Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tidbits on Japan

I pulled up to an intersection early one morning and a truck packed with 8 or 9 Japanese pulled up next to me. They were eyeing me cautiously. I smiled. A few of them raised their hands slowly,barely, their fingers just above the window opening.I bowed and said "ohiyo", or good morning. One girl claps her hands and says "ohiyo" back. Then the whole truck is in an uproar of good mornings and laughter. The light changes and they begin to pull away. I raise my hand and yell "syanora". Now their hands are above the window, out the window and they are bowing and yelling "syanora". Good chit man. Good chit. I am at a rest stop and I am frazzeled. I have been lost, I have been in terrible traffic and now ahead of me is construction. I am also looking at tunnels. Lots of them. Narrow tunnels. With trucks. Loud trucks. Fast trucks. Big trucks. Mean trucks that make mash potatoes out of cyclists. There is a woman at the rest stop making and handing out tea. She brings a cup over to me and "asks" me what I am doing. I show her on the map. She raises her eyebrows.....I "ask" her about the tunnels. Another woman comes over. They disscuss the tunnels. She brings a cup of tea. They assure me the tunnels will be okay but wave their hands behind their rear ends and then hold their nose. The first woman brings me a roll and places it my hands. The last supper? They again assure me the road is "okay, okay" for bikes. I am refreshed and am able to start out again. Of course they were wrong about the roads but their assurances got me started again. I was bicycling up a slope and passed several school boys about 11 years old. They start some kind of chatter that sounds like they are egging someone on to race me. I swing my arm around to signal "come on" and the race is on. One of them and I start up the hill neck and neck, the other boys are cheering from behind. We weave in and out of another crowd of kids. Of course he gets me on the weave. More cheers. I get cut off at a narrow place and he beats me to the light. These little stories and more are why I bike through the country side.

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