Island Life – Week 1

Hotel
We are staying at the West Pac on Foster. It’s a great option. We have a separate living area with a pull out bed. The tv has hulu and netflix abilities. Fitness center (cardio only), free laundry, slot machines, dvd/game rentals, and free breakfast next door at Terra. Seriously anything on their breakfast menu, free. Ben has steak and eggs every morning. A gets enough food to feed 2 kids; eggs, hashbrowns, meat, fruit, bread, juice. It’s great. They also have a free shuttle anywhere on foster and to the airport. If you need it for the airport, call ahead.

Food
I love food. I know I’m not as adventurous as I should be and nothing has highlighted that as much as coming here. I typically avoid any kind of spicy food and if it’s not chicken breast or trim cut meat, I steer clear. So this has been an adjustment. We’ve mostly eaten on base because we don’t have a car and the humidity here makes it difficult to walk anywhere. They mostly do Asian fusion type food but their chicken is thigh meat. A and I are not fans yet. Yesterday our sponsor took us off base and it was actually wonderful. We had lunch at a place called Splash in Sunabe Seawell area. I had a ramen dish (7 yen) that had spice and was seriously delicious. After fumbling around with the chopstick noodle combo, I figured out a trick. If you take the noodles and place them in the soup spoon, then twirl the chopsticks around, they wind up like spaghetti. Just dip the spoon in the broth to get some of that yummy goodness with the noodles. They had a great option for A. It was french fries, fried chicken and a bowl of fried rice. Her 3 favorites in one dish! For dinner we went to an Italian place called Pizzeria Marino Goshikawa. They had a feeds 4 people option that included salad, minestrone soup, fondue, pasta dish of choice, meat dish of choice, margharita pizza, and 3 desserts for each person. It was a ton of food for 92(ish) yen. A hasn’t quite come around to the food options here but I’m doing better than I expected.

Housing Progress
We made more progress regarding our housing than I expected to in the first week. Our sponsor was great about signing us up for the first available housing brief. At the brief they told us if our housing options on base were full or not. Our options were not so we do not get the option to move into town. We will have to accept one of the 2 options they provide on base. They told us to expect a call within 10 days updating us on our expected wait. They called the next day and said come in Thur to pick up the keys and check out the options. Both of ours ended up being tower options in the same tower. So they look identical. One is just half way up the building and the other is near the top. We returned the keys the same day and have a meeting Monday morning to accept quarters. I am pretty excited. Ben really wanted to live off base but I was more hesitant. Maybe after our year is up, we will have a better feel for off base areas and can move then.

Cell Phones
This was seriously different than what I’m used to. Several friends who are here recommended Softbank as a good carrier so that’s who we went with. The plans are weird. Basically you pick a minutes plan; pay as you go, first 5 min of outgoing calls free, or unlimited talk. Then you pick data levels. All outgoing texts cost 3 cents. Anything incoming is free, text or call. The highest data level, 50gb, was on sale. So unless you wanted only 5 gb of data, you’re better off getting the 50gb. So all that to say, we’re paying about $175 dollars a month for data. On a 2 year plan that auto renews. They prorate the first month but not the last. So if you only need your phone for 2 days on the last billing cycle before you leave, then you’ll pay the whole months fee. If you want to save a few bucks, have your cell phone unlocked before you arrive. I totally blanked on doing that so our bill includes new phone payments for 24 months (similar to the next plan).

Car Shopping
We even managed to get a car this week! FREEDOM! I love our sponsor. He has been amazing but I hate waiting for rides and feeling trapped. We took our drivers test on Wed during the welcome aboard brief. It was nerve wracking and I don’t think any of us should actually be allowed on the road but here we are. Once we had our license in hand, we were allowed to buy a car. There are several options on island. You can buy new (who does this?), buy from a used car dealer, or buy from someone else directly. I seriously don’t know who would buy a new car here. Used cars from dealers sit around 5,000 dollars. They include brand new JCI and some have a warranty that covers oil changes and such. I personally, don’t think it’s worth it when you look at the last option. Buying privately varies greatly. I’ve seen people sell cars for 500 to 3000 dollars. Good cars! Some, like ours, even have a brand new JCI. Oil changes and such won’t cost you that much money. Save some bucks and try to buy from the lemon lot on base. Just look for a car that has at least 18 months left on JCI. JCI is something they do that makes sure the car is in good working order. So if a car has passed recently, it’s a sound choice. Once you find a car and talk the price down, you’ll have to get the title transferred ($35) and get insurance. Insurance is paid a year at a time and ours ran about $200.

Weather
It’s the rainy season now. It’s been overcast but not terrible. I’ve heard it’s been pretty dry so far. We’ve had 2 days where it drizzled but it is over quickly. I hear there is a storm brewing over the ocean so maybe I’ll have a better idea in a week or so.

I’m seriously so excited to explore now that we have a car. I’ve heard about some great places and the culture seems so rich. I’ll try to get some good photos as we go. I’ve tried really hard for the past couple of years to be more present in our adventures instead of behind my cell phone but I really want to share this beautiful place.

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