Friday, 3 June 2011

Leaving 北海道

Well Well Well,

I am back in Hakodate! It just so happens that I am about to leave from the same port I arrived into...

My lack of blogging reflects my busy-ness in various activities, so I will provide you for the moment with some snippets. (Sorry, no photos for the moment - I have far too many to choose from!)

Hokkaido is quite an extraordinary place, and far too big to explore thoroughly in a mere 8 months.

On the same island I have met (in no particular order):
⊙ an American convinced that Biodynamic farming will hold off the effects of the coming nuclear apocalypse (he told me this months before the Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent catastrophes);

⊙ an Aussie determined to rise to the top of the local and national ski accommodation travel market by creating a lavish website which will rise above the others;

⊙ an organic potato farmer who is determined to revert the soil of Hokkaido to its preindustrial purity;

⊙ his father who is fascinated by the numerous varieties of potato and had a dream of going to South America to find and obtain some examples of the prototype potato developed by the Inca;

⊙ A couple who moved North to live the good life and have been so busy farming and obsessing about horses that they havern't had time to go paragliding;

⊙ A family of Japanese catholics who run a "rider house" and a ramen shop and hold the pope so dear that they went all the way to Vatican City just to see him from a distance;

⊙ A man who lives in Noboribetsu and drives to Tomakomai every morning to buy bread from a cheap outlet store;

⊙ A man who sleeps under the table in a cheap hostel he runs in an old house in a suburb of Hakodate during the summer and spends the winter drinking sake way down south in the islands of Okinawa;

⊙ A peach farmer from Fukushima who is terrified of the potential effects of radiation on his children, and first evacuated South to Nagasaki but then missed the North and came to Hokkaido to scout out fields to purchase to replace his Fukushima farm (where his parents are still living);

⊙ A young man who used to play pachinko a lot but has been studying hard since he decided instead to pursue a dream of going to a university in Tokyo and getting a job with the UN;

⊙ A man who has cycled around most of Japan in different stages over the last few years and frequently goes to Uganda to work for a non-profit organization;

⊙ A guy from Yamaguchi who does hotel work in the busy winter and mountain hiking in the summer, and one morning found me playing his piano and pushed a Bach CD and sheet music into my hands insisting that I listen and practice and accompany his flute by harpsichord (which i made a brief attempt at, but Bach's manuscripts just move too fast...);

⊙ A man who runs the tiny bath house in Makubetsu, who has probably been sitting there for 50 or more years, who was visibly astounded when a foreigner came to have a bath in his tiny establishment;

In Hokkaido I have been:
a traveller
a hitchhiker
a potato harvesting assistant
a trainee
a concierge
a snowboarder
a tourist
a web page designer

... and so busy with all of these things that taking photos and writing blogs have gone out of reach.

I have fulfilled a long-held personal dream of living in Hokkaido. I may be back one day, but right now, it is time to become a traveller again and set sail for the next continent.

A 50-foot sailing yacht named Jennifer has arrived in Hakodate, and I am due to find her tomorrow and meet the captain, a Swede who makes a living from sailing around the world. We are due to set sail on Sunday, heading for Alaska.

For a while, I thought I might have to fly across the Pacific in order to continue my trip around the Northern Hemisphere, but this opportunity has come along with perfect timing!

I won't have internet access for a while, but watch this space, just in case something slips out into cyberspace.

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