Arrival In Okinawa

It's odd what you find when you're doing spring cleaning in the fall. I was going through some articles and stories I'd written and found this - written by me shortly after we arrived in Okinawa in July of 1995. I'm sure the same feelings have been experienced by many an American since then. . .

A few years ago my husband, Chris and I had looked into the possibility of moving to Hawaii. Even though it was hot and humid in the summer, we'd fallen in love with the lushness, the exotic feeling of it. . .and the fact that it never snowed. I never thought we'd come even close to living that dream. So, when Chris got his orders to Okinawa we were overjoyed that it was a three year accompanied tour. We were ready for adventure and Okinawa sounded like it would be just the adventure we craved.

Then the rumors started. People in Chris' office in California told us that it was so hot and humid in Okinawa that we'd hate it. There was nothing to do. It smelled. In fact, I can think of only a couple of people who actually said they liked Okinawa.

That's when I started to wonder just what in the heck we had gotten ourselves into. But now there was no turning back.

Yes, we were apprehensive on our flight out here. Then when we stepped off that plane in Naha, memories of Hawaii flooded both of our minds. And it hasn't stopped reminding us of Hawaii, especially the island of Kauai -- those of you who have been there will know what I mean.

Okinawa is green and lush, surrounded by reefs filled with colorful fish as you snorkel or scuba dive, dotted with historic castles and villages - even the people are friendly. I just can't imagine someone not liking it here.

Sure, there are a lot of things to get used to: A majority of the signs off base are in Japanese; driving is done on the left instead of the right (and the comments about the crazy local drivers -- hasn't anyone driven in Boston or New York City before? ); converting dollars into yen, calling my Mom for things I can't get here (like shoes in size 8 1/2 or 9); and learning some Japanese so that I'll at least be respectful of the natives.

One last thing -- I now know how foreign tourists feel when they come to the states, especially if they can't speak English. Living in Okinawa is a fantastic role reversal and definitely a learning experience -- one that I will cherish and treasure for the rest of my life. So I plan on enjoying the next three years on my "Hawaiian" island -- Okinawa.

True to my words, Okinawa is someplace I will treasure for the rest of my life. I've never felt so homesick for a place, not even where I was born. Okinawa touched my heart and soul. . .forever.