Hiking with a gregarious group is thoroughly pleasant—the weather was perfectly clear, the air was fresh thanks to Thursday’s all-day rain, and a muscular wind was blowing from the east, tousling everyone’s hair and dappling the richly blue ocean with whitecaps. Waves crashed against the scattered volcanic rocks, sending spray high. It was beautiful. However, hiking with a group means strolling, and stopping every few minutes to take pictures (some good ones, thanks to one woman's avocational photographer husband), to relax, to snack, to eat. My hopes of slimming vanished quickly as we paused for chocolate, then a huge lunch, then ice cream, then tea with cream-layered wafers at the coffee shop.
The tea was served in white ceramic cups covered with white ceramic lids. There was a hole in the middle of the lid for the little green silk leaf attached to the teabag with a wired stem to "sprout" through. There were tiny square ceramic dishes for receiving the square-bottomed teabag after the requisite steeping time. I'd glimpsed theatrical tea before--Maxwell's tea is a dried clipping of the actual herb with a little tag attached, and then there are the "blooming" teas that open in glass teapots--but the sprouting leaf and the wee gold-embossed specialized bag disposal tray were innovations. Sitting in this strong competitor's shop (the owner, whom I know, waved at me--he's a nice guy, and I wish I knew his name, since we've been acquainted for a year now!), another woman mentioned Maxwell's large following of young female customers, owing to his good looks. "Yes," I said, "I've even seen adjummas sitting in his cafe, staring at him." We all agreed he's pretty, and pleasant, treating every woman with the same courtesy, offering "service" sweet toast as an occasional treat. I mentioned that last time I was in there, he told me that if his coffee shop doesn't pan out, he'll either open a pizza place or move across the island to the biggest city. "But what about your female fans here?" I asked. He responded that he'd just have to make new ones. This should not be difficult.
There were so many of us we accidentally left one lady behind when we went out of the coffee shop, and several minutes later, as we blissfully walked by the seashore, she phoned us in a panic, wondering where we were. This reminded me of my youngest brother's being lost as a child in similar circumstances. His terrible sense of direction is shared not only by June, but also by Reese, a woman with whom I ended up spending the rest of the day after the other members of the group decided to go home by car mid-afternoon. Reese used to be a personal trainer, and she wanted to get in some real exercise by walking home, but she didn't know exactly how to go. Being a plump homing pigeon, I volunteered to show her.
It was about eight miles' walk, but we made good time, and arrived in her neighborhood as the sun was setting. Her husband had already fed himself, so she and I went to Roost, a Jeju Italian-style chain, and shared a long, relaxing dinner, swapping family/life stories over pizza, soup, and salad. There were tons of small children there with their parents, and all were periodically enthralled by the koi in the pool in the middle of the restaurant. While she sipped a glass of beer and I cupped what looked like a basin of red wine balanced on a weighted pin, we discovered we have a lot of things in common--same birth year, no children, and one sister and two brothers. And her father died six years ago. We plan to do more olle trails together. She said she'd like to invite me and Albert to dinner with her husband. I hope I can get in shape before swimsuit season.
It has rained all day today, and I haven't been out, since I was dead tired and slept through all three of my church alarms. I really need spiritual as well as physical exercise, since two chapters of Job before bedtime last night really don't cut it long term. Job was complaining about the fat on the wicked, and his own comparative weight loss. I could do without the heartbreak and physical debilitation, but losing some kilos would be nice.