Monday, October 13, 2008

Stewart Weekend

We got a bit of a late start Saturday because I made Chris cinnamon rolls for the first time in a long time. After our sugary feast we made our way to a local produce market and fish market. The produce on base can be really pricey (over $5/lb of bell peppers) and isn't always that fresh. So, we checked out a produce market recommended by Rana's foster mom, Rachel, and we weren't disappointed. It's nice getting locally grown produce because you know it's fresh and you're lessening your carbon footprint when your food doesn't have to travel as far, but in this case it is also way cheaper! We loaded up on peppers, onions, bananas, apples, and pineapple! Everything so far has been delicious!

After stocking up on fruit and veggies we headed to the sea port to check out the fish market. Basically, you can't get fish any fresher. They sell whatever they caught that morning so you know it's fresh. We got a big chunk of tuna that Chris cut into steaks, rubbed with a blackened mix and grilled for dinner. It might be the best fish we've ever eaten! It was delicious!

Saturday afternoon the family headed out for a little kayaking. We don't have our "real" kayak yet - it's being shipped from our long term storage in Corpus Christi - but we have an inflatable one that I gave to Chris for his birthday years ago that we thought we'd try out. We assumed that since Rana loves the water so much she'd love kayaking. Boy, were we wrong! We got to the beach and our little web-toed baby ran right into the water, but once we put her into the boat she panicked. For a while Chris would paddle while I tried to keep Rana calm up front, but then she decided the back looked better so I got a turn to paddle. I think our whole kayaking venture lasted 10-15 minutes - Rana just wasn't happy! It was pretty wavy so we're hoping she'll like it more on a calm day. Even though she didn't like the kayak, she sure looks cute in her life jacket!

Sunday morning we got up and took the dog for a nice long walk. One of the unique things about Okinawa are the vending machines. It's not that they are overly strange, but there are just so many of them! In our three and a half mile walk we have 36 vending machines selling drinks and 5 selling cigarettes. They do have sodas, including Coke Zero and Mountain Dew, but the majority of their drinks are iced coffees and teas. You can definitely get your caffeine fix here. The other thing you will see lots of our tombs. There are family tombs where they put their ancestors' cremated remains. During part of their mourning/burial ritual they pass the non-cremated bones from one family member to the next with chopsticks to then put in the urn. That ritual is why when you're out to eat you never ever pass food with chopsticks - it is considered very disrespectful to the dead. After our family walk we came home and watched the Gators absolutely whip LSU's butt!

Sunday afternoon we headed to Naha (the biggest city/district on Okinawa) to participate in the world's largest tug of war. Chris did a great job getting us there. To avoid traffic we parked at the airport and took the monorail into the city. The monorail was very easy to use. Unlike the Metro in Paris and the Tube in London, the monorail is clean and air conditioned! I had heard some scary stories that they herd you on to the monorail until you're packed in like cattle, but it really wasn't bad. On the way back to the car there were tons of people getting on. There were actually people at the monorail doors that would only allow a certain number of people on. It was a little crowded, but nothing like when I rode the Metro with Mary and we had to get way too personal with strangers! Plus, it appears that the Japanese wear deodorant, unlike some countries we've been to.

So these folks are serious about their tug of war. I don't know how long the rope is, but it's as tall as my chest when it's sitting on the ground. There are smaller ropes hanging off that people grab on to for pulling. Traditionally, the tug of war was between the farmers and the fishermen. Whoever won was believed to be destined to have a more bountiful year. Now it's just kind of a free-for-all. I think there were definitely as many Americans as there were Japanese (there are at least 5 bases on this little island). Chris and I were able to grab on to the rope and give a tug, but there was definite potential for a trampling. I got some pretty good video if you want to watch -

It was really a festival-like atmosphere with balloons, school kids playing traditional Okinawan drums, and greasy, yummy food. We split a dish that we couldn't identify but that looked delicious. We were not disappointed. We think it had egg, maybe potato, cabbage, maybe some pickled ginger, and a couple kind of sauces. Maybe it's an Okinawan omelet?! Check out the rest of the pictures from the weekend at the 'Pictures of Our Travels' link on the left!


m.e.bertsch said...

Hi there! You are soo adventurous! Sounds like tons of fun. We just got back from the States (Mine and Jack's first time back since moving away) and it was pretty fun. Now we are back in UK getting ready for a busy few months of work travel for Matt. When you're hot you're hot! Or, when it rains it pours...however you want to look at it. OH...btw...Jack saw y'alls picture and said 'ITS AMY! I like the dog! I need to pet her.' Direct quote, no joke. I'll update our blog soon. TTFN

Tyler Tuszynski said...

Looks like an absolute blast!

Mandy said...

How cute does Rana look in her little life jacket.