Thursday, May 29, 2008



so the jewelry samples c'est fini. They are sitting in a little row, waiting to be stuffed into a fed ex package off to China by way of Santa Barbara, where Chinese factories will stamp out millions of them and I can get back to blogging.

So much has been happening in the past two weeks, and then, really nothing out of the ordinary. We've gone on 2 foiled yet totally hilarious road trips with friends. The key to those kind of adventures is the right mix of easygoing driver (hubby dearest) a good sense of humor, breathing exercises for temper control, zesty beverages, and fun friends.

I will indulge you in one particularly telling moment of the road trip, for you to get a taste of the past two weeks...

So there are 5 of us heading up to Hiji falls, what I understand to be a beautiful waterfall area lush with jungle foliage about 1.5 hours to the north. We are about 100 yards from the entrance to the park, and yours truly makes the executive decision that we should use the bathroom facilities at the small store at the bottom of the hill, for god only knows what the penalty for public urination is in a sacred Japanese waterfall/jungle site.

About 5 minutes later, we are at the entrance to the park, only to be told that we are 6 minutes late, and although the park closes at 6pm (it is now 4:06), we cannot be trusted to enter, as we might not make it back in TWO HOURS. John suggests we just run for it, as the little man working the gate really didn't look like too much of a challenge for 5 burly Americans. We decide against that plan. Defeated, we opt to play a loud game of freesbie in the parking lot, because if there's one thing the waterfall and jungle gods do not appreciate, it's loud Americans who do not appreciate their park hours.

Then, I suggest we go on another hike in an open mountain somewhere around...and does anyone know of any? So John pulls out the map and leads us to a park he once hiked, about 10 miles away.

Cartography in Japan, we are soon to realize, is not something to be taken seriously. If you have a pen and a paper, and can spell (sort of), YOU CAN DRAW A MAP! And PUBLISH it! Don't worry if it's totally inaccurate. Don't be bothered to mark it with actual highway numbers. Just make sure the East China Sea is on the left, and the Pacific Ocean is on the right. The rest of the map is not that important! Besides, the more the Americans get lost, the more they will have to stop to buy sustinence on the side of the road. Vending machine business will skyrocket!!!

But I digress.

So we're winding up in this mountainous terrain, around a lake, nothing but fields and local farmers, far away from civilization. We pressure John into asking for directions to the Park from two little old Okinawan Women. My Johnny - he's no rube, he busts out the Japanese to these ladies and they are tickled pink that a 4Runner full of giggling Americans can ask for directions in their native tongue.

"Excuse me, we are lost, can you tell us the Such-and-Such Park is?" The ladies look confused.... "The Dam?" they ask? And we're thinking, no we just passed the dam, the dam is obviously visible from the road.

John repeats, in Japanese "No, we're looking for the park."

The women indicate that there is no park, which is funny because on the cartographer's rendition of the map, there is clearly a hiking park about 300 yards away. I start to think that these women have lived here, probably their whole lives, and had no idea that there is a park so close? They really need to get out more. See the world.

They shrug their shoulders, indicate that there is no park, and do we want to see the dam?

John, seeing where this is going, and not wanting to be rude, says, "Ok, yes, we'd love to see the dam" and the woman point us to the quite obvious dam that we just passed.

So, we start to head home. Then about ten minutes down the road, John blurts out "Doh! That is not the word for Park, that is the word for train station. I was asking them where the train station is."

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