20 June 2013

Kouri-Jima (Kouri Island)

I'm so behind on blogging it's crazy, but I've been busy, so definitely no regrets going on here.  A few months back I met Kassie of Mr. & Mrs. O and Crafts and Carafes online and after following each others social media accounts for a few weeks, it was obvious we were meant to be friends.  I sort of fell in friend-love with her when I learned she doesn't wait around for her husband or anyone else to go off exploring.  It's harder then you'd think to find people like us!

So for our first get together, we planned on biking around Ie Island and visiting the Lily Festival there.  Honestly, I was a little nervous.  Over the past few years I've gotten really out of shape, and while I've been working on that pretty religiously, I still had no idea what kind of 'biking' my new friend expected to do.  After all, she was bringing her bike, and I was renting one.  I just imagined me at the bottom of a hill passed out yelling "Go on...leave me....save yourself..." *Gulp*

It wasn't like that at all.  We realized we both wanted something easy going and casual.  To be outside and explore.  And it was actually pretty funny, apparently Kassie got a little freaked out when I showed up at her house in exercise type clothing, she thought I was so marathon biker or something.  HA!  I quickly explained that comfort and sweat control were my biggest priorities while biking all day in 500% humidity.

Anyway, we drove over an hour to the ferry building for our trip to Ie Island, and both of us were thinking, "Wow! There's barely anyone here, that's awesome! So glad we came on a weekday." Um.  Nope.  Turns out that the ferry runs hourly during the lily festival except for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - when we showed up.  Sooo....basically if we waited for the next ferry, we would be able to spend 30 minutes on the island before having to go back.  Not going to happen.  That's the sort of adventures you encounter when can't read the local language. We grabbed some more pamphlets and using those combined with the ferry building signs, we were able to decipher the schedule for the next day and headed out to find a new adventure for the current day.

A short drive later, we found a few other islands accessible by car (later to learn we drove across the largest bridge on Okinawa), Kouri Island.  We found a bike rental, and started off strong.  Until we hit the first hill.

We worked hard getting ourselves up that first hill, and decided to reward ourselves with lunch at the first cafe we saw.  It was pretty tasty, my meal below was a pork set, with some soup, custard, salads, fried veggies, rice, etc.  It hit the spot for sure.

The view didn't hurt either.

Lunch gave us a much needed boost of energy, and I appreciated that we both wanted to stop a lot and take pictures.  We explored down some trails (which got a little too crazy for the bikes) and found some gorgeous spots.  We also joked/not-joked about habu snakes while making our way through the jungle.

It was well worth a little mud and bushes to find this view on the other side.  Kassie climbed down a little ways, but the tide was coming in and the waves were crashing pretty hard.  It was awesome and so peaceful!

I couldn't resist taking a picture with the cow with the largest nipples in the world.  But really, who could?

There were the cutest little island homes, farms, and vegetable stands all over the island.  These buoys remind me of Maine a bit.  You don't often see this many strung up around here.

It was such a perfect day for a bike ride, and it was pretty hilarious how much we struggled up hills.  And I learned how much rental bikes suck.  My brakes were barely working and made this awful screeching sounds every time I touched them, so we constantly laughed about it and imagined me flying off the road into the ocean, but all worked out well.

We were pleasantly surprised to see the bridge again, while we were biking for quite a long time, we thought we had only gone half way.  When I handed in the bike, I noticed this little guy hanging out next door.  I tried to say hi, but he didn't really want anything to do with me.

We walked around the beach area, which had a couple little food stands and a nice produce market, where we picked up some goodies to bring home for the boys.

After leaving Kouri Island we found another little spot on Yagiji Island and sat there watching the tide go come in and taking pictures.  I think it was here that I realized it was my first day in Okinawa that I didn't see one other American.  It was really peaceful and nice to be explore areas the locals do, a little bit off-the-beaten-path from foreigners.

Kassie took some great photos of our day, including the one of us below (Thanks Kassie!!!), so definitely go check out her blog.  I don't think we realized how tired we were, but before we even got home, we planned for another Ie Island and Lily Fest trip early the next morning.

Check back soon for our Ie-Jima adventures!!!

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