Published: September 11th 2006September 11th 2006
I'm so close!! We'll be in Japan in less just hours!! Japan! Whoa!
So far in Japan, I'm doing a home visit where I'll get to hang out with a family for a couple of hours, I'm so excited! And besides that, I'm visiting a steel and alumninum plant, and then doing some independent stuff. I think a few of us were thinking of taking a train to Osaka on Saturday because they are having a huge festival there.
Anyways! Since I'm sure you are just antsy as can be wating to hear of my adventures, here ya go! (Just so ya know, I wrote this a few days ago, and havn't had a chance to stick it on the internet. So it's kinda "old news" but still oh-so-good.
September 8th, 2006
We lost September 7th. No one knows where it went. It disappeared somewhere in the night. But per request, we are sticking to the Pirate’s Code and sailing on. Rest in peace, September 7th. I’m sure you would have grown to be a good day. And again, Davy Jones has had his way with another of us. Next time, we just hope that we have a little more of a warning. A signal of some kind; a red flare, or even a storm, would be appreciated.
In other news: the weather report! I woke the other morning to a window of fog. You almost couldn’t see 10 feet out the window. It had cleared up by the end of breakfast, but it was pretty mystica-likel to see. Kinda spooky in a way, but still pretty. And it has rained a few times in the last few days. The first rain we got was when we sailed through a “squall” which is a rain storm with definable borders. We all knew it was coming and could see it minutes before it happened. And it was pretty warm outside (mid 80s) so we decided to dance in the rain and have fun with it. After we played and danced in it for a while, we decided since we were already nearly drenched that we would jump into the pool. And then we found out we had a mandatory meeting so we had to rush and change our clothes and attempt to dry off a little.
Oh geeze, I have SO many stories to tell, and hopefully I can remember them long enough to take some time and write them down at some point. Even though I have only been on this ship for 2 weeks, it seems like it has been so much longer! At least it feels like I have known theses people for a lot longer. I love knowing so many new people, and everyone is so amazing. I won’t bore you with naming them all off and telling you about them because first you wouldn’t ever be able to get a good sense of them without actually knowing them. And second because even if it were possible, it would take FOREVER.
So about my “travels” so far. I say “travels” because as much as I was a tourist in Hawaii, I don’t really count it as a foreign country because technically it wasn’t. But lets go back a little further… San Diego! Woohoo! So we flew in in the morning, and Dad, Darci and I checked into the hotel and made our way to Sea World. It was so great! We had a blast. And we got drenched Sea World-style. The next day we made it out to the San Diego Zoo, which was ginormous! It took us most of the day to not even see the entire zoo. The turtles were very old. On Friday, I boarded the great MV Explorer! It was such a new experience, I didn’t really know what to think. We had meetings, lunch, and then free time in San Diego. I decided to hang out with all the work study students and we walked around and “socialized” I guess you would call it… Haha. And then we had to go back and have more meetings, and then the evening in San Diego and I took a ferry with Darci and Dad to Coronado Island. It was really pretty to see San Diego from across the water, with all the lights. Because it was dark out, it was hard to get a good picture but I tried and a few turned out ok. Then it was back aboard the ship (its not a boat, people are sensitive. In a sarcastic/joking/serious way) to set up my room a bit. It ended up taking a lot longer than I wanted, because I kept getting distracted with the very few people that were aboard the ship. But I definitely didn’t complain. I love people. The next day, we had more meetings, and worked a little (oh yeah! I work in the Campus Store! I love it! I work with two wonderful ladies, Jelena from Serbia and Yvonne from Jamaica, along with the other two work study students Roman and Alicia) and then another night out in San Diego where we walked out to the mall and hung out there. Then on Saturday night, we set sail for Ensenada, Mexico!! It was so exciting! Madison brought out his Ipod dock thing and we played salsa music and danced (or rather, tried to dance) salsa! We got to Ensenada the next morning about 8ish in the morning. All the work study students had little jobs to do to help out all the new students boarding the ship. I got to be a greater in the stairwell and point the students up another flight of stairs. As I’m sure you could tell, I was a very important helper. So important, that they replaced me outside helping sort through baggage and putting new colored tags on them. Since there were so many bags (just over 500 students boarded, plus a good handful of Adult Passengers, each with at least 2 bags) they eventually dragged all the work study students out to help. It took all 25ish of us about 3 hours to make it through the 3 trucks, a full bus and a half bus of bags. And by full bus, I mean a coach bus with all the baggage holds full plus bags stacked on all the seats to the front. It was a little nuts. And then we get back on the ship and there is 500 some-odd more people than the night before, almost overwhelming. But it was SO exciting seeing everyone else as excited as we were 2 days before. And then we set sail on the big blue towards Hawaii!! The first week at sea went by SO fast. By the end, it felt like I had known these people for at least a month. I guess it helps that you see so much of the same people because you are stuck in such a small place together. Even though, I have found that it is very possible to lose people and not be able to find them for quite a while.
