Day 16: Kochi
06.04.2012 - 06.04.2012 20 °C
Temples 28-32 (arrived at 33)
Ojiisan woke us up at 5:47 am and made us miso soup with a raw egg. Not a big fan of miso made from lukewarm tap water out of a faucet, or the raw egg that didn't cook through at all. But it was free, so we couldn't complain. I drank half of it and had to pour it down the drain when he wasn’t looking. My sister had a stomachache afterwards, so I think pouring it down the drain was a smart move. He gave us three pastries and seven hard-boiled eggs for our trip. On top of that, he didn't charge us a single yen!
The city was a weird place. There’s a bell that rings at 9 pm to let everybody in the city know it's time for bed, and another one that rings at 6 am to let everyone know it's time to wake up. I think the last time I slept that early was in elementary school.
He walked us to the train station and made us take pictures at the henro huts. Ojiisan was a very pushy old man. His accent was thick and kept shouting when we didn’t understand him. Meagan was getting very annoyed with him, but I didn't mind because he never tried to say anything to me.
Nonetheless, he was still very kind and cared a lot about both of us just like a grandfather, a very pushy grandfather. We went on the wrong train and had to get off at the closest stop to take it back onto the correct train. During the train rides, many people stared at us. I didn’t know if I felt like I was a celebrity or a bum in smelly clothes.
After the train ride, we walked to temple 28. On the way back to the train station, we passed by the kind couple who drove us to temple 27! We hoped that they would offer us another ride, but we never saw them again. We trained and bussed to temple 29, trained to 30, and walked to 31. In the remaining 1.3k, we had to climb uphill with our backpacks. Tiring, but very rewarding and probably my favorite route out of the entire trip.
We passed by a graveyard with cherry blossoms that overlooked the ENTIRE city. I wished I took a picture, but Meagan said we had to respect the dead. We walked up some more and somehow, reached into a botanic garden! It was the most beautiful garden I have ever seen! Apparently, people have to pay to get in, but since we went through the secret passageway for walking ohenros, we got in for free!
At 31, we tried to hitch a ride. Many times were unsuccessful. Most stared at us like with disbelief or purposely ignored us. We stood in the parking lot for 15 minutes waiting for someone to pick us up. We even tried asking the tour bus, but no success. Finally after 20 minutes, a man came and offered us a ride! He wasn't doing the pilgrimage at all, but felt sorry for us.
We walked another 1.3k up the mountains to temple 32. We met the French people that we met at Yoshi-san's place! They were filming for their documentary. We were interviewed for a few minutes, so hopefully we will be in the film when it gets released?!
It was already 4 pm and we needed to make it to temple 33, so we can spend the night at the free hut (tsuyado) provided at the next temple. We walked about 5.5k to the ferry station, took the ferry (which was free for henros), and walked another 2k to temple 33. On the way to the temple, we saw a store that sold their leftover food for extra cheap. We decided to get one omurice for 250 yen, but the owner gave us another one for free! Two omurice for 250 yen - what a deal!
The omurice wasn't the best. It was cold, the rice was bland and mushy, and the egg was overcooked. But after eating so much unhealthy processed foods and cream rolls, leftover omurice was a meal fit for a king! We arrived at temple 33 and one of the priestess allowed us to stay at the temple that housed Kannon-sama, the Goddess of Mercy. We ate our cold, but heart-warming omurice inside our sleeping bags.
Our first time staying at a temple and Kannon-sama is watching over us. Hopefully, she will guide us safely back to Matsuyama on time.