Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Light Stroll in a Japanese Garden

One of our first outings here on Okinawa was to this beautiful little garden nestled into the city of Naha: Fukushu-en  Garden.

Image

It was as peaceful as they come, with calm waters surrounding beautiful ancient Chinese architecture. Constructed using material from its sister city of Fuzhou, China, Fukushu-en Garden was built to celebrate the role of Chinese influence on the history of the island.

Image

We enjoyed feeding the turtles and coy (living symbols of longevity and wisdom in Chinese culture) in the ponds, although the fish were so aggressive that the poor little turtles did not get their fair share of the food, despite our attempts to aim it right at them.

Image

Image

I am sure we will be back to visit, when we need a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Okinawa streets.

Image

Where do you go to find peace? I hope there are turtles there, too. 😉

Always, Amanda

Advertisements
Categories: Okinawa | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Where is my Husband?

Image

It is Monday night at about 8:30pm as I decide to sit down and write this, out of lack of both another human outlet and further drive to fold yet another load of laundry. My husband is not home and I have not heard from him since he left home almost 14 hours ago. I quite literally do not know where in the world he is right now.

This is significant only because I make it a point to (as much as possible) always know where my husband is. Being a Marine Corps pilot, he spends much of his time flying thousands of feet above the Earth, and then landing his C-130 on all parts of it. My husband loves his job, and I could not be prouder of him; but I would be lying if I said I don’t worry about him from time to time. Over the past month and a half, there have been three crashes involving military aircraft, two of which hit (figuratively) very close to home for us.

In February, a CH-46 helicopter crashed in Thailand and my husband was in the first plane on the scene. They called in rescue support for the burning helicopter and its crew, Marines who go to work in the hangar next to my husband’s. These men were our neighbors, and while I did not know them personally, I can only imagine the moments in which their wives heard of the accident. None of the crew died that day, but at least one was critically injured, and I continue to follow his recovery on Facebook.

Last week, an EA-6B Prowler went down during a training flight near Whidbey Island, Washington. One of our very good friends from flight school is attached to that squadron, and he knew personally each of the three people that died in the crash. While I was relieved to hear that our friend was not piloting that aircraft, my heart goes out to the families of his squadron in the face of this terrible tragedy. Finally, again this week another military aircraft went down, this one an Army UH-60 Blackhawk in Afghanistan, of all places. Another five lives were taken from their families that day.

These are the events that linger in my mind as I go throughout my day, reading articles and Facebook updates that disparage the military, referring to their “lavish lifestyle” or “wrongful actions” in combat. (I do not plan on going on an angry political tirade tonight, but these ignorant and offensive statements are upsetting to someone in my position).  These are the events that color my world. Tonight I do not like that my husband is not home because I worry about him, despite the four huge engines and good safety record of the C-130.

I usually know where he is, even if I can’t talk to him while he is there. The issue with tonight is that I expected him to be home. I rushed to get home by 6, when I thought he would be home. I prepared dinner, but not having heard from him, I set it aside rather than putting it in the oven. I learned that lesson years ago, when we ate the world’s driest spaghetti because I kept it warm on the stove for almost 4 hours on a Friday night while he was at The Basic School (the Marine Corps’ 6-month officer training school where they learn everything from leading marines into terrorist encampments to dressing sucking flesh wounds with saran wrap and duct tape).

Now, at 9pm I am just sitting down to eat part of our dinner, having depleted our snacks and realizing that he may not be coming home tonight. I trust that wherever he is, he is alright. I write this post tonight because these moments are difficult for me because I hate letting go of the smaller moments I like to have control over in my life. I’ve had to give a lot of the big decisions in our marriage to the Corps, so I struggle with relinquishing control of the little ones. This is a learning process. As they say, Semper Fidelis, Semper Gumby.

Now, back to that laundry!

Always, Amanda

Categories: Military Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

From the End of the Earth

Over a month ago, before Casey left for an exercise in Thailand (which he returns from today!!!!), we witnessed quite possibly the most beautiful place on the planet. While I am unqualified to make that statement, as I have not in fact visited every location on Earth, I can honestly say that of all the places I have been, this was the first to take my breath away. Hedo Point is at the northernmost tip of Okinawa; so as I stood on the rocky, volcanic cliffs looking out at the ocean, I was overwhelmed by the limitless expanse of clear blue waves.

P1030654

P1030647

P1030646

P1030645

May all be well in your world today. May you find peace wherever you are in this beautiful world. I know mine is on his way home, and I could not be happier.

Always, Amanda

Categories: Exploring, Okinawa | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Snakes, Caves, and Habushu: Oh My!

Simultaneously one of the coolest and creepiest adventures we’ve had thus far here in Okinawa, was our trip to “Okinawa World.”  This park is a major tourist spot in Okinawa, so naturally we had to check it out. The first stop inside the park was to the Habu museum. The Habu viper is a mean, poisonous snake indigenous to the island, and this museum was dedicated to it. P1030501

Here are about 100 habus just chilling in a tree in a lowered fenced-in pit outside the museum. As you can see, these are not friendly beasts. Inside the museum we saw everything from the insides of a dead habu (because who wouldn’t want to see that)?:

P1030497

… to a dead habu eating another dead habu:

P1030498

… to two dead habus mating:

P1030499Even worse than the dead habu displays was the habu show. In the early 1900s, in an effort to control the habu viper and cobra populations, mongoose were brought over from India and introduced to the forests of Okinawa.  Later, people made a sport of fighting mongoose and these venomous snakes. Over time, the mongoose population devastated local indigenous species and as a result, the Japanese government is working to eradicate them. Anyway, inside Okinawa World’s habu museum, there is a mongoose-snake competition, although today it is a bit different than it used to be. According to the pamphlet that was handed out, in the year 2000, they switched from a mongoose-cobra “death match” to a friendly swimming competition between the mongoose and a sea snake.

After the swimming competition, (which, as you can see, the mongoose dominated… the fear of drowning is probably an excellent motivating influence) the snake handler brought out a habu viper and made it attack a balloon. After that, she brought out a very angry cobra and slapped it a few times in the back of its head so that it hit its head on the floor. Of course, everyone but Casey and I laughed. I decided this was the last time we would ever see this show.

Next, we ventured beneath the earth to see the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. Gyokusendo cave is a 5-kilometer long cave where we were able to see over a million stalactites and stalagmites. It was an amazing limestone labyrinth.

P1030520

The lights illuminating the pools of water made for a gorgeous sight.

P1030526P1030529

The pictures do not do this an ounce of justice. It was, in a word, amazing.

After the cave, we wandered around the rest of the park and saw everything from sad animals in tiny cages to a traditional Ryukyuan village, to a glassblowing shop, to strange local fruit trees, to an Okinawan distillery where they were fermenting Habushu, or Habu Sake. This is a type of awamori where they ferment the liquor and then put dead snakes inside it. We’ve seen this sold all over the island in bottles with a snake inside, but this was much more intense than that.

P1030539

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Always, Amanda

Categories: Nature, Okinawa | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.