For those of you planning a move to Okinawa soon, we hope Marie’s descriptions of the process of their travel and first months of settling in can help you with a few of the “unknowns.” To read more of their story see links at the bottom of the post.
CONTRIBUTED BY MARIE LEWIS
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself,” Benjamin Franklin once said. Kenny and I have cast a wide net here in Okinawa, and the blessings are many. Here I list our top five favorite things about living here (besides getting lost, which I talked about in a recent post.) And because I don’t want to give you the false idea that island life is utterly perfect, I’ve included the five things we’d rather live without (in no particular order):
TOP 5 LIKES:
1. Sushi – I was a sushi lover even before we came here, and my love for it has only grown. Kenny is generally a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but I’m proud to say he’s caught the sushi bug—or fish, in this case. It’s our new go-to dinner when we don’t feel like cooking. Kenny is obsessed with spicy tuna, and I’ve ventured far enough to try octopus (and thoroughly enjoyed it.)
2. Snorkeling – We spent about $130 on fins, snorkels, and masks at the PX on Camp Foster. We feel it was a worthy investment. There is another world underwater that reveals something new every time we lower our faces below the ocean’s surface. It’s exhilarating, and with so many beaches at our fingertips, the possibilities are endless.
3. COLA – Let’s be real – it always helps to have some extra cash on hand. Kenny and I have been pretty diligent about budgeting, and the COLA goes a long way in offsetting the higher cost of certain foods and household goods. We know many people who’ve been able to shave their debt and pad their savings with careful planning.
4. Reading – No, this isn’t the first time I’ve ever picked up a book. Quite the contrary. The reason I list this is because I’ve had the opportunity to re-discover my love for books. Maybe it’s the long hours spent on the beach while Kenny is fishing. I am content to sit there all day and read for the pure pleasure of it. Kenny started picking out books from the Commandant’s Reading List posted in the Camp Foster Library. The libraries are such a great resource. Checking out books amounts to hours of entertainment that’s virtually free.
5. Perspective – Perhaps this one is the least tangible, but it’s the one I value most. I appreciate the gentle kindness with which I’ve been treated by local people. They are never impatient or rude. I admire their emphasis on fitness and overall well-being. I wake up at 5 a.m. most days to run, and I often see elderly men and women walking and jogging along my usual routes. They appear more physically fit than many people half their age. They always greet me with a slight bow and a smile. Here there seems to be no national obsession with celebrity gossip or the trendiest diet. I feel surrounded by people who value family and inner peace. There is a sense of shared responsibility for the communities in which we live, and I love being a part of that.
TOP 5 DISLIKES:
1. Humidity – My inner sun goddess loves the intense heat, but my hair is screaming for relief. The shampoo and conditioner I used in the states doesn’t do me much good here. I’ve perused the beauty aisles for products to calm frizz and moisturize my natural curls, with limited success. This is an ongoing battle. I find myself counting the days until winter.
2. Traffic – It can be pretty unpredictable. For instance, on Monday of this week it took me 40 minutes to drive about nine miles home from work. On Tuesday, same time of day, I was home in 15 minutes. I try to keep track of Japanese holidays as the traffic is always worse on those days, but I’m often surprised. Patience, patience. “You’ll get there when you get there,” I’m often told. I’d ride a bike to work, but that brings up dislike #1…
3. Distance – from family, that is. It’s the toughest thing. No matter how much we love this place, you just can’t replacefamily. Video chats will have to suffice, for now.
4. Jellyfish – I haven’t been stung by one yet, but there is a lingering fear every time I wade into the ocean. Sea urchins and rip currents fall into the same category. You can never be too careful.
5. Elevators – in our tower unit residence. Maybe by the time you read this they will both be fixed. I hope so. Shortly after we moved in the elevators were scheduled for renovations and were closed one at a time for several weeks. However, the elevators seemed to be working fine before the renovations. Afterward, the need for repairs has been almost constant. At any given time there is usually only one elevator working. This can create delays during the morning rush, especially when you live on the eighth floor like we do. It’s become the running joke with neighbors in our building: “Which one will break today?”