Thursday, September 5, 2013

Workcamp Homestay, River fun and the Farewell Party

On my previous post I blogged about the WorkCamp in Hanawa but I didn't blog about our HomeStay nor our Farewell that was...well... busy.

For the Homestay we were divided into couples, I went with Martina to Yuko's house, aka The Ogawa Family, a family that reminded me of my own, Yuko, Yuko's older sister and their Mother, despite Yuko's sister and mother lack of English and out lack of Japanese language, I think we got along pretty well, I just loved Yuko's mom, she is like my mom in so many ways, or just like Diana would say, she's too cool for school, there was no need to "pick us up" from the Camp because Yuko spent the last couple of days (before the homestay) with us at the Camp, helping finishing the Toros and hanging around all of us, she came with us to the Karaoke, so, when I heard SHE would be my Host-Family I felt embarassed after she saw us (Maï, Diana and I) going crazy at the Karaoke.

The Ogawa family lives close to Koriyama, so Yuko had to drive us for about an hour, after dozing off for a little bit (lol~sorry Yuko!), we arrived at her house, a quiet neighborhood where we waited for her Mom and Sister, she took us to what was going to be our room for the weekend, a room used by her mom to teach Caligraphy to children, soon her mom and sister came back and after the proper introductions we went out to have dinner to (what now I know is an Izakaya), we arrived at this Restaurant/Bar were we got seated, the place seemed a Tikki kind of place but they had the worst-shortest playlist on repeat, anyway, I didn't know what kind of place this was, nor I knew about the existence of "Izakayas" aka a place for drinking and eating. Yuko and her mom were mostly in charge of ordering food, the 1st thing were Fries, I think because they wanted to get us something "regular" to prevent us from declining to eat, after asking us about our lives, and what kind of food we don't like, they went ahead and order some more "fitting" food for our likes, I got Spicy pizza (because Mexican = Spicy lol), so, when the pizza arrived with Tabasco sauce, they got shocked when I told them Tabasco sauce is not really Mexican haha,  we ate a lot and had some soft drinks, (I'm all about soft drinks now) and after finishing over 10 diferent kind of dishes, we were out of there, we went back to their house and as they seemed busy, we just settled in the living room watching TV, after a little bit, they came back and told us they had the Tub ready for us to take a bath (aww!), aren't they the nicest?, we took a bath, got comfy and once we finished, Yuko's mom already had more food for us, Cold water, tea, steamed sweet corn, fruit, we weren't used to this kind of treatment, specially after the workcamp lol, we ended that day early since we had to get up and be ready early the next day to go sightseeing
Driving towars our HomeStay!

Martina showing off our room for the weekend.
Yummy homemade breakfast n_n

On sunday at 8:30 we were ready to go, after a quick stop at a 7/11 and another one to get some gas, we were off to our next destination, we went to 大内宿 - Ouchijuku which is a small post station in Japan's Edo period and part of the Aizu Nishi Kaido and it is located in the Town of Shimogo in Minamiaizu District, Fukushima prefecture, I think the drive was over an our, but I'm not sure because again, I dozed off for a little bit lol, this town is actually just like an avenue, there are shops on each side selling Food, snacks, souvenirs, and just about anything, I really wanted to get souvenirs, but I wasn't allowed to shop in Japan (lol), we walked around, took pictures and just chill, Yuko's mom got us ice cream^^ (See?, how can I not love her??), she was really funny, going in almost each store just looking around, I can tell she likes shopping and was looking for whatever caught her eye, something my mom loved to do, go into each store to see what could she possibly find (Oh, how i miss that), once we had seen everything, it was time to leave towards the next destination but before that, Yuko's mom gave us a Keychain/Cellphone hanger as a present n_n.
大内宿 - Ouchijuku
大内宿 - Ouchijuku from the Top 
Leaving 大内宿 - Ouchijuku
The (会津若松城 - Aizuwakamatsu castle, it was a shorter drive this time, but again, Yuko, Martina and I dozed off for a little bit lol, the Aizu Castle is also known as the Tsuruga Castle and is a concrete replica of a traditional Japanese Castle in the northern Japan, this is also located in Fukushima, we left the castle and went to have lunch at a nearby Denny's where we got ice cream again!, this time it was shaved ice with green tea / banana icecream and chewy rice cake (yumm!), after lunch we got in the car again and Yuko's sister started driving, this was such a long drive, I never realized we were so far away from their house (I guess sleeping on the way to both places was what kept me from realizing how far were we), after some more sleeping in the car (I didn't want to!!!, but it was too hot outside, we had the A/C and were quite comfortable at the back of the car, so, it was inevitable), at some point, we had to stop and it was Yuko's mom to start driving and then we went to a Mall (AEON-sp?-) to buy some things we needed and decided to hang around and just "window-shop", and of course, we found the Purikura Machines (Japanese photobooth!) and took some pictures, a couple of hours later, we met with Yuko's mom and sister and went back to their house, we had a nice homecooked dinner, took a bath and Martina and I went to "our" room to watch the latest episode of "Running Man" haha, I felt bad because we didn't do anything for them, everytime I tried to offer my help at cooking,cleaning or whatever, they would decline it and send me back to the living room, I didn't even got presents for them :(, and just when I was thinking about it, Yuko's mom came and gave us another present, this time it was a small mirror she got at the Aizu Castle, according to her it was for us to look at our pretty faces (hehehehe), seriously, I wanted to stay there some more or take her mom back with me lol, the next day (monday) it was departure day and since Yuko had to work, her mom would drive us back to the camp, I thought it was going to be weird/awkward since we can't speak Japanese and she doesn't speak English, but it was a nice drive, listening to Oasis (Her music not ours!!) and at some point she asked me if I knew how to drive or if I had license, too bad I don't know how to drive, otherwise I would have rocked that car lol.
会津若松城 - Aizuwakamatsu Castle

