I wake up shivering because of two reasons. First, it had been a cold night. Second, I had a frightening dream. It was about a female hiker who was injured. Her pain was the same as mine. I touched her leg, and she pointed a finger at me. In a low voice she whispered, “Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome.”
IBFS is 'doctor talk'. It is the name of an illness. It occurs when a muscle rubs against a bone in your leg. I’ve suffered from it in the past, so I know that it can affect you for several months. I’m worried. How bad is it this time?
Well, it’s bad enough that I can only walk backwards down yesterday’s slope. I support my weight by using a hand rail. It’s very painful when I lift my leg. How can I continue walking? Maybe I can’t.
Should we shorten the walk? Should we do one island at a time, and return to New Zealand in between? Should I rest for a week in a minshuku? Should we buy a used car?
We do none of those things. Instead, we continue at a snail’s pace. I take two seconds for each step, like a mountain climber on Mount Everest. Then, after 90 minutes, just like yesterday, the pain slowly disappears.
Soon, we discover a secret road. We could easily have missed it; it’s lucky that we didn’t. No cars use it—just us, some walkers and some cyclists. A man stops to talk with us. “This road was built 18 years ago,” he tells us. “It’s an emergency route, in case of earthquakes.”
The two of us walk side by side. We take turns pushing the bicycle. I like traveling this way. It’s better to travel at the same speed, because it’s easier to talk. “Why don’t we walk back and forth along this road until we’ve completed 2500km?” I suggest as a joke. “We could walk the length of Japan without leaving Kagoshima!”
Later, we meet someone who has done just that. He is a friendly cyclist who stops to say hello. He asks us what our plans are, and is amazed to hear that we’re walking the length of Japan. But we are more amazed when we learn what he has done. Since he retired, two years ago, he has cycled here three hours every day. In total, he has cycled 25,000km.
That is ten times what we plan!