Sunday, July 20, 2014

Things I love about Okinawa this week


I can't get over the phrases I find on merchandise written in English--their original meaning clearly lost in translation at some point.   They are so random and hilarious that I feel like it could not have been done on purpose, which makes them even funnier.

Here are some random finds from a nearby supermarket.  Enjoy : )

We also found this, which was awesome, but in the wrong color haha:

 CafĂ© Kubama
I'm residing nearby this place, and it has the most incredible tea I've ever had, not to mention an incredible view! The staff is very friendly, they already call me "Daiana san" when I come in, and last time I went they had me taste test some pastries they received from Tokyo.  Although we don't speak the same language, it seems as though "pointy-speaky"may be universal enough to get us by.

Their music is super random, but chill enough that I can study there in peace, or simply relax.  They also sell an eclectic collection of glassware that is locally made and very unique.


Driving on the left hand side:
As you can tell from this photo, I'm loving it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The terrifying beauty of the unknown

Water, fish, trees...GREEN! BLUE!  What is this?? Coming out of the desert I find all nature that is unfamiliar to me terrifying.  Yes, it is ridiculous.  But I find myself walking around with so much caution every day, waiting to step on a Habu snake or have a sea creature jump out of the water and bite my head off.  Even walking on grass is scary--I can't see what's there!  What is this green stuff?!

Growing up in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, I'm used to my own variety of terrifying creatures: scorpions, javelinas, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, etc.  Except, to me they're not as scary because I know where they live, what they do, what time they come out and how shy and harmless they actually are.

In Okinawa I purchased some booties to wear in the water to protect my feet from the sharp coral (awesome for surfing), and they have helped immensely with my fear of whatever made up creature is haunting me in my head that will clearly be waiting to attack me while we're holding hands, admiring the view.  When did I become such a scared little creature?  And why do I enjoy this adrenaline so much?

Why is it fun to be scared?

The beauty of the unknown, I suppose.  Everything in Japan feels so unfamiliar, yet so welcoming at the same time. I teeter back and forth between being fascinated by everything I see, and hesitating to touch the water and wanting to crawl back into some sort of safe cave in the desert.

I used to watch Japanese cartoons, movies or even look at art and wonder how people created such unique landscapes and creatures.  Now that I'm here I see that they are not made up at all-- it is THAT different out here.  Plants, trees, fruits and vegetables that I never imagined existed.  Sea creatures and spiders and birds that I have never heard of and that I am now lucky enough to see in person.  So much beauty everywhere!

As we were wandering around a supermarket yesterday, Robb turns to me and points out the fact that it is absolutely insane that every single day we can pick something up, look at it with complete ignorance and ask "what the hell is this?" That is every single day for us--THIS IS INCREDIBLE.  I had to agree--how lucky are we to have this experience?  VERY. We are like kids at a candy store when we go shopping. I give out shrieks of excitement when I look around at all the unknown products, waiting to be tried.  Everything is so cleverly packaged, so aesthetically appealing.  So clean, and organized, yet so chaotic to my brain.

I've been studying Japanese and can now read words on signs, but not understand them.  I go from being happy and proud that I can sound out the different Hiragana and Katakana to being so frustrated that I have no idea what the word means that I'm sounding out.  I find myself mumbling random syllables to Robb while we are driving around and at this point he just smiles and knows I'm trying to remember what I learned.  When we stop at the toll booth he tells me of a new phrase he's picked up and we try to place the words into a memory bank for future use.  It's part of turning the unfamiliar to familiar for the sake of practicality.

As we leave the supermarket the sun has almost fully set in the sky and I try to not hit the cars coming towards us by reminding myself to stay on the LEFT side of the road, and I hear Robb's voice reminding me to not speed and to stay closer to the middle line and that NO, I will NOT hit the oncoming traffic.

It's like we are relearning EVERYTHING.  Relearning how to drive, how to pick out fruit, how to read,  and how to see the world, really.  It's turning the terrifying into the familiar, but keeping the fascination and the craving for new experiences alive.  It is a strange time for us, and it is beautiful.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Things I love about Okinawa this week


SURFING!!  This was such a cool experience...I had been surfing once before in Cali and remember really enjoying it, but being so exhausted and bruised afterwards that I couldn't fathom turning it into a habit.

