We made it! So...to all of you who asked us if we had a direct flight to Okinawa from Seattle, we apparently lied to you! What should have been a direct 14 hour flight to our island turned out to be quite the journey. We left Seattle at 3 am, and 21 hours and 3 stops later, we were there! Not the most comfortable flight, and we flew in DC10, which is a HUGE plane that apparently is so old that commercial airlines don't use it anymore! A few of the flight attendants kept refering to Okinawa as "paradise" which was exciting to hear:)
Our first view of the island
We arrived here around 1:30 in the afternoon, I got the very first stamp on my passport, and we discovered just how hot it is here. IT IS HOT...and humid - MUCH hotter than either of us had expected. After getting a little worried that our sponsor was not going to show, he picked us up in a mini van and took us around to a few places. I can't stress enough how nervous I am to drive here - the Japanese people, while they are SO NICE to us, are extremely scary drivers, and the roads and intersections can only be described as "backward". We had to stop ourselves multiple times from telling our sponsor to "Get over! You're on the wrong side!" The streets are clean, but Japan in general has mostly old buildings, which is something we are not used to, having lived in Chicago and California our whole lives.
Our sponsor driving us around Okinawa - note the driver's side:)
View from our hotel room
Matt right before checking into his new unit
Regardless of how excited I was about traveling here, I was overwhelmed the first day we were here with the dreaded "culture shock" - very overwhelmed! Everything is just so different! Its honestly very hard for me to describe exactly how dependent, insecure and isolated it makes you feel to be in a foreign country where you have no car, no phone, and you recognize nothing around you. Its an insane feeling! Interesting and exciting, but a little scary at the same time. I would love to tell you all that I am in love with Japan already, but in keeping with the integrity of this blog, I will tell the truth. Since we've been here, Matt can tell you that I've been an emotional wreck. The more our sponsor drove us around, the more the culture shock was getting to me. I feel like I'm having pregnancy mood swings- I may have had a slight breakdown after I found out that our grocery store doesn't carry green beans...but you know, that's normal right?! I will say that I like Okinawa...I don't love it...yet. We've been here 2 days now, and the second day was much better than our first - the more I see, the more I like and the less scary it feels.
At the moment I am writing this in our hotel room that we are staying in while Matt is playing with our new phones we just got today. There are 3 phone services you can use on the island - SoftBank, AU & Docomo. We are with SoftBank, since it seems like most people are with them, they have cheap plans and a wide selection of cool phones. The phones out here are amazingly advanced beyond what we have in the US for example most have TV on them and there are tons with touch screen, water proof, solar powered and 10 Mega pixel camera phones as well! Matt got one made by Samsung that has a touch screen and a 6 Megapixel Camera that used to be $650 but just got reduced to &150, and I actually just got an Iphone 3GS, because I had always wanted one back home. Also, Iphones are free here with a 2 year contract! The service is only 980 yen per month (about $10!) per phone.
Now it's time for a little section of the blog I like to call: "Things I Learned in Japan Today":
1. Japanese Stop signs look like American Yield signs
2. Tap water in Japan tastes AMAZING
3. Japanese drivers think its acceptable to run straight through red lights as long as they put their emergency flashers on while doing so
4. Always check the expiration date on US food products that you buy here
5. "Mushi mushi" means "Hello hello", but you only say that when talking to someone on the phone, not in person...
6. Never try to cook food in a microwave if you cannot read the instructions on the package
7. Japanese hotel rooms do not have fire extinguishers
Thanks everyone for following our blog - I'm sure we will have more crazy fun to share with you soon!