Thursday, November 26, 2009

So I left Japan two days ago- my final foreign country before we reach Hawaii. And boy was it a finale. An adventure. A port where absolutely nothing turned out the way I planned, but it was ok. I don’t really know how to explain it, but seriously everything went wrong, but at the same time, it felt so right.  Honestly though, as this trip comes to an end, it becomes even more impossible to describe what I’m actually doing. And it’s finally starting to hit me. Tonight was Thanksgiving and I had a family dinner with my ship mom and dad, my 2 brothers and 3 sisters. There was turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, but it was nothing like being at home. However, our family’s conversation eventually turned to the fact that our voyage is coming to an end and we will soon have to leave this home and return back to the old one. It’s devastating to us all for tons of reasons, but the worst part is leaving these people behind and moving back to reality- where literally no one, and I mean no one, will understand what I have been through the past four months of my life. And no matter how much I try to explain, or how many times I tell the same story, I’m going to want more than anything to be like “Hey John, remember that time in Africa…” But I won’t be able to. These people who have been my family for months, will no longer be around. And I will have to call them on the phone or facebook them if I want to talk about all the feelings and emotions this voyage has given me and everyone else onboard the MV Explorer. We just get each other..and that’s that. And I sit here right now in a hallway filled with some of my closest friends, looking at everyone run and play and act like absolute idiots, but it doesn’t even matter. It’s like I’m in 1st grade again- we don’t drink or do drugs, but instead, we play tag, hide and go seek, and pictionary like it’s our job. I do somersaults down the hallway on my way to class, walk around in a panda hat, and dance to my ipod on deck 7 for exercise, and no one even thinks to look twice. Last night for Thanksgiving, I propped my door open and had a dance party in my room. Tons of us jumped on the bed and rocked out with some of our bff’s...Miley, Michael, Taylor, and Mariah, just to name a few. We’re all idiots on the MV Explorer- and I love that I can be my complete childish self 24 hours a day 7 days of week. Embarrassment simply doesn’t exist.

But anyways- back to Japan. I backpacked my way through this country. Not purposely, not because I particularly wanted to, but because there was literally no place to stay. I never thought that statement could be true, I mean there’s always a place to stay right? Wrong. Not in Japan. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but literally every hotel was booked in the entire country- leaving many of us sasers homeless, showerless, and lugging our backpacks through Japan, forced to be extra creative on where to fall sleep. My group took creativity to the extreme after attempting to sleep in a randomly placed 7-11 in the snowy Japanese Alps. We were of course given the boot from this 24 hour gas station, but luckily in the middle of nowhere, we were rescued by a nice a local who offered us the floor of his one bedroom hole in the wall apartment. As I crashed on his floor sardine style with 8 of my best friends and 2 friendly Asians, Bob Marley played over the radio and I knew “everything’s gonna be alright.” It was a moment of complete and utter clarity, where I knew I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

People in Japan are unlike the people in any other Country. They are shy and reserved, but SO genuinely friendly. They want to help you, they want to be your friend, but unlike all the other places I have been too, they don’t want your money for it. I went on a homestay in Kobe and had the time of my life. The first day my family picked me up from the ship, took me to lunch, to the amusement park, and to the Buddhist temple where I got to see a traditional Japanese wedding. That night they invited all of their friends over for a party. They showered me with origami and I got to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The next morning we woke up at 7am to walk the kids to school. The mom set up for me to tour the school, see the classrooms, and play with all the kids. Next it was kimono time. My family thought it would be a good idea to dress me up in the full on Japanese kimono (which takes like 45 minutes to put on) and walk me down the street to of course, take millions of pictures.

Later they dropped me off at the ship, and as I realized it was my last day in a foreign country, tears filled my eyes. I can’t believe this is all coming to an end. As I sit here today looking out at the ocean, I’m still trying to grasp the fact that I have been to all of these places, and that the things I have seen are real and not some animatronics set up at Disney World. I think it is going to take me my entire life to grasp that whole concept.

But anyways, the next stop is Hawaii and I’m really excited. But I’m also trying to enjoy this 10 day stretch at sea. I had a bridge tour yesterday. I got to sit in Captain Geremy’s, chair, wear his hat, AND steer the boat (unfortunately it was still on autopilot, but whatever it still counts right?) We also gain an entire day this week. On the 28th we sail across the international dateline, and the day repeats itself! Pretty cool, ay? Ok well I’m going to go enjoy the pretty day outside and attempt to do some homework.

Soooo Happy Turkey Day to all of you Americans! It’s 2:00 the next day here so my thanksgiving day has passed, but I can’t stop thinking of all my friends and family celebrating together in Nashville, NYC, California, Jersey, Charleston, Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, Ohio, Georgia, or wherever else your little heart may settle on this tiny amazing planet.  Wish I could be there to eat some pie and give you all hugs. Can’t wait to see everyone at Christmas.

Peace. Love & Stuffing.

Lauren Fern

P.S— Here’s some pics from China. The bottom one is obviously the Great Wall, The next one up is the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, then it’s Kimmy and I on the ship ported in Shanghai, and the last one is the view of Hong Kong’s skyline from the ship. :o)

China was unreal. Should have written more about it, maybe I will when I have time, but as of now I’m packed with work and all I want to do is sit outside and read Harry Potter. EXPECTO PETRONUMMMMMMM.

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