The Passion of the Trinita

Saturday, the 29th of April 2006, can unequivocally be called my best day in Japan ever. It started unremarkably enough around 8:30am with the four of us staggering one by one out of our rooms and towards the kitchen as we bravely fought hangovers of various severity from an impromptu margarita bash the night before.

Three real, supremely happy smiles... and then there's Jane. Goddamnit Jane.
Three real, supremely happy smiles… and then there’s Jane. Goddamnit Jane.

Finding a human in our floor’s kitchen before 10am on a Saturday is generally nigh impossible, finding *four* humans battling various stages of inebriatory-consequentiality rather than zonked out in bed is downright absurd. These kids must be up to something…

Yah damn right.

Saturday was a big, big day, one we had been looking forward to for an entire week – Saturday, you see, was bowling and soccer day.

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Nuclear Disappointment

And so it was that I dragged my sleepy self out of bed at 6:30am in order to get ready in time to catch the 7:30am bus outside AP House 1 that would take me to Genkai Nuclear Power Plant for an awesome behind-the-scenes private tour… Unfortunately, it is fair to say that a hot shower and breakfast of rice and fried eggs were the highlights of my day. Had I known ahead of time what I *really* was going to be doing, I would have dismissed the trip out of hand without a second thought… had I known…

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Karaoke 2006

Being the good little students that my friends and I are it took us exactly two weeks before we just couldn’t take it any longer and had to zip out for a night of karaoke. Saturday night was a special night because it was the first true group activity of the 4th Floor Team 2006. While not every member was in attendance – Jessica was conspicuously absent – all of our new additions made it out and the overall attitude and pervasive style of the group was firmly maintained by Satoshi, Taw, and myself.

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Semester Overview

Well that bit about having lots of time to post hasn’t quite proved true this past week, but I’ve finally gotten most of the errands I had to do upon return out of the way and am settling into a somewhat regular schedule.

Today is a briefing, if you will, on what is in store for me this coming semester. Class is a good place to start – this semester I’m enrolled in:

  • Fundamentals of Environmental Science
  • Sustainable Use & Management of Tropical Forests
  • Development & Conservation
  • Environmental Economics
  • Research Seminar

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Sunday afternoon, the day after my return, the remnants of the 4th Floor Team gathered together and went down to Beppu City Park to see the sakura, or cherry blossoms. We’ve lost 3 previous members: Ting is back in Hong Kong joining the legions of working stiffs and Arami and Yunji are now living somewhere downtown. However, we’ve already recruited two new ladies to the team though, so our numbers weren’t too depleted.

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Philippines – The Taxi 500

After two months of excitement in the Philippines it would have been a major letdown if I made it from my apartment in Manila to the airport and on to Japan without some sort of dramatic event… I was not disappointed.

My flight left just before 7am so I packed the night before and was awake at 4am to take a quick shower and get dressed. By 4:30 I was out on the main road flagging down a taxi and when one stopped I hopped in, told him we were going to the airport, and then directed him back to my apartment to load all my luggage. He was a nice fellow and a great help getting my quite heavy bags safely stowed in his taxi. Once everything was loaded, I turned off the lights in the apartment, locked up, hid the key, and hopped in the front seat. It was then that the adventure began.

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Philippines – The Final Entry

The last entry is always the hardest to write I think. It’s easy enough to prattle on for weeks about this and that, but when forced to commit yourself to an opinion or two and draw some concrete conclusions, well, the words come more slowly.

My final act on the island of Camiguin was to head back to San Isidro and GPS the CBFM site with Jorge and Nicoles the surveyor. Originally Jorge, Nicoles, and I were scheduled to begin work on Monday, March 20th. However, Nicoles’ brother died and we delayed until Wednesday the 22nd while they buried him. Then, as it turned out, there was some trouble with the actual burying him part (“I’m feeling better…” “No you’re not!”) so it wasn’t until Thursday that Jorge and I finally met up with Nicoles on the mountain. Nicoles is the head of a Department of Environment and Natural Resources land survey team, and we joined them for the morning’s work. The plan was that Jorge and I would follow while they slowly surveyed their own project and when we passed near markers of interest to me they would point them out. In the meantime I got an excellent firsthand reminder of the wonders of government efficiency.

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