Thursday, December 14, 2006
Ok, now for a wittiless update, as I furrow my brow at the computer.
We've been back for 11 days and have since both gotten jobs-I'm working at an-xray clinic in Abbotsford, which was arranged for me while I was away-God has always provided me with a job when ever I've needed one.. it's quite amazing actually!
Ben has also been hired for the Township of Langley lifeguarding, and hopefully supervising, which will start sometime, soonish we hope.
Ben's free time means he's been able to paint and move us into a basement suite in Walnut Grove, right next to his brother and sister-in-law! We love our new 2 bedroom place, and along with all our other pictres, hope to have some up soon.
Working in Abbotsford has worked out really well for me, as my mom has injurded her back-a herniated disk-and is pretty much couch-ridden. I've been able to come over for lunch, and right now I've over for the next two nights, as my dad is working out near Squamish and I'm able to "look after" mom-it also saves me a half an hour commute!
That's all for now. If you haven't left a comment in a while (and even if you have) why not let us know what's new with you! Or let us know that some one is still reading this now that we're back and leaving "normal" lives :)
I'm not going to copy, just take my chance and publish...
Monday, December 04, 2006
Just a note to say we're back. We had a lovely flight back, even getting bumped up to business class for our flight from Winhoek, Namibia to Johannesburg, South Africa. From house to home, it was about 48 hours, but 12 of those were in London where we got out to stretch our legs and eat fish and chips. Lovely.
I have my usual jet lag, as it is 5:15am and I am up. Seems the earlier I go to bed, the earlier I get up, and there is no actual "catching up" of sleep for me. Ben seems to have no trouble with this.
We've been looking for a place to stay, and have the opportunity to move in next door to Ben's brother and sister-in-law in Walnut Grove. The owners have just put in insulation into the ceiling downstairs (essential for a house with 4 little boys under the age of 5), so the ceiling still needs to be painted, along with a few other touch-ups here and there, but the space is great, and we hope it works out. Ben is willing to do the grunt work, and as he is not working just now, it'll keep him busy.
I start work tomorrow (Tuesday) working in the Medical Tower next to the hospital in Abbotsford in the x-ray clinic, full time! God has provided everything we need, and we are so grateful to all of you who have passed on his blessings to us.
Blessings in this busy season,
P.S. most of my not feeling good on the trip can be attributed the anti-malarial pills I was on-and not acutall 'bugs'. I went off them 2 weeks ago, and have felt way better. So, just a warning for you tropical adventurers, Mefloquin is the cheaper option, but it seems, especially for women, there are nasty side effects that make it not worth it. (although the vivid dreams side effect can be quite fun!)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Well, this is our last weekend before we leave. Maybe. Well, I
suppose it all really depends on whether the weekly TAAG flight
actually arrives and goes out this Thursday. (There are many amusing
acronyms for that airline, one being Think Again About Going).
Apparently we were rather lucky in having our plane on time in coming
here (on time = same day). It´s crazy to see how fast the time has
flown by. When I think back on all We´ve gotten to experience here, I
can´t help but feel so blessed. Not only have I gotten to see and
help out with countless different surgeries, sit in on medical
consults (including one in English!), experience (& help a bit in)
what it takes to get a hospital going, and learn about a lot of
different medical equipment by both inventorying it and trying to get
it working, but we´ve gotten to know how great people are here in
Lubango (who would have ever guessed that we´d come here!), learn some
Portuguese and Spanish, be presented with many (fun) challenges in
finding out how to make do & make things work with what we have and
meet lots of other missionaries that we´d love to meet up with again
in the future.
I think Julia was quite success full in getting Africa under my skin
(although not so much Botswanna - it was a bit too hot for me).
Already, we can´t wait for the opportunity to return when I´m finished
medical school (& residency) to see where things are at then, & help
out with whatever my specialty turns out to be (likely some kind of
surgery, I think), possibly letting one of the hard-working doctors
here take some much-needed time off. One thing I do know is we have a
LOT of Portuguese to learn before then.
Here´s something that will surprise a lot of you who know Julia - last
Wednesday she asked to and did come to the OR to watch a surgery! Not
only did she come and watch, but she stayed right through the more
gruesome bits, leaving to sit down only after we started wrapping
things up. I´m particularly impressed, as this was for a toe
amputation that had the patient jumping under the electro-cauter (he
was only under a partially-effective local anesthetic) and making
enough noise to make Robert (operating in the next room) curious as to
what was happening. After this, she STILL hung around a bit to see
some bits and pieces of other surgeries that were going on, before she
left to prepare for her English class. Way-to-go Julia! Maybe there
is some hope for her in our future dinner conversations! (for some
reason, though, she still doesn´t want to go into surgery herself).
Thanks a lot to all our generous supporters and intercessors who
helped make this part of our lives possible and successful, and we
look forward to seeing many of you soon!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I do the grocery shopping, as Ben said, and have had to learn my
numbers, at least, so I know how much I'm paying.. let me elaborate.