I suppose I should tell ya a bit about the ship, eh? Well, it was built in 2002 and set sail in 2003 (I think), and I know for sure it is the fastest passenger vessel with a top speed of 29.9 knots (1 knot is 1.15 mph. Or the other way around. Either way, it’s basically 1 for 1). There are 3 propellers, 2 main ones in the back, and one small one in the front to help steer out of the ports. There are four motors that run the back two motors. At the moment, we only have two of the motors running and an average speed of 18.0 knots. We have a total, including students, faculty, the faculty’s family, staff, and crew, of 859 passengers. The crew is absolutely amazing. Most of them are from the Philippines, and they are all sooo nice. The steward that cleans my room (well, they change the towels, vacuum, make our beds, wipe the bathroom and stuff) is named Jess, and my favorite by far is the lady that runs the Piano Bar (a basic snack bar, soda, candy, coffee, popcorn) whose name is Antoinette. She is an absolute doll. The crew that works in the dining rooms does anything possible to make you happy. They clear your dishes from the table, get you drinks, and carry the trays for the older passengers. And as big as it looks from the outside, it really is pretty small inside. Sometimes you get confused which direction you are facing, so you walk the wrong way and have to turn around and look doofy, but everyone does it so it’s ok.
It took us just 6 days to get to Hawaii on time, and during that time we had class everyday. That’s one of the cool/crappy things about our schedules; we have A and B days, and have them everyday while we are not at port. Which means that we go to class on the weekends too. But you get used to not having weekends, because basically we will have a 5 day weekend once we get to Japan. And then 2 days of classes, then 2 days in China, then 2 days with no classes, then 2 days in Hong Kong then a few days of classes then 5 days in Vietnam…. And it goes on and on for the rest of the voyage. I think there is one longer stretch of at sea time between India and Egypt, and that is for 8 days which isn’t too long.
Once we got to Hawaii, we headed straight for Waikiki Beach! But don’t worry, we weren’t out to lie in the sun all day (by this point I was already pretty burnt. I’m still healing. It’s pretty bad, I won’t lie. Probably the worst ever. Ouch.) but we were out to SURF. Yeah!! I went surfing! And I did pretty good! I totally caught 2 waves in the hour and a half we were out! And the water was almost as pretty as me. The water never ceases to amaze me. Everyday. Anyways… Brooke had an underwater camera that she had strapped to her wrist, so we went and found a one hour photo place to get it developed while we went and did all of our other stuff. Brooke has a friend back home in Newport Beach, CA that grew up just outside of Honolulu, so she gave us some ideas and directions on how to get to places. Our first stop after surfing: food. Brooke had the directions written down on a piece of paper, but we still had a little bit of an adventure just finding the place. First of all, the directions were something similar to the following… “Take University Ave past the U, then follow it for a ways till it gets to the residential area, then it curves and take a right there. Then go down the hill to the 2nd stoplight, then another right. Then it curves a little, and then there’s a fork in the road so stay to the right and go up the hill.” But after University Ave, she didn’t know the street names and didn’t really tell us how far between each port. But it was a very fun adventure getting to Ba Foo’s Pizza ,which ended up actually being Boston’s Pizza, but Brooke heard her friend wrong. Just imagine 4 lost looking students, one looking out-of-the-textbook-touristy, asking locals around this very small residential town area for a Ba Foo’s Pizza. After a very good pizza lunch, we trekked on down the road after some helpful clarification on our directions towards our final destination. We caught a bus but we could only take it maybe a mile before it turned the wrong way. Trying again to follow the directions from Brookes friend, we walk through this residential area and met two nice golden retrievers and then later on a guy named Levi who kindly informed us we missed our turn that was at the bottom of this ginormous hill we just walked up. We found the right street, followed it through, and some of the directions’ interesting details started appearing: a big house on the right, two smaller ones on the left. Check. Two metal posts. Check. A hut. Check. By the time we passed the big and small houses, the dead end road quickly transformed from a paved residential street to a muddy/dirty/viney path with HUGE jungle-y trees and vines all around. All in about 6 steps. Horray we found the trail! From there we passed our hut, and then followed the