Monday, December 18, 2006




I know everyone must be packing right now to go home or on super adventure trip for Christmas so I decided to publish the X-mas post as soon as possible. I hope everyone has a really good time with their family and friends, and don't eat too much!!! I was thinking this year brought a lot of change not only for Orlan and I but for many of our friends. Some people had kids, others moved and some got married all in a really short amount of time, just one year!!!!! So congratulations to everyone!!!! I'm sure the new year will bring more crazy adventures for everyone.
If your going to Puerto Rico or anywhere tropical take a few minutes to admire the beautiful view and take a nice picture like this one:

P.S. We will be gone for 2 weeks and I won't be updated the Blog so if you want to stare at the same pictures and read the same stories then that's fine, but you have been warned.
2nd P.S. - The pictures are from last year at my In-laws place in Ponce, PR. Everyone here is Buddhist (there are X-mas decorations in the shops but it's like a Hallmark Holiday) and mainly celebrate the New Year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mitaki Temple

On Sunday Erin decided to stop taking Aly (our friend who has been here working from Michigan for 5 weeks) shopping or to the arcade (seriously we spend 3 hours in the photo booth last time) and go to the Mitaki Buddhist Temple near by Hiroshima. It turn out to be a great idea because even though it's officially winter it still looks like fall!!! I had been to the temple before but the "fall" colors made everything look 10 times more scenic. Here are a series of "artsy" pictures that I took:

These statues are called "Jizu" and they where all over the temple's surroundings. According to Jizo is a Buddist enlightened being who provides Salvation from suffering and is the guardian of deceased children, expectant mothers, firemen, travelers, and pilgrims.These statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children's clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō's features are also commonly made more babylike in order to resemble the children he protects.
This is "Iddya in the fall":

Here is "Iddya in the Bambu Forest" like in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

We decided to climb up the small mountain to see the view from the city. Once we got there I was very desapointed to find a giant electrical tower instead of a nice look our place, but it had the funniest sign I have even seen:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Japanese Party

This Friday I went to my first Japanese Work Party. It was extremely well organized with presentations and lots entertainment. The good part was you could eat and drink anything you wanted for 3 hours!! All Right!!! Here is a picture of the people who work with me.

The funniest part about the night was that the most quite guy in the whole office came out of his shell and sang a Kareoke song. Gues which one is the before and after in the pictures to the right. After his very interesting song I actually stood up and read a message from one of the managers in the office could not attend. No one wanted to read the message out loud (it was in english), offcourse who ended up reading it? Me !!! So what if there 70 people who had no idea who I was since I only started working 1 month ago.?!?!?! Little did they know that as the daughter of an ex-politician, I love making speaches and jump to the chance of making any presentations. At the end everyone congratulated me and I was like "ok so I can read....great" no big deal.
After the party there was an actual bus that took everyone to the Kareoke hall. This place was huge it had 7 stories full of Kareoke rooms!!! The best part is the video I took:

Here is our "out of his shell guy"
And now one of the guys who sang very well

If your wondering I did sing a few songs, but I stayed away from the ones in Spanish so I would not bucher them and give everyone a bad impression about Latin music.

View from the car

Hello everyone I just wanted to share one of the nice vews of the city I see on the way to work.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Japanese Test