What we call the "fish market" is two blocks away. To get there I have
to cross a busy road, of which there is no crosswalk/traffic lights,
and vehicles have the right of way, so I often wait until there is a
group of people waiting to cross before I dart between the blue
mini-bus taxis that dart around the other cars and pot holes that make
up the roads here. (if it's a really big pot hole, can you call it a
The "fish" market itself is a store, that sells, well, fish, as well
as cheese and a variety of other things. I don't really know any more
than "how much is this" in Portuguese, so my shopping conversations
are limited to pointing and my one question. Outside of the store
spills streams of ladies, surrounded by brightly coloured plastic bins
of veggies, baskets of tomatoes, and stacks of oranges and apples.
Walking through brings on a gauntlet of "Amiga, Amiga" (friend,
friend), as women, clutching their babies and half naked toddlers show
off their produce.
I usually walk through and look, go into the store, buy my cheese, and
then purchase my veggies on the way out. (I haven't actually bought
fish there yet, but you can buy HUGE lobsters there, along with other
shell fish brought in from the coast, 3 hours away) The women have
gotten used to me, and I have learned more numbers, so our
question-answer sessions for prices is going smoother than it used to.
At first, I would ask how much it is, then they would tell me. Then I
would give them a blank, puzzled look, and try to guess, showing with
my hands what I thought they said. They would look at my hands with a
blank, puzzled look and tell me again. Finally, they would untie the
ever-present multi-coloured cloth wrap, and pull from within the knot
their money and show me which bills to give them.
Among the veggie women are boys selling eggs, in clear plastic bags,
as well as anything else you can imagine. People walk around carrying
shoes, suits, car mats, toilet paper, toys, and just about anything
else, to sell on the street. The nice thing is they're not really
pushy, so after saying "I don't want it, thank-you" (my other
Portuguese phrase) they usually leave you alone.
As I was in bed all week with the latest bug, I even was able to buy
fruit as women came to the door, with the generic plastic tub balanced
on their head, filled with cabbages, carrots, and our current
favourite, plums. (Mom(s), can you email me a pluma plauts (sp?)
That's what I do at least once a week. Thanks for reading! enjoy your
"veggie section" in your local supermarket on your next trip!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Iºm not sure how much of our schedule Iºve communicated here already (sending these posts in via email makes looking back a bit more complicated), so Iºll outline it a bit here.
I usually leave at 6:45 for the hospital, getting back anywhere between 6 and 8 PM, depending on how things go. Mondays and Thursdays, there arenºt any general surgeries, so those days are usually more predictable. I also usually take a good chunk of those days as ´project´ days, where I try and help out with an area that needs it. Today I was in a container all day, so I think Iºll wait another week before I tackle that particular elephant again (I almost got a whole one inventoried . It was useful too, as some of the stuff I found will be used in some surgeries tomorrow.
Julia has her first English Class at 11 every day, then one at the hospital at 4:30. In between, she manages to keep herself busy with a myriad of things that Iºve only been vaguely aware of. When at the hospital, sheºs been a great help in getting a number of my ºprojectsº done that were a bit too big for the time I had.
Weekends have been quite erratic, with no ºregularº yet. Last weekend, we went to Namib (a costal town, not Namibia) with the local missionaries for a relaxing time getting battered around by huge waves. As you can probably imagine, I, at least, was loving it.
All of our Nihon no Tomodachi would love to hear that there are scads of snack bars here. In fact, we even have a picture of a place with the name "Snack Bar Central". I will leave it up to you to figure out what that means here.
Unfortunately, we had all been getting our hopes up for the new sattelite modem arriving and being successfully installed only to have them dashed. As it turns out, 2 people got to use the internet while it briefly was up, and weºre blaming the last one for using it all up. Coincidentally, there was a really close strike of lightning around the same time that Peggy used up the last of the internet, but that probably had nothing to do with it.
If there are any lightning experts out there, with some experience in protecting sensitive electronics, I know youºd be more than welcome here. This was the second modem that has been fried (the first was possibly not from lightning, but this second one makes it seem if that was what happened to the first). There are surge protectors on pretty much everything, and the local ºexpertsº have set up a lightning-rod network that was supposed to keep us safe. The funny thing is that nothing else was damaged in a hospital full of sensitive electronic equiptment (aside from this time, the switch that was hooked up to the satelite modem fried on the port the modem was connected to). Does anyone know if you can set up surge protection along a coaxial cable (the send and recieve to the sattelite itself are the only ones that arenºt surge protected. All the network cables between buildings are protected, and all modems and switches are on surge-protected UPSs.
Anyway, it looks as if Iºm out of time here, so more later.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
well, I finally got to a computer. I'll update what Ben wrote last.
We've now had a whole week here, and we feel very welcomed by the
missionary community. We are, right now, eating popcorn (with our
choice of flavour) and about to watch a movie, for Friday night movie
night. We're really not suffering.
We've had three days of English lessons so far, and after today's
lesson I have that wonderful good class "high". I teach at the
hospital, in what is the lobby area in the OR building. There are 12
beginning students, mostly nurses and hospital admin, who are just a
blast. Today we learned the alphabet, and they actually sang the
alphabet song with me. It was great.
I also have a one on one lesson everyday with a advanced students,
named Benjamin. It's great to talk with a local who can explain local
things to me.
