Orchids greeted us at the Okinawa airport. I know these are probably not orchids--but there were lots of these flowers too. I hadn't realized how different Okinawa would be from Japan. I love seeing hibiscus, palm trees, and beaches. But another greeting was the guard at the door to the baggage claim area. He bowed with each new wave of debarking travelers and, as I rode down the escalator, I watched him, smiling and bowing, smiling and bowing, smiling and bowing. Either he has an excellent back health or heads for his chiropractor at the end of every shift. It was such a stereotypical Japanese sight that it was hard to believe it was real. Upon leaving the baggage area, the champion handball team was being greeted with flowers, signs, and the media. It was all very exciting.
The weather here is not unlike Jamaica's. It is so humid that about 2 gallons of water must be emptied from the dehumidifiers in our rooms every day. There is no way the AC would keep up without them, I imagine. However, the season is already changing and the evening temperatures seem to be lowering. We are in the typhoon season until Nov. 1 so there is intermittent rain at the moment but the cloudy days help keep the temperature down and the sea breeze is welcome.
Our first introduction to life with the military had begun in Japan, on Yakota Air Base where coming and going is so highly regulated that one of our number asked today if I thought he'd get back on base by himself if he left. Because we all will be traveling to various bases by next week, I sincerely hope so! I suspect he decided not to leave. Our "unescorted passes" are tied up somehow, somewhere. I hope to get a lease car by the weekend so I can drive my colleague and I, with whom I'm sharing the lease, to Foster, to our intended flats in a high-rise on the sea, and to Kadena, where we live now and will be teaching, at least for Fall 1. Otherwise, Monday will be very, very exciting (and not in a good way!). The cars available are usually very boxy-looking, not aerodynamic but space-saving for their size.
|Yellow Tag- 2-cylinders!|
One of my colleagues got a great deal on a wonderful car. I'm sure he's excited for his wife to get here to drive it! It's baby pink and very cute.
Despite the probability that someone will get stuck outside a guard gate at one of the many bases where we teach, by next week we're all supposed to be driving our own cars to all the bases where we're scheduled, in our own cars. Getting through security check-points is not my biggest fear however. I will be relying solely on GPS to prevent my being lost. I hate being late to class, much more than I hate being lost. Another acclimating element is missing too. I generally have enough of the language to be polite but I have not had the kind of focus time and energy language learning requires. I plan to spend the weekend reviewing the basics, in between prepping for classes. I have started using "Ahr/lee-gato Gozymas!" with a small bow, hands in front. (Men, hands at sides.) People seem very appreciative so I guess they understand my "Thank you" is being understood and well-recieved.