On the second day of the trip, we woke up at 7am, and ate a delicious breakfast at the hotel. The day before, as we ate fried goya (bittermelon) at lunch, Rika informed us that the hotel had goya juice. So in the morning, Erin and I downed a glass of it. It was very good. And very bitter.
(*Erin and me with our bittermelon juice and breakfast ^_^)Since we woke up so early, we were able to walk around the hotel grounds a bit, admiring the scenery. This is looking down at the pool, and moat(I think it's a moat anyways). Another view of the pool. This is taken from the library. Erin and I were actually able to rent DVDs from the library, and it's set up so if you get a book from the library, you can enjoy it on a sofa poolside.Enjoying the pool. ^_^ Well, enjoying the chair next to the pool.
Unfortunately, Erin had to leave on a early flight, so Laura and Takashi took her to the airport. Then, Rika, Takayuki and I drove to the Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park, it was amazing!
Situated right on the edge of the water, there's a public beach where visitors to the aquarium can go and enjoy the ocean.
Inside, there were giant aquariums filled with whale sharks, turtles, manta rays, weird looking fish...dolphins. It was very cool.
Seriously, weird-looking fish. ^_^
After the ocean park, we drove to an island (Le Island?), that was connected to mainland Okinawa by the longest bridge in Okinawa. It was beautiful -- around the entire island were beautiful, white sandy beaches. The water was so crystal clear you could see the coral below. We drove around to Awase, Laura and Takayuki showing me where I was born, we drove around trying to find Camp Lester -- and we did! And I think we found the hospital I was born in!Oh! And the food!! I had Okinawan saimin, and it was delicious!! This was a "small" bowl, and I ate the whole thing. It was hilarious, because Rika had to remind me it was OK to slurp my noodles. Living in the states, I always had to be extra cautious not to slurp...but it was so nice to eat normally again! hehe. I loved it!
And Okinawan Andagi!! It was so yummy! Although, I still think Grandma's is still the best. ^_^
One thing I absolutely loved about Okinawa were the shisas everywhere. Even around the city, you could see the lion dogs protecting the houses on many rooftops.
Rika explained to me that the open-mouthed shisas were supposed to allow good fortune to come in, and the closed-mouthed shisas were made to keep bad things out. Which is why every house had a pair. ^_^I wish I had more time on the island. Honestly, before I visited, I always thought of Okinawa as just a place I was born. Not anything more than that. I never really thought I'd go and visit it (although I always thought it would be nice). But now, going there, seeing the places I've heard about, and seeing relatives I didn't know I had, made Okinawa more real to me. It made me want to learn more about my family tree, my culture, and the history.
I can't wait to go back.