Tappi, September 10, 2015

Today marks our third day in Tappi. Little by little, we are getting into our routine.

I get up around 5 a.m., see if there’s anything interesting in my email, send messages, and then stretch and meditate. About 6:00 I soak in the public baths, a Japanese custom that I really love. After bathing I get in the hot tub—here they are fed by natural hot springs—and enjoy 10 minutes of total peace.

I get in the lobby and wait for the restaurant to open to order coffee. Yesterday we were surprised to find that the hotel has just acquired a Saeco machine that makes a delicious coffee. This was a sign, we told ourselves, that Tsugaru is welcoming us with open arms.

My first order of business is to write this blog. While I enjoy the coffee (or, well, the several that I drink) and wait for breakfast, which we have at 8:30 every day, I write about what happened the day before.

Breakfast consists of vegetables, fish, rice and soup. With some variations, lunch and dinner are the same thing.

When we met Daniel’s team the first day, we realized that they required and provided a western breakfast for themselves. Our philosophy, on the other hand, is to adapt to local customs, food and dining habits are a way to integrate and experience your host culture in all its dimensions. Interestingly, the attitude of the other team provoked in me a feeling of disapproval and scorn towards their lack of cultural sophistication. It seems somewhat arrogant that they could not be bothered to adapt to different milieus.

At 12:00 it’s time to train. The beach is close, less than 1 kilometer. Yesterday we swam 65 minutes; we expect to ramp that up to 90 minutes on Thursday and Friday, and start tapering off on Saturday. After enjoying swimming in the sea, lying down under a shower of cold, fresh water is one of the most relaxing moments of the day.

After training we have lunch—again, vegetables, rice, soup and fish. The variations in the type of fish and the temperature of the food are everything.

When we talked with Daniel and his team, we learned several things about the crossing. The deck of the boat does not have seats and its gunwales are relatively low, so when the wind blows or there are waves, people on board just get wet. Their recommendation was to buy seats and wear boots and other waterproof protective gear. We got the address of a store 18 kilometers from the hotel and, after lunch, went shopping.

We were like little kids, everyone buying what he needed or liked. Concerned about his camera, Pablo looked for plastic he could encase it in so that it wouldn’t get wet. Nora was happy with her uniform and boots and I with my netting.

A critical moment in these swims is the feeding. You have to do it fast and make no mistakes. In Gibraltar we used packs of Accel Gel and water bottles in a net. When asked Daniel how he had done feedings in his swim, his team members showed us a pole with a basket at the tip. I immediately felt envy—we did not have one like that.

However, the first thing we saw upon entering the store was a 3-meter long pole with a netted tip—just what we needed. One less thing to worry about.

It was time to go to the cashier. A parade of different products appeared in front of the register, one after the other. Suddenly I see a carton of milk, the kind I used as a child, and a box of Oreos.

“Whose is that?” I ask.

Smiling, Pablo says, “Mine.”

“Well, just bring me an equal portion,” I reply.

OK, we may be all zen at mealtimes, but there’s nothing to prevent us from being sinful in our rooms. A glass of milk and an Oreo will make Japanese food bearable.