My legs were burning. The ferry was clipping at high speed toward the island of Iriomote and the heat of the engine was turning the metal bench I was sitting on into a grill. Fumes were being whisked out of the open windows by sheer velocity, but lingered long enough to make my throat itch and eyes water. A young couple sitting a row over watched their screens unbothered, oblivious as we skimmed along the ocean surface.
Boarding the ferry at Ishigaki terminal that morning, I had a choice: sit above deck on benches near the luggage, or head down into the plush, air-conditioned hull. Most passengers chose the latter and were now comfortably sealed below — their heads two rows of silhouettes — I was seated above in a tin shack strapped to the top of a diesel engine.
Comfort wasn’t a priority. I’d come to Okinawa to travel by ferry during the height of the rainy season. We’re taught to despise the rain when we travel. To see it as a negative. Rain, it’s said, ruins a day, a trip, a wedding, a season. But if we travel to make memories — indelible memories in whatever form they come — rain can enhance a journey with mood and character.