This experience was very different since the waves in Okinawa are smaller and perfect for longboarding--which makes it ideal for anyone who wants to jump into surfing fearlessly.  It's definitely on my list of things to learn while I'm on the island, and luckily I have a partner in crime who already loves to do it!

But first things first: I went through Happy Surfing Okinawa and got a very helpful and eye-opening lesson from the instructor, Danny.  We went over the basics, and jumped right in!

Being able to hop up on the board and ride a wave is one of the most thrilling experiences I've had--even if they were small waves--it was breathtaking!  I also fell down, swallowed a lot of water and ended up covered in debris from the typhoon, but none of that mattered.  For a few seconds, I got on that board and made it my bitch (until I got to shore and then I would awkwardly hop off the board-- why don't they ever show you how to gracefully end the riding of a wave in all those surfing videos??)

If you haven't tried surfing yet in your life--DO IT.  It's like doing yoga on moving ground.  Not that I reached any sort of nirvana on top of the board since I was simply trying to stay on and not belly flop into the ocean but I can feel from the adrenaline rush I got, how this can be a very addicting and relaxing sport once you know what you're doing...and what a killer workout!

One of my favorite things--and this may sound silly--is the fact that you can be walking around anywhere and you will find a vending machine with beverages.  And I'm not talking about Coke machines, I mean machines full with all sorts of teas, sports beverages, and an incredible variety of coffee.  Of course I have no idea what any of the bottles say, so for me it's a fun surprise every time I try a new can of something.

Since I arrived during typhoon season, I've also found it to be a very useful form of "stocking up" on drinks before a storm.

The other day I stumbled upon this little gem, which anyone who knows what flan is will agree that this an intriguing can (Let's just say, my Argentine gene kicked into effect).  I bought it thinking it would be flan-flavored coffee or something along those lines.

To my surprise, it was an actual flan dessert, but in a can and ready to "drink".  I fucking love Japan.

I'm also very excited to try out a face mask I bought last week that has a picture of a Habu snake on it... We'll see what crazy effects it will have on my face.  PS. She looks horrified.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

First Run in Oki, and random images I took along the way....

Crystal clear Oki waters

Shisa are everywhere!

Sunflower field, one flower standing after typhoon

Couple taking wedding pictures

Me, extra sweaty thanks to the 99% humidity

I can get used to these views...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In midst of a storm...

I write this in the middle of a storm.  It's not just the typhoon orchestrating outside of the windows, howling winds seeping through the cracks between the panes and water piercing through the leaves and flooding the narrow streets.  It's a whirlwind in my life: I've been picked up by the winds of change, and after months of struggling through bureaucracy, time and emotions I have finally landed in my destination--Okinawa.

And Okinawa in the middle of Typhoon Neoguri, to say the least.

As scared as I was at the first mention of a typhoon two days after landing in my new home, I am now happy that I was thrown into this experience and got it out of the way quickly and without harm.  It was an exciting 36 hours of getting to know my surroundings and of course, being reunited with my husband (still weird to say husband, but so exciting!) Robb.

The revelation in the middle of the storm was that I have finally found my home.  This idea of never knowing where home was, or what my identity has been all these years, never truly belonging to a single country or culture--all solved with one simple answer.  Home is where Robb is.  It's a comforting thought, knowing that no matter where life takes us, or where we choose to travel, I will be like a nomad, backpack on my shoulders, walking side by side with the person who completes that last part of my uniquely formed culture.

I do not mean this in terms of co-dependence, or by any means as a way of pressuring Robb to live up to some unrealistic standard.  I just mean that as of arriving in Okinawa, jumping into Robb's arms, getting a standing ovation from the crowd at the airport and walking away hand in hand I have never felt happier.  We are in the middle of an island where we are basically illiterate, tiny beings in the middle of a vast body of water, but somehow we are happy, safe, complete.

My plan as of now is to take full advantage of this stage of our lives where we can live in a foreign country, travel as much as possible and continue pursuing our passions while discovering new ones...
I hope to share in this blog my experiences living abroad-- my successes and my failures-- and hopefully our many adventures to come.

As the last traces of rain and wind come to a halt outside, a warm glow makes its way through the air, and bringing with it my happily ever after....And here commences my story.  My life and adventures as a newly married and newly arrived in Japan adventure-seeker.