I know. I know. It’s basically been a month since I last blogged. I’m sorry. We took a couple of weeks off to see family. Between spending time with our families, no wifi, lousy cell service, getting sick and preparing for our move I didn’t have much of a chance to get on here.
We arrived a week ago today. Getting here was an adventure in itself. It started on Tuesday, June 23rd. As you know we had been waiting for my passport to come in. It was coming down to the wire. It got so close that we actually reached out to our Congressman David Price for help. My passport came into Camp Lejeune at noon on Tuesday. That meant I had to drive from my mom’s house in Burlington, NC (about 3 hours drive one way) to get it.
After driving to Camp Lejeune, I had to drive back to Burlington to pick up my parents. They were taking me to Chesapeake, VA to pick up Jeremy, who had dropped our car off to be stored while we are in Japan. After a final meal with my parents, we went to the airport in Norfolk, VA. We arrived at the airport really early since we had to drop the car off. We arrived around midnight. Our flight to Newark, NJ was set to leave at around 7am Wednesday morning. Or so we thought.
Since there were no United agents working until 4am, Jeremy called their customer service line. Our flight had been canceled due to storms up and down the East Coast. They rescheduled for 6:50am… Thursday morning. That meant we had 30 hours to hang out at the airport. Since we couldn’t check our luggage until 7am we curled up in the lobby of the airport to try and nap a little. I learned that night Jeremy could sleep anywhere. Must be the Marine in him.
After we checked in our luggage, we went upstairs to the USO. We spent the day napping and playing on our phones. The airline had give us vouchers for meals. It was peaceful in the USO. Unfortunately they were only opened until 9pm. Since we were spending another night in the airport, the USO set us up with cots, blankets, pillows, snacks, and drinks. It was actually very comfortable. We both enjoyed camping out that night.
Thursday morning I woke up early to try clean up. I was feeling gross since I hadn’t showered since Tuesday. Since the airport didn’t have public showers, I ended washing my hair in the bathroom sink with a Burger King cup. It was interesting but hard. I don’t know if I will ever do that again unless I had to. On the way back to where we had our cots I found a really cool piece of art in the airport.
After waking Jeremy up, we headed to our gate. It was an absolutely beautiful day to fly.
Our flight to Narita, Japan was a lot easier than I thought. We settled in and watched movies. I watched the new Cinderella movie and Sex Tape. I also started the “Meg” series by Steve Alten. I love this series. I have read it many times and with all the shark activity happening in North Carolina, it felt like a good time to read the books again. I made it through the first book on the long flight. While reading I liked to peek out the window. I couldn’t keep it open for long periods of time without one of the stewardesses fussing at me.
We arrived in Narita around 2pm on Friday afternoon. We were tired and ready to be home in Iwakuni. We gathered our bags and headed to customs and immigration. We were both nervous since we had never been through anything like this before and the whole language barrier was nerve wracking but the Japanese proved to be so helpful and so efficient. It was less than an from the time we got our luggage and checked into our next flight in less than an hour. We were so surprised and very relieved. After we checked our luggage we found a cafe place that made udon soup. It was so delicious. About half an hour before our flight, the airline canceled the flight. We had to go back and collect our checked luggage and find out what our next move was. The airline was incredibly apologetic. They rebooked us for the same flight but on Saturday evening. They also gave us ¥20,000 for a hotel room. After we explained that we didn’t know how to book a room or where to go, the agent called and reserved a room for us that only cost ¥17,000. She also showed us where to stand to get a free shuttle to the hotel. The difference between how we were treat by an American airline vs a Japanese airline was night and day. It felt amazing to sleep in a real bed and get a shower. We had enough yen left over after the hotel to pay for dinner.
Saturday morning we woke up and took the shuttle back to the airport. We purposely got to the airport early so we could explore it. I’m glad we did because the fourth floor had a ton of restaurants and shops. Jeremy and I wondered around for about an hour before we decided to eat lunch. Outside all of the restaurants were these displays that showed the what they offered food and drink wise. It made it really easy to decide what we wanted to try.
The food was amazing. I had no idea what Doria was when I ordered but it was really good. The part that looks like a burrito was actually egg. Inside it was stuffed with a pink rice mixture (not sure what the rive was mixed with). The egg was topped with cheese and tomato sauce with diced eggplant and mushrooms. The mushrooms weren’t the type I was use to in America but I really liked them. They had a more woodsy flavor than I was expecting. The cup of broth was really good. It was a fish broth which I normally don’t like. Normally fish broth is too fishy for me (I know that sounds weird but I’m weird about fish sometimes). My drink I was so excited about. Back in the states I used to make what I called tea milk often. Everybody thought I was weird. Here in Japan it is as common as soda or coffee. Except here they call it milk tea.
Speaking of drinks I have learned that I have to be very careful with what I buy. Twice now I have purchased drinks that, according to my translator, ended up being alcohol. The first was at the airport. I thought it was a lemon soda but it ended up being lemon beer.
We were worried that our flight would be canceled again but thankfully that was not the case. In Narita, we learned that they board flights differently than in America. In Narita, you go to your gate, board a bus, and then ride the bus to your plane. Our plane was tiny but the flight was nice. The biggest surprise was I saw Mount Fuji shortly after take off. I was surprised at how big it is. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Climbing to the top of it is on my list of things to do while I’m here.
After we landed in Hiroshima, we exited the plane and had to walk across the Tarmac to the gate. I guess in Japan they don’t park near the gate. Hiroshima was beautiful. The mountains were different than the mountains back home. After we picked up our luggage we met our sponsor and his son. Our sponsor was nice enough to pick us up and drive us to base. On the way to base I learned that I will need to get over my fear of tunnels if I expect to drive out of Iwakuni. On the way to the base we drove through five tunnels. This is going to be interesting when I start driving to my new job. Oh yeah, I have a job lined up already but more about that later.
I love this base. It is small but easy to navigate. The people here are incredibly nice. Everyone has been very helpful. If you walk somewhere, the cars don’t try to kill you at crosswalks. The mountains and river surrounding the base are beautiful. It’s so clean here. There is recycling here unlike in Jacksonville.
We are currently staying in the Temporary Lodging Facility. It is a studio apartment with a tiny kitchen but it’s actually cozy. They have tatami mats in the rooms. The bed and the sofa is super comfy. I love that we have a little dining room table. But my favorite is the bathtub. It is deeper than any bathtub I have ever seen. Perfect for some bubble baths.