There are no nice pictures this week because I did a crazy thing; I took a Japanese Proficiency test and spend the weekend inside studying!!! The first few weeks that I was here I was hanging out with my Catalan friend Nuria and accompanied her to the post office in order to learn where the post office was. It turns out she was applying for the Japanese test and I decided to apply also. Why not? So that was 5 months ago and I did not realize what the test required until 1 week ago when I found a website with review material for the test. The review for the test was 40 pages long with 15 of them just vocabulary words!!!!! I literally started laughing hysterically and saying to myself WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!!!!!
After I got over my freak out I decided to research the requirements for the test. It turns out that you're supposed to have 150 hours of class, learn 120 kanji characters and know 800 words…Why am I so lucky? I calculated that I've taken about 60-70 hours of class since I have been here and know some kanji (the first things you learn are the exit, parking, entrance and the sign for woman to be able to go to the right bathroom). I tried to do the "college thing" and lock myself up all day and study, but there was something missing...all my study buddies from college (shot out to the INQU Posse, I know a few of you read this blog because of the dots in the map, leave me a comment to know your alive!!!).
The day of the test I woke up early, sharpened my #2 pencils, met some friends at the station and got on the train to the test center. I was very surprised at the amount of people from all over the world who where taking the test. Once the proctor started reading the instructions of the test out loud and that's when I realized I was in big trouble. I did not understand one word of what he was saying!!! He could have been talking in Russian and it would have made no difference!!! In the words of Grey's Anatomy – SERIOUSLY!!! I had a sudden urge to just get my stuff and go home but I'm a disaster figuring out the trains without Orlando so I just stayed.
The first part of the test involved matching a bunch of Kanji to their meaning. The whole time I was thinking does this have 3 lines next to the square? Maybe it was 3 lines next to the cross? I really wish I knew what the hell this sentence is talking about because it can be 2 different characters!!!! Anyways that did not go so well but I think I got a few.
I was feeling pretty good until the next part, listening. The speaker started blurring out various conversations and asking a question about it. The only problem was I could not even tell what the subject of the conversation was, it just all sounded like one really big never ending word. I would try to write down the few words that I could recognize but by that time the next conversation was already being played. So for 25 minutes I randomly colored circles...lots of fun. I was completely demoralized by the time the last section of the test came around, grammar and reading comprehension. Since I'm basically reading like a kid in kinder garden (something like: A-ri-ga-to) I did not even finish "reading" the whole thing. In a nut shell there is no way I'm passing this test and if I do I should start playing the Lottery.
The moral of the story is: Don't sign up for random tests without knowing what they really are, especially in a language with 3 alphabets, that conjugates adjectives (why do you need a whole new word just to say "it was cold" or "it will be cold"?) and has 3 ways of saying everything – casual (at home), polite (shows respect) and formal (at work).

PS - A nice community of bloggers has developed in the past few months, come and join us it's fun!!! If you want to see a few of my friends' blog just click the links on the right hand of the page and enjoy!!!! Caution: Some of them are in Spanish but you can look at the pretty pictures for kicks.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving with their family and friends. There is no Thanksgiving per say here but it was a National Holiday. Mazda worked that day and when I asked me Japanese colleagues what was the National Holiday for they said it was worker appreciation day. Apparently Mazda did not get the Memo on this because it was just another normal day at the office on Thursday. I have to accept that I was pretty down that day because I knew that on a normal Thanksgiving I would be at a friends house eating good turkey and lots of food and off course making fun of everyone :-( but that's OK. It's the little things that you really miss about home.
On Friday we played volleyball in the school in front of our apartment with the parents of the kids who attend the school. It was basically a bunch of Japanese parent, one tall German guy and us. Fortunately 2 of the parents spoke English and let us know what was going on. It was really interesting to see how they play. First of all everyone stretched and warmed up together. I felt like I was 15 years old again practicing in my High School volleyball team because they did the same exact drills we used to do!!! Once we started playing the teams had 9 people in them and no one rotated...weird. Nevertheless it was fun and we just kept setting the ball to the German guy who would spike it real hard. In the second set we sent the German guy to the back because he was killing the Japanese parents, who by the way played very well and had hard serves. At the end everyone helped in cleaning up the gym. By the way you had to take 2 pairs of shoes, one to walk to the gym and leave outside and your sneakers to wear inside of the gym., which I found really funny. The parents where very nice to us and even invited us for drinks afterwards, which was very interesting since only one person could translate. I was very happy to be able to go back to something I really enjoy doing. Now if we could only find a softball team we would be all set.
On Saturday we meet a bunch of friends over at Erin's house for our invented Thanksgiving dinner. The theme of the meal was a pot luck dinner with dishes made by the boys. I have to give the boys points because everything was really good. Here is Orlando with Erin in his favorite place, in front of the grill making some kabobs ("pinchos" in Spanish).
Here is the happy bunch of foreigners lots in Hiroshima, Japan.

