California Day 1

I went to school today. Kind of. While they were cleaning the hallways and classrooms, I was vacuuming and putting down insecticide. I went to the closing ceremony and then finished my packing. For probably the first time in my life, I was shockingly ready to go. E and I had our last Steppin’ meal for the next three weeks and then caught our 6 o’clock flight off out of Tanegashima.

Things went smoothly until we arrived in Haneda and they informed us that we were too late to take the bus to Narita. Our only other alternative was the train, but even that wouldn’t take us all the way to the airport. We figured this was fine since we were only trying to get to our hotel anyway.

When we first got on the train, the number of people on board seemed reasonable. Plus they were all travelers and carrying luggage. We reasoned that since the bus took 80 minutes, the train couldn’t take more than 100 or so.

Two and a half hours later at 1:30 in the morning, we arrived in the town of Narita looking as if we had been victims of the Dementor’s Kiss. Even upbeat, easy-going E looked as though he wouldn’t recover. Somehow during all the trauma of one of my previous visits to Tokyo, I managed to forget how oppressively crowded the trains got. It was after 11, but we were still being crammed onto the trains by the men in white gloves as we rode through what seemed to be the busiest section of Tokyo with three pieces of luggage each (and to prove that I learned NOTHING from my previous travels, one of my bags was about 80 lbs). Thankfully nothing else horrific happened, so I am free to make a mental note NEVER to do this again.

When we got to Narita, we got into the line for the taxis and were immediately surrounded by foreigners. Several were there on business and were waiting in line making gross generalizations and buying into stereotypes about Japan, but at least they were quiet. Another guy had staked out a spot near the taxi pick up point and was singing loudly to his iPod. When we got to the front of the line, he suggested we agree on a price before hand because the cab driver would try to charge us more because we were foreigners and we were carrying luggage.

Granted, I’ve been living on a small island in the middle of nowhere, but I’m pretty sure that Tokyo is nowhere near SE Asia or Russia, not to mention taxis in Japan are metered. But, at this point, I was so cold and tired that I thanked the guy and asked the cab driver how much our trip was going to cost us just to prevent the foreign guy from speaking to us further. The guys behind us, however, were like, “Thanks man! How do you know all that?” To which the guy replied that he had been in Japan for four months so he’d really learned how things worked. I now saw that in addition to being a weirdo, he was also an obnoxious braggart, so I was extremely relieved when our taxi door finally closed. Seriously though, E and I discussed it – we have never randomly encountered a normal foreigner in all of our time in Japan.

At the hotel, we checked in, bought some alcohol and promptly passed out.

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