Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boomer, We're Not In...Oregon Anymore!

Wow, what a crazy week!
Obviously, we made it to Okinawa safely. The 11 hour flight was LONG, but the entire travel aspect was really easy and I was so proud of how well boomer did! Everything worked out for housing- we will be living in a pet friendly apartment in a tower unit, 1st floor. So, Saturday is moving day, and most likely painting day!
I will post pictures once I get everything set up, but basically we are living in a cement block that looks like it was built in the 50's. The walls are concrete white and there are old-school tile floors. The kitchen countertops are all stainless steel-like. I'm sure to have fun keeping that clean ;)
Wednesday we went to a newcomer's brief. They gave us a lot of information for different things on base (Family Readiness, Safety, Etc). I don't know that I learned a lot, because there was a SCREAMING 2 year old the entire 8 hours. Seriously, this kiddo did not stop. And mom wasn't much help. At one point she told him he was "such an asshole". NICE.
Here's what I did learn:
In Japanese culture, it is customary to offer money as a sign of sympathy and apology. For example: If a service member is caught trespassing on a Japanese person's property, that service member is advised to go to the home and offer money (maybe $50). This would be seen as an apology and the Japanese person would in turn not pursue legal action. Sounds like a bribe, right? But I guess in Japan that's normal.
No matter how a traffic accident takes place, it will be my fault. Awesome!
Service members get drunk and stupid. And the military HATES dealing with it (duh). It was definitely a "come to Jesus" warning to not do anything ridiculous and illegal.
All in all, the brief was pretty boring, but we did get to take our driver's tests afterwards. We both passed and are now licensed drivers in Okinawa. However, my first experience driving was rather terrifying. I keep wanting to drive on the right hand side, I keep hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals (they are on the opposite sides as well), I hit the WRONG turn signals (you push down to signal right and up to signal left. REVERSED!), and I have no idea how I'm going to negotiate intersections. YIKES!
We bought a car, and its nerdy. Turf had a hard time fitting his 6'3" body into the vehicles over here, and  we ended up buying the car that was most comfortable for him. We now are the proud owners of a Toyota Specia (I think). Its a smaller than a van, larger than a station wagon. And Turf totally looks like he should be toting 5 kids around.
Fun Fact: There are yellow and white license plates over here. Yellow plates are usually what the Japanese drive, and they have smaller engines. White plates have the larger engines, and many Americans drive those. A lot of the white plates also have a "Y" on them....which stands for YANKEE. Racism much??
The Japanese also decorate their dashboards out like an 8th grade locker. They love furry dashmats and cuddle animals.
So far, I haven't had too much of a culture shock. We've been cooped up on base in temporary lodging (experiencing many false fire alerts) without a car. Now that we have a car, we will be practicing driving on base as much as possible before venturing out into those crazy Okinawan streets. Did I mention there are also crazy moped and motorcycle drivers that weave in and out all over the road? And that if they run into me, its still my fault? The weather also hasn't been excellent, but is starting to warm up.
Speaking of weather- I experienced my first earthquake today! There have been 3 since we got here, but I didn't feel the first two. Today as I was sitting on my couch and watching my shows that I am used to watching at night time, I started shaking. At first, I thought I was going crazy, because it was very small. Then, I looked across the room, and all of the chords were shaking as well! Turns out it was a 6.4 mag earthquake! Lucky for us, the buildings here are "built to withstand" strong quakes. As we will be living on the bottom floor with 8 stories of concrete on top of us, we can only hope.
Can I just say that I love my friends who have kids? I have no problem having friends with children, I love kiddos, but seriously, every person I have met who is also staying in temporary lodging has kids! One girl at the newcomers brief has a baby and "one on the way"....which I later found out meant that she wasn't really pregnant but was actually trying to get pregnant and was waiting on some test results. Hmmmm, I didn't know you could claim to be pregnant if you weren't yet pregnant? Anyway, she was completely appalled when I told her that Turf and I are not planning on having babies for quite some time. She looked at me like I was crazy.
I'm hoping to meet some good friends without babies to add to my group of friends with children :)
So, to close out, I promise I will post some pictures soon! We are still adjusting to jet lag, so being awake at 9:00 pm is a big step forward- but I'm exhausted!
Thank you everyone for the prayers!

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