On Sunday I met up with Erin and Aly to go hang out in the shops downtown. We found this really cool "Dave and Buster's" type of place and decided to take some funny pictures in the booth. At first we could not figure out the picture booth because it was all in Japanese so we just picked random backgrounds. Then we discovered you could write stuff on the pictures. Last but not least we invited the guy working there to join us ... I bet we made his day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Events

Hello Hello everyone!!! First of all a few people heard that there was an earthquake in Japan and called to see if we where ok and as you can see from the pictures below we are fine. The earthquake was in the north of Japan and did not affect us at all. On a happier note, I found this old picture the other day and wanted to place it on the blog because Orlan has a big smile in it and I think it's cute.

Here we are with Orlando's section who organized a welcome dinner for me. We had a lot of fun everyone is super nice and shared a little bit about their culture. We told them that in Puerto Rico we roast pigs on Christmas, celebrate Three Kings day (like a second X-mas) and have "parandas" (basically everyone goes over to your house at 3am with musicians, wakes you up and eats all your food). They all found it very interested and came to the conclusion that the best Christmas celebration is in Puerto Rico, which off course we happily agreed with.

On Saturday we celebrated Keiko (white shirt), our neighbor's B-day with a girls' night. The picture only cover half of one table, there where actually 18 people there!!! Ok let me rephrase 18 very loud foreigners who asked the Japanese people in the restaurant to sing Happy Birthday with us, which they did. Here I am with the ganag and my friend Aly (the one with the peace sign) who is here from Michigan for a few weeks. She is the one that introduced me to Erin (there is a link to her blog on the right hand corner) via E-mail and the rest is history.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Working in Japan

Hello everyone!!! Nothing super interesting to report this week. Since I have been working, life has changed from adventure Thursdays (I would meet up with some friends and explore a little town or site around Hiroshima) to adventures on the train to and from work. I do want to share with everyone the good things about working in Japan. Here is my top ten list:

1. I always know which paper is mine in the group printer, the one with roman letters.
2. The girls bathroom is always unoccupied.
3. I realized that I really don't need to know what's happening in a meeting, so my day dreaming skills have increased dramatically.
4. Thanks to my European friends, I have come to appreciate a good cup of coffee at 3 o'clock.
5. I realized that there is no worse feeling in the world that watching the train leave as you run toward the station trying not to hit the other 1,000 people doing the same thing.
6. You can wear anything you want because your the only girl in the office and everyone else is wearing their Mazda jackets, so no one is going to care.
7. I have successfully mastered the art of bowing and smiling without saying a word.
8. My invented sign language vocabulary has increased.
9. My most important document is my English to Japanese dictionary.
10. I have less layers to wear because Japan is not cold!!!!! The average temperature for November is 61-45 degrees Fahrenheit, but people around here are already wearing scarves and gloves while I just wear a light jacket.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

2006 World Volleyball Championship

This weekend we went to see the Puerto Rico National Volleyball team play in Kobe ,about and hour away from Hiroshima. It was really good to meet and talk to the other Puerto Ricans there. We meet some of the team representatives, reporters and the team's #1 fan who actually came all the way from Puerto Rico to see the team play. That deserves a medal!!! Here we are with PR's #1 fan and a very nice Japanese girl who had met the team during the practice rounds and came to support them.

Guess what? We made it to the newspaper!!! Check it out at:

My name is misspelled but so what!!!! The pictures speaks a thousand words!!! I called home and they did publish the article in the sunday newspaper. The precise moment that I called my neighbors had already come over with the newspaper to tell my family. I could not believe it!!

