Well it’s been ten days since I last posted. What have you been doing you might ask? Why haven’t great, glorious, and fantastical things been happening to you? I’ve actually been quite busy, but until yesterday none of it seemed. . . worthy of telling. So I’ll push through a quick summary of the droll. Don’t worry there’s sensationalism to come soon.
I had last Thursday and Friday “off” work so that I could attend the mandatory Kochi City Orientation. This was a large meeting with all of the new JETs from groups A and B. It was they stereotypical group meeting in Japan: an overly florescent room, the repetition of information we’d all heard maybe twenty times (although this was most entertaining presentation of all that information), and the overwhelming sensation that the meeting was secondary in importance to the multitude of fifteen minute breaks where one must take all the time they can to talk to any and all other JETs. It’s like an instant family. “Oh you’re apartment was completely empty when you got there too? You still don’t have Internet? What do you mean your predecessor transferred all her accounts to your name, lucky!?” and many a similar conversation, which always evolve beyond the basics into deeper communications. Each night there was a planned after orientation party. There was good food, bad beer, and what are very quickly becoming dear friends. Sunday I attended another fantastic frisbee practice, and the new comers to the sport have improved vastly sense just last week. Hizzah!
I took one of my summer vacation days (as a JET I get three extra each summer) and recuperated from a busy weekend of socializing, making my way through the long list of domestic items that living on your own requires: laundry, dishes, mop the floors, clean bathroom, groceries, ironing, and the like. This week I learned how to throw away broken kitchen utensils and my recycles, and I also successfully went to the city offices and picked up my Alien Registration Card and Japanese Health Insurance Card.
Now that we’re through with the lead up, on to the thrill and chill! It’s Wednesday, and Susaki City has been in a long three-day heat spell. The typical daily rain disappeared Friday and, unfortunately, has still not returned. This causes beautiful clear blue skies, a gentle but mostly irrelevant breeze, and a choking sticky heat that is multiplied in its intensity by the glaring sun beaming down upon us as though we were the anthill under a vindictive child’s magnifying glass. It’s hot, does not describe the cloudless days here. Needless to say after walking from the train station to my school I’m a sweaty unpleasant Merican mess. The teacher’s room however, where all desks are located, has AC. It’s glorious. So it’s Wednesday, about 11:25, and I’ve cooled from my morning unpleasantness. My Kyoto Sensei (vice vice principal, or head teacher) comes up to me and says, “Andrew san kanuing wa darume no ikimashtaka?” . . . in so many words and after much translation from my JTE, “Andrew, our high school has two boats racing in the high school dragon boat battle today. We need someone to stand in the boat and keep the pace by beating on a large metal drum. You leave at 12:15 please take lunch now.” How could I refuse an offer like that? So in my business attire dress pants and tucked in long sleeve shirt I spent my day bare foot goading young high school girls from the Susaki high school volley ball and soft tennis (your guess is as good as mine as to what that is?) clubs into greater feats of dragon boating strength. We did very well. Out of 12 teams my boat was the only boat with girls, and we came in 4th place. I returned a sweaty mess, and agitated that I didn’t have my camera for the multitudes of fantastic photo opportunities the day presented. None the less a great time. As always more to come!