It’s Not All Bad

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I’d like to say that this entire experience thus far has been bumpy but not bad. It’s difficult at times and I complain about it but that doesn’t mean that I’m having a bad time. I’m having a great time. I’m just frustrated.

Where are my euphoric feelings?! This is supposed to be culture shock. The first stage is euphoria and then frustration. How come it got skipped over?!

Anyway, I went into Kochi City again today. I was told that the 100yen shop there was better than the one here in Tosayamada. I realized later that every time I want to go to Kochi I have to spend 700yen ($7). I feel like I’m bleeding money! Suddenly 700yen doesn’t seem like a lot of money. If I were still in the states I’d be pissed that I had to spend that much! Though, it’s really not that much. At least not now that I’m on salary :)

As I was saying, I went to Kochi City to go shopping. I got there around 9:30 but most everything doesn’t open until 10. Crazy. Already the sun was making me sweat profusely so I got a chocolate ice cream. It was fantastic. The heat makes some things way more enjoyable, like ice cream and water and cold showers.

Speaking of water, allow me to digress yet again. I have been to the grocery store twice now and both times I have gotten a 2liter bottle of crap water. It’s not normal water. It’s special mineral water that is supposed to help you and blah blah crap crap it tastes sweet and I just want normal water damn it! The first time is understandable. But the second time, I went in there making sure that I got some good stuff. I stood there for a while feeling like an idiot like I did the last time. Every time I go to the store people stare at me and I always feel like I’m in their way. In fact, I avoid isles where there are other people so I don’t have to divert my eyes or so I don’t have to pretend that they’re not staring at me (you know, it might just be me but I really don’t think it is). Anyway, this second time I sat there looking at the water and every time I saw something I thought might be good, I realized it wasn’t. So then I spot a bottle called H2O and I think, there’s no way I can go wrong with that! So I get it home and wonder why it looks a little cloudy. All sports water looks a little off clear. And that’s when I saw it. It really said Super H2O. God help me I need some real water! The peach juice I picked up is good though.

Where was I? Kochi City. So I got the ice cream and I’m looking at this map that my predecessor left. It sucks because there are no street signs. Because the streets aren’t named. Ugh, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that. ANYWAY, I find the 100yen store and I am very pleased. I got half the stuff that I really really wanted. Some things I didn’t get because they were too big to take on the train with me back home. Like a little basket to help organize some of my toiletries or a small laundry basket. It’s just cumbersome.

After that store I went wandering around. I went into different shops and saw a whole lot of interesting things, but nothing worth buying. By the time I decided to go it was only noon. I thought it was a bit early especially since I didn’t have any other plans. (except clean and it’s too hot to do that.) This is about the time that I realized that people were starting to line the streets where the Yosakoi dancers would be going through. I was told that they wouldn’t be dancing Saturday but I was pleasantly surprised. I sat down on a very hot wall and let my butt sweat it out. I sat there for almost an hour because I was really tired. (There is nothing worse than falling asleep when people are watching you out of the corner of their eyes*) When I realized that the dancing wouldn’t start until 2, I decided to get up and walk around. You could see the spots on my shorts where I was sweating the most. Those were also the places that felt good when the wind was blowing ;)

I walked around for a while realizing that if I looked at the strange clothing, I would get to stand in the AC. Those clothes got real interesting real fast. Finally, I found a McDonalds. I know I know, I’m in Japan, why go to McDonalds?! Well, I don’t like eating Japanese food when I don’t have a Japanese person with me. It’s hard to know what to do or what to order. There’s very specific etiquette that you just can’t get from a book. Also, I heard that the Teriyaki McBurger was worth checking out. So I did. I got the teriyaki burger and loitered in McD’s until the dancing started. I watched that for an hour and a half then went home. A day well spent I think. Also, the burger was really good but nothing like a real hamburger. It looks like a regular one, but it’s really sweet. I’d say it’s my new favorite but it’s so different that it’s in a category of its own. I still like the double cheeseburger too!

So yeah, I sat in McD’s for a little while writing notes to myself since I had nothing better to do while I loitered. I started people watching through the window. You know, I never understood the appeal of people watching and now after doing it for about 15 minutes, I still don’t see the appeal. It’s totally boring. I’d rather be with those people and interacting with them than just watching them. I would think that would go for most other people as well. Maybe I’m wrong…but I doubt it ;)

In the end, things are going along bumpy, like I mentioned before. But not badly. I’m having difficulty doing simple things like get a membership card for the grocery store. On the other hand, I’m really making out well with my simple Japanese. As long as there are no problems, I can order food and ask people for directions no sweat. It’s great! I haven’t really needed my dictionary once! Not that it would help. It’s a useless little book. I need the Canon Word Tank C50! Now that is a mother of an electronic dictionary. I’ve had my eye on it for quite some time. Now the problem remains in finding an electronics shop. *sigh*

* I’d like to note that it really sounds like everyone is staring at me. First, I’m certain that a lot of it is just in my head. Sort of like if I stare at someone they will stare back and I’m doing just that. I might just be the one starting it. But a lot of the times I’m not. And the second thing is that not everyone is looking at me. It’s about 5% of everyone that I pass. That’s not a lot when you think about it, but it’s more than no one!

Also, most people automatically assume that I speak Japanese which is contrary to the statistics. The statistics is that most Japanese people will not want to talk to a gaijin just because they don’t want to speak English but that didn’t stop a little old lady from sitting next to me and commenting how hot it was. Or everyone that I ask for clarification goes on and on like I can understand more than 2 words even though I’m giving them a completely blank look. It’s not bad. I just gotta get used to things, that’s all. It’s gonna take time.

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