The plane is finally starting the process of taking off. Our feet have left American soil, we are on our way- finally. The kids are asleep almost immediately. I look around the plane, most of the children have gone straight to sleep, and a good number of adults have as well. I want to sleep, but at the same don't want to miss anything. So I close my eyes and steal bits of sleep in between the announcements the aircraft crew make. The serve breakfast, it is only a little after 3 AM Pacific time, but its 8 AM somewhere, right? The kids don't stir when I try to wake them up for breakfast- I didn't think they would. I request an extra meal just in case. I have the pancakes. They would have been good with syrup- but the syrup container is sealed shut- I try the one from the extra meal I have for the kid- its the same situation. Oh well, I save the granola bars and sneak some more Zs. I wake up when they announce our arrival- to Alaska. I wake Brother- "Hey! We are in Alaska!" He is mighty confused for a minute- and then goes back to sleep. Apparently we have to stop for gas. We can't get off the plane so I stare at what looks like nothing much (it is overcast and there is little scenery to look at)- but I guess I can say I have seen Alaska now huh?
We take off again. The kids eventually wake up and we eat lunch- which is not much better than the breakfast they served. The kids are getting antsy. It has probably been the longest 24 hour period we have ever experienced if you count from the time we arrived at the airport for our departure. They can't wait to get to Japan, to get off the plane. I can't help but agree. I am doing my best to keep them occupied. Brother is the worst- he is getting bored. His PSP battery is dead. He is expecting me to fix things somehow. I am Mom after all, can't I just make the plane fly faster??
(brother fast asleep on the plane)
(sister is looking pretty tired- I think she is looking out the window.)
I get up with Sister to use the bathroom. I look down and realize my feet and ankles and shins are very swollen. Great, now I will probably die from a blood clot going to my heart. So I jump up and down and pace around to get the blood flow. Speaking to a lady sitting in front of us I learn it is a good idea to take aspirin before a long flight. A little late now, but I will definitely remember that for next time. I can say though- it will be a long time before I get on another flight like this!!
4PM Pacific Time- 8AM Tokyo time- and one day ahead
We are finally making our descent!! Brother is now sitting by the window- much to Sister's loud protests. We are flying over land I believe, but the cloud cover is thick so I see nothing. Brother gets a few glimpses of buildings. We are landing on a military base. Once the plane stops, we are told to wait in our seats.
Wait- that is the theme of our trip. Wait.
We are waiting for one of the airport security/MPs or whatever they are called- to come on board. So they come on board, they are armed, and walk up and down the aisles to look everything over. This is much different than landing at a commercial airport! I am sure Husband is used to this, but it is all new to me.
Apparently everything looks great, so they are starting to deplane. Of course now we have to wait our turn to get off the plane and board a bus that will take us to the air terminal. It is raining cats and dogs- I am glad to not have to walk. But the kids don't understand. We are here! Why can't we just get OFF already!!
We get off the plane, and board the bus. Something about the bus seems weird to me. I am completely jet lagged at this point, so it takes me a few minutes as we drive to the air terminal. Of course! We boarded the bus on the left side! The driver is on the right. So strange, it just looked empty up front.
We get to the air terminal. Can't leave yet! We get to take a seat in the humid sticky air terminal and do some more waiting. The kids are really acting up now. Did I mention how tired and stressed out I am?? Sister has left her stuffed animal on board. Luckily I was able to get one of the military guys in charge to go back and look for it. Yes, they find it and the crisis is averted.
We get in line, show our passports and walk into another room. Here we get our luggage. 6 pieces of luggage and a car seat. Find a cart, load up our stuff and head out. Our sponsor is waiting outside the baggage area with a sign with our name on it. We load up our stuff on the shuttle bus. So we should be on our way, right? No.
We are not the only people going to our base. One of the guys is missing luggage. So we wait. We are hungry, thirsty, tired and now hot as well. It is raining, but it is a tropical humid sort of rain. We are wearing jeans and feeling nasty and sweaty. At least I do!
