We’re finally here! It has been an amazing two weeks getting used to a new culture, eating new foods, learning Japanese, and driving on the left side of the road! We’ve been documenting much of our new life on Facebook, (Kristen is our documentor: Kristen’s Facebook.) but I wanted to take a moment to share some stories about our adventure so far. Because, while there have been many new and amazing things, there have also been several ‘learning experiences’ where things did not entirely as planned! So here are a few of those stories:
There are bound to be things that go wrong when travelling across the world with two children, right? Right. We actually managed to get along pretty well, moving 12 bags through airports and hotels, up until we got to Japan. It was the final customs line that got us. We arrived with a compliment of about 200 Chinese passengers, all standing in line together to enter the country. From my vantage point of about a foot above everyone else I could see just how long the customs line was; as a parent I ranked it in regards to our kids, somewhere between an “I have to go potty” dance and an “I’ve been on a plane for 10 hours and now have to stand in line” meltdown. Sure enough, when the time finally came to step up to our customs agent, Archer was not in a mood to move any more. Stopped in the middle of the floor, I reached out my hand to take his and usher him forward when a bag on my shoulder slipped down my arm and over the hand that was holding all our passports. The passports were launched out of my hand by the strap and four passports flew in four different directions, the farthest one reaching a whopping ten feet. What followed was a chaotic scramble of unfortunate passengers caught in the line of fire and polite Japanese Attendants rushing to help me pick up the passports. Needless to say, the Americans made quite a first impression in the customs line!
There have been many adjustments for us in Japan so far, some actually have nothing to do with a foreign country, but simply not living in Florida anymore. The primary examples would be hills and mountains, and trains… Being currently without a car, we have been mostly dependent on the train system running through our town; a single line train that runs north and south between two cities. When we arrived in Japan, there were many very friendly people that reached out to us and welcomed us. One such family was kind enough to invite us over to their place so we could get to know each other; which meant we were presented with our first train adventure. It started out well, we managed to figure out how to buy our tickets, and how much they were. We even got on the correct train and made it to the correct train station. However, after exiting the station we realized a fault in our plan. We have left early in an attempt to eat lunch at a restaurant near the station. But we had not mapped our route very well (We don’t have gps yet) and turned out we could not get to the restaurant. Well our friends weren’t going to arrive for another hour, and there were no seats or shade outside the train station, so we did the only sensible thing to do and bought a cheap train ticket so we could get back in the station and sit down. After an hour of waiting, we then attempted to leave the train station, except we couldn’t. The turnstile would not accept our ticket, and there were no attendants at the small train station. We were stuck inside with a machine that beeped indignantly when we attempted to give it our train ticket that we didn’t go anywhere with. After a very embarrassing ten minutes, our new friend finally arrived and was able to use a radio to call an attendant to let us out. Another successful first impression! Complete with an old man walking up to laugh at us.
There have been a few other instances such as, Kristen trying to figure out how to pay with yen and thoroughly confusing the cashier. Kristen attempting to receive a package (evidently they’re all hand-delivered and not left on doorsteps) and confusing the delivery man. She could write a whole post on her coffee misadventures… We are grateful to have a sense of humor and that the Japanese people are gracious to foreigners. But we’re surviving and getting better every day! Thanks, for your prayers and support.