In the last two years, I have spent more time living in Okinawa than I have anywhere else. Crazy.
I remember preparing for my first trip there. There were so many things going through my head. I was determined to see each and every landmark that I had so proactively researched online and in my travel book. I brought that same travel book with me in my carry on and referenced it throughout the flight. Bound and determined to leave no stone unturned in my upcoming adventure. I was squished in a coach seat for the entire duration of the trip, got minimal sleep (a product of discomfort and excitement), and was miserable for the first two weeks due to jet lag. I anticipate the jet lag being the same, it hasn't failed me yet, but the rest of the trip will be much different. This will be my third time to Okinawa, fourth time to Japan. I feel confident in my surroundings. I'm comfortable driving on the other side of the road, navigating the blinker/windshield wipers is always problematic the first day, I have an arsenal of very basic phrases that serve their purpose out and about in the community, and I know where some great Okinawan markets are for food.
As I prepare to start my third adventure in Okinawa my suitcases are being packed in a much more organized fashion, knowing exactly what I will and will not use. My upgrade seat has already been confirmed, assuring that I will get a decent amount of sleep on the 24 hour voyage over. There is no travel book, no plans, nothing in particular that I feel like I want or need to do. I'm looking forward to eating at my favorite Okinawan restaurants, seeing friends, spending time relaxing, reading, and one of my top priorities; getting back to Shogun Crossfit to WOD with some really amazing people who I have missed! What used to feel like making a trip to a foreign country now more closely resembles a trip in to Cheers bar; friendly, welcoming, and a little bit like home away from home.
All of this wonderfulness doesn't come without a cost though. I'm well aware of what I am leaving at home, the value of it, and the level of priority that it all holds in my life. This no doubt makes going on this trip much more difficult. Timing isn't always perfect, and this is definitely a time when that rings true. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to return to a place that I love so dearly, and...I get paid to do this!
Like all previous trips, I'm sure this will not disappoint with it's share of embarrassing moments, Japanese faux pas, and other ridiculous situations that I without a doubt seem to get myself into...and yes I promise to share!
Until next time...