さよならパーティー2011 – Sayonara Party 2011

Every year there is a big party to see off the JETs who are going to be done teacher come August.  All year long it was hyped up as a great party that was as must do.  I was eager of course, not only because it sounded like a good time, but I also felt a sense of duty in being there for the older folks leaving.  The venue was an island that we rent off the coast, spending all day grilling and hanging out and eventually camping overnight.  My situation was a little different though, since Neil was still around and our other commitments had us missing the last ferry to the island.  Well, this left us with the option of swimming to the island, which I was all for and would have preferred anyway, for the experience.  I was telling my taiko group what we had planned and they were just laughing at us.  They thought it was totally crazy, and were trying to scare us off with warnings of sharks and such, to no avail.

Ready to Go!

The swim required a bit of preparation, since it was more than just us going to the island.  We also needed a means to get our change of clothes, drinks, and valuables there without it getting wet.  My ingenious solution was to stuff it in a few of those empty jars I used for making my fruit booze concoctions.  Then, I tied everything together and fixed it to my ankle.   At first Neil had his hesitations, not being a born and bred swimmer like myself.  But, we managed to find a couple buoys that provided enough confidence to let the madness continue.  We first had to endure the heckling of a local fisherman at the wharf, who was saying he would be checking the morning news.  The swim itself was a decent length, 700 meters or so, but the water was warm, and the still of the night under the clear sky made for a truly unique experience.  The most remarkable part of it though was the bioluminsecent algae that was in the water.  As you swam, it would activate and create a vivid blue shadow wherever you disturbed it.  It took me a while to realize that this phenomenon wasn’t just illuminated bubbles.  The video below details what we were experiencing the entire duration of the swim.  As made our approach, we were suddenly in a swarm of jellyfish, which felt strange, but weren’t of the stinging type.  Finally we arrived, crawled out of the water Navy Seals style, and surprised a number of people with our sudden presence at midnight.

The event itself was a bit tame, at least we missed of the craziest of it.  The rest of the night saw a lot of milling around, relaxing by the camp fire, strange feats of strength and masculinity, and fireworks.  I feel like I should have a few more things to say about the event, but having missed the music, dancing, and beach football, this is all I’ve got.  The weather was great though and many of us didn’t see sleep till about 4am.  We woke at 6:00am in various states to the morning sun, and got ready for the first ferry back to the mainland.

You can see the containers I used during the swim, as well as the miserable state of some of the attendees.

Here is one more shot showing the span of the swim, from the view of the campsite.

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