Kumano Kodo, Day 2

It’s morning. The weather doesn’t look good. I check the reports. Check them again. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain… Ugh.

I’m not prepared for rain. Even if I was, it’s not much more enjoyable. I linger, hoping that the rain will stop or at least lessen to an annoying misty spray.

Time for breakfast.

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The weather hasn’t improved at all. There’s nice low clouds and steam rising from the stream. As much as I dislike it, I opt to take the bus to the next hotel. I figure maybe I can walk or hike part of the trail around town should the rain lighten up.

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I explain this to the hostess. She believes I can still hike through this and encourages me to do so. I almost reconsider but I don’t have water resistant shoes. I wonder how long my jacket would last. Walking in the rain is one thing, it’s another to be soaking wet. I think about the cute pocket size rain coat I didn’t buy in Kyoto. There isn’t anywhere to stop if I change my mind. We go back and forth and we eventually come to an understanding.

She walks me to the bus stop with the bus schedule highlighted for me. I do believe she’s worried I’ll get lost on my way. I missed the bus two days in a row now so I stop by the grocery store for coffee and to kill some time. No improvement with the rain.

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I get on the bus and point to the stop I know, to transfer to another bus. There’s another foreigner already on the bus. He asks where I’m going. He’s walked the trail before and tells me how great it is. /Sigh

I fumble with my things– the wet umbrella, the bag of snacks and loose change to pay the fare. He’s concerned I don’t really know what I’m doing. Gee, what ever could it be?

I stumble out like a hot mess. They’re trying to confirm that I understand it’s a long wait for the next bus. I get that. It’s cool, not much going on today anyway…

There’s isn’t much here. I’m on the outskirts of town. Across the street there’s what can only be an entrance to a shrine. At the intersection, there’s a cafe of sorts (closed?) and turning left takes you over a bridge to a town in the distance. Going right leads to some community center (school?) and judging by the noise there’s something going on.

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It’s another hour before the bus arrives. I drink the now lukewarm coffee and a small snack. The clouds hang low, obscuring the mountains. A car may pass once every fifteen minutes. It’s quiet here.

The rain is letting up so I walk toward the bridge for photos. How else to pass the time? Plus, I’m loving the cloudy atmosphere. Always a big fan of foggy days.

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As I said before, it’s quiet, rarely a car in sight. I’m on the bridge and of course now a car appears. The man stops and says something to me. I don’t understand the words but I bet it’s like, get off the road ya dumb broad! Really, a translator is not needed.

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I leave the bridge to be back on the sidewalk or edge of the road. I debate going up the street to see what the event is about but I don’t want to risk missing the bus. Instead I head toward the shrine.

It’s a small shrine, very cozy. The ground is muddy and there’s not much to see. I go back to the bus stop. The bus should arrive soon.

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I check with the bus driver, as always, to make sure I’m on the right bus. We drive along picking up and dropping up passengers even when it doesn’t look like a bus stop at all. I wonder if that’s their daily route, if the bus driver is so familiar with his passengers.

It’s raining again. I’m the only one on the bus now. The driver tries asking where I’m going again. I tell him the name of the stop but he wants to know if I’m staying at a hotel. I tell him the name and he’s confused. We arrive at the stop and he asks again and I show him the hotel reservation. He says it’s very far. I understand and try to mime that I will call the hotel. I thank him and get off the bus.

I start looking for a phone. The hotel mentions there’s one in town, the post office perhaps? They have hikers call the hotel and a driver will pick them up.

I’m walking toward the main street. There’s a van parked and a man exits. He walks toward me. The bus driver also gets out of the bus and comes over.  The man with the van tells me he’s from the hotel. I didn’t hear him clearly but I’m going with that. The bus driver is relieved that the driver is here and leaves me. The hostess from the onsen must have called the hotel. I’m grateful that I don’t have to look for the phone now.

We drive awhile to the hotel. The driver knows some English and we have a short conversation. I’m the only one, perhaps the others are hiking. /Sigh

The area looks familiar and I’m waiting for us to turn but we don’t. We pass the bus stop where I was waiting for the transfer. Ugh, I’m so annoyed. The wait for the transfer, the ticket… All unnecessary!

We keep going following the river. The water is mesmerizing. The shallow areas are not impressive but in places where the water is deep, the water is bright blue. I tried to take a photo but it didn’t work out well. Untitled

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The hotel is large and in the middle of nowhere. Not even a grocery store to walk to. The receptionist doesn’t know much English but calls over someone else who does. I check in, being the only loser not hiking apparently. He asks if I will hike tomorrow so he can arrange a driver to the bus stop. I’m not sure yet. I’m trying to be optimistic.

The room is larger than the last one. The window faces the back where a stream flows.

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It’s a few hours before dinner and so I opt for a walk. Google says there’s a shrine nearby I could walk to and the rain has quieted. I’m not successful in finding the street at first time but there’s no rush nor any need to make it to the shrine.

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Again, street is hardly what it is. Just a path paved up hill to a tiny shrine and a cemetery. Because that’s the fun kind of things I like to do, walk in a cemetery on a wet cloudy day. Nothing creepy about this. Such fun, indeed. The views are nice.

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Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. It can rain or you miss the bus or some other nonsense and you just have to make the most of it. So I walk and take photos of nothing at all. I walk through the cemetery and take in joy from the clouds rolling over the hills.

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It’s getting dark and starting to rain again. I wonder how well I’ll fare finding my way back. It’s alright. I’m not that far by this point.

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At the hotel, I gather my things to bathe and enjoy the onsen. This one is a shared bath and although I have done this before, I find myself overly shy. There’s a lot of women already here. I leave to go back to my room. I lounge, drinking tea. It’s silly really.

I go back down to the onsen. There’s still a lot of people but less than before. Dinner will be served soon. There’s three pools to choose from and I’m excited for the outdoor pool! I specifically chose this hotel for the experience.

After the onsen, I put my things away in my room. I go back downstairs, trying to remember where the dining room is. I walk pass the onsen and receptionist, through a long hallway to another section and finally the dining room. There’s a bunch of long tables with chairs. The hostess shows me to my seat. Dinner is served!

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I do enjoy fish but I’m not sure what kind this is? There’s these tiny white beads inside, not like roe, but reminds me of tiny styrofoam. I keep eating it to figure it out. Eventually I abandon the idea because it’s hard to eat with chopsticks and I’m not enjoying it. The rest is good.

On the way back to the room, I spy some old arcade machines but none of them are on.

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I grab a beer from the vending machine on my way up and relax a while, keeping my eye on the time to take another bath before it closes.

The second bath, I mostly had the place to myself. Couple other people showed up but didn’t stay too long. I kind of wonder if the Japanese women find it strange for a foreigner to be here or gossip, like did you see the chubby foreigner?

Back in my room, I plan out where the next stop is. I try in desperation to figure out a way of doing a shorter hike or taking the bus somewhere interesting, anything really than repeating today. I even emailed the company that booked the trip for me. And nothing! It’s a longer hike with no where to cut corners. I decide that if it’s raining again, I’ll be on the bus. I really don’t want to though.

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