I go to the ATM to withdraw some Yen for the vending machine. It is a 5000 Yen note- about $50. Of course I can't use it in the machine. We go around the corner and find a small snack bar so we can get something to drink at least.
We get back on the shuttle bus. The driver is concerned that my name is not on the list. My sponsor explains in what sounds like a very condescending tone- "I already talk to office- they have names." Huh? The driver is Japanese of course- but not deaf!
We are off! It is explained to me that it only took 30 minutes to get to the air terminal from base- but the way back will be about 90 minutes. Crap.
The kids are interested for the first 20 minutes in the new scenery. We see a Thomas the Tank Engine bus carrying preschoolers. They are totally adorable in the their little straw hats and white shirts. Think Madeleine with a Japanese cast.
Brother gets very antsy again. He is bored, needs to expend some energy and is probably hungry. His behavior is starting to embarrass me, frankly.
Wait and wait and wait.
We finally arrive to the base where we will be living. Of course we sit around in the bus more as people are being dropped off and such. We get off and load all six pieces of luggage and a cart seat in our sponsors little tiny Honda. The kids have to share a seat it is so packed. I think our sponsor is going to open the door for me. No, he is getting into the driver's side- on the right. Very strange. As we drive and he makes a left turn I suck in my breath because it feels like he is turning into the wrong lane. This will take some getting used to!
Home. Yes. Home.
I am handed a key that looks like a dog tag. Huh? I am shown how to use it, very strange. In our house at last. The kids are excited to see their new home. They go upstairs and immediately pick their bedrooms. Our stuff is not here yet of course- but at least we have loner furniture. Normally, we would have stayed in temporary lodging while we waited for a house. But since Hubby left before us we already have a house.
Our sponsor leaves and says he will be back in a bit to take us to get some food. Shower. It is the best thing I have experienced all day.
Our first meal will be McDonald's- much to my dismay. We go through the drive through and have some trouble ordering. I ended up not getting my food. Oh, oh well. When we get back I call my good friend-Jaime that lives here. On the sponsor's cell phone of course- as I have no phone to use of my own. They came over for a bit and then head back to their house. Our sponsor leaves again and says he will come back to take us to the commissary for food. He never shows up.
So I got upset as the kids were antsy once again. We head over to Jaime's house. It is so nice to sit on her couch and let the kids go play with her daughter. Friends are gold.
I am upset that I have been stood up by our sponsor. Truly at this time I have little coping skills left. I decide that I will walk to the commissary myself. It is a small base- can't be hard to find- right? Jaime's husband would drive me, but as he has been drinking he can't The base has a 0 tolerance for drinking and driving- even one beer could end it all.
So I walk down the road to find the commissary. I find the Navy Exchange- no commissary. At this point I feel stupid and won't ask for help. God forbid anyone know that I am NEW. Did I mention it has started raining again? I do have my umbrella, but I am getting soaked nonetheless. I end up buying sheets and pillows- which we do need. I head back to my house. I am completely soaked as it is raining sideways. My hair is the only thing that is dry somehow.
So... where is my house again? I walk in circles and realize that I cannot find my house. It doesn't help that I haven't eaten or slept in I don't know how many hours. I have Jaime's cell phone she lent me. I take it out to call her. It is a Japanese cell phone and I cannot figure it out for the life of me. I ask a couple of people for help, they have no idea where I need to go. It is getting dark, it is raining harder and harder. it seems like this would be when I should start crying.
I don't cry- but Lord I want to. It is getting darker and darker- it is imperative to find my way back. I try the cell phone again, and figure it out this time. Lee comes to find me, I am saved.
When I get back to Jaime's house- I find Sister is fast asleep. It is way past her bed time in the States after all.
Jaime helps me carry her back to our house, while Brother and I carry the blankets she lent us as well as the essential pack of toilet paper.
I get the kids to bed and we are all out like a light- until 3:30AM the next morning that is....