Monday, October 02, 2006


We headed up to Sano city in Tochigi prefecture to visit R and K for the weekend. Deciding to try our luck on the highways, we took the car and some printed-out instructions from the navitime website, and hit the Shuto expressway.
We made good time, and after a few minutes of wandering around looking for the station, we located R and drove to his fresh new crib. No longer an ALT, R has a new job at a cram school and a swanky new pad to go with it. Electric toilet!
After settling in we drove out to the koi pond in the next town to feed the bubbling evil hordes of carp. We also climbed to a shrine on the top of the adjacent hill, and were rewarded with a rustic platform with beautiful views of the surrounding area and the small island in the middle of the pond that appeared to be a haven for heron. From there, a few big-box thrift stores, and finally, Indo-ya, a very good Indian restaurant in Sano that had great vegetarian food for hungry stomachs!
We reposed to R's place for an evening of Scrabble and wine.

The next day, we hit Sano's international festival, where booths from various countries sold crafts and food, and entertainment played steadily on the stage. After snacking on some tasty empandas from the Paraguay stand, I hit the flea market, where I overheard the couple browsing ahead of me conversing in Spanish. I smiled at them when they looked at me, and continued shopping, but they approached me and the man said hello. I answered him in Spanish and we began to talk about the festival, where we were from, and what we did. He introduced himself as Eduardo and his wife as Martha, from Bolivia and Peru, respectively. He then proceeded to invite me to his home in Bolivia after he returned there. We chatted for a few minutes and then went off our separate ways; but a little while later, while a posse of English speakers was hanging out in front of Sri Lanka, Eduardo came over to our group and asked for a picture. I introduced him around, and after the photos, he insisted that we come over to the Bolivian group and meet the crowd there.
There is a large South American population in Sano and in Tochigi, and according to a young man I met, another Eduardo with a beautiful singing voice, about 100 Bolivians in Sano; an impressive figure to me, since Sano seems like such a small town. He said that most of them work in factories. Eduardo senior told me that he had been an engineer in Bolivia; in Japan, he is a construction worker. We didn't get far into it, and I wondered why there were so many of them here; but talking with the group, they mentioned a deep divide in the country between east and west, and political unrest.
After a few minutes of chatting, Eduardo senior, definitely the most outgoing of the group, pulled me and some others out onto the cleared dirt to dance along to the music provided by Peru. Though I made a fool of myself, it was good fun.
We exchanged numbers and invitations to visit our respective homes.
In a final score of the trip, I found a Gocco PG-10 at Hard-off for 315 yen.

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