View from the 会津若松城 - Aizuwakamatsu Castle



I didn't want to say goodbye to her mom, specially because I knew they would not come to our farewell party u_u, anyway, i had a great time with Yuko and her family and hopefully we'll get to meet again some day.

The next few days we continued working on our Toros giving the final touches, cleaning and helping others, because on Thursday we had to take the Toros to the river, when Thursday finally came I was Excited/Scared, I heard stories about the river being to deep if it rained and they said that day it was going to rain, in the end it didn't rain but I think it was actually somehow worst, there were some deep places in the river and other not deep enough, we had to carry our 2 meter Toros in the river, walk with them being careful because each team had their own Electric power supply to light the Toro O_o, I could see myself slipping and falling with the toro and then the power supply would explode or something lol, and while I was being extra careful walking-swiming-crawling in the river, I couldn't help but get distracted as soon as the fun started aka once the small Toros were released into the river and we started walking (like a Parade), then they decided every so often we had to turn the Toro 360° lol, and then the Fireworks started and lost all my concentration while checking the fireworks and greeting the people who gathered to watch the Toros lol, I felt like on a Christmas parade O_O, once we reached the "meeting" point, we took the Toros outside of the river and were told we had to take them off, luckily we didn't have to do it right there so we all went back to the river for some more fun, I don't know how it started but once we were all inside of the river, the Boss told us to make a circle and after the speach, if someone called your name, the rest of us would splash you with much fun, so much water, so many falls LOL.
Showing off our Toro "Tori Tori aka Baby Chicken"
What up? - us chilling at the river
Looks pretty, doesn't it?
That day made the whole Camp worth it, I could barely see the faces of the people watching the parade, but I could tell they were excited about it and it's there when you realize that "You are where you are supposed to be"...

The next day we had to work like slaves again u_u, bringing the Toros back to the Work camp, removing the paper, dismantling the structure and cleaning again, this time, I was sent to clean the kitchen, but not just regular cleaning, I mean, END of the year cleaning, when they take out everything, throw water and soap everywhere and give you a toothbursh to clean lol (Just kidding...well...I'm only joking about the Toothbrush lol), later that night we had a meeting to rearrange the Cooking teams since we were supposed to cook for the Town's people, so, we got to cook some of our "national" dishes, Diana, Maï and I were a Team and were of course cooking Mexican Food, we brought Mole and corn flour to make tortillas, but at the end, decided to make Tortillas for the Pork Tacos (Shout out for Roberta aka Maïl lol for being excelent at making Tortillas!!), Cheese Quesadillas, Cheese gorditas and Sopes + the Mole with Chicken and rice, being the awesome team we are, we finished cooking early and had more free time to rest and shower before the Farewell party, we were expecting over 50 guests, I don't know how many people made it into the party, but that Gym was CROWDED, we toasted, ate, talked, took pictures and did everything you are supposed to do at a farewell party, except for crying lol, I had a great time.
Looks like a classroom party lol - Can you see Mexico's flag?, I made it!
Camp Leader Speach
Sensei going all Origami on us
O-R-I-G-A-M-I (The national hobby)

Maï making Cheese gorditas
So,I want to Thank you Hanawa City, City Hall, Ottomo Family, Boss Yusuke San, Shiori San and everyone who made this such a wonderful experience :)

-Gisela V.

Ps. We did some other things in Hanawa, but you can read more about it on my sis' blog here.

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