Thursday, January 04, 2007

Holiday vacation- part ii (Taketomi)

I loved the tiny island of Taketomi, about a 15 minute ferry ride from Ishigaki. We were originally trying to make the ferry for the jungle island of Iriomote but somehow missed it, so we ended up taking a short day trip here instead.

Hibiscus and bouganvilleas lined dreamy crushed coral paths, patient, slow-moving water buffalos pulled carts of tourists around, and the sparkling white sand beaches had the clearest waters I have ever seen. The colors of nature seemed to be saturated to the maximum: shiny black cows dotted bright green pastures and the clear blue skies formed a backdrop to the Mediterranean-like red tiled roofs.

The tiny island only has about 350 residents, and the rules for preserving the island are pretty basic- no 2-story structures, no asphalt roads (all roads are made of crushed coral so definitely no street lights!!), no selling of land to outsiders, and all houses must have walls made of natural materials and the traditional red tiled roofs. There are hundreds of "shisa" sculptures on roofs, gateways, and entrances- little lion/dog-like creatures that are supposed to be guarding homes.

Kondoi Beach is a beach that people dream about going to. We laid out on the beach for hours, but I think Paul got pretty burned!! The other beach, Gaiji-hama even had star-shaped sand! (They are actually the dried skeletons of tiny marine creatures).

Thoroughly relaxed, we came back on the ferry and had a fanastic Christmas Eve feast at Garlic Busse, a garlic-themed restaurant. Paul and I exchanged Christmas gifts at midnight- oh so romantic...

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