#206: Parcel delivery service - 2010-12-06

When they returned to the house, the phone was ringing. Atsuko ran to answer it, speaking in Japanese with the person over the phone. Afterwards, she turned to Juan:

- “ You didn't tell me about the fight you were going to have with Shigeru. Carlos and me must be present! ”

Juan bowed down his head, without saying anything.

- “ Why didn't you want to tell us? Huh? You were quite talented when you were young! ... I know, you're out of practice! Right? ”

- “ Uh... ”

Atsuko, without any warning, threw her son a slap. He barely could dodge it.

- “ What's the matter with you, Juan!? ” - she yelled to him - “ Shigeru practices constantly. Karate is a way of life, it's not a game. ”

Clara and the kids witnessed in silence how Juan was easily knocked down by his mother.

- “ When you get back from Sapporo, I'll train you. You can't go like that to fight against a master like your cousin. ”

- “ ¿Sapporo? ”

- “ Oh, that. ” - Atsuko answered - “ Upon getting lunch ready I'll tell you. ”

- “ Lunch is ready. ” - Carlos appeared from the kitchen.

- “ Very well. Let's go lunch at the second floor. There I'll explain it all on the blackboard. “

For a lone couple in Kōbe, that house seemed very spacious, being of two stories, 16 tatami each floor, and also with a yard of a bit more than two meters wide at the front, side and behind of the house. It's not much smaller than the house of the Martínez Gómez, but the way how space was used made the house of the grandparents seem much larger. The difference is even greater considering the enormous differences about the terrain's value, the location and closeness to major urban centers; before the earthquake, Kōbe had about 1.5 million inhabitants and was the most important port in Japan; on the other hand, the town in which the Martínez Gómez family lived didn't have more than 50000 inhabitants, and few people outside the province knows that once upon a time it had an important port.


(That's how Sueños del Sur would look like at a japanese computer from that era)

- “ Well, kids, I'll explain you why I drew that map of Japan at the blackboard. But before that, tell me. What do you think about the bullet train? ”

- “ It's a great way to travel, though it seems quite expensive. ”

- “ Yeah, it's very expensive. That's why I bought Japan Rail passes for all of you. It's a very convenient way to make long and frequent trips. If you just had to make a round trip between Tōkyō and Ōsaka, it would have been much better to travel on bus or a plane. But it's necessary that you travel all around Japan, many times, during your stay at this country. ”

The Martínez Gómez family looked at each other's faces.

- “ Here, a great tragedy happened, ” - Atsuko continued - “ and we need to get moving. We need your help to contact people from other places in Japan, in order to bring supplies and to send confidential messages. Many people have no money to pay for a parcel delivery service or to send money, they barely have enought money to buy money, some don't even have that, and they can't leave what little they still own to go to Ōsaka or other cities, in order to look for help or to contact family. ”

- “ I have 35 orders that must be fulfilled as soon as possible, and a total of 147 this week. Most of them are extremely confidential requests, many people doesn't trust authorities because they aren't acting with the urgency that this disaster requires, they just follow their damned protocol and seclude themselves inside their offices with their papers. ”

- “ Of course, we're just a little grain of sand, but if there's anything that can be done for our neighbours in need, we will do anything that's at our reach. There's a lot of people that's already on the streets, helping, but... ”

Atsuko met closely with the Martínez Gómez family, and said something with a very silent voice. I will not disclose what they said this time. It's a secret.

- “ Because of that, I can't disappoint them, they've put a lot of trust upon us. That's why I bought the passes, so you do this great favor for us. Children, ¿can I count with you? ”

Juan looked to his family. - “ Love, kids. Are you with us? ”

Everyone acknowledged.

- “ Excellent. Well, in this map of Japan I've noted the main means of transport that you will use. The bullet train reaches up to Morioka in the north, but there are normal trains up to Sapporo in Hokkaidō island. ”

- “ Another island? ” - Eliana interrupted - “ Do we have to cross by ferry or by plane? ”

- “ None of the above. ” - Atsuko smiled - “ The train goes through the Seikan tunnel, that goes between Aomori and Hakodate... under the sea. ”

Everybody looked at each other's faces, with great astonishment.

- “ It's the longest railway tunnel in the world, and also the most deep one, reaching the deepness of 240 meters below sealevel. What? Did you think that the Chunnel was the only one of its kind? We opened the Seikan almost seven years ago. ”

- “ In any case, it won't be hard to find your way there. You already know how to use your passes. Finding your way around Sapporo, on the other hand, will be difficult. ”

Atsuko gave a map to Rosa, on her hands.

- “ Rosa, you're the only one among you all that knows Japanese. You have the responsibility of guiding your family and finding the addresses. Anyways, they're all marked here. They're a bit distant between each other, but I think you will be able to find your way around there.

It's not quite little distance. There's a point at the town of Otaru and another at the northeastern side of Ishikari, along the river. They all were eight addresses, possibly an entire day of walking, from morning to evening.

- “ Say... ” - Hugo asked - “ Which day we must return here? ”

- “ Friday at night. You will spend all this night travelling to Sapporo; from Tōkyō to Morioka there are about three hours, from Morioka to Aomori there are two hours, and from Aomori to Sapporo there's a nightly train that departs at about 22:30, and arrives at six in the morning. As it takes three hours to travel from Ashiya to Tōkyō, you must be in JR Ashiya station at... 14:30 at most. ”

- “ But the bus took three hours between Ashiya and Kōbe! ”

- “ That's because you got the traffic jam. From Kōbe to Ashiya is not so terrible. Not at this time of the day. Stay calm, everything will go well. It's a quarter to one in the afternoon. You will arrive on time, don't worry. If you arrive to Morioka and you think you won't make it, I have friends there that might be able to host you. There's the address. ”

- “ You have friends all over Japan, Mrs. Nishida. ”

- “ Yeah, and Carlos does too. We don't live secluded between four walls. ”