Exhausted from a beautiful trip to Hong Kong with pleasant memories of ripe mangos and bubble tea still fresh in my mind, I woke up extra early Tuesday morning for a class field trip that I was invited to partake in. I had been told to dress appropriately for the hike that we would take on the nearby mountain, and I was reminded to bring a bottle of water because I would be very hot. So that morning I put on a t-shirt and jean shorts, and I made sure that I had some cash in my purse for one of the many vending machines that I would find on the island where we would be hiking.
When I arrived at school the first thing I noticed was that all of the teachers were wearing jogging suits (normal attire for Japanese teachers) and big floppy hats to protect their faces from the sun. Everyone had a backpack where they stored their bento (lunch box) and bottle of water. The bento that I was given did not fit into my red over the shoulder purse, and various teachers warned me that I would get sunburned. Already I felt that they regretted inviting me along, because, of course, I had no idea of how to properly prepare for a hike up a sunny mountain.
Along with the hundred or so students, I boarded a ferry down the street from my Junior High School. Ten minutes later we arrived on the island that, somehow, I did not know existed.
After lots of sitting around and chatting with the teachers as the students had to find their way through a walking course, I ate my bento that another teacher had so kindly held in his backpack for me, followed by the commencement of the afternoon hike.
After ten minutes of walking up this I was exhausted, but I kept going amid the "we can do it" chants from my students.
When we reached the top of the mountain I looked down at the water and my town. I asked the students where our Junior High School was, and like me, they were unsure of its location.
On the walk down my students took turns wearing my sunglasses.
We took the ferry back to the mainlaind and returned to school sweaty from our adventure.
The next day I woke up sunburned and ashamed to show my reddened face to my co-workers. Despite my faults it was all worth it because now I know that I can escape to that island for an afternoon and that all it takes to be cool is a good pair of sunglasses.