path for quite a ways. It was gorgeous. Well, gorgeous would be an understatement. The path was basically paved in tree or vine roots. There were vines hanging from the tree branches. And from the minute you were shaded by the huge trees, you could hear all kinds of birds chirping their happy Hawaiian tunes. After a good 40 minutes of mostly uphill hiking, we came to the point where we would have continued following Brooke’s friend’s instructions and shimmied our way down this almost cliff-hill, but since we weren’t sure how long it was going to be, we decided to keep on the trail we were on and see where it took us. And thank shish-ka-bob we did. It led uphill for a bit longer but began to clear up, and eventually ended at the top of this huge mountain! Well, it may have been just a large hill, but there was definitely valleys on either side of us, and we could see Honolulu in the distance. It really put in perspective how far we actually walked. It was pretty freakin far. The view was astonishing, you could see the city in the distance, the small town just below, the tree tops that we were walking under just before, and the mist rising from the top of the bigger mountain. Before long, we found out that the mist rising so mystically from the mountains was actually rain, and we had to hurry and run back with our cameras under our shirts to the protection of the huge trees where we left all of our bags. At this point, it was time to head back anyways, so we trekked on down this mountain to the bottom and made our way back to entrance. We met a girl named Stephanie that was just behind us coming down the trail, but she was coming from a different trail that branched off the main one. She was really nice, a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii and now working at a café/bookstore. We got her address and contact info so we could send her postcards and stuff. And a good thing we did too, because by the time we made it back into Honolulu via the busses, it was too late to go pick up our pictures from the photo place. I am in charge of contacting her and seeing if she could possibly go pick them up and hold on to them for us till we get back to the states so we can get her some moolah and she can maybe send them too us. Who knows, I guess we’ll have to wait and find out! And if it all works out as planned, then maybe someday you can see pictures of me surfing! Yeah! Besides being too late to pick up our pictures, we barely squeezed on to the ship on time. I think we had 3 minutes to spare before we would have been late. And trust me, you don’t want to be late. I think its 2 hours of dock time (2 extra hours you have to stay on the boat when it ports) for between 0-5 minutes being late. It’s pretty extreme, but it gets people to the ship on time!
And that was my wonderful trip to Hawaii for a day!
And since then, I have been aboard this magnificent ship sailing across the bluest waters I have ever seen. Today, it was reallll spooky because the water was so calm. Like in the movies when the water is so smooth that you just wait for some kind of monster to pop out and gulp the ship up whole. And then about dinner time, it fogged up again. But the bridge guys (the captain, the 2nd in command, and such) insist that there is good weather for the rest of the way to Kobe. Just think, if we were 5 days ahead, we probably would have run into Ioke (the SUPER Typhoon that just barely missed Japan and has made it’s way over to Alaska as just a regular crappy storm). That would have been so exciting! Too bad. They say that the roughest waters are in the Mediterranean and the Northern Atlantic. We wont really be in Northern Atlantic, but we can hope that we hit some kind of storm. Nothing bad of course, just enough to shake us up a bit.
Ha, it seems like I’ve been gone forever! And it’s only been 2 weeks! And on Tuesday I’ll be in Japan! It still blows my mind how I even managed to make it this far. If you would have asked me a year ago, or even 8 months ago, if I would be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I probably would have laughed. I even amazed myself at how I made it all happen. But of course I had a bit of help too, thank you so much to everyone!!
Well, even with the 25 hour days we’ve had, I still can’t get enough done. So I better go so I can go to sleep and wake up supa early to be at work at 8 and still have time to eat breakfast!
Well, I am having the most amazing time! And I’ll try to send a few post cards from Japan… But we’ll see how that goes. You know I’m a slacker… But I also don’t have addresses for some of you! Get on that! Email me! I probably won’t respond in any reasonable amount of time, but who knows?
Love you all! And I’ll try to update more, I know it will pick up more when I get to go to all these awesome countries. :)
**Pictures take almost a million years to load, so I'll do them later if ever.