I also have the great, "I did laundry" feeling, as I figured out how
to use our very manual washing machine, and we know hove clean clothes
after wearing dirty ones for quite a few days.
The hopital staff has figured out how technical savvy Ben is, and
they're putting him to work, trying to figure out some of the
hospital's machines. (he manages to find an 'on' switch that others
couldn't seem to find)
I'm sure Ben has said it, but the weather here is fantastic, never too
hot, and a lightning show almost every day.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Well, we`ve gotten a chance to see a bit of the city here, and have
really enjoyed how nice everyone is here. What little portuguese we
thought we had learned now seems quite insignificant, and we´re
realizing what a battle we have ahead of us in learning enough to get
by without someone to translate for us.
I´ve seen the hospital, which just actually opened last week, and has
its OR opening this coming week~... pending successful instalation of
the backup autostart system for the generator. The power frequently
goes out (sometimes due to lightning strikes, but usually because it`s
been cut). This dry season was quite dry, and there isn`t enough
water in the hydroelectric system to provide more power. It`s pretty
much impossible to predict, though, as to when you`ll get your 4 or so
hours of power for the day. Fortunately, we do have a generator,
though, and have even managed to puzzle out a system in how to use it
occasionally, when we need to get our refridgerator below room
temperature for a while.
On friday, I sat in on a whole ream of consultations with patients,
and consistantly had my little anatomical and physiological knowledge
tested by an ever educational Dr. Foster. I´ve been finding myself
longing for the textbooks carefully hidden away in boxes back in
Canada - even though their weight would have been quite prohibitive.
Oh, well, I´ll see what medical books I can borrow from downstairs to
satisfy my curiosity\poor recall. Even though it`s only been the one
day in the hospital so far, I´m fairly certain that I definately want
to go into medicine (if there had been any doubt). I can´t wait until
the OR is functional, and I can hopefully see\help with some
Julia will be teaching English at either one of or both the hospital
and the seminary with Peggy, a friend of the Fosters, visiting from
Toronto. At this point, we don´t know exactly who at the hospital she
will be teaching (nurses, guards, maintenance...), so she may have to
brush up on a little medical vocab herself.
It`s been a good thing that she`s had the past 4 years to get
desensitized to gory\detailed discussions about injuries and
operations, because there are pretty much no holds barred over the
tables here, when doctors get together. I love it, and she seems to
be surviving remarkably well.
The guesthouse we have is quite spacious, by our Japanese standards,
though we will be likely sharing with another STA (from TWU,
apparently) in November. There`s still plenty of room for that, with
another bedroom still spare.
Below us live 2 American doctors (one who has finished his residency
already in surgery, and the other who still needs to finish hers.
It`s been great getting to know them, and their help has been
We´re a short 10 minute walk away from Dr. Foster´s house, and about 5
minutes from the church (in Portuguese, of course). We´ve also met
Dr. Collins (an opthomological surgeon), whom I believe we read about
in a book that a friend of Julia`s lent us in Botswanna, - God,
Medicine & Miracles, by Dr. Daniel Fountain. It was quite an
interesting read, written by a doctor who lived in the Congo for
years, and worked with Dr. Collins there too.
Oh, well. More later - I`m running out of time here!
Friday, October 20, 2006
After much time, in transit and waiting for transiting, we've finally
made it to Lubango, Angola. It'll be nice to get doing what we came
here for, and we're both eager to get at it tomorrow. It's quite
amazing seeing the huge difference between the countries that we've
seen - Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola are all quite different
in terms of people, development, sanitation, and weather. The weather
here is much cooler, which is quite nice. We'll do a more thorough
update when we can get some time in a internet cafe in town.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
Victoria Falls was great. What I love about the falls is that you cannot capture it in a picture.. it's too big. You cannot recreate a virtual experience of it.. you can only stand at the edge, looking across the gorge and see the thundering water pounding down, only to hit with such force that it sprays back up in a wonderful, refreshing mist. We had a close encounter with a family of baboons, as one of the younger ones got too close to us and starting crying out, the big pappa baboon saw me as the potential danger and charged at me, making me back up as I bowled over another visitor. I was almost shaking, it came at such a shock. The pappa baboon seemed satisfied, and we had no other problems, but needless to say we walked back and took a different route to find the exit!
That was our only animal issue. Otherwise animals were pretty non agressive and docile. We faced "agressive selling" in the market in Victoria Falls. Ben and I tag-teamed, and were able to get what we wanted for fair prices. I won't say what we got.. cause Christmas is coming.. tee hee.
Not sure when we can update again, but it will be from Angola.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Tomorrow we head off to Vic Falls, and then it's back to Gabarone to get ready for Angola. It seems kinda funny to do all this playing before we get to work, but we've been able to get over our jet lag, get accustomed to the heat.. well, I am. Ben seems to have "northern blood" in that, he's having trouble in the heat.. at least there are pools where we are staying! (He also is very aware that the pools would not stand to Langley standards.. that's what you get for being a life guard for so long!)
All this spare time we have also makes us antsy to get to work. It's been 2.5 months since we've had a regualr work schedule, and we're looking forward to contributing to something again!
