Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Little World

Today at lunch on Aka the principal asked me about Zamami's cows. I was surprised at how surprised the rest of the teachers were to learn that Zamami has cows. I had to explain how many there are (~25), that they are black, meat cows (not dairy), and that the calves are usually sold off to the mainland.

This anecdote got me thinking about how isolated these little communities are even though they are really close to each other. A waterway with no bridge may as well be 1000 kilometers.

I am one of the few people who regularly visit all three communities, so I know the layout of the villages and I recognize/know many of the residents. (In fact I could be the most connected person living here with all the kids I know!?) But the people of Zamami might as well be foreigners to those on Aka and Geruma (which are connected by a bridge). And just like the Aka residents don't know about our cows, Aka and Geruma's deer could go extinct and Zamami people still might say "they had deer?" That's a slight exaggeration, but Geruma is fiercely proud of their deer while I have heard first-hand accounts of Zamami residents eating them.

It's fun to sometimes find an Aka/Geruma residents on a field trip to Zamami because they are giddy at how large our store is. This is the same store that, when seen by some of my Okinawan mainland friends, gets the reaction: "I don't know how you can live here."

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