Beaches, Bars, Boats and Ballads was an anthology album put out by Jimmy Buffett a gazillion or so years ago. I used to listen to his music a lot before I reached middle age and discovered sobriety. I also felt that living on Okinawa was like living in a Jimmy Buffett song too. Again that was before sataandaagi and oolong tea supplanted Orion Beer and Awamori Sake or as old Hank would put it, "cornbread and iced tea took the place of pills and 90 proof!"
Still, I've always had a love for the sea and boats and when the weather turns to $#!+ here and it's your one day to get out and about, you just have to make the most of it! That's what world renowned wildlife photographer (at least in his own mind) Ryukyu Mike of Ryukyu Life and I did this last week. Like the rebels without a clue that we are, we headed out from his headquarters in downtown Kin-Cho for points south this last week. Our first stop for the day was a secluded spot in Yomitan village where, in times past we've been lucky enough to shoot some of the local wildlife in action.
I'm talking about real wildlife here not that other kind. For that other kind of wild life some of you may be looking for, you'll have to go elsewhere. Please note that except for the occasional cuss word or two whenever my turrets syndrome flairs up, this is a family oriented blog. Anyway, once we got set up and started shooting, the skies stayed blue for about half a gigabyte (that's about two or three frames with Mike's Pentax K3) before the skies opened up and it started pissing on us.
Mike was in need of some coffee and smokes anyway so we loaded our gear back into the mini-SUV I was driving and headed a little farther out toward the ocean where we could still see a patch of blue sky above. That took us to a little tourist trap just south of the Alivila hotel. It's part of the Nikko hotel group on the East China Sea side of the island. The place is called Gala where they make sea salt, pottery and glass trinkets for all the
Mike hopes to talk some gals into dressing up and dancing on the stone whatchamacallit that they built out in the water some years ago. It was part of the set for a old NHK TV show called Ryukyu no Kaze which translates into "Wind of the Ryukyus." He had seen some pretty little shimagwa's dancing out there in one of the many Karaoke videos he's sung mineo tunes to. I don't think he really gives a crap about the scene, he just wants to see the pretty girls dancing for him and his camera...
The other place down below (second photo) belongs to a NPO that works on restoring the coral reefs around Okinawa. They do tours of the facility for a modest fee. Don't ask me what it is cause I'm too much of a cheap bastard to pay for it and Mike wasn't hung over enough to wanna trek down the side of the cliff to go see it. What's interesting about this place is that the guy started it all on his own without any assistance from the government or corporate sponsors. He almost went broke in the process but by sticking to his guns and no doubt having a very understanding wife probably helped, he was able to build all this. Now they raise the coral in the tanks and when it matures enough, they go out on diving expeditions to transplant it out on the reefs.
What does all this have to do with the title of the post. Other than the beach and boat, not a damn thing really. I suppose you could stretch that a bit by noting that Mr. Buffett's troupe that he recorded with and took on tour for many years was called the Coral Reefer band. As for the bar, Mike used to own one and as for the ballads, he's still a karaoke singing fool. I suppose if push comes to shove, we could just substitute the word "babes" for either one. There's a few of them to oggle over in the video below. These days, that's about as close to that other kind of wild life I get...