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Do I look like I have a problem with that kind of thing?

We awoke to discover that we had made a slight miscalculation to the next town. We would now have to walk a total of 23kms under clear skies and the looming silhouette of Aomori’s Mt. Fuji. Iwaki-san. Apart from a lingering memory of the previous night’s ordeal, my buttocks seemed fine and ready to tackle the distance.

Unfortunately for us, it was our stamina, not our behinds that were suffering after an unusually late night. All day we couldn’t seem to get out of first gear, requiring more breaks than we had had to date. Unfortunately, stilting was not proving to be like other sports in the way your body adapts to the physical demands. Each day was as tedious as the one before, bringing with it the same levels of pain in the same areas. Our performance often seemed more influenced by our mental rather than our physical conditions. It was to be another day of just putting one foot in front of the other until we reached our goal.

Ajigasawa was our first coastal town since Rumoi, and while its position on Aomori’s beautiful coast was spectacular, about the only thing going for it was a over preened white Akita dog called Wasao (who had the day earlier been made a citizen of the town!). The rest of the town was charmless, with its people even more so. Help seemed hard to come by as people went about their daily business, uninterested in these two strangers looking lost on their streets. While Miki, whose charm and looks were more likely to elicit the helpful responses we were after, went about the important job of asking directions to baths and to campsites, I was left the relatively easy job of filling our fuel bottle for tonight’s meal. Up till now, I had never had a problem with gas stand attendants we were happy to fill me up for the pittance that it cost to do so. Then again, up till now, we had never been to Ajigasawa.

“Sore wa dame desuyo” (No I can’t do that.) said the attendant warily as I handed over my opened fuel bottle.
“Why not? I’ve never had a problem before?” I replied reassuringly, adding my best smile to convince him of my integrity.
“Iiya, dame desuyo!!” (No I can’t do that!)
“What are you talking about?” I said unbelievably, as my chances of having my bottle filled quickly disappeared.
Sensing the alarm in my voice, attendant number 1 called over attendant number 2 to add some finality to his decision. After conferring with each other, number 2, who was older but obviously not wiser, strode over to give me his opinion too.
“You shouldn’t be doing that!” he scolded as if I were the naughty child and he, my teacher.
“Doing what?!! What are you talking about??!!” I asked half shocked and now completely bewildered by where our conversation was going.
“We’re not going to sell it to you if you’re going to drink it!” he said as he shook his head disapprovingly.

It took about 2 minutes for the shock to subside enough for me to be able to say something.

“I want fuel for my bloody camp stove not for my bloody self!” I replied, the disbelief dripping of every syllable.
“Oh, in that case, no problems.” Attendant number 2 said cheerfully, as if the conversation earlier had been all in his imagination.
But I’d had enough and after telling them in my most gracious voice thanks, but no thanks, I wandered back down the road, past a bemused looking Miki, to a home centre that we had passed 20 minutes earlier.

It was a long day, and as we settled down for the evening on a bird crap littered car park after being told we could not camp in the park and that there was no campsite here, dreamed of a new day in a new town far away from here.

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 4:02 AM,


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