Friday, July 22, 2011

Pa Rock on Okinawa: One Year Later

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

I arrived on Okinawa late in the evening exactly one year ago today.  During that time (regrettably) I have not been to the United States nor gotten to see any of my children or grandchildren, but I am planning a trip back this fall when the new crop of grand-babies begin arriving.

But that does not mean that I haven't gotten out and explored over the past twelve months.  I have made some very good friends here, friends whom I know I will cherish for the rest of my life.  Together we have traveled this small island from the northern tip - Cape Hedo - to Peace Park at the extreme southern end.  We have eaten in Okinawan, British, and even Russian restaurants,  walked along dozens of beaches, and gone whale-watching.  Over the past year I have been to several Esai drum festivals and many fireworks displays - the Okinawans really like their drums and fireworks!  I have even been to the bullfights and participated in the world's biggest tug-of-war.

I have also managed to leave the island briefly on three occasions, including two pilgrimages to Korea - one for play and the other for work, and well as a trip to the neighboring Japanese island of Yoron for the Memorial Day weekend.

Some friends and I are talking about a trip to Vietnam or Thailand this winter.

And then there was the weather and events of nature.  I have sat through a couple of typhoons on Okinawa and a really good one while we were on Yoron.    Year one on the island has also included three minor earthquakes - the most recent of which was just yesterday morning.  And I was also here during the giant Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11th - and spent several anxious hours watching the East China Sea from my apartment in anticipation of a possible tsunami here.

All in all, it has been a good year, one that has gone by very quickly.  I regret that none of my kids were able to come for a visit, but am hopeful that we can get that corrected in year two.  The high point of the year has been all of the new friends that I have made here.  They are people who were destined to share adventures with me and become part of my life, but we had to come to Okinawa in order to meet!

Now for year two!

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