Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Sleep Till Naha

My gear and I made it all the way to Nagoya, in central Japan. I got stuck in Frankfurt for a few hours because there were extremely high crosswinds blowing at the airport. I was really worried that they would cancel our flight, but a short lull opened a window and since we were loaded up and just sitting on the tarmac waiting to go, we got up and went. I knew I was going to miss my connection between Lufthansa and ANA at Nagoya, and tried not to worry too much about it. I had ponied up for business class for precisely this reason: the airlines tend to take decent care of the premium cabin passengers. Sure enough when I got off the plane in Nagoya I was met at the gate by an ANA agent carrying a sign with my name. She explained to me that I had been rebooked on a later flight to Naha, and gave me a form printed in both Japanese and English that outlined the changes. I had to exit security, collect my bags, and then check in with ANA. I presented the form, and everything was taken care of.  Interestingly enough, they scan the bags right by the check-in line, and I was made to remove all the batteries from my dive lights.  Soon enough I was sitting at my gate waiting to board for Okinawa. I hadn't really slept on the flight from Frankfurt because I was worried about making the connection, and because I was feeling sore and crampy from Lufthansa's angled lay-flay seats. I didn't realize how awful these things are, a friend calls them "Frankenstein slabs" because while the surface is flat, the whole seat in "bed" mode tilts at an angle. I kept sliding down and couldn't fall asleep.

The flight from Nagoya to Naha was full of Japanese school girls. Yes, there was lots of giggling. Once I arrived in Naha I found the shuttle bus that was to make the hour+ drive to my final destination of Chatan, near Kadena (a major American military installation). It was dark and cloudy, a typhoon had recently passed through and the weather was unsettled. The bus driver was listening to Japanese talk radio, and in my over-tired state I started hallucinating that I could actually understand Japanese. The area around Naha is very urban, and as we headed south toward Chatan it stayed urban. Even my "resort" was in an urban area. Imagine if Oakland had a beach resort: that is what it is like at the Beach Tower in Chatan. Looking out I see cargo ships, cranes, fuel tanks, and piers.

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