Now I understand "Lost in Translation"

Trip Start Jul 24, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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My new place....tiny but mighty

Flag of Japan  , Kōchi,
Saturday, July 31, 2010

The goodbye was tough. I put on a face that people could only decipher as courageous or indifferent. On the inside though, my world was in a whirlwind. Questions were the only things that flowed through my mind and doubt in my heart. And what is going on in my mind and heart now you might ask? The same, but less of it. I sat in bed thinking to myself what if....what if I miss so many important dates in the life of my friends and family. What if the girl I was destined to be with finds a new destiny. What if I never get a chance to see someone ever again. The realization that is quickly coming is that what if will always be there. The dates and events I miss will go on without me and be just as joyous. The girl I thought I was suppose to be with will be there when I get back or she will find what she was looking for in someone else. The people I might never see again will understand that I am just an individual who is not living to die, but dying to live!

Ok, well enough of that. So my town is pretty small, but I sort of like it. I seem to be a celebrity. Nothing like trying to explain to people that you are an American, but speak Spanish. Unlike what I was warned about, people have not questioned me (openly) about how I could possibly be an American and be so dark. I was warned several times that I would have to explain myself. I thought I would stand out pretty badly, which I do, but not as bad because I sort of blend into the color of the surfer crowd here. 

A universal theme I have noticed in most small towns that I have visited across the globe is that people are willing to help you if you are simple polite and obviously a foreigner. The residents of this town go to great lengths to be of service. I truly feel embarrassed because I have to rely on their citizenship so much, which most of you know is not my "style." I suppose that in this case though I have no real choice. This is probably the most uncomfortable I have ever felt in all of my travels. It might have to do with the foreseen knowledge of no escape. When I usually travel and don't like a place I simply jump on the next bus, train, or plane. Here though, I am fully aware and constantly remind myself that this is home for a while. Not to put a negative twist on the idea, but it is a new sensation.

My second day here I had the opportunity to play basketball with the jr. high and a couple of high school kids. I have to say that is was the best time I have had here so far. We all know that I love sports and I love helping kids learn to play them. I think what really made the day special was the effortless communication. I did not have to explain myself in anyway or try to order some food off of a menu that, in my eyes, resembled my finger painting masterpieces of years back. It was simply, "Lets play some ball!" (This works the same with the sharing of a beverage, but I will let the pictures and videos explain that) I tried to show off the few tricks that I knew and the kids quickly responded positively. Shortly after though, I realized that I haven't exercised in quite a while and felt the wobble in my thighs. Nonetheless, I proved that I could play and would return shortly to help with coaching.

Along the the recurring theme of being lost in translation, has anyone tried shopping for groceries in a place where your illiteracy makes you feel like a giraffe with a broken neck? If you haven't please try it....a very humbling experience. I lucked out because I was escorted last night by a former American English Teacher who has made his life in Japan. He kindly pointed me in the right directions. He was amused when I explained to him that when I was at the market before I was going to by a certain bottle thinking it was cooking oil.....with a slight grin and a stare of disbelief he explained that I would have actually bought vinegar! That would have been a lovely treat to have with my fried egg in the morning. 

Lastly, I regret taking for granted the trash we toss in the States. Not only because of how much we waste, but because of how strict the Japanese government is with recycling. I am both impressed and stressed. I worked up the courage yesterday to throw out the trash and gladly recycle the cans and plastic bottles. I tried to investigate the area of disposal though because I apparently have to separate other plastics, electronics, cardboard, clothes, books, appliances, and so on. So sitting in my kitchen is a small box of random plastics and paper that I still can't figure out what to do with.....It might be there for a while though.

Well, thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoy the pictures and videos. I probably won't be doing another entry for a couple of weeks because I would like to be inspired to share things and not feel obliged to report them. 

Believe me (I know many of you won't), I miss you all and you all in my thoughts quite frequently. Nothing like complete social solidarity to make you miss the friends you have, the ones you let getaway, the friends you hope miss you, the times you had, and the family you know isn't going anywhere.


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Jennifer Mahmood on

How freakin cool!! Im sure this whole experience has been insane but we all are so proud of you and truly appreciate your adventurous spirit!! Keep us posted here at AVMS and it surely is not a new school year without our favorite vato!!
p.s glad they liked the Petron!!
Jen xoxox

Stephanie on

Love the pictures!

fats ishii on

Hang in there, O! Everyone will love you as much as we do here! If you're ever planning to go to Tokyo, let me or Russ know. He has a really hip cousin who speaks English with a drawl to show you around! Have fun!

Andrea on

So brave of you to do something like this! love the pics!

Jacqueline L on

Nice! Thanks for sharing experiece with us!!

Ana Trejo on

look at you always making friends. it looks like you are showing them a good time. glad to see you are settling in and making friends and that people are willing to help show you the ropes.

imelda on

ok chico. ten en mente q nunca te olvidaremos aun q pasen muchos anos
y recuerda no olvides el espanol es por eso q te escrivo en espanol y q esas fotos sigan llegandote cuidas y q dios te bendiga.

Cindy (LVBFF) on

Orlando, I really enjoyed this and I hope that you have a wonderful experience! I will miss you like I already do and no matter how long we have known one another I know that God put you in my life for a reason! Cant wait to see you again and keep in touch! Miss you and you are in my thoughts and Prayers!

Erica Sanchez on


Dude, you are too cool. I love living vicariously through you, you're so adventurous! It's inspiring, really. I look forward to reading along with everyone safe! Miss you much buddy!

xo E

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