I am finally in Okinawa after a long, but blessedly uneventful, trip! Day 1 consisted of getting to Seattle, which turned out to be the most difficult part thanks to nasty weather up and down the east coast. Once I finally arrived in Seattle, I paid for a cheap hotel room so I could catch less than three hours of sleep. It was worth every penny. The next morning I made my way to the airport with my 135 pounds of luggage and my only thought was, I can’t wait until I don’t have to carry this stuff around anymore! I didn’t feel much of anything emotionally at the airport – I have a tendency to shut down when I get overwhelmed with too many emotions – but reality was slowly setting in, and I thought several times “huh…I guess I’m actually moving to Japan.” I’m quick like that.
The trip over here was smooth. They fed us regularly, and anyone who knows me realizes how key this is to my overall happiness (and the happiness of those around me). We stopped a couple of times and I was able to see the dogs being transported over on our flight. Even though my heart broke a little every time I saw them in their kennels, it was reassuring to have a better understanding of what our dogs will be going through in a few months. My sponsor was at the airport to pick me up when we arrived in Okinawa. Our first stop was food, and that’s when I decided he’s one of the coolest people I know (please reference statement above). He brought me to my room where I will be living until Tim arrives. It is pretty bare-bone (they left me less than half a roll of toilet paper) but there was a bed, so I was happy.
I got a decent sleep that first night, but was up at 4:30 am. I got up at 5:00 am and after finding myself bored by 5:05 am I realized how dependent on technology I am for entertainment. There is no television and no internet in the room. This realization sent me into a state of depression, and I found myself rocking in a corner sucking my thumb wondering how my life had come to this. Okay, not really, but there was a moment… I actually starting playing some music and unpacking, which seemed more productive than the whole thumb-sucking scenario. I went running as soon as the sun came up so I could see the rest of the base. Holy hills, I have been living at sea level for a long time. I got back and showered, dried myself off with a cotton sundress (I forgot a towel), and figured out how to call home. I was on cloud nine after getting the chance to talk to everyone. Texting is great, but sometimes you just need to hear the voices of the people you love most in life.
My sponsor, his wife, and their two kids then took me to the exchange and the commissary to buy food and necessities for the room. Their kindness and generosity has been mind-blowing. We got back around 1:30 in the afternoon and I got to cleaning, something that apparently went against the core beliefs of the person who lived here before me. Once I finished cleaning, I was able to unpack and finally feel settled. I fought the STRONG urge to take a nap and waited for my sponsor to pick me up once again, this time to go to dinner with a couple of his friends and their kids. We went to a yakiniku restaurant, which is Japanese barbeque. I thought of it as a combination of Brazilian and Korean barbeque. We paid a (very reasonable) flat rate when we got there and then used the tablet at the table to order anything and everything we wanted. There all different kinds of marinated raw meat to choose from, and they bring your selections to your table. There is an open flame with a grated cover in the middle of the table so you can cook the meat. You can order vegetables, rice, Japanese naan, and other things I can’t even remember to go with the barbeque. They will bring out as much as you want, but you have to eat everything you order or they will charge you. I love this rule! I ordered two plates of vegetables to grill and ended up eating both of them because everyone at the table thought eating vegetables was a sin with so much meat available. Needless to say, I left in a food coma. I managed to stay up for about 15 minutes after we got home, fell into bed, and got the first solid sleep I’ve had in almost a week. All in all, a successful start to the trip!