Lima (before or after the jungle)
Aomori, bleak city. Nothing, nothing, nothing to speak of. Bare shops, old and deserted. No chains, no Starbucks, hardly even a Lawsons. Bare and forlorn. The pavements vacant, untrodden. The people low-key, mourning something, bemoaning something. Main street leading away from the station. Really nothing here. Still I’m content with it. I am content with wandering until dinner. Content with any dinner as long as they serve me. Behind the lantern, slide open door. Poking nose in, spotted, seen. Have to stay now. To the loner seat at the bar. I am content as long as these things are overcome. They resolve easily. Talk to the person or not talk to the person. He talks to me. He is the man in the busy Izakaya in Kagoshima and I am glad for it. I am so glad for conversation. I have yakitori, beer, cold refreshing tofu. One more beer? Yes one more beer please. He is a teacher, no he is an engineer. He was an engineer, he used to be. Used to live in Fukuoka. With his brother. I’m a lawyer, yes -- Bengoshi. Bengoshi haha. Mindless talking. Laughs once more when I say Bengoshi. The stools in the place in Kagoshima are low and the ceiling is low and there’s a warmth, a closeness. These are secret parlours, get-aways, no one can find you. Dens of iniquity. I am so glad for this conversation. So put at ease. In Kyoto, more than I bargained for on both sides of my stool. The Japanese guys to the right mocking my Englishness. Hysterical laughter. Students to the left, the conversation has taken its course. Just to sit in a ramen shop and be alone, and reflect or just be. That time in the torrential downpour in Ueno. I’m running in Aomori past the cruise liner moored there. I am running up around the port. I am running in Abashiri and it’s not quite snowing. The rain comes in spits on a fast wind. Threatens to congeal into pellets. I am running by the port towards the university. Lashed by the rain. Enjoying a beating from the fast wind. The thrill of the accomplishment, build up an appetite. In Aomori running up and round the same stretch of port, going round on itself. In Aomori finding freedom. A way of staving off the grubbiness of the city. Once more past the ship, once more on the decking. The drumming noise. In Abashiri they serve slabs of burgers in a diner cum restaurant with the kitchen open to space. No protection. The smoke from the frying oil like something’s on fire. I saw him taking burgers from the freezer, a home freezer, a home kitchen. Husband wife and a twelve year-old daughter between homework. The meat like horse meat. Eating horse meat in the heavy fumes.