Thanks for your comments, and hope you Canadians had a great Thanksgiving!
Friday, September 29, 2006
So, it appears as if our attempt to post on the blog failed yesterday.
Don't worry, we did arrive safely, and were fine yesterday, even if
we didn't post (...moms.... :)
We finally arrived in Gabarone at 7:30 AM Tuesday, PST (somewhere
around 3:30PM local time). It's been incredibly hot, but bearable
(LOW HUMIDITY!!!!!). After an adventure with the local combie
transport system (apparently Route 6 is different from Block 6), we
even managed to get safely back to Tina (our gracious host)'s house.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
We're here! We've dived into the adventure here, so we haven't gotten to a internet café before now. Our flight in London was delayed 2 hours because of a storm, so we arrived in Johannesburg 20 minutes before our next flight.. which means we missed it. So, we had to wait 5 hours for the next flight. Unfortunatly, we didn't have number to call Tina in Botswana who was waiting for us at the airport at 10 am. Our new flight only left at 2:15 (and there were delays on that one too) so when we finally got to the Gabarone airport, no one was waiting for us.. Tina had no idea when we would come. We had met a Motswana lady in line in Jo'berg, as she was in the same situation as us, and in the airport in Gabarone, she offered us a ride to Tina's place. So, we got in her car, and about to head out of the parking lot when we saw Tina! She was dropping off a friend who was flying out. She had prayed for good timing, and it couldn't have been better!
So Wednesday we went with Tina to a village and hour or so out of the city to see a friend of hers. Tina's church has agreed to provide the money for this woman to build herself a house, so we went to tell her the good news. We arrived at this woman's brother's house, and they were preparing for other brother's wedding next week, so the women were putting a new coat of mud on the round house, and all the family was around to see that the work was coming a long well.
We were there over lunchtime, so they included us in the meal, which was a great cultural experience.
Today we are looking around the main mall, and my time is about up on the computer.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Anyway, it seems surreal that we leave in 2 days for Africa. In 2 days, I will then spend about another 2 days on airplanes and in airports - not sleeping. Yay. Anyway, we have pretty much everything together for the big jump, including, thanks to many generous friends and relatives, a lot of financial help with the costs.
A number of people had passed their concern on to me regarding the high rates of HIV in southern Africa, and their worry that by working in a medical field, I'd be in serious risk. I had always figured that, while the risk was there, I'd be consistently vigilant in never allowing for any infection to occur (and I still will). Then, on Wednesday, I got a call from SIM (the agency we're going through), that they're now suggesting that people going into Angola to work in the pre-med program bring along their own antiretroviral medication, in case there is some accident. This is new, and I don't think it's because of an actual accident, however, it was a bit of a wake-up call as to the tangible possibility of infection with HIV.
So, I ended up getting a prescription, and eventually found the ONE pharmacy in Vancouver (Shoppers Drug Mart on Davie St.) that can provide the medication, and ended up getting a quarter course (meaning that if I did get infected, I'd have a week to hunt down some more drugs) for about $250 (meaning that the full course would be up around $1000). There are 3 different drugs, and in reading the descriptions, they almost seem as likely to kill someone as the eventual AIDS would (well not quite, but it is quite bluntly dangerous). In just getting the prescription and reading through the documentation, I can only begin to imagine what someone who actually was needing to take the medication would be thinking of.
Now, for all you worried relatives out there, I don't plan on ever needing to take any of these pills. Instead, I'm planning on leaving them in Angola unopened. Also, no-one needs to worry about Julia - she'll be pretty safe, as I doubt she'll be at risk of contracting anything while teaching English. If anything those seminary students should be quaking in their boots at the thought of contracting her spelling! (I'm ducking right now, because even though Julia is in the other room right now, I don't want her to see me type this.... - I'm joking, of course - I don't think spelling can be contagious) :)
Anyway, that's all for now. I'll stop before I get myself in more trouble.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Ben is almost finished applying for med schools (in Ontario, Edmonton, and Vancouver). I just finished proofreading his last essays, so by tonight it should all be done.. and the rest is up to God and the committees that decide who gets in and who becomes a pharmacist (JK). The applications for my teaching degree in Ontario open tomorrow, so I can get started applying too. The rest of mine (Alta, BC) arn't due until next spring, so I'll be able to write about Angola as experience by then.
Right, Angola, we leave in 10 days!! We've piddled away at getting things ready-but we have a lot to do yet, like writing a will! I've arranged all our accomodations while in Botswana-we're going to travel around a bit and I'll play tour guide for Ben. We were woken up one night by Ben's brother. He said there was someone from Pensilvania (sp?) on the phone for me. Turns out the lodge in Botswana has a router there, and they were calling to tell us to turn on the fax. I enquired on an online form, and they faxed all the info... hmmm.. seems strange (archaic?). The lady on the phone greeted me with a cheery good morning. Lucky for her it was 1:30am, so I "good morning-ed" her back. We've gone from the land of amzing customer service (Japan) to decent service (Canada) and then the slow beuracracy of Botswana. I love it. I can't wait to be met by a blast of hot air and scrubby trees. (really, that was not sarcastic.. sooooo excited)
My job has been interesting too. I'm learning a lot about the body and how it's put together. Seeing all the x-rays that come through is interesting, especially when a bone is broken and offset! or when there is pace makers in the chest, or a 2 year old's hand-the bones don't touch and the carpols arn't there yet.. looked so weird! I have 3 more shifts there.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I realize now that blogging can be more difficult when thing seem more 'normal'. The last two weeks have been amazing. Two weeks ago my sister who lives about 4 hours east of us came down with her family. We stayed with them at my parents house, and had "Camp Unrau" for 6 days. We went blackberry picking at Ben's Grandpa's farm, visted mom at work and Grandma Z., went to Lonsdale key/Gastown/Stanely park, went to the water slides, and then celebrated Beth's (oldest sister) 30th birthday.
