JET travel

PNG Departure

In 24 hours, I will be leaving to Papua New Guinea for two weeks.  I won’t have telephone or email contact during that time.  Both of my parents have my emergency contact information, so if there is something urgent, contact them.

I am pretty much prepared.  I have four full bottles of sunscreen, two full bottles of deet bugspray, malaria pills, sunglasses, sandals, hammer, paintbrush, camera, swimsuit, snorkel, goggles, as well as a ridiculously large canvas hat from the women’s department at Jusco. A vague map shows where we will be below:

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family travel

Mom’s Desert Race

My awesome mother is flying to Morocco this Sunday to compete in the 23rd annual Marathon des Sables. Here’s an excerpt from the race website about this year’s course:

The route for 2008 is 245.3 Km long, making it the longest ever in the history of the MARATHON DES SABLES.
The race will be challenging from day one – and continue that way – offering all the variety of the Sahara. The course will take runners over ergs (dune zones), seriously steep jebels (up to 25% slope factor) and rocky plateaus. They’ll have to cross hard as iron salt-flats and the driest of wadis. The backdrop to all of this is the most beautiful of landscapes with vistas accessible only to those on foot.

I’m jealous! But 245 kilometers, even over five days, is not easy. So, I encourage you to send my mother some words of encouragement or just a ‘hello’ via the race’s email delivery service, from March 29th to April 4th. My mother’s yoga website has instructions and a link to the page from where you can send messages. There is no specific address information yet. I am assuming that will not be posted until the 29th in order to avoid spam and such. Unfortunately this means I can’t send a message, since I will be in Papua New Guinea during that time. But I encourage you all to!

This is the city where the race is based (starts?):

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Saint Patrick’s Day

The week before last, I was talking to my supervisor at Senami Elementary about what her next English bulletin board topic should be. The current one was Valentine’s Day, and needed to be taken down. I suggested Saint Patrick’s Day, which was hard to explain, especially the part about leprechauns. Anyway, she got the right idea and made a nice explanation about pinching and green and Irish stuff, using some leprechaun clip art and a photo of the Chicago river dyed green. On Thursday, I saw the board for the first time, and suggested that she add another visual element to the board. Check it out. Kudo-sensei does a good impression of Leprechaun Paris.

Bulletin Board Pose

Where’s Me Pot O’Gold?!

JET travel

The Road to Papua New Guinea

The Niigata ALT Charity Musical, Alice in Japan finished yesterday, with two shows back to back in Nakajo and Niigata. It’s somewhat of a relief, having accomplished the run of shows successfully, but it’s also sort of an exciting end, because it means that the trip to Papua New Guinea is now only a week away. I am already taking my malaria medication, and starting the packing process, including a ton of sunscreen and bug dope, snorkel and goggles. I also gathered an enormous amount of school supplies to take down to the village that we will be visiting. Our project this year is to build an elementary school in an area that doesn’t currently have one. We leave from Japan on the 22nd, and return on April 6th. I am looking forward to it immensely. While hopping around as a late rabbit, socializing with other ALTs, and involving myself in the community and in my schools through the musical has been fun, the real hook for me was the Papua New Guinea trip. We will be visiting the Waria Valley, in Morobe Province, on the southeastern coast of Papua New Guinea. The specific tribal area is know as Zia (gee-ah) and this term applies to the people as well as the language. While English is an official language of PNG, so is Tok Pisin, which is used as the primary lingua franca in the country. This common language is necessary in addition to English. According to SIL, Papua New Guinea is linguistically the most complex nation of the world. Over 800 languages are spoken in the country, of which Zia is one. I’m looking forward to experiencing the place and the people and the culture and the geography. I’ll be taking lots of pictures, but you can check out pictures from previous years here.

elementary JET Murakami

Taco Night

I had my supervisor from Senami Elementary, Hiki-sensei, her two children, and two other teachers from Senami over on Thursday night for tacos. Japanese people don’t really have very good knowledge of tacos, and it doesn’t help that tako in Japanese means octopus. The ALTs in town came over too, and we had a great time playing boggle and scrabble, and eating pop rocks, pixy sticks, and peeps. Here’s a photo of Kudo-sensei from Senami Elementary, and Hiki-sensei’s two children with Hannah, the ALT in Kamihayashi-mura.

Taco Craziness

Murakami travel

Spring Riding in a Carriage

Last Sunday, the 9th of March, I dusted and oiled (off and up, respectively) my Air Friday and set off toward the Asahi Super Line. This is a winding, scenic mountain road that is closed due to snow in the winter. One of my dreams here in Japan is to go on a spring ride on a closed-off mountain road once it is passable with a bike but before the road has officially been opened to traffic. I read a Hokkaido ALT’s blog about a similar experience up there, and it sounded awesome. Well, there was still a ton of snow, even a guy taking his snowmachine down the road. It was a wonderful ride nonetheless, maybe 30km roundtrip in about 3 hours, with lots of stops, including one at the Jomon no Sato (縄文の里)which is sort of a history museum from the Jomon period (14,000 BC to 300 BC).  I tried to buy a coffee from the vending machine but it was shut off for the winter.  The guy at the front desk was very nice and made me coffee, even though I had no intention of paying the 400 yen to go look at a bunch of thatched huts and broken pots by myself while daylight was slipping away.  Apparently I was the first person to show up all day.  It made for a nice chat, and I learned a few things, including how most of the artifacts in the place were unearthed during excavation for the two giant dams on the Miomote River a kilometer or two back in the mountains.  Here’s a nicely staged shot of my bike and the enticing view back into the Miomote River valley.

Biking in Asahi

Ok, there was no carriage, but there was riding and it feels like spring to me.  That and an eagerness to flaunt my knowledge of Japanese literature led me to title my post after Yokomitsu Riichi’s depressing short story.

elementary JET

To Mr. Sean Teacher Sensei

My 4th and 5th graders at Iwafune Elementary surprised me yesterday with some very nicely made thank you cards. It was their last class before they become 5th and 6th graders. The teachers, to their credit, encouraged the children to use romaji (roman characters) to write to me, and strangely pepper the messages with English words. Here are some of my favorites.

Syôn Sensei E

senseino osieTe kuLeTa EiGo, TanosikaTTaDesu. LokunenseiDemoYoLoSikuoneGaisimasu.



ぼくは. IlikeEnglish withになりました。

Thank you! シィーユーアゲイン