Friday, July 18, 2014

nakagusuku castle

This past Sunday, seeing as the heat index was only 104 instead of the usual 109, Yoni and I decided to venture out and spend a bit of time exploring. Okinawa is covered in ancient castle ruins (a throwback to the long and complicated history of the Ryuku Kingdom), and even though they all basically look the same, they can be interesting and beautiful.

The main parts of Nakagusuku Castle were built in the 14th century, with later additions put on in the 15th century. It was operational in some capacity (first as a residence and later as a village office) until the Battle of Okinawa when some of the structures were destroyed. Despite the damage, of the approximately 300 castle ruins located in the Okinawa prefecture, this castle is one of the best preserved in its original state. (I got this factoid from the brochure. I can assure you Yoni and I have not visited 300 castle ruin sites. They’re nice, but they all look basically the same. But still – fun for a Sunday outing!)

Our local poisonous snake is called the Habu. Okinawans, however, are not known for their command of English when it comes to signage.

All of the rocks were numbered - we figured they were possibly re-assembling something a la the Jerusalem Stone walls near Machaneh Yehudah.

Yoni says that this hotel is haunted (at least according to local Marine Corps lore). If you're interested, he recommends googling "Nakagusuku Hotel haunted". 
I could not believe how many layers this woman was wearing. It was seriously hot. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Another Typhoon Down...

When I went to Camp Judaea as a kid, there was a large contingent of campers from Miami and Puerto Rico.  I don’t have that many good things to say about many of the campers from those places.   That is not to say that I disliked all my fellow campers in beautiful Hendersonville, NC; it just wasn’t awesome (and I really hated some people). These kids from the extreme South East might not have known basic rules of human decency, but they did know hurricanes.

I remember the really awesome t-shirts that some of them brought to camp in 1993 boasting “I survived Hurricane Andrew”.  As an aspiring meteorologist rabbi, I was already impressed with hurricanes and tracked them at home.  That summer, I learned they came with swag.  Further, there is a brotherhood that comes from having survived one of the world’s great storms.

I really wanted to be in a hurricane after that summer.  Nothing truly devastating, but it would be neat to see stuff fly.  Hampton, fortunately or unfortunately (however you might see it) was too well protected for those kinds of shenanigans.  We had a couple of hurricanes skirt through in my youth, but almost everything downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit Hampton.

We are officially in our last Typhoon season on Okinawa.  By now, Leora is a pro, but I was in Guam or Iwakuni or both when the last really spectacular typhoon hit almost two years ago. 

Even so, I do ok.  Though I’ve never been in anything truly jaw-dropping.  I stare out the window as the gusts of wind blast through the wind tunnel created by my apartment building and the one next door.  I take the puppy out when it seems things are dying down even just briefly.  I get a bad headache from the pressure change…and I pray that the pressure won’t result in Leora going into labor (it can do that).

Supposedly this typhoon was a pretty good one.  Winds gusted over 100 mph on island, and trees with large branches missing can be seen all over.  Many of the “No Parking” signs fell over on base, so it’s a free-for-all (at least in my head). There was also some pretty intense flooding. But at our house, things were relatively calm.  After all, we live in a concrete bunker of an apartment.  Power and water went out.  Fire alarms went off (and after two hours, they were jerry-rigged to cease their noise-making).   We went over to our neighbors’.  Played some board games.  Pet the dogs and played with babies.  Thank God, it wasn’t quite the Andrew experience, but I'm too old for that non-sense.

Friday, July 4, 2014

the end is in sight

As my August 6th due date gets closer and closer, it gets harder and harder for me to find interesting and inspiring non-baby things to write about. (I know, I know, you all think you’re interested in the baby things – but I promise you don’t really want to hear about the hours I spend thinking about baby monitors, changing pad covers, and all manner of other minutia. It’s really not interesting. Just ask my mom.) Add into the mix the fact that we recently found out we’ll be leaving Okinawa in December to move to beautiful Annapolis, MD (about which we’re SUPER excited, by the way), and you can understand why my brain is moving a million miles a minute, and not providing me with much blog inspiration.

That being said, our impending departure does have me thinking about what kinds of things Yoni and I absolutely want to do and experience before we leave. To be honest, I don’t think there’s much on either of our lists – we’ve been living here for a long time, now. But Yoni told me the other day that he still desperately wants to go scuba diving with whale sharks, which is a thing you can do here. And I know he still wants to go deep-sea fishing; he’s signed up for numerous trips over the past couple of years but they always seem to get cancelled. Stupid sub-tropical weather. As for me? I’m sure there are things we haven’t done, places we haven’t seen, but there are no activities in particular that stand out. I do find myself thinking much more seriously about my pedicure choices, knowing that my remaining pedicures on island are few in number. It would be nice to do more exploring around the island, but when it’s not thunderstorming the heat index averages about 108 with about 99% humidity – and that just doesn’t seem like a good idea for this 35+ weeks pregnant lady.

We did brave the heat today to take Penny to the beach for an hour or so. Penny was thrilled to celebrate her independence (and ours, of course), and to cool off in the East China Sea. Since it’s erev Shabbat, we won’t be attending any BBQs or parties or fireworks displays tonight. We’ll be at shul, doing our regular Friday thing. But then again, in thinking about what we’re really celebrating on July 4 and how hard our founding fathers worked to obtain religious (and political) freedom, maybe going to shul is a good way to celebrate July 4. Lounging by a pool, drinking margaritas and watching fireworks would be more fun, but as my niece Dafna says – we get what we get and we don’t get upset. So there you go.  Happy 4th, and Shabbat Shalom!