Monday, September 04, 2006
stung, sunburnt and sleepy
In my ever-enjoyable quest for Hokkaido domination (today Hokkaido, tomorrow the world!) I set out this past weekend for the HAJET sponsored Northern Regional Welcome Party. This year, the party was held in Shosanbetsu, a small village on the coast between Rumoi and Wakkanai.
After watching my town's Junior High schoolers show off their singing, speech-making and general craziness at their school festival, I headed off in my little tractor-mobile for the coast. I even managed to make it sound like I had to leave early for official business. Well, I did manage to sell a few books so I guess it was business. Yeah, that's the ticket!
Me and Dierdre drove north through crow-town and -41.8C town. I love that Hokkaido towns are all famous for something, even if it's for being really cold and having a lot of crows. Shosanbetsu is the town of stars -- they must have an observatory, but I didn't see it. Although it was pretty well in the middle of nowhere, so I'm sure the star-gazing is great.
I didn't get in until after dark and the party was already well under way. I tucked into what was left of the yakiniku and yakisoba and cracked a bottle of wine. It was really good to spend a night next to the ocean and meet up with old friends and meet some of the new people. I've been down in the dumps for a bit here feeling isolated and sorry for myself, but it seems that getting out, seeing people and dipping my toes in the ocean was what I needed.
At some point there was an ocean swim, complete with bioluminecense (yay!) and jellyfish stings (boo!). Aw shucks, it was just like Bamfield. Well, as much as a concrete beach in Japan can be like Bamfield. Which isn't really a lot at all.
The next day we piled our cars with people and garbage and said our goodbyes. I enjoyed being in the sun and burnt the crap out of my back. Yes, I put on the sunblock, just not in the middle of my back where I needed it. I drove back with a couple of girls from my area and showed them the joys of Asahikawa's foreign foods store and our very own American-style shopping mall. Not my favorite place to hang out, but a necessity for things like cheese and pickles.
I eventually made it back home where I watched "Tonari no totoro"/"My neighbor Totoro" and passed out by 9:30. Getting up this morning for high school was a challenge, even with all that sleep.
There are three more welcome parties scheduled, and I will be trying to make it to most of them. This weekend I have a Board of Education trip though, so instead of drinking in the middle of nowhere with JETs, I'll be drinking on a bus with my co-workers. You think I'm joking, but I'm sure the minute we leave town at 9:00 on Saturday, there will be beer and snacks being passed around. And that's why Japanese people like to go on bus tours.
Unfotunately, that means I'll be missing the super fun Eastern party at Lake Kusharo. But there will be fun at Toya-ko the week after and Shikotsu-ko the week after that. One of those is even a long weekend. Much fun will probably be had, and many more kilometers put on my car.
Oh, my poor liver is all I can say...