Here is the tournament's mascot rooting for the right team:

Above you can see the whole team just before the PR's national anthem was played. I have to accept that I was very sentimental during this part because I was so happy to hear "La Borinqueña" on the other side of the world. We all had a really good time!!! I'm sure the players where glad to here a few "VAMOS, VAMOS" (Let's Go) in the midst of all the Japanese takataka...something...takataka. I only wish the best for the PR TEAM!!!!! I'm sure they will keep representing our little piece of land globally with the same class and style they demostrated in Japan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


This Wednesday I began working for Ford at the Mazda offices in Hiroshima, so every day Orlando and I go to work together. Some times we go by car and other times we take the train. The train is an experience all of it's own. It basically consists of a sea of people all dressed in 1,000 combinations of black and white walking or bicycling (nothing is funnier than a guy in a suit riding a bicycle to work) toward the train station. I realized how safe it was around here one morning when I saw little kids just walking to school by themselves with no parental supervision what so ever, that would never happen in Puerto Rico. Once your at the station everyone buys their respective tickets, puts their ipods on and boards the train, where you try your best not to bump into anyone.

The SUV that I'm working on is the The Ford Everest which is developed and sold in Asia. The Everest is based on the local Ford Ranger platform and made in Thailand. The SUV is also sold as the Ford Endeavour in India (see picture beklow). In general it looks very similar to a Explorer with three-row seating. For more information check out:

I'm slowly working toward tackling the language barrier but it's not that easy folks!!! I'm the only foreigner in my group!! Just my luck!!! It's all part of the motivation factor to work on my Japanese ASAP.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I know Halloween is not until Oct. 31 but everyone celebrated it on Saturday night. I signed up to be on the kids Trick or Treat trail and lots of them came out from the International School. They where sooooo cute. It was funny how everyone had to cram into the elevator to go to the eight floor, but hey it was worth it. Here are some of the cuties that visited:

After the Trick or Treat session we where invited to a costume party. Orlando and I dressed up as Japanese Public employees. He was a construction worker and I was a police women as you can see from the picture below.

Here we are with the hosts of the party Tom and Jan. I would have to take them into police custody for possession after this picture off course.

People kept staring at us when we here walking to the party about 8 blocks away. The costume where a big hit and every one kept taking pictures of us, the problem was that Orlando's vest kept reflecting the light from the flash back into the camera!!!

People kept asking me to arrest them but I could not find any handcuffs and it's Japan so female cops don't really do anything except write tickets (I looked it up on the web).

As Orlando was walking around the party he noticed a couple dressed up as Ohio State Fans and send them my way. We talked football and where both looking forward to the Michigan vs Ohio State game coming up. There where no hard feelings except for the dead wolverine she made up using arts and crafts...the horror. As you can see from the picture to your left there is no escaping Ohio State fans... Even in Japan.

The party was a lot of fun and everyone had on funky costumes. Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm officially older!!!!! It was my B-day yesterday and my first one in Japan!!!
I found out that Happy Birthday in Japan is OTANJOBI OMEDETO and that the birthday song is the same one as in English. The only difference is that when you sing it you have to say Happy Birthday Iddya-san, which I find hilarious.

We went to a really nice dinner (you know with lots of silverware) with our friends to celebrate the occasion.

I got this SWEET Hello Kitty cake:

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who called, send gifts, e-mailed, instant messaged me or used any other form of communication to wish me well on my B-day. I guess now that I'm 27 I can't be conquering more mountains any more. Maybe I would be able to if I got a cane to help me out!!! HAHA just kidding!!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nature Hike

On Saturday we decided to "be one with nature" and go on a nature hike up Mt. Misen in Miyajima Island just off the coast of Hiroshima. We walked all the way from the pier to the top of the mountain, back down the mountain to the aquarium and back to pier. I added blue arrows to the map below to show our path.

