Rainy season seems to have gone out with a whimper and a bang (the whimper being non-Typhoon Guchol and the bang being the days and days of rain following). The sky has changed from its May and June color of "dark white", as the GNG termed it, back to its luscious subtropical azure, with rings of dramatically fluffy white clouds ringing the little plateau we live on. So I need to record this particular side thorn before it disappears into that box of things-we'd-rather-not-remember. (I blame that box for why people who have lived in Okinawa compare it to Hawaii, thus misleading thousands of poor young military wives who don't get what they bargained for in coming here. But that's a post for another day.)
There is only one way to describe rainy season on the Rock. If you manage to sneak in a trip to the pool between storms, your towels and bathing suits will remain stubbornly moist through days of hanging. Your bare feet squelch as you walk across the linoleum, moist with sweat that has nowhere to go. You open the window in the bathroom after fogging the place up with a shower, and it is more humid outside than in. You try to slip into your sheets after a long hot day, and the sheets--no, could it be?--the sheets feel wet. Because they are. When you wake up in the morning and realize that you left the downstairs AC on all night, the windows are dripping with condensation. You have to turn down the AC in your car because you can't see through the moisture on your windows. You find it hard to remember to drink water because it feels like you're swimming about your daily tasks, your skin drinking in the moisture around you. You daily face the same health risks that you would if you lived in a wet sauna.
You set your dehumidifier to "moist" (as opposed to "dry" or "really dry") but still, the tank is full in four hours.
Without a hair dryer, your hair would still be wet when it's time for the next shower. A cold water bottle sweats puddles and buckets of water, drawing more moisture out of the air than the bottle even contains. Your definition for folding clothes changes from "dry" to "dry enough".
You check the shoes in your closet for mold. Your definition for outside toys changes from "mold-free" to "mold-free-enough".
But now it's summer. The relative humidity is a reasonable 84%. Some time before November, I'll be continuing this series with its next seasonal entry: On Heat.
And here we are with the most recent three months! Thanks to those of you who indulge my familial navel-gazing. I don't expect everyone in the world to be fascinated by pictures of my kid(s!), and your encouraging and appreciative words really brighten my day. Of course, I could look at her for hours. And, in fact, do on most days!
This was the day that I started to really come out of morning sickness. It wasn't raining for a change, so we went to see the giant fish flags hung over the river in honor of Children's Day. Eva was so excited she was bouncing up and down & flapping her shirt.
I took this on our recent trip to Akajima in the Keramas. Eva took one look at this bridge between islands and knew she had to conquer it (which meant I had to drag my lazy self up the 5 flights of stairs as well). At the top, her "trawbewwy shoes" kept magically removing themselves.
The GNG and I were killing time on a rainy afternoon when I made her these antennae and she almost died of happiness and/or flew away to 2-year-old bug heaven. And yeah, the Pater Familias and I burst out laughing every time we see this.
In her favorite spot, sitting on the kitchen counter "helping" me with something. She's been begging to help with the dishes, and I'm all, "Oh honeychild, you have no idea how much you are going to help with dishes as soon as you are tall enough!"
Go see other adorable pictures (or link up yourself! Got a couple of days left, and you could win awesome prizes) at:
Yeah, I'm a little behind if you note what months this is for. Moving and getting pregnant will do that to you. And I totally missed the linkup, which closed...oh, three months ago. But this whole top-five pictures to sum up three things is a great documentation thing, and I'm about to do the linkup for April thorugh June, so I thought I'd put these out there first (several of which you've seen before).
Me: Araha Beach...
The ever-famous turtle shot.
And yeah, this is totally 6 pictures...since it's not for the linkup I can do what I want!
Just for reference, this is Daddy/the Pater Familias:
(To those of you who recognize what type of photo this is...yep. I just did that.
(Hiking Diamond Head in Hawaii, January 2011)
Eva's been into making faces for quite a while now, but just in a general "be so serious!" or "be so silly!" kind of way. Neither the PF nor I have any real skill at impressions, so we don't generally do them. All of a sudden the other day, she said she was "being Daddy". Then she did this:
(I think this is her version of his version of Blue Steel.)
Oh yes she did!
It's officially typhoon season here on the ever-naturally-disastrous Ring of Fire. Last year it opened with a bang before it was even supposed to, but this year all we've had is a false alarm a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully everyone got all stocked up at the last minute for that one (as I did), but from what I hear the line was wrapped all the way around the Commissary yesterday so...I guess they didn't. Either that or people are buying perishables to stock up for typhoons, in which case we all need more safety briefings or something.
Anyway the Pater Familias and I were reflecting on the utter media hysteria that would accompany any approach of something like a "category 4 super typhoon" to Florida or elsewhere in the States, and the worry that would cause our friends and relatives. I'm not writing this up because this storm is supposed to be anything special, but really just because it's something to talk about. It's what's going on with us right now. (As a side note, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has consistently estimated this one's strengths as lower than other sources and are, in true Japanese form, not flipping out. As I recall, when wunderground.com was calling it a category 2 or 3, JMA was not yet calling it a typhoon.)
