Fear #11: The unknown
Fear #12: Big animals
Romance, finance, jobs, real estate, getting out of bed in the morning--any worthwhile venture invites uncertainty, challenges us to meet the unknown. One of my goals this year is to schedule an overdue trip Japan. What's been holding me back? For starters, the only time I've returned as an adult, about 10 years ago, I got shingles before departure, had a migraine at Aunt Yoko's, and was chased by a bull. While the last scenario is unlikely to recur (unless I embark on a new career as a toreador) it's the perfect example, literally and figuratively, for risk-taking:
|This and following photos are mine: so remote|
are the isles that I couldn't lazily Google images.
Just getting to Oki is inauspicious. We take a ferry--the sole mode of transport--on a blustery day. Inside, there's a single enclosed mainhold for passengers. No seats, just a carpeted floor with a few hard pillows strewn about. One side of the room is Smoking, the other Non-Smoking, a distinction marked only by the open aisle in between. Above the heads of reclining smokers, mostly businessmen, clouds of cigarette-smoke billow and trespass to the wrong side. The stench combined with pitching waves conspire for a stomach-churning case of seasickness. Green-faced, Julie and I curl up on a cold bench outside. I stagger to the concessions-stand and mumble kusuri, medicine, too weak to summon any other words from my spare arsenal of Japanese vocabulary.
The next day, a bit stiff and arthritic, we walk to the scenic seaside: horses gallop and graze in open, gold-grassed fields. A mare and her colt nibble weeds against a backdrop of cloudless sky and sheer stone plummeting to white-capped ocean. We're the only humans in sight.
"Wh-wh-what do we do if he charges?" I whimper to my baby sister. "If we run it'll chase us."
"We could lie down and play dead?" Julie says.
Noting the complete lack of fence or shelter within view, two outcomes flash through my mind: gored in the kidney, or mashed into mochi.
We agree upon the lying-like-possums-plan, and slither away as quickly as possible without running. Then, for no apparent reason, the bull gives a haughty snort and slows down into a walk. He backs off, eyeing us warily, as if to assure that we exit his territory.
Goosebumped, mad-scientist hair on end, we speed-walk back to the cold inn. Along the way we notice that every other house (where were they before?) has a barn and animals--cows, horses, and bulls. We later learn that, after horse sashimi and tourism, bull-fighting is the third most profitable industry in Oki. Ah yes, bull-ru once charge German rady, the innkeeper says nonchalantly. We are too polite to query further; we mustn't insult our hosts nor the bulls. Being sick on the ferry-ride home isn't so bad, as the enchanting Oki Islands disappear behind us.
|My impression of Maria von Trapp, before spotting the bull.|