Posts Tagged With: Okinawa Life

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. 😉

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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).

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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.  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).

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

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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.

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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

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

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:

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

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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. 😉

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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!

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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:

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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)! 😉

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

Our First Year of Marriage

One year ago today, I married my best friend. He is busy flying planes in a land far away from here right now, but that gives me the opportunity to reminisce when I would otherwise be snuggling with him in front of our wedding video. In the year that we have been married, much has changed. It has been by far the most difficult year of my life, and I am lucky that I can say it has also been the best. This was our year:

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On February 18, 2012, we got married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near Corpus Christi, Texas. Our wedding went by in a whirlwind, but the important part is that I woke up the next morning beside my husband and we began our adventure together. At the time, we were living in Corpus Christi while Casey went through the multi-engine portion of flight school, and I worked for a local staffing firm.

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Several weeks after our wedding, Casey received the lovely golden wings he had worked so hard for, and then he went off to California for two weeks of survival training. Shortly after that, he moved to New Bern, North Carolina, for the final stage of flight training (this time in a simulated C-130).  I did not accompany Casey to North Carolina because the military would not pay for us to move there, I wanted to continue working at my job, and we had recently learned we would be moving to Okinawa. While the Marine Corps had separated Casey and I before, the pain of saying goodbye to him and remaining behind was something I was somehow unprepared for. I was lucky to have kind and generous co-workers; but being only recently married, I was mostly isolated from the military community. It was a trying time for both of us, and I was forced to learn many new things I would have avoided had I had the choice. I did not enjoy caring for the lawn, repairing my car when it broke down, running Barley and Hops to the emergency vet when they consumed poison or got stung by scorpions, or dealing with our neglectful landlord when our AC and appliances broke. I’d like to think that all of that and the sushi dates I had with myself made me a stronger person; but I would be entirely dishonest if I said that I enjoyed the overall experience.

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I was able to visit Casey once in the lovely little town of New Bern, where they have these adorable bears all over town. In August, Casey and I began our Farewell America tour. We had already said goodbye to my friends and family in Virginia; so this time we met in Vermont, where we spent some wonderful time with my family. Saying goodbye to my father and baby sisters was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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From there, we flew down to New Bern and packed Casey’s things into Brandy (his precious Mazda Speed 3), and headed home to Corpus Christi. We stopped in Meridian, Mississippi, to visit some of our awesome jet pilot friends before we made it back to Corpus. We spent a week or so there, moved out of our home, and packed our fluffy children into the car. You’ve already heard of our road trip to San Diego to say goodbye to Casey’s family, followed by our trip to Seattle and then epic plane ride to Okinawa. Long story short: we moved across the planet. Nbd.

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Once in Okinawa, we lived in a hotel for a week (separated from Barley and Catbeast), then moved into our concrete palace in a tower on Camp Kinser, in the southern part of Okinawa. It took awhile for our belongings to arrive, (most of which will remain in storage in Texas until we return to the US) but we have done our best to make Okinawa home. I’ve been adjusting to life here and trying to figure out in which direction to take my career. Casey has enjoyed flying the C-130, and has already had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii, mainland Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, and the Marshall Islands. I miss him while he is gone, but I am so proud of all his hard work and am so happy to see him finally reaping its rewards. In between those trips, we’ve tried to take advantage of his free time to explore the wonderful food and beautiful sites Okinawa has to offer. I promise that more on that will come in the next few weeks.

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Spending holidays, birthdays, and an anniversary apart has been difficult, but I never take our time for granted. The little moments that we share cooking dinner together, watching him wrestle with Barley and Hops, exploring this wonderful island together: all of these I have an acute appreciation for, knowing the feeling of a cold bed and an (almost) empty home. Marriage is not easy, and we have much to learn about how to deal with such important issues as cold feet in the bed and where exactly we should place our wet towels. I’m just lucky that I have Casey to share this amazing, at times chaotic, life with. I am sure we will continue to face obstacles in the years ahead, but I know that together (or not), we will make it through this adventure and come out stronger and more prepared for the next one. Happy anniversary, babe.

Always, Amanda

Categories: Marriage, Military Life, Our Story | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Subtropical Winter

Alright. It has been over 2 months since I have updated you all on my life. I watched the days turn into weeks and then months, and have now learned my lesson. I have so much to say that it is difficult to say it all without scaring you away. I’ll attempt to summarize the last two months as briefly as I can, and I’ll save some of the better stories for later posts. 😉

In late November, we finally received our shipment of household goods. After 5 moves in less than 3 years, we have become quite efficient at unpacking. (It also helped that we left most of our belongings in storage). Two months later, I am still working on making our apartment feel more like home.
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After unpacking, I launched into Thanksgiving preparation. This was my first Thanksgiving away from family, and I was determined to try and make up for that by cooking my first Thanksgiving feast. With Casey’s help (on the meat portions), I cooked a turkey, mashed potatoes and 2 types of gravy, rolls, cornbread muffins, 2 types of stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and 2 pies.  It felt like a rite of passage into womanhood to pull that off, but I was exhausted and learned a lot about what not to do when cooking for 10+ people. It was wonderful to share the holiday with friends, but it was no substitute for hearing my baby sister say Grace back home.

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At the beginning of December, Barley gave me quite the scare. I came home one Saturday afternoon to find him shaking all over and lethargic. Getting him to a vet was a terrifying experience, as there was no one on base to see him. After multiple phone calls to vets out in town who repeatedly hung up on me because of the language barrier between us, I was able to get him to a vet clinic that could see him, where a fraction of the vet’s explanation was translated to me. Multiple appointments, many steroids,  and over a month later, Barley is fine. With Casey out of town, I could not have gotten through that experience without the support of a few friends out here and the kindness of the employees at the vet clinic who tried their best to communicate with me.

On the note of Casey being out of town, he has had a number of trips to mainland Japan, Hawaii, and Korea. His flights are more and more exciting, and he is truly loving his job. While I enjoy having him home with me, I am tremendously happy to see him finally reaping the rewards of all his (continued) hard work!

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In between Casey’s trips, we have enjoyed his days off for the holidays.  While again this has been our first Christmas away from family, we did our best to bring Christmas to Okinawa. The Okinawans have a fun conception of Christmas, which involves the quintessential bright lights, albeit in pinks, blues, and yellows. While most of the material components to Christmas were present, it did not quite feel like Christmas in the 70-degree weather or in our fairly empty apartment. It was still wonderful to share our first Christmas as a married couple together. We spent the morning opening our gifts and skyping with family, and then dove back into cooking a Christmas feast for a few of our friends out here. (This time we went for an easier menu). 😉

This month, we enjoyed a fun celebration of the New Year with our new found friends, and even had a visit from a good friend from the states, Farrah! I have been taking a Japanese class, and am fully enjoying my little interactions with the Okinawan people as I slowly learn the language. We look forward to all the new adventures 2013 will bring us!

In between those holidays and everything else I have left out, Casey and I have spent as much of our time as possible exploring everything this wonderful little island has to offer. In the coming weeks I will go over everything from delicious local food to underground caves, from aquarium visits to creepy tombs and beautiful castles…

I hope that all of you enjoyed your holiday season, wherever you are in the world.

Love always, Amanda

Categories: Barley, Moving, Okinawa Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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