March 14 2001

Subject: “Miss, can we order now?”

Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 11:32 AM

I was going to order the food. The Girlfriend repeated the pronunciation several times, and I was mumbling it to my self. I had to be very careful, else when it came out, it would be a very bad word indeed. Not that what she was going to eat sounded anything like —–, it’s just that the way my language acquisition skills worked, I can instantly remember the bad words, but the normal, everyday words completely escaped me. Thus when I tried to speak, I usually would say what first came to mind, which hasn’t been good.

I was ready. The waitress came over, and I told her what I wanted, and took a deep breathe, then started to order for the Girlfriend.

At which point the Girlfriend kicked me under the table (and you had those boot/shoe things on as well, :-). {Thou she now tells me that it was my other Girlfriend, as she is too nice to kick me}

As she ordered, I rubbed my shin.

I grinned. “What was that for? I wasn’t going to say —–.”

“Shhh! Don’t say that word. I wanted to order the Naha Soba set instead.”

“Oh. Did you have to kick me?”

“I could have thrown my chopsticks at you instead.”

I nodded, a kick in the shin was better then airborne chopsticks anyday. Less chance of eyes being removed (it’s all fun and games till someone looses an eye).

Okinawa has a gazillion little islands. Before being invaded and conquered by the Japanese, they were actually unified and had a central ruler. Before this, anything went, thus all the local area kings had their own little castles and fiefdoms. And I’ve seen a lot of them. “Ohh, look at the pile of rock. How special.”

These aren’t the European castles we’ve all seen in “Robin Hood” and what not. There are no towers, no moats, no ramparts, and none of those cool little zig-zag like pieces to peer around.

The castles here are dirt filled limestone walls. Sometimes they have a seperate inner layer of wall. Some of the walls are porbably nine feet thick. And very steep, depending on where the wall is, they are 10 yards high. They are also rather slimy from the rain. I’ve been mildly surprised as how well the castles are situated. Very well placed, usually on the highest peak, source of water and food near by.

There are now just ruins in most places. Some of the castles have a pile of rocks and plaque. The ones still standing  are actually impressive, if you can get beyond the fact that they don’t look like castles (Where is Sean Connery or Mel Gibson?)

The king that unified the kingdom had the largest castle in the land. Called Shuri castle, it’s right on the hillside above Naha city. It was destroyed during WWII, but has since been rebuilt.

Finally, when the Girlfriend was here, I made it to Shuri Castle. It has been a bit of a joke, as I’ve gone by it several times while on the bike, walked past it at night, played around it at night, tried to go when the parents were here, but hadn’t made it actually inside.

Very Chinese in design. You can tell that the Chinese had a huge influence over the Okinawans. Reds and dragon motifs, and gilt (stair cases inside the castle that were more ladder like than stairs. Not that that is an influence from China, I was just more impressed with the thought of climbing those stairs while carrying anything).

I was pleasently surprised that all the signs and information placards were in English. A by product of having the opening ceremony to the G-8 Summit held there.

That’s it for me. There is a Japanese Language Conference this Thursday and Friday, so a lot of the ALTs are in town. I have the crazy Aussie staying with me, and his fiancee is going to be joining him this Friday night. So that means lots more fodder for the journal, eh?

Chris

So I’ve been trying to send this for a while now. Seems the spell checker is having a really bad White Day, so when it is used on this (only this one) e-mail, it shuts down. Again and again.

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