It’s been a busy week as I settle into my job, the holidays approach and upsetting news from home about a family member’s health. I won’t go into the last part, but I am sending her all the strength I have to help her fight.
My caseload is growing and I am still very happy in my work, our service members and their families are amazing people and it’s so impressive to be of service to them.
Note, I said service members and not just Marines, because while we only see Marines and Navy at CCP (Community Counseling Program), I am frequently over at Kadena Air Force Base. Now, I should say we, as in Amanda and myself. We have been hearing about this glorious and wonderful world that exists outside of Gate 2 of Kadena and we had yet to discover it.
Over here there are several websites set up for and by us Civilians and Service folk. There is Okinawa Hai, which I highly recommend (www.okinawahai.com) and Bookoo (Amanda is the Bookoo queen) and also one of the big things is the Farmer’s Markets pages. People post what they bought at the Farmer’s Markets and talk about how much this and that is, and where are the best Farmer’s Markets. It gets tedious and funny at the same time. When I was at NEO (New Employee Orientation) one person said, ‘oh my god, that’s one of those people that put pictures of everything they bought.’ And immediately we all nodded and understood, no one wants to be that person. Well I bring this up because almost everyone at some point talks about the ‘Banana Stand’, which is located, you guessed it…outside of Gate 2. We were asking around and looking for party dresses..go to Gate 2…
There are always adventures surrounding Gate 2 for the two of us. Firstly, finding Gate 2 was a challenge. If one more person tells me, ‘you can’t miss it’, I will become violent because clearly, you can miss it and I have missed it on several occasions, and not just me, Amanda too. Sorry Amanda, I pulled you right under the bus with me.
Then once we found it and went outside we became hopelessly lost in Okinawa City. I don’t like Okinawa City. I have given it about five chances now and it keeps sending in places I don’t want to be. We tried it another day and there was an Okinawan festival going on and we were diverted from the main drag…again, we ended up in parts of the city where we did not want to be….Okinawa City has about 140,000 people, so it’s not a small place and it’s not dangerous. No place is dangerous around here, trust me on that…I’ve walked around Naha at 2 in the morning and no one bothers anyone. I just don’t like Okinawa City, it’s a vibe and it’s funny because I looked at a gorgeous little house there, but I think I’d still be trying to find my way home every night if I had taken it.
So we’ve tried and failed on many occasions but we decided to give it one more try. So, instead of driving out into the city, we decided to walk from the parking lot outside the USO. Yes there are still USOs and they are fabulous!!
Well, we headed out on foot and after every single pan handler got 100 yen out of me, we actually found all these places, well not the Banana Stand, but we did find restaurants, shops, party dresses (after the fact, of course). But there little shops and bars and street performances and music. It was a nice time. We found a little restaurant up on the second floor of a building and tried out all kinds of interesting food. What a nice day.
By the way, we went to the MCCS Holiday Party and I will not be returning next year. There were customer services presentations, the buffet was about a half a mile away and that song about Ne’Ne’ was the last thing we heard as we left about an hour and a half there.
So Okinawan winters are not what you’d call cold exactly, but they are damp and windy. The East China Sea which is usually calm has waves of teal green crashing into the sea wall. It’s lovely here, but the locals consider it very cold.
And being a foreigner has its challenges. One of mine is being illiterate for the first time since I was three. All the things in my house are in Nihongo (Japanese language). So I was trying to figure out how to get the heat on. I decided on taking a picture and begging the help of Sensei. He was very accommodating though he did have a little smile on his face when I asked him.
And I’ll finish up with a humorous little thought. Over here the locals cannot wrap their minds around the idea that some people simply do not drink alcohol. They do however make fabulous non-alcoholic beer (Suntory and Asahi Dry are my personal favorites). But this one beer I picked up at the Union a while ago because I thought it was alcohol free. I checked it out on line first though, but because of the name I assumed it was non-alcohol!
Have a great week….next week’s blog will be late due to a three day jaunt to Taipei!!