At the beginning we where very excited and pupped up to be going up the mountain especially since the sign indicated about a 2 mile hike up. No problem right? WRONG!?!? It was 2 miles of super steep steps next to these huge landslides all over the mountain!!! Every time you would take a step your knees would hit your chin!!! It was like being in the stepmaster machine from hell with the highest and steepest level non-stop. Check out the steps on the backgruond of the picture to your right. Needless to say it took us about 2 hours to get to the top of the mountain. The most embarrasing part was that these two separate old Japanese gentlemen all dressed up in hiking gear, passed us by and beat us to the top!!! I realized that it's really all down hill after your 25 years old folks!

Here is the view from the top (there where deer all over the island):

The interesting part is that we decided to take a different trail to go back down. After 3 hours we realized that the second trail was even longer and steeper than the first one!!! Once I stopped staring and cursing (I exhausted every bad word I knew in Spanish and English, if I would have know some in Japanese I would have thrown them in there too) at the endless steps in front of me, I took a break to admire the great view. Check out the picture on the right.
It was a great accomplishment for me to actually go up the mountain at all, since those of you who know me very well are aware that I'm afraid of heights, but I made it all the way up and down the mountain in one piece. I do know one thing for certain I did it because I realized it was a once in a life time experience.

Monday, October 16, 2006


On October 12, 2006 Therese and I went on a day trip to Miyajima, a small island of the coast of Hiroshima. Miyajima is considered one of the "Three Most Beautiful Spots" of Japan and is the second tourist spot in Hiroshima after the Peace Museum. There where lots of tourists there from all over the world walking around the island. It was comforting and weird to finally hear some English being spoken around me.

Here are some cool pictures:

Let's play where is Iddya? Can you find me in this picture?

I'm really trying to fit in as you can see:

I found the real tourist attraction in the island a giant golden Hello Kitty:

For more information about the island visit:

Sunday, October 15, 2006


This morning I woke up to the weirdest news in the world - THE DETROIT TIGERS ARE GOING TO THE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES!!!! What?!?!?! I could barely believe it, after so many losing seasons, which Orlan and I presenced the past 4 years in Michigan now that we move they finally decide to win. In the words of Alanis Morrissette - "Isn't it ironic, don't you think?". For all the none Michigan readers of this blog ( I know your out there thanks to the dots on my cluster map on the right corner) here are a few pictures of Comerica Park:

In the picture above we are in front of the park with Orlando's parents. Watching the Tigers win (thanks to really brought back many good memories of the time we spent at the baseball park even though the team never ever won a game when we where there (or at least that's what it felt like). GO TIGERS!!!!

Now back to the usual blog subjects. Saturday we went to the Mazda purchasing annual softball tournament. It was very cool to meet the people who work with Orlando everyday. I spoke to a few English speakers who where mostly girls (younger than me if you can believe it, mostly 22-25 years old) who work in purchasing. They where all very stylish and nice. In the beginning of the activity there was speech made and then everyone stood up in rows and stretched out to the Mazda exercise song. Since I have no idea what the song or anyone speaking was saying I did my best to follow the exercises by imitating the people in front of me, clapped whenever they clapped and laughed whenever they laughed. When the game was about to start both teams made a row facing each other and bowed. Here is Orlando at bat proudly wearing his YA HEARD Dearborn Softball league shirt (notice the scenery in the background, the field was on the top of a mountain, the same as all the golf courses here, no space? problem just level the top of a mountain and there you go):

Check out the video of Orlan hitting a home run (I took the video with my cel phone so the quality is not great but you get the idea):

At the end of the first game time was up and the scored was tied. So how do you decide a winner? Well the answer is simple play 5 sets of rock, paper, scissors and who ever gets the most wins goes on to the next game. I was lucky enough to take a picture of this event since I figured no one would believe me, as you can sse on your right. Our team actually won the rock, paper, scissors Japanese shoot out, assembled in a row, bowed to the other team and continued to the next game. The whole day was allot of fun everyone went with their families and played for fun. There was no batting order or anything like that, if you where on the bench and grabbed the bat then you where next, as simple as that. The good thing was all the baseball terms where the same. First base was first base and an out is an out so even though I can't speak Japanese I defended myself with the universal language of baseball.