Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kokusai Street and Perestroika

End the war!
by Pa Rock
Oh how I miss the sixties!
Cultural Explorer

Murphy, Valerie, Kelly, and I went into downtown Naha yesterday evening for a couple of hours of walking up and down Kokusai Street doing the tourist shopping thing.  None of our group bought much, but it was fun exploring.  We visited two salt stores - places that specialize in exotic salts from around the world - and I had a dish of salt ice cream from a street vendor.   Surprisingly, at least to me, salt ice cream is delicious!

There was some protest commotion going on along Kokusai, that included a rally at one end of the street, followed by a protest march, replete with a woman chanting from a car loudspeaker, the marchers chanting in response, and the occasional fists raised in defiance.  We originally saw nurses gathering signatures on petitions and assumed it had something to do with nursing or medical care, but there was some English-sounding phrasing coming from the loudspeaker and the chanting crowd that led me to believe the chant was "End the War!"

Nostalgia prevailed!

Okinawans keep the ugliest dogs - black and white mutts that appear to be mostly some terrier mix.  I stopped and petted one that an old man had on a leash, and the mongrel, hungry for attention, was all over me.  I told Kelly that I want a dog, and now I have this gut fear that she will show up with one!

I bought two tangerines from a fruit and vegetable vendor for a total of one hundred and two yen.  They were tart, tangy, and wonderful!   I also picked up some island art to put in Christmas packages while my friends roamed around a fish market.

A quonset shop on Kokusai Street
Our final stop of the evening was at Perestroika, a great Russian restaurant that Murphy had discovered during some of his earlier explorations in Naha.  I generally avoid eating out on the economy, but I had Beef Stroganoff and a side of garlic bread - wonderful!  I also had a piece of Napoleon cake for dessert.  (Not sure why the Russians would honor Napoleon of all people with a dessert.)  Murphy had some wine that was supposedly Stalin's favorite.  Kelly liked it so well that she ordered a bottle for her birthday next month.

Aside from good food, Perestroika also had a floor show - one female dancer who stomped and swirled among the booths and tables in a beautiful display of Russian folk and gypsy dances.  She performs Saturday and Sunday nights.

Daniel Murphy finds a friend on Kokusai!
A good night on the town has nothing to do with the town - and everything to do with the friends!

The Length of Torii Beach

The Lonely Fisherman on the Rock
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Friday was my day off, and after a necessary trip to the massage therapist and some unnecessary running around, I headed up to Torii Beach in the afternoon to enjoy the solitude and pick up sea glass.  I intentionally got there a few hours later than usual in order to catch a higher tide - and it made for a beautiful evening.  I walked the entire length of the beach - at least a mile or more.  And, oh yes, the glass was plentiful.

Sea Glass
Evening Peace on the East China Sea

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Italiano - Okinawan style!
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Araha Beach - Welcome!
Summer is closing in on Okinawa and so is the humidity.  I am certain in my own mind that the oppressive, moist air is the reason that the rattle in my lungs persists.  It almost makes me long for the "dry heat" of Arizona - a  land where moisture in the air generally meant that one or more of the morons in the trailer park - and Arizona is one, big trailer park - was taking a whiz out the back door.

Today I threw away four cake mixes that had followed me from the endless desert of Arizona.  All had absorbed so much moisture from the air that they literally felt like soggy bricks.


Nice apartments facing the beach

I have asked The Buddha to consider moving me to the piney woods of southwest Missouri or to the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy - someplace with four seasons and modest humidity.  I would also like the occasional thunderstorm with an accompanying lightening show.  And snow!  Oh how I miss snow!

A very nice (and expensive) Okinawan home

The ubiquitous hibisucs - they're everywhere,
they're everywhere!
But, as long as I am stuck here in paradise, I walked to the beach this afternoon and took a few pictures along the way.  Some are attached to this post.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Challenge of Getting Anything Done on Okinawa

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Sunday, and it's raining.  The weekends on Okinawa seem to pull in the rains in much the same way as the moon pulls in the tides.  The weekend rains may not be welcome, but they are dependable!

I skipped the trip to Ie Island today, hoping to stay in and finally get this cold and hacking cough under control.  Of course, while lazing at home I got involved in a project that required a quick trip to Kadena Air Base.  I needed to get some documents scanned and sent out as an email attachment.  I began at the USO because they have an abundance of computers and that is where those arriving on Okinawa or preparing to leave general do their personal email.  Of course, they did not have a scanner - but the sweet lady behind the desk directed me on to the Base Exchange and told me where I could obtain the required service.

On the way to the Exchange, I stopped by the Officer's Club to cancel my membership.  While there I learned that anyone may apply for their card on the premises, but cancelling the aforesaid card required more patience and cunning.  The sweet lady at that information desk gave me a map to the building that I would have to find in order to cancel.  Of course, it was not open on weekends, and has very limited hours during the week.  But I will git 'r done - because I love bureaucratic challenges!

I found the Mail Center at the Base Exchange, and yes, they could and did scan my nine pages of documents at one dollar per page!    (Guess I will have to get a scanner - it wouldn't take long to pay for itself at a buck a page!)

I grabbed lunch at the Exchange food court - a cheeseburger from Burger King  - which was every bit as delicious as it sounds - and then headed off to the mini-mall close to where I work.  My purpose in going there was to grab a quick haircut, something that I normally do during lunch on a work day.  Lots of other men and boys had the same idea, so I sat and read a magazine on military history until my number (lucky 46) was called.  A haircut on base costs $7.80 which leaves just enough out of a ten dollar bill to tip the Okinawan lady barbers.  They really are a sweet crew, and always throw in a neck and shoulder massage as an added treat.

It isn't easy getting anything done here, but the people are nice (sweet) and the hassles are manageable.