I recall the first time I longed to celebrate the Fourth of July as an adult–it was a month and four days after I had moved to Grand Cayman. While other countries also have occasion to celebrate the anniversary of gaining independence, I like to think that our Fourth of July celebration is as uniquely American as deep-fried Oreos. Then, I craved a grilled hamburger, potato salad, and fireworks. Ultimately, I settled for a hamburger cooked on a stove-top, Caribbean potato salad and PBS coverage of fireworks on television.
This year, I suffered from that same longing experienced years ago–I wanted to celebrate the holiday as Americans do. At least to a certain extent. Initially, I frantically searched for flights and accommodations that would allow us to discover a nearby island to explore. But it is high-season and hotels are booked far in advance by those travelling from mainland Japan and throughout the Pacific region. Then, I considered hosting a gathering at our home. It would have been a logistical challenge and taken a significant amount of effort and energy on a day when I wanted nothing more than to relax and spend the day at the beach.
As the holiday weekend approached, it became clear that this year’s Fourth of July would be a different type of celebration–it would be a day of making new memories while saying goodbye to friends leaving the Island. What did we do? We headed north to see the stunning waters of Kouri-jima.
After three years of Okinawa living, our friends had frequented Kouri-jima, as have we. But this time, we traveled to eat at the Shrimp Wagon, a food truck located near the beach on the left immediately after crossing the bridge. Various rumblings, rumors, and reviews of the food truck, made it seem as if it would be a sure thing. But as anyone who has ever eaten at a food truck knows, there is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to food truck food. Items become sold out. The food truck moves location. They have a bad day.
Aside from a 40 minute wait for our food post-ordering, the meal was everything a food truck meal should be. The fare, inspired by the famous shrimp truck stationed at the North Shore of Oahu, was simple and tasty. Shrimp, cooked in the shell, marinated in a delicious garlic marinade, was served with rice and accompanied by fresh basil, a slice of lemon and goya.
The beach wasn’t what I expected. It was small and overrun by tourists. The water was tepid and the surrounding area was less than optimal for swimming, but the heart rock (or whale’s tail) provided a unique photo opportunity.