Saturday, January 14, 2006

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Goodbye

I had to get up around 5 this morning.

This was not easy, as I had been out for beer and yakitori with a couple of the other teachers. I was not exactly thrilled about having to drag myself out of bed five hours after I had crawled into it.

The reason I had to get up so early this morning was that The Kiwi and The Ozzie Boy were leaving to go back home, and I was going to the airport with them, the principal, and Hiroshi.

So I slowly work my way back into consciousness, get cleaned up, and get ready to leave. Then the phone rings.

It's Hiroshi.

"Dustin, my car's stuck in the snow. The principal is having trouble getting over to the station, too. I don't think I can make it over there to pick you up. So I need you to get over to the station, and if we can't make it, get tickets for you and the two students, get a receipt, go with them to the airport and see them off."

Wow. The snow was that bad? When I was walking home the night before, there was a little bit falling, but nothing to prevent people from being able to drive.

Then I looked out the window.

Whoa.

HUGE flakes were falling, and all of the places that had been uncovered by the melting the day before were covered back up and then some. I'm guessing that we're never going to get a break from this snow.

So, I got into my snow hiking gear and headed for Washibetsu Station.

Thirty minutes later (it usually only takes ten), I was covered in white and standing in front of the station. Guess who pulled up at the same time. That's right. Mr. Hiroshi "I can't pick you up, so walk to the station in this blizzard" Yamane himself.

Grrrr.

I brush myself off and head into the station, where the principal was waiting. We talk a bit about me getting my Japanese teaching certification, as it would be very useful to have in this job, and any other jobs I might want to get in the education system over here. Then students started showing up. It was pretty cool to see students braving this nasty weather to see the two guys off. A couple of teachers showed up, too.

The train was delayed a bit by the snow, but when it finally showed up, the five of us (Kiwi, Oz, Yank, Hiroshi, Principal) got on the train and waved goodbye to everybody out on the platform. One hour and one train transfer later, and we were at Chitose Airport. After getting their tickets and luggage taken care of, we still had some time, so we went upstairs and had some breakfast.

After a bit more conversation, and the arrival of the exchange program advisor, it was time to say goodbye. We walked back down to the gate, wished them good luck, and saw them off. After they had crossed through and were on their way to their plane, we said goodbye to the advisor and...

...did not head back right away.

First, I bought a few simple gifts to send to a friend back in Shimane. It's her birthday next Saturday, and with the lack of desire to leave my apartment or drive anywhere, I figured this was my only chance to send some stuff off. A little early, but hey, it can't be helped.

After that, we went up to "Ramen Alley", a string of ramen shops representing different kinds of ramen from around Hokkaido. I wanted to get another bowl of that good stuff I ate before I flew to Shimane, and I convinced Hiroshi and our principal to stick around long enough to get a bowl.

After the ramen, we caught a train and rode it to the transfer station, at which point we found out the train we needed to catch back to Muroran hadn't left Sapporo yet and there was no specific time yet for when it would arrive. It ended up being about half an hour late. This is a big deal in Japan, where train times are usually precise down to the second. But we were finally able to catch our train back, and since this one wasn't stopping at Washibetsu, we had to have one of the teachers from school come and pick us up at East Muroran Station.

Then it was back home. Nap Time!

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