Sixteen days, seven airports, five hotels, three bullet trains, a camera full of pictures and a heart full of memories of an amazing country.
Dale and I got back early yesterday morning from a fantastic Chamber trip to Japan. I left Winnipeg three days before the rest of the group to give me time to go to Sapporo, the city where we taught English 24 years ago. My cousin lives there - he went up there a few months before we did back in 1993 and except for a couple of years back in Canada, he's been there ever since. I also have a friend there (you may remember her coming to visit me in 2013. Or maybe you have more important things to use your memory space for.). I stayed with her since she has a big empty house and hung out with my cousin whenever I could. I had such a great time; I'd go back in a second.
Then I flew back to Tokyo and met up with Dale and the group at the airport and the tour proceeded as planned. It was an awesome trip. There was jaw-dropping scenery and eye-popping craziness, lots of delicious food and some less so, there were tears and much laughter. We were a group of 40 people in total and with one or two exceptions, it was a really good bunch.
The bittersweet part is that this trip was initiated by one of our regular travellers (let's call him Jack), who kept bugging me to plan a Chamber trip to Japan. I resisted, thinking it would appeal to a limited number of people and would be very expensive. Finally I gave in and told him I'd give it a shot. Turns out I know nothing and the trip sold out super fast. Jack had a wish list of things he wanted to do in Japan and the travel agent and land operator incorporated most of these things into the itinerary. He was thrilled; he recruited a bunch of friends to come on the trip and started taking Japanese lessons. Sadly, a week before the trip, Jack told me he had to cancel due to medical reasons. This broke my heart; not only because it was his dream trip but also because he's such a wonderful, kind man. Everyone loves him and his passion for learning about other cultures is contagious and his presence creates a positive vibe. I kept in contact with him while we were away and tried to tread the fine line between expressing appreciation for the significant part he played in making this trip a success while not making him feel even sadder about what he was missing.
Due to a delayed flight out of Tokyo, we missed our connecting flight in Toronto and had to wait 4.5 hours for a flight to Winnipeg. I fell into bed at 2 a.m. Friday morning and woke up at 5:20 a.m. when I heard Chloe getting ready for work. After trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep again, I got ready for work and went to an all-day Leadership Winnipeg class. After dinner, Dale and I and the girls went to the Jets block party downtown. It was so full and crazy that we watched the big screen from the family section at the library for a bit and then headed home. We were there for the second period, which is the only period that involved no scoring so that was bad timing/luck on our part. I'm thrilled about the awesome weather we're having. We got used to the beautiful late-spring weather in Japan so not coming home to below zero temperatures was the best thing about coming home! Oh, and seeing the kids of course.
Speaking of the kids did well while we were away, as far as I know. We face-timed them a couple of times but they didn't seem particularly interested in talking to us. Chloe did mention that Spencer had asked if the school calls home if he skips classes. Obviously we weren't home to receive those phone calls if they did indeed happen, so we'll just leave that alone.
The house is still standing and I found this note in the garbage, so I'm calling it a success (and no, I didn't go through the garbage; it was sitting right on top!). I feel very lucky that they are independent and responsible enough that we can go away for weeks at a time without worrying about them.
I hope you're all doing well and I look forward to getting back to regular life and catching up with you. And I'm excited that Siobhan's in town! See you soon!