Set Free

My quarantine period ended yesterday and I have been set loose on Okinawa!

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it certainly felt that way.

The first week wasn’t too bad. It was the second week that was akin to being in purgatory (or at least purgatory-light). But now I’m free!

Of course it rained almost all day yesterday. And I had lots of errands to run so I still haven’t gotten to see anything too exciting. But just getting out and about was a relief.

My sponsor (when you move abroad with the DoD, you get a sponsor to help you navigate the process and mine has been a lifeline!) picked me up at Camp Lester 7:15 (or 0715 if you prefer). Our first stop was on Camp Foster to start the drivers license process. I didn’t arrive in time to take the test (it was all full), but I got the paperwork started. (I’ll go get it on Monday.)

Next up was the housing office. And of course, in good military fashion, this building is on a different base. So we drove from Foster to Kadena, which is home to the small Air Force contingency that’s here in Okinawa. I had to sit through a housing brief and fill out yet more paperwork.

After that, we drove back to Foster to get a new ID card. Civilian non-military personnel do not have commissary (grocery story) or PX (like a Target/Walmart) in the U.S. But when you live abroad, even civilians get commissary and PX privileges. My ID lists those privileges, so super important to get that ID ASAP.

You may be asking why would I want to shop at the on-base commissary when I can shop in town? I absolutely intend on enjoying all aspects of Japanese and Okinawan culture, including the food. I love Japanese food and I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of new dishes. But let’s be honest. Sometimes you just want some Skippy peanut butter or popsicles or some other American product. Hence the need to go to the commissary.

From the ID office, we drove back to Camp Lester and packed up all my things from my quarantine housing. We then drove back to Camp Foster so I could check into my temporary lodging, which is right across the street from my new office building. (Best commute ever.) I’ll stay here until I can find a permanent place to live.

I'm standing at the lodge looking at my new office building.

We then stopped for a quick bite to eat. I checked out the on-base auto lot and met two people I had scheduled to check out their cars. They are both getting ready to go back stateside. That’s how the car thing works here. The cars are all 15-20 years old and you just buy one off of someone getting ready to go back stateside. You can buy a new car, but why? I will only be here a maximum of 5 years. No need to invest in a new car.

I bought a 2003 silver Subaru Impreza with only 64,000 km (I do appreciate the metric system—so much easier). And she is the perfect size. Small enough to negotiate the narrow Okinawan streets, but big enough for 4 people (in case anyone happens to come visit).

The family I am buying it from is super nice. The wife is an acupuncturist and yoga instructor from Hawaii. It’s too bad they’re leaving. She would be a neat person to get to know. Plus yoga!

We will do all the title transfer and paperwork on Monday, which works out since I won’t have a drivers license until then.

I do miss Sylvie (my Outback). But I am happy I was able to get another Subie. I’ve decided the Impreza’s name will be Sophie. Why Sophie? Because I have to get a SOFA (status of forces agreement) drivers license.

At least I amuse myself.

After the cars, we went to the post office so I could get my mailbox combo and mail out the letters I had written, and then the bank (so I can pay for the car on Monday). And finally the commissary for a few dry goods.

When one has been in quarantine for two weeks, going to a grocery store becomes a bit more exciting than it usually should be.

Today I am taking it easy. Pressing my work clothes (since they’ve been packed in a suitcase for 2+ weeks) and writing this morning.

It’s only 0930 here (Saturday). I’ll be going for a walk shortly to explore what I can on foot as more rain is in the forecast, and then maybe I’ll take a taxi into town. When standing in line at the post office yesterday, a nice person overheard my sponsor and I talking about what I’m excited about living in Japan (food and stationary). He recommended a stationary story nearby. Since all my favorite stationary and pens come from Japan, I may just have to go check it out.

Until later, 気をつけて (きをつけて (ki wo tsukete = take care).


P.S. For those interested in learning Japanese, I highly recommend An excellent resource and the best way that I’ve found to start learning Japanese.

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