Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Okinawa Recap... Coming Home.

The Recap

There are times in everyone's life when they are presented with chances to do something out of their comfort zone. Something that can impact them in ways that even they themselves might not fully grasp for sometime. I believe that this trip to Japan was one of those times in my life. When I first got there I was overwhelmed by the concrete jungle with an actual jungle backdrop. The amount of people in one area was daunting. Everything seemed backwards to what I was used to, to what I expected. I spoke no Japanese so when stuff was said to me I just smiled and nodded. By the end I had a few phrases down. I tell you though, that either way going to Japan would have been an experience, but thanks to Maddie and her family it became something entirely more meaningful. Here is what I discovered in the 25 short days I was in Okinawa:

~ I love curry.
~ I still can't get over the colors of the Ocean.
~ I look at our vending machines and just sigh. Hey America, hot beverages and soups can be in vending machines!
~ Animals are 3x the size of American Animals. Fruit bats are the size of small dogs.
~ Shorts in January is nice.
~ You don't need to get to where you need to be as fast as you humanly can. It will still be there at a later time.
~ Being on a ferris wheel during a rainy, windy day causes you to re-evaluate that being a good idea.
~ For American bases you have to have a pass for everything.
~ Taking off your shoes in public places feels nice.
~ Plus many more things that I will continue to eventually talk about as I remember it down the road.

Okinawa was an amazing place. I spent the days I was there without my cell phone. Of course I checked my email, but if I didn't want to, I didn't have to. There was American tv, but we didn't have to watch. I guess it could be said that the same thing could happen here, but it's different. My favorite thing was getting ready in the mornings, jumping in the van, and rolling out to our next adventure. Driving everywhere was also an adventure. We got lost or went down different ways, Tensions were high, but it was mostly directed at the fact that there were no signs, or no signs in english. Usually ending up in all of us getting a good laugh out of it.

Museums were awesome. The castles were amazing. The history that happened in those very spots made me feel small, and not significant. I mean you hear people say that, but hundreds of years worth of battles, love, loss, death, despair, prosperity happened in those very spots about 250 years before the United States was even an idea. The Memorial site for the Battle of Okinawa was the same way in that knowing what happened on that island during World War II leaves you feeling somewhat humbled.

The food was interesting, a lot of it being in the pretty good to awesome category. I tried sushi for the time. Not the cooked California roll, fake crab stuff that restaurants do here stateside but fresh Yellowtail Tuna. Curry is awesome. I have found a sauce that makes rice more amazing. The sesame seed salad dressing I brought back is very tasty. They have crepe shops where you can get crepes with some sort of sweets in it.

I went to my very first real aquarium. That blew my mind. I wrote about it before and in case you missed it you can view that here.

So as I reflect about the whole trip, I've found that I miss Okinawa. I miss seeing Maddie everyday and I miss hanging out with her family. But I gotta plug along, she'll be back soon enough. It was an amazing escape, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity making a greater impact thanks to the people I spent my time there with. I will remember everything I did, and I will think about being in Okinawa often. It was an amazing experience and something I wouldn't change. No matter how much I try, I don't think I could explain how awesome the trip was. I loved every moment of it. I think about it a lot, and I miss it. Now for the trip back.

The Trip Back...

So the trip back was not too eventful. I had to go through security with my bags just to get to the ticket counter. They set up my planes so I had an aisle seat. I like those because I can stretch out one of my legs. Plus with the long flight back I like being able to get up and walk around without crawling over people. I got into Taiwan and loaded up on the internet. I talked to Maddie and she told me right after I left they were hit with a decent sized earthquake. But she will probably write about that. I sat around for 3 hours waiting for my flight. I got on the plane and decided to try and sleep. That didn't work out well because I kept getting woken up to eat, or the jerk flight attendant kept bumping into me as I was sleeping. The flight wasn't as long as I thought. It was supposed to be around 11 hours but it only took nine hours. We flew up and around Alaska on the way there. On the way back we flew straight across the Pacific. Luckily I didn't know that until after we got close to California. The food was alright but it's definitely not something to write home about.

I got into San Francisco an hour earlier than I was planning. Which was good because Immigration and Customs took forever. Actually waiting for my bags took forever, going through Customs, not so much. Afterwords I met up with a buddy of mine who drove up from San Jose. We went and got food at a North Beach Pizzeria then watched Avatar. That was a brilliantly done movie and I recommend anyone to see it. Then we drove to a Travel Lodge and I passed out. I woke up 3ish hours later to get onto a plane home. I got some good coffee from the gate I flew out of. After that it was pretty straight forward. I flew home. I came home, unpacked and relaxed. I managed to stay awake until 10:30p.

My sleep schedule is sort of screwed up. As you can tell I'm writing this at 4am. Well I woke up the following morning at 3am then made it to 10:30am and passed out again. I'm exhausted.

So yeah, that's about it in a nut shell. It's back to reality. This break went by so quickly it seems as if I was dreaming and I had to wake up. I got to spend 3 fabulous weeks with someone I really care about, and the 1600 pictures tells me it wasn't a dream. I wouldn't change it, not a single moment. So there it is. Okinawa, Japan, a place full of history, a place full of amazement and a place that will be forever in my memory. It's been an interesting ride.

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