Jun 16, 2006

Last Days on Saipan & the Odyssey: From Osaka to Orlando

Where is the virgin paradise in which this Adam poses?

Why it's Pacific Islands Club, better known as P.I.C., a resort hotel and water park located about a 1.5 minute drive from our house. And the nature boy? That's me, lookin' sexy! This is the "lazy river." Isn't the landscaping beautiful? I'm used to water parks that are just bunch of harsh concrete baking in the sun feeling very man-made with the traffic rumbling by on International Drive.

This picture was taken on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 on second day of two days and an overnight of fun and sun for our7th and 8th graders. Mainly it was so that the Treasurer (who regular readers of this blog will recall was unable to go on the class trip) could have some kind of something since she was robbed of the trip to Korea she worked so hard for. But everybody got to benefit.

Below is a picture of the "activity pool."

This photo was taken on Sunday, June 11, 2006. It's become a tradition of mine to take my former students who are now graduating from high school out for dinner as my graduation gift to them. It also serves as a bit of reunion for them, as many of them attended different high schools after leaving the SDA School. This year's dinner was a little later than usual and unfortunately several of the kids couldn't make it as they'd already moved off island to persue the next chapter in their lives.
This good looking group were last my students as 9th graders (with the exception of Kevin, the guy in white second from left. He went to the Philippines after 8th grade)and I was particularly close to this class. There were seven of them originally and we had a lot of fun together that year. They are from left to right, Wylie(athletic and always cool), Kevin (the only one of the group who wasn't in that freshman class,Aya (also known as "Friday" on this blog, a wonderful smart, sweet and funny girl who has been an immeasurable help to Barbara and I as a worker), Holly (Aya's "twin" back in the day though they've grown apart some I think, brilliant and very in tune with pop culture. She knows--and sings along-to every song on the radio.), George (tall, quiet, and just cool. He doesn't even have to try to be cool. He just is). And the youngster on the far right, that's me (the teacher trying to be all cool with the kids. Trying...). Every single one of these kids are leaving Saipan so for many of them it is the last time I'll see them for a long while. Sad to see em go.

These are our Stepchildren. No neither one of us have any "secret marriages." That's the nickname we give the people who go through the 10 evenings of Marriage Encounter's "Steps Along the Journey" a follow up to the Marriage Encounter weekend. Having gone through Steps (as it's called for short), Babs and I were finally given our own group of newly "encountered" couples (we've got this whole other vocabulary in Marriage Encounter) to mentor through the process. So far 10 nights starting in January and ending on the night this picture was taken, Monday, June 12, 2006, we met together and hashed over the delightful, difficult, and sometimes dire thing that is known as marriage. In the process we did become something like family. I'll miss these guys. They are: on the couch, the Taitingfong's--a recently retired couple (though not so old. They've still got school age children and are probably late thirties to early forties. It's just that people here in Saipan begin work so young, and if you work for the government--which these two both did--you can retire after 20 years) married for 17 years. The couple standing are the Guerreros. A young couple married.. .um, I think 7 years? Or was it five. Can't remember. Anyway, we had a lot of fun and learned a lot from eachother.

And now the Journey to America Begins. . . .

Here's Kimo saying goodbye at the airport. Our dog comes always comes with us to the airport when either Babs or I leave on a trip. We tell ourselves that she knows when one of us are leaving. Course we can't know that. But it does seem that way. The night before I left she jumped into bed with Babs and I plopped herself right down between us and stayed there for quite awhile, which is unusual for her. I'll miss her this summer!

Guess where this is? I'll give you a hint, it begins with the letter "O".. .

If you guessed, Orlando, you'd be wrong. This is Osaka, Japan. Doesn't it look just like Orlando though? I know, Iknow...where the pagodas and Shinto shrines and Geishas mincing along in kimonos. This is globalization, folks, the homogenizing of the world. This was the closest "point of interest" to the airport in Osaka, and the only place I could get to during my layover. Note the authentic, traditonal Japanese "Gap" in the first photo. In ancient times this place was frequented by samurai warriors looking for a good pair of khakis.

Anyway, it was better than sitting in an airport terminal for four hours. And I bought a few things including these "herb postcards." There's actually seeds and dirt IN the postcard. I bought sweet basil and thyme and we're going to grow them this week. I also got an authentic Gap shirt just like the samurais wore!

One funny thing is that as I was browsing through the stores, they're playing all this American pop and then suddenly the familiar strains of "Great is Thy Faithfulness" are pumping through the sound system. ?!?! Granted it was sung by some poppy sounding divas but it was definitely the hymn. How very odd to be wandering the Temple of Mammon listening to a song normally heard in the House of God! Very surreal.

This is a very common site in Asia, I'm finding. You'll go to a restaurant and in lieu of a menu posted at the entrance they have this:

These are life size replicas--shiny, brightly colored, and molded entirely out of plastic--of every dish on the restaurant's menu. I suppose they're supposed to look even better than the real thing, like those giant juicy picture burgers you see at McDonalds that has nothing to do with the soggy limp specimen served to you. But to me they're strangely unappetizing. Especially the little plastic shrimps. And octopus. And the spageghtti which always look like bloodied plastic worms. Ugh.

This was an interesting sight I came across on my walk to the train station--a vast parking lot filled with bicycles, and all of them appearing to be unlocked. I would've liked to see what happened when all the people came back to get those bikes. That would have been some traffic jam.

Here I am posing outside the Rinku Town Premium Outlet Shopping Center in Osaka.
And below outside the train station at Rinku Town in Osaka. Trying to keep the dreads down and look respectable but not having much success.

This is the entrance to the Kansai International Airport in Osaka. Very dramatic,no?

This is Mt. Fuji, taken as my 12 hour hop across the Pacific was just beginning.

And finally back in the U.S.A. This is a photo of the apartment mom and grandma share. Taken, Thursday, June 15.

Mom and Grandma's home office. Mom on right, G-ma on left.

Next entry will feature dramatic pictures of my sister Dawn's "Palace in the Sky" from which we look down upon the mere mortals belows crawling like so many ants (insert maniacal laughter here)! Should be fun!

Also coming up, a new series inspired by TIME magazine: The Most Influential People in My Life. Are you on the list?