It's 6 a.m. and no one is up but me. I swear I have some defect in my brain that has me sleepy by 10 p.m. and wide awake by 6 a.m. I've decided to write whenever possible so I'll have a journal of my travels. No way to upload pictures here - I'll add some when I get back to the states.
I'm having a great time! The weather is fantastic - in the 70's. It's really humid so you feel like you're walking in a big vat of cotton candy. I've given up straightening my hair - I look like a poodle!
On my first day here, I went shopping with Brian and his parents on Kokusai Street in downtown Naha. (Poor Jennifer had to grade papers!) It was a bunch of open air shops and restaurants that sell clothing, snacks and Okniawan crafts.
I feel so foreign. All the women are ultra chic with their super skinny jeans and black leggings with long T-shirts. They put together the most bizarre color and pattern combinations and it looks absolutely perfect! And of course their skin and hair is beautiful - no need for botox here.
Not many people speak English - I ordered coffee by pointing at the menu and pointing outside to indicate I wanted a to-go cup. The other tricky thing is chopsticks. Many restaurants don't even offer regular silverware. I'm AWFUL with chopsticks - can't get them to work at all. I think that's why people are so skinny here. It takes a long time to eat!
Many stores have signs with English words (and T-shirts with English phrases) that make no sense whatsoever. There was a shirt for sale that said "Please Be You Tender Again Kiss Back." There are vending machines all over the place - and some even dispense hot coffee - but not many trash cans. Recycling is mandatory so you have to be careful where you put your trash.
We ate lunch at Sam's Anchor Inn, which was a teppen-yaki restaurant. We had an appetizer of pickled vegetables and curry soup. The chef cooked beef and stir-fried vegetables right at the table - and even juggled butter!
After we got back, I napped (jet lag!) and Jennifer came back for a little bit so we could go to dinner. We were all pooped, so went to the Macaroni Grill on base.
Sunday: History Lessons
Yesterday, we took a base-sponsored bus tour exploring historical sites from the Battle of Okinawa (a big battle location in World War II.) I'm a bit of a history/ museum geek, so I found it fascinating. I learned a great deal about the history of the island and the Okinawan culture.
In the morning, we went to Hacksaw Ridge (an area of significant fighting during WW II) (see above left), the Japanese Underground Naval Headquarters (see below left), where the Japanese navy stayed and the generals committed suicide at the end of the war (the men were short! I almost hit my head in the tunnels and I'm 5'7"!) and Sugar Loaf Hill (another battle location.)
We had a lunch buffet at the Port Hotel. They had a delicious cold noodle dish with wasabi and some kind of sauce and the tempura was fab, of course. Not so fond of the green tea ice cream. The toilet seats in the hotel were heated!
After lunch we went to Peace Memorial Park (see below center), a memorial to American, Japanese, Okinawan and Korean soldiers who died in the Battle of Okinawa. They also have a museum dedicated to peace. It was beautiful - the momuments and greenery and displays.
For dinner, we went to the Seaside Inn (a seafood restaurant located on base) and sat overlooking the water to watch the sunset. Absolutely gorgeous - except for the creepy fish. If you dropped your bread in the water, a bunch of creepy gray fish would eat it!
Brian and I are supposed to go running this morning - two miles, yikes!