暑い。。。

Rainy season has started, and we're getting rain at least 3-4 days a week now. That's annoying, but what's worse is when it doesn't rain. The temperature sky rockets, and the humidity and misery as well. I know I can't be complaining too much, it'll be worse in Cambodia. But then again, looking at our temperatures and humidity levels... not very much. It's good training though!

Today is by far the worst so far, but I know that it'll soon be worse yet... we're not even in July yet!

In other news, still preparing for moving on. Buying tickets and getting dates worked out is quite the challenge. There was some snafu with the number of days of vacation I had left, so that's put an annoying twist in well laid plans. Still, my supervisor acknowledged that my count was the correct one so we appear to be back on schedule somewhat.

Beyond that, just living life. The countdown is coming quickly, and it won't be long before I'm no longer in Japan. Hard to believe, actually. Even harder to believe is that there isn't very much of the school year left! Once this week is done, just 3 weeks until the end of term. Wow. Big wow.

But then again, aren't my blog posts around times of leaving always like this? Why am I even surprised that time growing short moves quickly?

来校

The first bell rings just as I set my foot on school property. Pushing down the handle, and swinging wide the surprisingly light gate to the student entrance means the start of another day. The green gravel that covers the sports field is always dry and hard in summer, pocked and broken at the edges by the feet of students on a rainier day. I can already see the teachers in the staff room, preparing for the day and students going about their business in their classrooms. I edge around the tennis court, as both boys and girls tennis teams made it clear at the student council run all school meeting that "shoes other than tennis shoes, are not permitted on the courts."

Stepping under the eaves of the entranceway, the speckled pink and grey soft tiles bear still the traces of the dirt that yesterday's student cleaning crew didn't quite sweep away. I feel for them though, cleaning this large entrance with tiny little brooms is horrible work. I veer left, because it's the door near the green-public phone that's opened. I step in to the smell of pine and wet feet. The pine from the main school building - desks, paneling, window and door frames are all made from trees grown in our own school forest. The feet from the three racks of shoes in front of me, slightly obscuring the carved version of our school song that hangs behind them. My sandals come off as I reach back into the left-side pocket of my backpack searching for socks. I step across the border between worlds - the space clean and the space unclean and head for my own shoe locker.

Clad and ready for the day, I make my way loudly into the staff room (for loud morning greetings are important) and head to my desk. Unpacking and starting the complicated dance of wires and settings that makes my computer function at school. Toshimi-san comes my way with my Snowman cup, now filled to the brim with fresh green tea. It rests, cooling on an Australian souvenir coaster while the morning meetings starts. The important people each say their piece, each grade theirs and then the et cetera that brings us to the bell that means the beginning of homeroom and ten minutes until the school day really starts.

後五十日間

hello neglected blog. I would apologize for never updating you, but I vowed to never to that a long, long time ago.

It's been about two months, and a lot has happened in that short time. I went back to the US to see my brother get married, I got a job in Cambodia, and so much more. It's been good, very good. Now I'm in my last few weeks here in Japan, and it's really hard to believe. It's also much more difficult to say goodbye than I thought it would be.

Leaving Benin wasn't hard for me. I was ready to go. I mean, there were hard things. I didn't like saying goodbye to all of my friends, and I didn't like saying goodbye to delicious chicken, weekly tchouk market or even zemidjans and my work. I was ready to say goodbye to some things, but it wasn't so much that I couldn't have stayed - it was just time to leave. Does that make sense?

It doesn't feel like that here. Life in Kurabuchi is easy, very easy. I'm paid well, my job is fun, my surroundings are beautiful and I love where I am. The more free weekends I have to sit on my window sill and watch the river, mountains and clouds the more I think about how much I'll miss this place.

Of course it's not unexpected. As soon as I got here, I felt that this place would always be special to me. That this was going to be a place of respite, but not something that would be permanent or even as long as I might like. I knew it was going to be a place to recharge my batteries and then leave to head off once more into the fray.

This isn't lament over the decision to move on. It was bound to happen eventually, and perhaps all the better that it happens at the peak of my love for this place. These two years in Japan will always be reflected back on as a time of great (and quiet) peace and joy.

It's all a very bittersweet experience. All at once I can hardly wait to get to Cambodia, to meet my new students, to dive into Khmer language and culture, to eat some spicy and delicious food and putt around on a scooter. (Not to mention other important things!) I love the first few months of newness in a culture. I love the deconstruction and humility you experience when suddenly you understand nothing and must learn it all again. Of course it's exhausting, but exhilarating. All of that I want to experience again, and now. Even so, it seems sad to once again lose all of the comfort I've worked so hard to gain - being able to communicate and being independent and established.

So, here I am and so the countdown truly begins. From here I have 50 days left in Japan.