Farewell smoggy Tokyo! Dear Reader,
Browse through these pictures to get a sense of what life is like on the Ogasawara Archipelago.
I’m currently WWOOFing at Pelan Village in Chichijima, where I wake up at 6 am every morning to farm, help build a house, and cook. In the afternoon, I head to the beach to snorkel, swim, surf, & hopefully kayak and fish.
This is exactly the kind of reprieve from nonstop college stress that I was seeking.
KaKao (the nickname the islanders have given me)
Ferrygoers gaze onto the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean. We endured a 25 hours long ferry ride from Tokyo Takeshiba Harbor to Chichijima bay. I didn’t manage to keep anything down during that trip.
Seagulls wheel overhead.
Meet Oujuira Beach. The waves are really calm right now, so it’s easy to sport a snorkel and explore the coral reef. I had never seen so many fish in my life. Just be careful not to let sand into your fins, otherwise your feet will emerge raw, red, and hurting.
Couldn’t resist a snorkel selfie.
There are tropical flowers everywhere, and I usually pluck one or two for hair flair.
To get back home, walk up a steep staircase through a palm grove to a small residential area, and then hike up a hill to the bungalows which you call home.
Along the way, you’ll find plastic figurines of popular Japanese TV characters, placed in nooks and crannies within the forest. Our cute culprit’s name is Manzo, whose name means Ten Thousand Elephants. I live with him and his family up in the jungle, above the sea. There, I help farm, build, and do general housework in exchange for an experience of a lifetime.
This is Chika’s Kitchen House, where guests staying at this little eco-resort can rest, read, and cook. WWOOFers are also welcome! Your can hear the sound of the birds, fruit falling, and the pups barking in earnest.
Image sourced from architectureoftravel.wordpress.com
A hot cup of Rooibos tea helps to calm the traveller, and root ’em in a place they can call home (at least, for a time). My hosts, Ryo and Chika, are very proud and slightly awestruck at this wooden handiwork, created by an Austrian carpenter who stayed to volunteer for a month or so. There is an accompanying table, not shown. If only I could create something as elegant out of scrap wood and driftwood found at the beach. Aspirations!
There is a thriving garden surrounding the houses, with odd tropical fruits including starfruit, coffee, okra, passionfruit, and this knobbly fruit called noni, which is treated and made into tasty juice.
At night, we cook rice over the fire. Ryo, a seasoned surfer and dedicated farmer/builder, whose childhood dream of being a cowboy was realised in marine agriculture on Ogasawara, grins as us from the picture.
Chika had just returned from a 10 day Ashram yoga retreat in India, when she met me at the Takeshiba harbour to take the ferry together. Soon after my arrival, we cooked up lots of chapati (although sadly, it took me 3 hours) and she made a big pot of Indian curry to share with family and friends. I felt so welcome and warm, and way too sleepy.
The girls revel in their new Indian saris.
We ate island sashimi!
Check back for more (funny faces)!
Read more about Ryo’s inspirational story and Pelan Village