Sunday, June 12, 2011

Island Life

Here I am on Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan. I've been here a little over a week now and have loved just about every minute of it! This trip worked out like a dream. I simply went into the building Joe works in and got a permission slip from his boss for my field trip. Okay, there are actual terms for everything and everyone I had to work with to get that far, but most people reading this are not familiar with military terms like S2 Shop or EML. Maybe I'll explain that in another post? Anyway, I got the paperwork out of the way to take advantage of one of the greatest perks of being a military spouse: free flights!

After taking care of the paperwork, I just went down to the flight terminal on base, checked out the flight schedule for the next day, and asked to be put on the list of people interested in flying. The nice Marines there told me I was almost guaranteed a seat on the Patriot Express, so I packed my bags and made it for "show time" at 2pm. Show time is just another way of checking to see who will actually be on the flight so they can prepare. I was allowed to bring up to 80 lbs of luggage for free on my completely free flight to Okinawa on a chartered airplane (not even a C-130)! They also gave me a pretty decent turkey sandwich, cookie, and drink on the flight. Not too shabby. The flight was only a few hours and I was sitting next to a nice girl in the Air Force who was on her way from Arizona to move to Okinawa.

Joe picked me up from the terminal on Kadena and we have been at the Shogun Inn the whole time. We have a suite with a living room, kitchen, and bedroom that was supposed to be for just Joe! I couldn't let that go to waste, so of course, I had to crash the party. Over the weekend, Joe shuttled me around and showed me the little bit of Okinawa that he's seen so far. We went to Chili's on my first night, which was weirdly exciting because the American food in Iwakuni is not very good.

On Saturday, we were trying to get a hold of the Kadena scuba locker and had the hardest time finding a contact who could give us real information. Finally, we realized we'd just have to go in on Sunday and beg for a space in the next open water diving course. After being denied several times, we continued up the chain politely channeling Tim Gunn -- as in,

Finally, we ran into the instructor himself. We explained that we'd only be in Oki for two weeks and really wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef on our trip at the end of the month. He denied us and told us his class size was too big already, but buckled when I told him I'd just sit in on the classes until someone else dropped out. Lo and behold, a few people dropped out and made room for me and my lovely husband. Muahahaha.

We had class for two nights in a conference room, then two five-hour nights in the pool practicing skills, a day off for rest, and then two open water dives at Uken Kita (Uken Beach) and Maeda Misaki (Maeda Point) this weekend. I can only blame myself for the one failing, and that was the large class size (tsk tsk, Heather). Our instructor, Scott, is a retired Green Beret and I'm glad he used his strict military discipline to drill us on life-preserving skills that we'd need in the water.

We had an amazing weekend in the water. I got to see batfish, lionfish, a jelly fish (yoikes), a sea snake, a blue damsel, and a gorgeous parrotfish. The exhilarating feeling of breathing underwater and looking up through 60 feet of blue ocean to see the waves on the top and the sun breaking through was the best part of the whole experience.

And the best news: Joe and I both passed! We are officially open water scuba divers and are allowed to dive anywhere in the world up to 60 feet in depth anytime from one hour past daybreak to one hour before nightfall. I'm definitely interested in obtaining more specialties next time I'm on the island - and OH YES, there will be a next time!

What else has been on my itinerary during my trip to Okinawa? Just you wait! I'll be blogging about it soon. :D

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