Beth's husband had planned an amazing Mexican themed surprise party for her, including an amazing table of mexican delights, ongoing margaritas, two pinatas, and live salsa dancing lessons! Of course to keep it a surprise, my mom, sister and I HAD to take her to get all our nails done, have a sushi picnic at white rock, and shopping, before blindfolding her to her 'next event'. I'm amazed that she had no idea where she was when we walked her into her own backyard. Either that, or she's a really good lier.. but I think she really was surprised. Kudos to Devin, as actually surprising someone for a party is really difficult to do.
Dad's birthday is the day after Beth's, so sunday we gathered at the 'rents house and ate left over mexican food and pie. we were gonna go to the beach but we were so tired from the week of 'camp'.
this last week I started my job. I feel so blessed to have a job for the short time that we are home. When I was in Japan I was praying for a job. I had just read captivating by John and Staci Eldridge (sp?) and they talked about how God wanted to 'romance' us and give us good gifts, just because he can.. not because we 'deserve' it. Anyways, I was praying to deserve it.. and then realized what I was doing.. I instead prayed for his gift of a job. Then, checked my email, and Ben's mom was online, saying her supervisor had asked her if I wanted to work at their X-ray clinic while I was home. Wow. she didn't ask, her supervisor asked her. Pretty cool, eh? So, I'm working in the darkroom, shoving filmes through the developer. all my knowledge of dark room developing is replaced by a maching, but that's ok. i can't imagine actually having to develope hundreds of films a day by hand! I also get to call patients from the waiting room to the change room and tell them to take off their clothes, then see them walk around all uncomfortable in the skimpy gowns we give them. yup, love it.
We've also loved going to the beach....eeeeeee... love the weather here!
my pictures arn't uploading for some reason.. so I hope to have some soon.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
For our anniversary Ben has been planning a trip for us since, like, March. He's been giving me a hint every 10th of the month, and I wasn't dissapointed. the hints:
- we might see something big
- it has something to do with water
- there is a long walk
- it is not east or south of Langley
Can you guess? I was guessing whales and boats and hot springs-cause I know Ben likes that sort of thing and gets excited about them. And, yup, I was right. He did a good job of not letting me know if I guess it or not.
We went to Tofino on Ben's dad's Honda Shadow (which has a very small back seat.. ouch!!). Then, we were going to take a whale watching tour, but we were too late, so we took a float plane to Hot Springs cove. That's all knew at that point, so when we arrived at the dock, I was surprised that there was no hotel or anything on the beach like I expected. Ben pointed to a boat off the shore and said, "that's where we're going"..the InnChanter. Except, the boat was a good 200m away from the dock. We asked the pilot how to get there, and he said to call, or swim if we had our water wings. We walked from the dock to the land, sure that we would find a phone or something, but nope. Finally, the couple who were rowing a boat from the Innchanter got to the dock, and we used their boat to row back to the Innchanter. The Innchanter holds about 10 guests, and serves an amazing dinner and breakfast. I highly recommend it.
The hot springs are a 25 minute walk through old growth forest on a boardwalk over land. The spring itself starts as a waterfall, then flowes into different pools before meeting the ocean. So great. We went at night, as there were fewer people, and soaked for hours (and got many a mosquito bite).
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Ben's been working with his dad land surveying, and I've been trying to stay awake in the day. Jet lag and any kind of big change always hits me harder than Ben.
Our biggest reverse culture shock moment was going to a bar for karaoke with our friends. In Japan, karaoke is almost always in a booth, just with the friends you went to, and we had gotten to know the karaoke books pretty well, so that we knew what we could sing. Here, the books were way less organized, and didn't have the songs we were used to singing. Japan actually keeps up really well with their English collections of songs. In the end we each got in one song, but were left a little dissapointed cause we like to sing lots when we go. that, and the rude lady at walmart who was at the cash register. Japan has excellent customer service, and we were a little shocked at this one lady. Most stores in Japan are way over staffed, so it's strange here when going to buy fabric to wait and search for someone to help you.. ah, culture shock, there's nothing quite like taking a second look at your home culture.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Anywhoo.. for those of you around, we're back, let's go camping!
If you want to reach us, we're at Ben's parent's house.
Monday, July 31, 2006
(Ben's farewell from his Island school, he held streamers that flew out as the boat left the dock.)
Good bye Japan!
