This was a close call. On this day, only 11 days into this strangers and noodles project, I didn’t talk to any strangers. I almost didn’t eat any noodles. I almost failed at this blog. (yikes!)
What I’ve realised about travelling around in a rental car, with someone else: it’s really easy to get into a happy little observe-y bubble where you look a lot but don’t talk to anyone else except each other, and the odd waiter or cashier. It’s hard to strike up a conversation with someone who looks interesting when you’re not-quite-whizzing by them at 40km/hr (some of those speed limits in Okinawa, man…). And when you’re in a kind of touristy place most people tend to stick together in their own little bubbles, too.
On this day it was raining in the far north of Okinawa, the weather had changed, a bit stormy for swimming, so we drove around all day in our rental car bubble, to the wild northern tip of the island and back to the semi-metropolis of parking-lotted and pachinko-parloured Nago. And because the place we were staying (more on that later) came with two extravagantly-portioned, incredibly delicious meals a day, I really could not find it in me to stop for lunch. (Neither could mum, don’t worry, I wasn’t forcibly trying to starve her.)
But what I did feel like was pineapple, even if it meant going to a highly kitschy pineapple theme park (once your eyes get used to all the yellow and green, it’s kind of okay – the tackiness is definitely part of the attraction) for their all-you-can-eat pineapple. So we did that. And ate our fill. And didn’t talk to anyone, really (the other visitors were mostly tour-busloads that got whisked along, anyway).
But at the very end of the pineapple park there were a few stands selling local produce – the usual mozuku and sea grapes and the like – and one of the guys there was offering samples of mozuku udon. Phew. No longer failing at the blog.
I didn’t really pay attention to the taste, or texture, or anything like that. What I do recall is that it was hot, savoury relief after eating two platefuls of fresh pineapple and sampling every possible kind of pineapple-related food and beverage product a human could think of. Thank you, quiet udon seller. I’m sorry I didn’t buy any of your wares to take home.