Wednesday, April 20, 2016

GE 2016: Jordan in Japan

Yes, I got to see and hug and hold Jordan in Japan.  And WOW does he look different.   

But first, an update on Rainey. The US embassy was incredibly efficient and issued him a replacement passport by the end of Monday. I so wish we'd lost the passport on a weekday instead of late on a Saturday as he might have been able to come with us or only a little behind. As I write this Rainey is out of Mexico and on his way to meet us in the next country: Singapore.

Second, Bill gave out the rankings for the first leg and the Littlepage-Booth-related teams SWEPT the top 4 spots. Wendy and Georgia (T3) worked their butts off in Mexico City and came in first. The two Bajan teams were in very close pursuit and Rainey and I took 4th place (since we lost a section of the one day leg to the passport fiasco). Hooray. So proud of everyone!!! What good travelers and global citizens!!!

I left shortly Tokyo after the Japan leg opened to visit my son Jordan in Kofu. Jordan is on a 6 month study abroad program that is total immersion. He does not "learn" Japanese in the traditional sense but rather is thrown into an environment with no English and is forced to figure things out in order to communicate. Seems impossibly hard to me. He is now 5 1/2 weeks into the 6 months. He lives with a Japanese family and goes to a regular Japanese public school and participates in Japanese after school activities. I'm not sure how much of what is going on around him registers but he is having an incredible cultural experience, if nothing else.

The train to Kofu (which takes about 2 hours) is through very sparsely populated open farm land. Kofu is close to Mount Fuji and the towns I saw along the way (like Kofu) are in  plains surrounded by the hills and mountains. Very pretty and peaceful.

I arrived in Kofu mid-afternoon and walked to the hotel I had booked for the night (with a few minor detours because I got lost repeatedly and NO ONE spoke English). I even stopped at a Starbucks but not a single person there could understand or even recognize the English name of my hotel. Sort of surprising since it was only 2 blocks from there. My inability to be understood was pretty intimidating and made me better appreciate how hard these 6 months will be for Jordan!! It is so isolating to not be able to communicate.

Jordan came over after school - with his host mom - to pick me up. When I came down to the lobby there was a group of businessmen in one corner and a very pretty lady with a young man in a suit sitting on some chairs but no Jordan. Then I realized the "young man in a suit" was actually Jordan: but an almost unrecognizable new Jordan in his school uniform (wearing a tie and blazer) plus short hair plus no acne. It's like the aliens invaded my son's body and I'm not sure where the sweat pants and baggy shirt and hippy- haired Jordan went.

Jordan's host mom is intimidatingly pretty and totally put together: beautifully dressed, perfect hair, thin, fancy jewelry.  She'd give a Japanese soap opera star a run for their money in terms of looks and elegance. Next to her, I looked like a homeless bum (especially since I was wearing Great Escape Goodwill throw away clothes that have had one too many hand-washes-in-a-sink-with-bath-gel-acting-as-detergent). 

Jordan with his host Mom and Dad

The host mom drives a brand new fancy Mercedes SUV (the top of the line model) and their home looks like it starred in a Better Homes & Garden photo spread. But most importantly she is kind and sweet and so nice to my Jordy P. She took us first to her office. She works with her husband at the family business: a prominent jewelry manufacturing company. The family owns a big block of land which they've made into a type a compound with the jewelry factory, the offices, the host dad's family home (where his mom lives ... We visited host granny as well) and Jordan's home. I got to see Jordan's bedroom and his bike (that he rides to school every day). His host parents speak a little English but Jordan had to translate some as well.

Host family's great room: living room, dining and kitchen

Every morning the host mom gets up early to cook a bento box lunch for Jordan to take to school. It is packed up in this nifty insulated container ... with chopsticks tucked into a slot on the top... and cupcake paper circles dividing each type of food...and a carrying case that it all fits into. Handy.

Jordan and I then went to eat at a restaurant where you cook thin slices of marinated meat on a griddle (over open flame) in the middle of the table. Jordan talked to the waiter in Japanese (since there was obviously no English spoken and there was absolutely no English on the menu or even photos of food that would let you cheat by pointing). Jordy ordered us plates of different meats, various sauces for the meat and a type of fried rice. And yes, Jordan was actually speaking Japanese (although a little halting) and asking the waiter for recommendations etc. Blew me away. The meal was delicious and gave us a chance to really talk and catch up. 

Jordan slept with me at the hotel but I was a terrible room mate as jet lag hit me hard about 8:30PM and I slipped into a sleep coma. This morning I got the cab driver (who was taking me to the train station) to drop Jordan at school first so I got to see the outside of his school and snap a photo of him.... with Flat Stanley. 

Back in Tokyo now and I'm heading out to do some of the scavenges (even though I get no points because Rainey is not here yet). But doing the stuff in the competition book is always a great way to see the city. 


Unknown said...

Wow Jords seems to be doing so well. He looks amazing and so. Very grown up. Impressed that he can speak Japanese so well in only five weeks.
Join up with the bajans,and do some challenges with them...they would love to have u tag along.
Much love

Unknown said...

Wow Jords seems to be doing so well. He looks amazing and so. Very grown up. Impressed that he can speak Japanese so well in only five weeks.
Join up with the bajans,and do some challenges with them...they would love to have u tag along.
Much love

guthriefamilynews.blogspot said...

Where did Jordan go? OMG, that moment when kids you've known since birth grow up.

christine littlepage said...

Hi Zo,
Just opened up to see a totally different human named Jordan. WOW, WOW what a
wonderful surprise. You must have been in shock. I am so proud of him being able to clean up and look so professional, plus being able to order off the menu, all in just
6 weeks!!!! WOW,WOW. am so thrilled for him and for you. Such a nice family. The posh looking Mum gets up early to to home cook his lunch kit. WOW I am so impressed.
Please send all this info to edith She will be so happy and proud. WOW, I am still

Thrilled that Rainey managed to get his new passport so quickly, and is on his way to catch up.
Proud of the Bajans coming 2nd and 3rd. Give them love. Chlo is doing a fab job of blogging.Congrats, please keep it up baby. Rush to check every few minutes for updates. Missing you all Love Mum and Bumps.

jane D said...

Hi Zoe. Greetings from Canada. so glad I can yet again follow your latest adventure. Glad that Rainey sorted things out and will be back in the race. Jane and Joe

Jessie said...

Jordan looks fantastic - so happy for him/ jealous of course!

Love reading the blog posts - looking forward to the next :). Sending lots of love!


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