Its really our last day here! It's hard to believe this day has come, and that everything I put off for today has to get done. ug. The final dusting/wipe down/mopping the floor/getting our suitcase situation sorted out.
But Tomorrow....!!!!... I'm so excited to see our families.
This past weekend we tried to take in some of our favourite things. Saturday after cleaning and packing some more we wanted to beat the heat, so we played pool for a while in an airconditioned amusement place, then went for some (cold) sushi at our favourite sushi place, then went for cake at our favourite cafe.
Sunday we took off and drove to the Iya valley, (about a 3 hour ride). The drive is through the river valley that takes you into central Tokushima Prefecture, along the 'famous' oboke and koboke "treacherous ravines". We went to find this little museum, and we found it, but not what we expected. What we found was a tunnel through the hill, that led to parking, and caged animals on the other side-a wild boar, a few monkeys and a rabbit. then back through the tunnel half way, there were cave rooms dug out. One large room had a big golden buddah and a bunch of smaller buddah statues. The other side had this weird heaven and hell with their 'obi' or devil-like god, and manequines in hell.. very disterbing, and not really what we had expected. What made it stranger was because it was cool in the cave, everything was damp and falling apart. Chalk that one up for a strange and disterbing Japanese experience.
After that we went for one more onsen, and then took time to enjoy the masage chairs. Then back to Tokushima City for one more mexican experience at Dave's Sombraros Taco Hut. Then, as if to make the day perfect, there were fireworks close by at a festival, so we went to see them, and with a bang and bright lights we ended our last weekend in Japan.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I'm actually 'supose' to be at school, but both my supervisor and I realize that would be a fruitless waste of time as I have nothing to do there. So, since monday I've been cleaning the house. It's amazing how a little, little, house can hold so much garbage! Most of it is still from the guy who lived here before! I've vowed not to make the next guy suffer our garbage or dirt, so all the windows, screen, cracks, everything is being scrubbed.
Ben at this time is actually 'working'. He's doing an English day camp for little elementary kids. I really wish I could watch it, it would be so cute! He's teaching things like colours, shapes, animals, run, jump, etc. He comes home soooo hot. (inside at 10:20am is 31 degrees right now) (I know that the West coast area is having some crazy heat going on, so maybe you're suffering more than we are-I'm hoping that's all over by next week.. I want comfortable cool-or at least a lake to cool off in!)
Tomorrow is the last farewell party, delayed because all the new teachers had to write an exam on the 21st. (and that raw liver I ate last weekend still haunts me!)
Ok, back to cleaning..
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Wednesday was my Eikaiwa goodbye party. They showered me with gifts, and we ate and sang karaoke.
Friday was Ben's Eikaiwa goodbye party. They are so much fun, we will really miss them. We started off having dinner at an izikaia (pub). We've both streched our limits on what we consider eatible while in Asia, and I thought we had pretty much covered everything that we might meet while in Japan. However, yesterday provided a new 'tasty' challenge. We had orded yakitori, which means grilled chiken (parts) on a stick. It usually come with chicken cartiledge, which we have tried, and can't quite enjoy. Yesterday's assortment also came with a stick of chicken heart. I had never seen a chicken heart, and have never eaten any kind of blood pumping aparatice. The heart was cut in half vertically, and speared, and tasted.. really good! It was like a tender piece of meat. Ha! conqured that one.
The second challenge came thinly sliced laid out on a white plate. The dark coloured meat was covered in some kind of oil and soy sauce. Most people don't like liver to start with.. how many of you have had it raw? If your first thought was "ug, that would be disgusting" well, your sense of taste by proxy is better than some people here. It was slimy! The taste was kinda non-descrite, but the slimy, won't be swallowed factor was enough to make me gag. I ended up swallowing the whole thing, just wanting the sliminess out of my mouth. the picture shown is just after I put it in my mouth, before I realized that no number of chews would get rid of the thing.
In the middle of the yummy chicken heart and the scary raw liver experiences, was the head of a fish sushi we had on wednesday. Just odd enough to make us laugh and take pictures of it.
The rest of the night was spent in blissfull karaoke. We had a blast, and will dearly miss all of our friends here!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The English teachers at Matsuko (my main school) threw me a saryonara party tonight, and for a gift, gave me a yukata-a summer kimono. I wanted one, but wasn't sure how to go about getting one. So, they gave me the yukata, the obi (belt) with bow, shoes, and purse! I am very excited, and I'm looking forward to wearing it at the last day of school, and to the Anan Festival next week.
Usually at summer festivals men and women dress up in their yukata. Ben got a yukata from one of his schools.. Men's yukata kinda look like pajamas (and infact, we were given a gift of pajamas, that look like yukata). Yesterday we saw a guy in yukata riding a bicycle with a girl on the bike, also in yukata, on their way to a festival. I wish I had the camera out cause it was just so cool to see. Especially as she was sitting to dainty side saddle on the back of the bike.
Leaving is so sad, but the parties are so much fun.
1. have no `home` (although we are sooo grateful to our parents who have opened their homes to us!)
