Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ode to a Banana Boat

Side by side two yellow floats travel as one,
Under a dark black cloud that blocks out the sun.
Sideways rain drops pelt and and sting my face
As the Jackhole boat driver continues to race,

Back and forth, left and right he crashes through the tide.
While 40 ft back, I start to dislike this mother fu**ing ride.
I am now holding on for dear life, shit I can't feel my toes,
This damn fruit float is deceiving, my anxiety grows.

Does he really want us off, "yeah you, dickhead" is that the name of this game?
Because if I knew that before I would have stayed on the shore in the rain.
Instead now, my arms are like jelly, my knees feeling forty
I have two cuts on my legs, hey jackball, not feeling so sporty.

In fact come to think of it I can't feel anything anymore,
Only resentment and regret... get me the hell ashore!!!
And if you don't soon, once I get back the feeling in my legs I swear
I will fly from this yellow death trap, and high kick you straight in the pair.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lost in Translation

All we wanted was a Mos Burger, or eight Mos Burgers as we traveled back from our two day beach excursion. Covered with salt, sand and the unpleasant memories of a banana boat ride (see this post). Four hungry adults and four impatient children embarked on our first attempt of "fast food."

Let me explain, ordering food at a Japanese restaurant be it fast food or otherwise, is an ordeal, think third base coach and hand gestures (nodding, crotch grabbing and the proverbial inner arm slap back and forth and back and forth). Lots of pointing and smiling and finally as your narrowed ass waitress walks away you just hope against hope you ordered the chicken fried rice and not the fried rice with pork intestines and a side of "what in the hell is this". Of course, the servers, they try, and every once again someone will pull out the "handicapped menu", a menu translated in English. Because if that doesn't make you feel like you rode in on the short bus then the blank looks, with toothy smiles will. Makes you want to say aloud, "Beans and Franks" and walk in circles.

Let me also explain, in Japan, food comes in waves, when it it ready, not altogether. Sure this alleviate heat lamps, but mostly it leads to envy and resentment. While you are waiting, your friend somehow won the dinner lottery and finds themselves knee deep into a plate of Yakisoba and not only are they not paying attention to the drool dripping from your chin but they just look so damn smug enjoying their meal.

I am getting there...

So we order off the "special English menu" at the counter of Mos Burger. Our fries come out first along with our drinks and our teenie tiny plate of ketchup (which deserves another post). Four burgers are delivered, four are not, 10 minutes pass, 20, then 30 minutes. Now normally this would be an easy fix, "Excuse me, we are missing four burgers. Can you check on these for us?"

Instead, what went down is what I like to call, the Great Hamburger Emergency...

US Waiving to get attention (you hoo over here, obnoxious Americans, no we are not dancing we are trying to get your attention)
Grab menu, point at Hamburger, shaking head, no (we did not get)

CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE Nods "hai, hai" (yes, yes) while taking steps backward to her safe place/ counter.

US We exchange a glance, Oh Shit, I think we just ordered another burger. Speaking now "No, no, no we didn't get any burgers, zero" (making a giant zero with our hands) only four. We are now causing an incident.

CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE Crickets...and a blank stare.

US We all jump in, all four adults begin to point and gesture, which is now an all out clusterf#$%, we are all pointing, slapping arms, four fingers, four four four "we received four fries, shaking head no hamburgers." I think someone does the "international" symbol for death with a swift hand gesture across the neck.

CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE She walks even further backwards, bowing and smiling. But inside I can tell she is waiting for the short bus to drive up to pick us all up, then she is going to lock herself in the meat freezer and enjoy a tallboy Orion.

US Did we just order four more burgers or tell her that we were going to off her?

This continues until my brilliant daughter grabs the smart phone downloads a Google Translation application, burgers are received and all is right with the world...for now.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

25 Days, 25 Things I Have Learned

Well after 18 long hours on a plane intermittent with Harry Potter movies, screaming babies and copious amounts of pre-packaged food, we landed on the island of Okinawa. Actually I wouldn't even say landed, more like stopped long enough to jump off the plane and immediately strap on a pair of wheelies (you know Dad, the kind of sneakers that are also skates).

So, so much to share, and once the rubber wheels are worn down to the stubby silver nub I will go into detail about some of our most recent adventures. But for now here is a list of 25 things I have learned in the 25 days I have been here on the island of Oki.

1. Straight out of the gate I was confronted by Yahoo! Japan and a screen full of Kanji...was I hacked? How do it know. And more importantly how do you spell English in Kanji so I can get back to my English lover?

2. You can order off of the menu Fried Rice, literally spelled Flyed Lice.

3. All Japanese food is fat free, 0 calories? You may also be eating furry caterpillar poo, but if you can't read the package it just don't count.

4. Cocoks Nail Salon- Oki's Mecca. Where women flock for toe nail art. And since I plan on having a appointment every three weeks for the next three years, I need to gather 52 gold coins (500yen tips) for the 52 toe designs in my future.

5. Sour vs. Awamori vs. Chu Hi- not sure what the difference is but consumption of any of these cocktails will cause you to think that you are fluent in Japanese.

6. Predator of choice: Habu Snake vs. Banana spider- an aggressive snake who hunts at night and lies awaiting in the grass in your backyard vs. an aggressive spider that attacks/jumps on you when not provoked and sleeps in your windows.

7. And because of this I have learned that living in the jungle is not as romantic as in the movies. Mother nature is pissed and wants her island back.

8. No substitutions- while the Japanese are very accommodating overall, don't f### with the food. If you don't like fatty spare ribs in your soba, too damn bad.

9. Karaoke rooms- these go for $8/ hour. Once in, singing Domo Arrigato Mister Roboto at the top of your American lungs and ending the night with some "Teen Spirit" by Nirvana is a must do.

10. There are more than just one shape of toilet, and flushing is just one of their many functions. Just ask my friend.

11. Wet towels- Are offered before every meal, I appreciate the cleanliness, but I can help but think there are offered to compensate for the crappy hand soap.

12. Chopsticks- why people in Japan are so thin.

13. They also prefer wood splinters as I found it is rude to rub them against each other to smooth them. Or stick them out of your rice.

14. 100 yen store - charges 105 Yen per item

15. Hai means yes- not hello, so I have spent the last 25 days walking into restaurants, bars and shops saying "yes" to everyone I meet.

16. The Japanese like their fruit and have dedicated entire theme parks to it, welcome to Pineapple Land, or would you prefer to spend your day at Goya Island?

17. Swimming with a Whale shark will be just plain cool and on my bucket list.

18. Heat- WARNING: Sitting in the direct sun, can cause your face to melt off like the dude who opened the Arc on Indiana Jones.

20. Sangria tastes better in Japan, and when consumed every night it can cause one to lapse into denial every day at 4pm.

21. Mayonnaise tastes great on everything- of course I knew this, but now the Japanese have proved it.

22. Yen spends like monopoly money.

23. Sushi also tastes better in Japan.

24. Socks with flip flops is still a fashion DON'T.

25. Typhoon Muifa, I would find her so much more enjoyable if she was names Typhoon Mulva.