He is jealous for me
loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
the weight of your wind and mercy
Our hotel on Tokashiki was very large and hotel-ish, and our Aka experience was the opposite. We stayed at Hanamuro Inn. As I mentioned before, the Pater Familias' Organizer Extraordinaire Friend (OEF) arranged everything, but when we started to have our own specific questions we emailed Masashi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he answered promptly and clearly. (When we arrived he gave an eloquent speech about his English is not very good...you know how it goes! We never had a single issue with him not understanding us over the weekend.)
Usually, the Hanamuro accepts neither kids under 5 years old nor dogs, but as it was off season and our group had reserved all the rooms, he allowed it. And actually, they doted upon both Eva and the dog. They didn't charge anything for her, and our first afternoon there they laid out this white board for her (Eva) to torture us by making us try to draw animals. And the OEF was allowed to keep his dog and her kennel in the common porch area.
After we'd spent a couple of days there, I came to understand the no-young-kids thing. You really are all up in each others' grill, which is great if you are a group like we were, but if there were, say, some couples who were trying to have a quiet getaway, mixed with some couples with crazy kids, it could get awkward. There are 7 or 8 rooms with sliding glass doors that open directly onto a communal outdoor area with umbrellaed tables and two outdoor bathtubs (an idea I found slightly strange until I found myself on a drizzly, cool day sitting comfortably under an umbrella while Eva played happily in a warm bath, not missing the beach down the road one bit).
The rooms each had two single beds in them and were...quite cozy. We could just barely squeeze Eva's peapod onto the floor on one end of the beds, and piled our gypsy camp on top of itself at the other end. So pack light. Guests provide all of their own towels (although there was a hand towel in each room). One detail I liked was that there were four hooks with hangars in the room, which is really useful for beach stuff. Each room has an air conditioner which you control.
The showers and bathrooms were all communal; there are two toilet stalls and two bathroom stalls (all very nice on the inside). There are two sinks, out by the tables, so you get acquainted with your fellow guests right away. I forgot to switch to my quiet-tooth-brushing mode a few times, so I'm sure they wish they hadn't gotten to know me quite so well.
Bananagrams on a drizzly morning. Despite the outdoorsiness of the hotel, we didn't have much of a problem on our rainy weekend.
Masashi leads sea kayak tours of the area, including to different islands. The group that went had a fun and long trip and saw a sea turtle snorkeling. I was jealous when they left but not jealous when they were gone for several hours and missed lunch. Baby Due* would not have been pleased. I don't think it's even possible for me to eat enough granola bars to make up for missing lunch at this point in time, and certainly not during several hours of exercise. He also had fixed-gear bikes for rent, and seemed to have snorkel gear for borrow or rent (but we'd brought our own). There was a handy rinse-off area for gear.
The OEF's dog, pining away most piteously while he was kayaking.
The inn is just around the corner from the port and also from a beach where we spent most of our beach time:
A slightly longer walk (10-15 minutes with stroller) is what Masashi called the sea turtle beach, and sure enough we saw two there. A tactic we employed, since it wasn't overly warm, was to sit up on the sea wall until you spotted a turtle breathing, then go chase it down with snorkels. The snorkeling wasn't amazing around the island, but it was entertaining. And we saw weird thingies that looked like a mix between snakes and sea cucumbers. I'll try to post a video later. And of course, my first sea turtle was amazing!
There is also a beautiful beach on the other side of the island (definitely a drive away; we had our car, but I'm sure a ride could have been arranged with Masashi). We didn't swim at this one but would have liked to hang out there for a day if weather had been better. It was slightly remote but looked like there may be food shacks open there once it's high season:
Aka has one small town and food options are quite limited, but we did manage to find one open place that served good food every day. There are also a couple of small grocery stores, all in walking distance.
A note on the food: We thought the food was awesome. Dinner was all Japanese style (sashimi, which Eva LOVED, tempura, rice, tuna steak or fried fish, and soup) (actually pregnant me had a slightly hard time avoiding all of the raw stuff, but I was able to get enough food with the others). Breakfast the first morning was American-ish (coffee, eggs and French toast and such) but the second morning was soba and rice and a casual afterthought of coffee. It was absolutely fine for me, but it really didn't go over so well with some people; Masashi noticed and asked my husband about it**, as apparently visiting Europeans really get a kick out of Japanese style breakfast. The Pater Familias told him that, unfortunately, U.S. military people aren't always that into culinary adventure, and that coffee is really really important. The next morning they served us an elaborate, beautiful breakfast, with the coffee coming out first, followed by yogurt with mango and fried eggs and breakfast sandwiches.
A note on the drinks: We brought our own bar, which Masashi was...impressed with, perhaps. Thanks a lot for having caused this picture to be taken of me, guys. Obviously I was not partaking.
We highly recommend Hanamuro Inn and Akajima in general.
*Apparently I neglected to explain this before--"due", Italian for "two", is pronounced "doo-ay" (if you're from Texas...it's slightly more subtle but that's the best I can write out).
**My husband discovered after our ferry tickets were bought that he had to return home on Sunday instead of Monday, and there is no morning ferry back on Sunday. So Masahi arranged for him to take a mini-ferry/water taxi to Tokashiki, a taxi across Tokashiki to the port, and the express ferry back to Naha. Masashi, in short, is the man. He and his...wife?...walked the Pater Familias to the port to see him off on Sunday (and there asked about breakfast).