Monday, July 31, 2006

Going Home Eve

(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

not that exciting, but..

It's Thursday. We leave next Tuesday. Holy freakaroni.
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

the long farewell

We've been partying it up every day, so much so that I think we won't leave, but just tease them, so they keep throwing us goodbye parties. It's just too much fun.
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

My Very Own Yukata!

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.

Left foot red, right hand blue

We have exactly 2 weeks until we go home.. this fills me with that `duh duh duh` feeling when the hero sees the oncoming climax to the movie. Part of me is dreading the going home process, knowing that when we go home we will:
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

A return to those crazy cliffs!

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!)

mad mountain goat climb

First, the hike up there..

the pass to the BIG cliffs

Then the climb down to where they started their climb from, where the ocean would surge and send spray all over.

Perching at the top

Us girls, Teralynn, Ellie, and I hung out at the top of the cliffs to watch Ben and Nate climb, and to enjoy the view!

The View!!

Nate is at the top of the cliff, and Ben is at the botton (on the left of the picture)

Ben rapells down

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

Angola, here we come!

As you can see from our numerous posts lately, there is a lot happening right now. With 4 weeks until we leave, it feels like we are on `fit it all in before we leave` mode.

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


We went surfing!! So much fun, so much sun.

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?