2. have no job
3. will actually have to fill our days DOING things
4. really be done our time in Japan
However, the climax of the movie is always the most exciting, and filled with transition. It is not an ending, but brings the hero to a new time in life.. there is growth in character and hopefully a fun story to tell. So, going home will:
1. reunite us with our long missed family and friends
2. remind us that we are not super heros, but actually regular people who are not special just for speaking English, and very bad Japanese. (not sure what list this should actually go in)
3. give us time to apply for schools for next year. Ben is already in proccess for med school applications. I have to get my butt in gear for teachers programs.
4. make us(Julia) gain elephantine amounts of weight as we are reunited with our favourite missed foods, like cheddar cheese, bagels, and farmer sausage.
5. give us time to prepare for going to Botswana and Angola!
I`ve put up some links on the left so you can have some idea of what we (Ben) will be doing in Angola. I already feel like I have one foot in Japan, one foot in Canada, and a hand in southern Africa.. it`s like an international game of twister.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Remember this picture from last November? Our mothers feared for Ben's life, and my sister gave Ben warnings not to leave me as a widow. Well, we went there after our JET goodbye party today, and I got to see what an amazing/terrifying place Ben was in.
(To the moms.. Ben is already back safe, so it's to late to worry!)
After climbing up, Ben belays himself down to collect all the quick draws (the things to hold them in case they fall) on his way down.
As there is a typhoon passing the west of Japan now, we were wondering if we would be able to go climbing at all. We ended up having heavy cloud, but not a drop of rain!! Saturday night was the JET goodbye party, where it poured most of the time. We had a(covered) bbq at a beautiful camping site near the ocean (and luckily a gym floor to sleep on to escape the wet outside). It was fun to everybody together again, but weird to think that for some, that would be the last time we would see them.. which means.. that we're actually ending our time here! It's starting to sink in.
A month ago, I couldn't wait to go home, and now I'm holding on to each moment, and trying to streatch them out. Yes, it's hot and humid, but it's so beautiful too. There are so many people and things I'm going to miss. It's an awesome experience to come and meet such amazing people from all over the world. My favourite parts have not only be learning about Japanese culture, but also learning about our fellow JETs' cultures. I think I will miss that the most!
Monday, July 03, 2006
But, life will continue after JET, and we recently recieved word that we will be going to Angola for sure starting in mid-October for 6 weeks. A few days a go we received a package with prepreation materals, as well as a video of SIM activities in Angola, including the clinic Ben will be workin in. It`s very exciting to see what we can expect, especially after hoping to do this for so long; we started planning for that before we even applied for the JET program!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
This was Ben's third time surfing, an my first. We rented one surf board (that Ben is holding) and a boogie board (not shown). I am proudly holding our friend Teralynn's surfboard, so no, I'm not the expert I appear to be.
We both got sufficiantly burnt. Ben has a permanent white t-shirt on now, and I have the flag of Japan on my back, as well as some radioactive shoulders. We had a blast, but we will be paying for it for the next fews days. Here's hoping for a tan!
As an afterthought, I realize it was Canada Day! How did you celebrate Canada Day?
Friday, June 30, 2006
If you`ve been trying to email us, then our responses may be even more erratic than they were before, as we`ll have to access internet in free moments at work instead.
Oh, yeah, and tomorrow we`ll hopefully get up on some waves down on Ikumi beach. It`ll be fun, either way.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Yesterday, I was talking to Aaron on MSN, when he mentioned that it was 32C back in Vancouver. I chuckled to myself, thinking how nice it was that I was enjoying the non-humid 25-ish degree weather here. Well, this morning, our alarm went off at 6:40 AM, and I looked at the clock, which also displays the temperature. It was 25 C at 6:40 in the freaking morning. Humidity was right up, and I saw the temperature shown as 33 C on some local bridges (pretty much every bridge has a big display to show the temperature - useful for the 2 days every 3 years or so that something might freeze in winter, but otherwise, it's nice to generally be aware of the temperature - for complaining and/or bragging, I'd imagine).
Anyway, today was my lucky day to go to a local kindergarten. The nice thing about Jr. High Schools is that the staff room is often air-conditioned. Well, kindergartens are not, and the kids don't like being still too much. It was fun, but man was I sweating and ... basting.
After that, I got to drive my portable oven (Well, at least until the AC helped bring things to a tolerable level) to a cell-phone shop, to try and figure out why my phone had suddenly gone into hermit mode - not wanting to communicate with anyone. I got a svelt white loaner with pink detailing, so now at least I can look cool when I pull it out to use the stopwatch in class.
Anyway, with a number more errands to do, I baked and cooled many times (the buildings were all AC-ed!) that now I think I must have a good temper. No-one has ever really said I was 'edgey' - but now at least I may be able to hold whatever edge I do have.
(note from Julia: Ben is making a joke. I had to ask him about it, but metal is heated and cooled to form it. Well tempered metal is strong and not brittle, able to hold an edge. Kudos to you if you got it before my note!)
In other good news, my final exam for my distance course is now booked, and the whole thing will soon be over!
