he would have been kissed by the toll guy….
Filling petrol in the rental car is also done differently in Japan.
You put a currency bill into the pump, and proceed to fill gas in your tank.
When it is filled, the pump prints out a receipt with a barcode, which you take to another cash machine.
You place the barcode on the glass of this cash machine, and it spits out your change…. Neat!
The flight to the island of Miyakojima was very crowded.
Our choice of guesthouse in Miyakojima, is not exactly what you would call “luxury.”
We actually felt a bit apprehensive about staying here.
Not really being the kind to rough it up very often… But it turned out to be more charming than I thought.
“Tukayama-Sou Guesthouse” is one of the oldest guest houses on the island.
The basic room is small and the nightly rate includes breakfast and dinner.
For two people it is about $130 USD per night, which is a real bargain in Japanese terms and about the lowest price we will be paying per night on this trip.
The good surprise is that our room does have an air condition, a simple but private shower and the food is very good.
The mattress is exceptionally thin and it is placed on the hard tatami mats floor.
The pillow is tiny and filled with small beans, and there is no lock on the door…..so this means that we will have to leave all of our electronics without being able to lock them.
It also means that we have to take our cash with us to the beach…. But I am not so worried about the risk of theft in Japan, even though in the tropical islands, we have been warned…
The toilet is a shared outhouse, and it is a squat toilet.
Despite being a Minshuku (a simpler guest house, less luxurious than a Ryokan and similar to a backpacker’s place), everyone staying here is not without means.
Like us, they chose this place for the adventure and for the authentic island experience….
It is famous for the good cuisine and for the cooking lessons that the owner gives, for their smoothies, and for the uniqueness of it…. It is like appreciating an old classic car… Nobody expects it to run like a brand new one, yet you love it for its unique curves and classic beauty….
Down the road from the guest house, is one of the island’s best swimming beaches.
Right after we settled into our new guest house, we went to the beach and rushed into the beautiful warm waters for a much desired swim.
It felt SO heavenly to swim in the clean salty blue ocean.
After two cold months in NZ and a bit of the flu, I needed it so badly.
Connected to our guesthouse is a small shop serving smoothies.
We sat there and enjoyed some cold drinks in a warm friendly atmosphere.
Breakfast and dinners are prepared daily from scratch.
The owner peels and cooks everything before each meal… She and her husband work for hours to produce these delicious meals.
Dinner was served on a large communal low table, with everyone sitting on the floor.
The meal offered many local specialities, and I noticed that the owner’s husband was weeding his organic vegetable garden while we ate.
They also have two white goats in the yard.
Everyone in the dining room was very curious about us and very friendly toward us.
Those who spoke little English asked us many questions, and those who did not, constantly complimented us on our tiny Japanese vocabulary.
That night I slept well until about four in the morning, and I woke up because of a nightmare..
Then I started tossing and turning, feeling unable to get comfortable on the thin mat.
My mind conjured up images of my fancy bedroom back in Colorado….
Here is the gist of the internal conversation that I had during the night with myself:
Me: “Hey Tali, don’t you have an Italian designer’s bed that cost you $15,000 USD with a super thick NASA designed Tempurpedic mattress, technologically designed to keep you cool and to align itself to your spin and body’s pressure?….
How long has it been since you last slept in your lovely bed in the mountains of Colorado?…… Must have been months……”
Me: “Yes…..I miss it… And I miss my fluffy pillows… And the attached toilet with the holistic foot stool designed to help my colon eliminate…. and my large steam shower…”
Me: “What are you doing here sleeping on a thin mat on the floor, aching all over?”
Me: ” I am SEEING rural Japan, and I am EXPERIENCING, how many of the people on this earth live… And I am learning to soften the grip of my ego on my mind…… Why, look at Jules sleeping next to me…. He is sleeping like a tired child that can sleep anywhere anytime….children sleep even upside down… They are not so obsessed with the need for comfort… ”
Me: “Ya…. Keep telling yourself this…maybe you’ll believe it…”
Me: “I REFUSE to believe that I need comfort or luxury to be content and happy!
I can see the LIGHT in this situation… In ANY situation…. and I can choose to feel grateful and happy to be here!
This is a wonderful guesthouse with warm loving people who go out of their way to make us comfortable, safe and welcome…
I slept in a wooden camp stilt house in the highlands of Thailand, and to reach the toilet I had to climb down a wooden ladder in the middle of the night… And all I remember now, is how much fun it was and how beautiful the whole trip was… I CAN do it!”
Me: “Great! You keep it up girl… Keep telling yourself this….”
Me: “I am happy to support a small business like this….. Happy to help this hard working lady to prosper and to do well…
I am grateful to be here and you are NOT going to spoil it for me…. Good night dear contrary girl….. I am going to sleep now….”