#215: 14 minutes - 2011-02-27

- “ Sorry, I swear, Eliana! That was an accident! I didn't see that the canal was there! ”

- “ Save the explanations for when we get to the restaurant! ” - Eliana answered, while she removed with a comb the snow that still was in her hair.

- “ Restaurant? ”

- “ Yeah. We already delivered the last package, and we're lunching at a restaurant halfway between here and the train station. It's insanely cheap, and the food is great! ”

- “ You delivered the last package? And how did you find the address? ”

- “ Dad already learned how to read japanese street addresses. Also, we were lucky; the address was a post office, and the recipient knew English. ”

- “ Oh. ”

- “ They spoke English at the restaurant, too, because they have a lot of foreign visitors. They talked a lot to us about the city of Otaru. It's a place with high touristic importance, known by its music boxes, its glasswork, its canals and its hills. There also many protestant and catholic churches, though there are also a lot of chapels where people go to get married ‘the western way’, but without even being Christian. ”

- “ Oh. ”

- “ Well, here is it. But let's not enter through the front door. You're soaking and stinking of fish and garbage from the canal! I asked the manager to lend me the bathroom so you can take a shower and change clothes. Please don't stay for a whole hour at the bathroom, ok? ”

- “ That's great! Thanks! ”

- “ But before that... I want you to take off your boots and show me the fingers of your feet. ”

- “ Huh? ” - Rosa did as Eliana asked, a bit confused. Eliana then exerted pressure over them, in order to test for freezing.

- “ Do you feel anything? It hurts? ”

- “ Your hands are warm. But it doesn't hurt me. ”

- “ Excellent. Please continue. ”

Rosa spent about 20 minutes showering with cold water, also washing her hair ribbon with soap. She wore a t-shirt that she brought for a change, the wide trousers she bought at Hiromi's shop, and some running shoes. ”

Finally, she appeared at the restaurant, together with Eliana.


- “ Rosa! ” - Clara exclaimed.

- “ She told me it was an accident, that she didn't wish to fall to the canal. She came out of the water with a very bad smell. ”

- “ Indeed! ” - Rosa affirmated, with her tongue out in sign of disgust - “ It was wastewater and seawater! But from underwater it didn't look so dirty, there were even live fish! ”

- “ And why did you take so much getting out? ”

- “ How long was I underwater? I think I hit my head, I don't know what happened to me, maybe I was unconscious, but later I felt like I was sleeping... it was a very pleasing sensation, like I was wrapped in a liquid blanket... and then I realized where I was, and woke up. Then I saw that the water's surface froze again, and took impulse into breaking the ice and getting out. ”

- “ ... You were unconscious... we all thought you threw yourself to the water on purpose. ”

- “ No, Mom! The ice broke under my feet and I fell to the canal! ”

- “ YOU COULD HAVE DROWNED! People were scared, and some divers came, and we told them not to get into the water, that you decided to swim for a while, and that eventually you would return, who knows at what time of the day! ”

- “ But I never felt a lack of air down there... To be honest, I have no idea how much can I last underwater... ”

- “ Well, let's see... Hugo stayed at the canal's edge, waiting for you, then we got into the restaurant, and then Eliana and Pedro returned to the canal. Eliana stayed there and the boys returned. In all that, it passed like... ten minutes! ”

- “ Yeah, more or less it was that. And I stayed more or less around four minutes waiting for Rosa. But nobody resists fourteen minutes underwater! ”

Everyone got mute.

- “ Listen... ” - Rosa spoke, crestfallen - “ It's very hot here, it bothers me... Can I eat outside? ”

- “ No! Stay here! When we're done lunching, we'll leave for Tōkyō! ”

- “ Buh... ”

At that moment, the bells of several clocks in Otaru started ringing. It was twelve o'clock on Monday, February 6th, 1995. An hour and a half later, having stopped snowing, and after a couple of souvenir photographs, they all would be at train station Otaru. However...

- “ At this time the only option towards Tōkyō is the Twilight Express, a limited one. That means that it has an additional charge that's not covered by the Japan Rail pass. We would arrive at around 08:15 to Tōkyō, but it's rather expensive, more so considering that we're six. We would be talking, depending on the available seating type... of around ninety thousand yen, which is more or less half what we would need to pay without the rail pass. ”

- “ Ninety thousand yen! We can't allow us that luxury! Is there any other choice? ”

- “ If we don't want to pay a plus, we must take the Hamanasu, that leaves Sapporo at 22:00. Note, however, that we should reserve seats now, or else we would have to pay for a sleeping car... ”

- “ At ten in the night? And when we would reach Tōkyō? ”

- “ If we don't miss any train, we would be at ten o'clock in the morning in Tōkyō. ”

- “ At ten o'clock... so... it's more than four hundred thousand pesos for two hours less! If Mom sent us first here to Hokkaidō, well I guess that the errands in Tōkyō can wait. Let's ride the Hamanasu! Rosa, go and reserve seats. ”

- “ Yeah! ”

- “ Dad... ” - Pedro said - “ It's one and a half in the afternoon. What we will do during all these hours? ”

- “ To get frozen like Hell! ” - Eliana exclaimed as she dropped herself over a pile of snow. She then stood up immediately. ”