Well, I feel all blogged out now.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
It's been a busy weekend. Saturday we planned to go to the local beach to clean up garbage with Ben's Eikaiwa group. We thought it started at 11, but at 10:20 we got a call saying they were on the beach. Turns out it ended at 11, and we got there in time to catch the end of the closing ceremony, and have a juice box. Anyways, the point we were looking forward to was the after BBQ. So we feasted on not only our home made burgers, but the full Japanese BBQ experience as well-small beef cuts, chicken, prawns, cabbage, egg plant, mushrooms, onions, etc, all thrown on the grill.
After going home and getting in a nap, we got ready to go to Tokushima city for Ingrid's Birthday party. Ingrid is a kareoke bar owner in the city, and is a favourite of the foreign (and some Japanese) people here. She organizes a lot of parties for all of us, including a great Halloween party last October.She also is amazing at remembering everyone's names, and takes an active interest in us. She's pretty much the Queen of Tokushima, and we went to celebrate her. It also gave us a good excuse to dress up, which we don't often get!
This morning we went to a Bangladesh cooking class. The teacher was a student at the local Techinical College who is from Bangladesh, and we had an amazing chicken currey and a mutton rice dish. It was wonderful, although all the instructions and recipies were in Japanese, so I didn't get the recipe to make at home. Too bad.
Now we are having some nice down time, (lazy sunday). Because it is the rainy season, it's been pouring the last few days, and it's a curl up and take a nap sort of afternoon. Conviently, rainy season is only in June, and the beaches officially open July 1st. And then.. Typhoon season! Yay!
On another note, we've been having some issues with the header image. It shows up great at home, but not so much at our school's computers. Please leave me a comment and let me know if it shows up-always-sometimes-never for you. (if you never get it, it is a picture of hills and terraced rice fields).
(edit: the top picture should work now, but it seems we can only get 1 picture to work.. and now the bottom one doesn`t)
Cheers, and have a good weekend.
Monday, June 19, 2006
In response to our last post, the video, Ben showed it to one of his Japanese co-workers, who confirmed our suspitions that the subtitles is in fact what the people are saying, and no, it was not funny to her. "Probably funny to a foreigner though" she said.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
On a different note, you may be interested in reading some of our previous posts, from our old blog (which we got rather frustrated with), at: martensahoy.blog.com
(the title has been edited, although this statement still stands true.)
Ok, and Universal Studios was a lot of fun. It was strange as it was very much like the American ones, but with Hello Kitty, and all the rides spoke in Japanese. The spiderman ride was my favourite-we sat in a `news vehicle` and chased the bad guys (octopus man, electric man, hydro man, and two more-correct me `cause I don`t know their real names) around while they sprayed us with water and heat and jumped onto the hood of the car (3D). So great. My other highlight was the `build your own burger` resteraunt that had banana peppers and salsa for the burgers! that made it worth the 14 bucks for a burger, small drink and a few fries!
I had the Canadian cooking class on sunday. The fridge in the place wasn`t working, so our Nanaimo bars were pretty soggy. Funny, `nanamo` means `7 potatoes` in Japanese, so some of them thought we were making some kind of potato desert! I did a little geography lesson so they would know that Nanaimo is a city on Vancouver Island. The burritos were great, and there was lots of salsa, so they got to take some home and introduce their families to salsa for dinner! I would say it was a success
Lastly, we were woken up this morning by a earthquake at 5am. We`ve had one at night before, but it was over before we could get up, but this went on for long enough we finally got out of bed and got under the doorframe. (which, I`ve been informed may not be the best place to be.. comments on this?) It was in the news this morning. It sure woke us up fast, but at 5am, there was still another 1.5 hours before we needed to be up, and getting up when the alarm went off was a lot harder than when the house is swaying back and forth!!
(edited to add interesting/useless information)
The Japanese scale for earthquakes is different from the Richter scale and goes as follows. (We had a 3 where we were, the centre was a 5, just under the quake that recently hit Indonesia)
The JMA Scale runs from 0 to 7, with 7 being the strongest. Sometimes roman numerals are used, as in the Mercalli Intensity Scale; however this is not the usual practice in Japan. The real-time reports are calculated automatically from measurements of ground acceleration. The JMA reports the shindo based on the ground acceleration, which can be written in the SI metric units meters per second squared (m/s²).
7: In most buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. In some cases, reinforced concrete-block walls collapse. Peak ground acceleration greater than 4 m/s²6+: In many buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. Most unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse. 3.15–4.00 m/s²
6−: In some buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. 2.50–3.15 m/s²5+: In many cases, unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse and tombstones overturn. Many automobiles stop due to difficulty in driving. Occasionally, poorly installed vending machines fall. (only in Japan is this a determining factor of the earthquake intensity!) 1.40–2.50 m/s²
5−: Most people try to escape from danger, some finding it difficult to move. 0.80–1.40 m/s²
4: Many people are frightened. Some people try to escape from danger. Most sleeping people awake. 0.25–0.80 m/s²
3: Felt by most people in the building. Some people are frightened. 0.08–0.25 m/s²
2: Felt by many people in the building. Some sleeping people awake. 0.025–0.08 m/s²
1: Felt by only some people in the building. 0.008–0.025 m/s²
0: Imperceptible to people. Less than 0.008 m/s²