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.