Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green...

Well, Kermit and I have something in common now.  Let's just say the sea was a little rough today - going and coming!  Sometimes it's fun to learn new things about yourself, and sometimes it's not fun...especially when you learn that it's possible to get green on the ferry.  Nothing happened, THANKFULLY, but boy am I glad to be back on land!

When I first woke up this morning, the sky was still gray from last night's rain.  By the time I got out of bed, the clouds had broken up, and there was a beautiful blue sky highlighted by puffy white clouds.  This should have been my first clue that the weather was moving quickly.  My trip to the ferry terminal was basically uneventful.  I bought my ticket (hurrah for the ticket agent!), had a delicious cream cheese filled bun for breakfast, and sat down to wait for boarding.  I saw some whitecaps out on the open water, but I was mostly excited to see that we were taking the Prince Soya ferry and not the ferry that doesn't smell nice.

As usual, I was traveling with some tour groups.  After checking in, most people walk down a flight of stairs, but there is also an elevator.  I wanted to take a picture so badly when I saw a herd of tiny older ladies in their bucket hats cramming into the elevator (I think they were giggling).  I giggled inwardly, took a mental picture, and headed down the stairs.  Now, I love riding the ferry, so I was really looking forward to the trip.  After you enter the ferry, you climb another flight of stairs and enter the main cabin.  I saw a ferry worker handing out brochures to people entering the cabin.  That was a nice idea, I thought.  As I approached the cabin entrance, I realized that they were not handing out brochures, but seasickness bags.  Here was the second clue.  I wasn't worried as I entered the cabin, I just wished I had worn a heavier jacket, as I like sitting outside, but it was rather chilly.  I decided to try sitting inside, but a few minutes later I was on my way outside with a hot can of coffee from the vending machine.  I tried to find a spot out of the wind, but it didn't work very well.  Pretty soon, we were off.  Things were fine at first, but as we left the safety of the harbor, one phrase kept running through my mind: "HOLY CATS, BATMAN."  I didn't say it was the best phrase!

There were some large swells on the water today!  Sometimes the ferry would hit a wave just right and send a huge spray of water past the side of the ferry.  It was really strange to watch the wind catch the spray.  The water looked like it was floating on the wind.  At one point, I saw an interesting boat that I wanted to photograph.  I left my seat - all the outdoor seats are under a roof - and walked to the back of the boat (no roof).  I took my picture and turned around to walk back to my seat.  Well, I don't know if we hit a really big wave or what, but I got hit full-on with quite a spray of water.  I think there may still be some salt on my face.

I managed to entertain myself for most of the trip by planning out an emergency course of action, just in case the ferry operators hadn't thought of one already.  There was also a lovely rainbow out on the water.  I managed to get a picture, but it's really not the best because I didn't want to lose my camera to the briny deep.  The briny deep just doesn't appreciate a good camera enough.

I have to say that I was so happy when my feet touched land.  I thought about kissing it, but there's all this flu stuff going around, you know.

On Land
I had a fabulous day at school today!  It was my first elementary school visit.  The kids were so cute and fun, and the teachers were really nice.  I was just amazed at how well-behaved and responsible the kids were.  There are two things about the Japanese school day that I really like.  One is lunchtime.  The students bring pots of food and dishes to their classrooms and are responsible for serving it out, and the class eats together.  Schools here also have cleaning time, so the students are responsible for participating in cleaning the school.  I was also amazed that they didn't break down into pure destruction when left alone for a minute.  As the 5th and 6th grade teacher and I were walking to the classroom, we heard music.  The students were standing behind their desks, singing some sort of anthemish sounding song all together to recorded music.  I spent much of the day in amazement, as I was also amazed at how quickly the day flew by!

As we left school, my hopes began to rise as I saw that the sea looked calmer.  Then, I saw waves crashing on the shoreline, and my hopes joined the waves.  The waves were beautiful, but they are one of those things best appreciated from land.  Along the drive to the terminal, we saw two beautiful rainbows.  This place seems to have a plethora of naturally-occurring beauty!

Well, I was soon dropped off at the terminal.  I wasn't really sure how I felt about the ride home.  One one hand, it was probably going to be a pretty wild ride, but on the other hand, at least I was not the type of person who would be seasick.  I was again pleased to see that we wouldn't be riding the ferry that um, smells.  This was actually a ferry I had never seen before.  We boarded this new ferry, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but seats!  Large seats like in trains!  I checked the sign, and sure enough, it really was economy class!  I was so excited!  I found a row of three seats and situated myself quite comfortably in the middle.  There were tons of seats, and not too many passengers, so I definitely wasn't worried about taking too much space.  Fairly soon, we were off.  As soon as we were out of the gate, the ferry started a nice bucking action - maybe this is why we had a ferry with seats.  If we were sitting on the floor, we probably would have ended up in one big people pile sliding around the cabin.  I decided to try to focus on the TV instead of the up and down motion.  I don't know where this method went wrong, but I found myself feeling like Kermit, which is not a good feeling.  I finally tried curling up on my seats with my head on my teaching bag and jacket.  This seemed to work pretty well, as I dozed off after a little while.  Sadly, there was an incredible sunset outside which I only briefly enjoyed - and you how how I love to soak those in!

Eventually, we landed!  Woohoo!  Even though I am usually thrifty and take the bus home from the terminal, which requires somewhat of a long walk to the stop, I decided to throw caution to the wind and take a taxi home.  Boy, was it worth it!  Although I had decided to never eat again, you will be pleased to hear that, since coming home and taking some recovery time,  I have enjoyed half a bowl of taco soup, some Ritz cheese crackers, and a few cookies. :-)

I learned a few lessons from today.  1) Just because you think you are one thing doesn't mean that you are.  I thought I was above turning green on the ferry.  I wasn't even green on the first crossing this morning!  Hopefully, I never will be again, but if nothing else, I now have empathy for people who turn green (and worse!) on the ferry!  I just had sympathy before. 2) You can still have an amazingly awesome day even when  some things aren't perfect.  My good definitely outweighed the bad today. 3) There is beauty in potential yuckiness.  If you are here, just look for the rainbow!  4) Everyone looks pretty funny when trying to walk around the ferry on a rough sea (my apologies to the mystery man whose arm I think I took lout with my bag...but really sir, that was not a bright place to put such a thing!). And, most importantly, 5) Treat yourself to a taxi every once in a while!


Sharon said...

Ohhh, Lizzie, this is SOOOOO good. You are a talented writer. Queen is right...your writing makes your adventures come alive. Sorry that you turned green, but I am glad you have empathy now for people like your dear mommy! Jon says you should write a book about your experiences as you write so well.

I can't wait to have my kids write to your kids. Will they be the 5th and 6th graders or younger ones?

aquamaureen said...

Oh Liz . . . this is soooooooooo wonderful--NOT your Kermitness, but your pluckiness in embracing the whole experience. I definitely see a book coming out of this. You ARE a gifted writer--that's not just your mommy speaking.

And the pictures are wonderful, too (on your other post, I thought the bowl of miso soup came out of a magazine).

I love you so much, Liz . . .and I am so glad you are taking time to write all this to share with us, and for yourself: to acknowledge all the fantastic parts of this adventure.