Friday, August 15, 2014

First Impressions: Okinawa

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. 

I have slowly recovered from jet lag but it has been a much slower process than usual with 14 hours difference between CDT and here. I knew it would be.  However, I've been here 2 weeks now and my internal clock seems to have adjusted completely.

For two weeks we have been doing things in herds and I've had quite enough! I am desperate to be on my own and out of this need to do things together.  (I guess I've always been that way.) I'd rather figure things out on my own, and alone, even if it takes a bit longer.  I don't think that the things that are left to figure out are beyond my ability to cope.  For one thing, there's the web-course orientation. A faculty member here has generously offered to run a group help session next Friday.  I will not be attending.  My experience with "The Phone Lady" was ample opportunity for me to see what happens with this group and technology!

Living/Dining room
I have finally reserved an apartment and will move around the first week of September when I have time.  It is within my housing allowance and has the wonderful convenience of being within walking distance of almost anything I might need (and several things I don't). Here are some pictures:
Living room--Please note, everyone--the
large ottoman/futon/bed possibility!

Tatami Room, If you are Japanese, you
would consider this a must-have
sleeping area.  Any guests are welcome
to try it!


Bedroom--Please note, female friends--2 beds!

Bathroom with washing machine. The "dryer" is a
setting in the bathroom that dehumidifies the laundry
until dry!

Toilet/Bidet This is a genius arrangement and
demonstrates Japanese fixation with


More lobby

Outdoor Patio

Pool-My favorite place!

I will be here until December, as far as I know.


  1. Anonymous5:47 AM

    Sounds fun! Wish I could join you! Stay in touch! xoxoxo Becky

    1. I trust it will be fun--and that will come after all the challenges!

  2. Looks like you are living at a resort, and close to all you fun!!!! Enjoy! Teach well! Be in Jesus!! Be careful with all the bowing!!! love, Kim

  3. Oh Ger, How lovely! And looks like enough room too. What a rich and rewarding experience this will be for you. I hope the teaching situation proves to be rewarding as well. All's well with the Mitchells. Love you. Miss you. Charlie

    1. Thanks CharlAnn! I miss you too and am glad all's well with you.

  4. Replies
    1. I plan to! Just as soon as I get there!

  5. Okay, I see. I keep adding posts thinking they aren't going through. I just saw it needs approval before being published. Haha. Pick which one you like best and delete the rest. :)

    1. I chose this one! How silly was that? But I did read the others before deleting them. Thanks Josh!

  6. I've been enjoying your updates. It looks really nice there. Enjoy yourself! Angie

    1. Thanks Angie! I trust you are well (and not too hot!).

  7. Winnie9:26 AM

    This was fun to read! I LOVE your humor---what's life without it, right??!! What an adventure! Stay in touch and be safe!

  8. Please add me to your blog list. I received this from Betty Leggott. Praying that all goes well and that your GPS works perfectly at all times.