Okinawa

A Busy Couple of Months

World, it has been about four months since I have posted, and in that time so much has happened in our lives!

-Casey came home from a 6-week trip to Australia, and upgraded to a higher co-pilot status as the last step before making Aircraft Commander.

-My brother-in-law and his lovely girlfriend visited and together we toured mainland Japan

-I accepted a fantastic career opportunity on base, then was furloughed and recalled during the Government shutdown. (Yes, it has been that long since I’ve posted). I am now part of an awesome team and am really enjoying the work I am doing. It has been difficult to adjust to working full time again, but I cannot imagine going back now. I mean, how important is clean laundry anyway? ๐Ÿ˜‰

-I ran my first half marathon! It wasn’t pretty, but I crossed that finish line! I need to start training again now to run another one. I was mostly miserable throughout the race, but the experience was amazing. There were thousands of people running, and people of all ages lined the streets wishing us ‘Gambatte!’ and handing out all sorts of treats, from fruit and candies to shots of awamori! I was lucky to have such a great support group among my running friends and of course Casey, who ran the race as well.

-We attended the 238th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, which was the last ball Casey’s squadron will have on Okinawa after 49 years here.

-We hosted our first of many future Oktoberfest parties, serving homemade beer and soft pretzels from scratch!

-We participated in the world’s largest tug-o-war battle in the city of Naha.

-Casey headed off to the Philippines to help with the post-typhoon humanitarian effort. His unit moved tons of supplies into areas hit the hardest by the typhoon, and moved people stranded in those areas into the larger, less affected cities so they could receive necessary medical care. He spent Thanksgiving there, where the locals threw the Marines a massive feast complete with American-style mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkeys, and a sweet musical performance by a local high school. It meant so much to him to be a part of that effort.

-We passed our 1- year anniversary of living in Okinawa! I cannot believe it has already been a year, as the time has flown by right before our eyes. We have spent much of this year apart, but have treasured the moments we have had together, savoring memories that will last us a lifetime. We have also made sure to enjoy our adventures alone as well, with Casey traveling the globe in his KC-130, and me making new friends to explore this beautiful little island with! There is still so much to see before our move to Iwakuni, Japan, next summer!

-Finally, the holidays have kept us busy this past month. It takes a lot to make Okinawa feel like Christmas, but I am determined to have home-cooked meals, lights, handmade cards, cookies from scratch, and Christmas music! We won’t be seeing any snow this year, but as long as we are together, it will be Christmas!

Wishing you all a happy holiday season, wherever you are. May you find yourselves happy and healthy, surrounded by people you love!

Always, Amanda

Advertisements
Categories: C-130, Festivals, Friends, Goals, Holidays, Military Life, Okinawa, Separation | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Walk through the Okinawan Jungle

About a month ago, Casey and I took a trip to Bios no Oka, or Bios on the Hill, a park celebrating Okinawan flora. It was a very hot and humid day, but I just had to check this place off my Okinawan “bucket list” with my adventuring life partner. ๐Ÿ˜‰

P1040856

We ventured through all of the paths we could find, climbing beautiful sets of stone staircases along the way. Casey showed off his skills on stilts (after which some adorable elderly Japanese women smiled and told him to be careful).

P1040862

We then took a leisurely boat ride guided by a funny little Japanese man. I know that he was funny because he must have been telling jokes in Japanese while he led the tour down the river, as the rest of the boat passengers kept laughing. I could understand almost one out of every ten words he spoke, so unfortunately his jokes were lost on us.ย  Fortunately, we were there for the scenery rather than the comedy show, so all was not lost. (It did, however, renew my motivation to achieve fluency in Japanese).

P1040865

Along the way, we saw gorgeous orchids, a sad ox taking a bath, and a beautiful woman in traditional Okinawan garb.

2013-08-19 20.48.00

After our boat ride, we trekked through this awesome bunch of lily pads, along a little bridge built out of rope and 2 x 8 boards, dodging banana spiders all the way.

2013-08-19 21.53.39

Overall, it was a great day spent with my love. I am always inspired by the respect and reverence the Okinawans show for the land they call home. We have so many more adventures to share here, and I am already dreading the moment when we leave this gorgeous rock.

With love and lily pads,

Amanda

Categories: Okinawa, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Hiking to the Falls

A few weeks ago, Casey and I went out with a group of friends to witness one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. About an hour north of the base where we live is Tadake Falls, a gorgeous waterfall hidden in the Okinawan jungle.

2013-06-21 22.32.20

We trekked along a small river, climbing slippery rocks and dodging giant wasp-like horse flies and floating palm-sized spiders. (This monster was floating along on a raft fashioned from a live grasshopper).

2013-06-21 22.26.51

At various points along the river, we hiked over slippery rocks and swam across fairly swiftly-moving portions of the river. Casey, unable to resist an opportunity to play Tarzan, stopped to jump from a small cliff into the river.ย  When we arrived at the waterfall, I was amazed at how massive it was.

2013-06-21 23.09.03

This definitely made the list of places in Okinawa I will never forget.

2013-06-21 23.21.28

Categories: Okinawa, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Yesterday marked six months since we arrived here on Okinawa. I cannot believe that we have already been here that long. The time has flown by and I cannot help but worry that the rest of our time here will, too. I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the things that have surprised us about Japan throughout our 6-month relationship with it.

Our top five surprises about Okinawa:

1) I thought all of Okinawa would look like this:

P1030393

While much of Okinawa is home to the most beautiful scenery I have witnessed, a lot of it also looks like this:

P1030462

It is quite the concrete jungle. If it weren’t, it would be carried off quickly by the typhoons that wreck this island for almost half of each year. We were also surprised by how big Okinawa is! It can be hard to see on some maps, given that it is only 67 miles long by 2 to 17 miles wide. However, the island is packed with wonderful restaurants, adorable little shops, and beautiful scenic views and cultural sites. I am seriously worried we will not be able to see it all before we leave.

2) The Okinawans are basically the coolest people on the planet. They are always look about 10-15 years younger than they are because they are very active and health-conscious in all that they do. They are the most helpful, courteous, environmentally friendly people I have come across, and I am excited to learn Japanese so I can communicate with them better.

3) There are tombs all over the island. You got it, tombs. Okinawan families are both superstitious and respectful of their elders. When their family members die, they lay them to rest in a family tomb where their soul is expected to hang out for eternity. More on this later. ๐Ÿ˜‰

P1030478

4) Casey and I were both surprised by how quickly we adapted to driving on the left side of the road. This may have been the most terrifying thing about moving to Japan, and I almost cried when Casey forced me to drive out here for the first time. After a few almost critical errors, I adjusted fine. Now, whenever we watch American shows or movies, it is strange to see people driving on the right side of the road. It just looks wrong to me. Read more about our driving adventures here!

2013-03-26 16.16.48

5) I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the uniquely useful little items the Japanese have come up with to assist with even the tiniest of problems. I have no shortage of examples of this, and therefore will write more on the subject later. In the meantime, enjoy the little socks on this chair:

2013-01-27 17.28.23

There are so many things that surprised us about this place, but coming to know Okinawa has been a very exciting time in our lives. I did not choose to land here, but I am falling in love with this island. Sorry, America, but I think I’m turning Japanese. I really think so. (Sorry– I had to do it)! ๐Ÿ˜‰

May you find things and people to love wherever you are!

Always, Amanda

PS: Stay tuned for more on our Okinawan favorites! I’ll be writing complete posts on some of these (and more) in the coming weeks!

Categories: Okinawa | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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-enย  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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Always, Amanda

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.