Thursday, June 30, 2005

Precipice Protection Division Patrol

Today I went on 'patrol' with the Precipice Protection Division, some representatives from the prefectural government, and some members of a local community group. We actually patrolled a neighborhood adjacent to where I'm living, so I was surprised to see how remote and isolated it seemed. We walked along narrow roads through a valley surrounded by steep, heavily forrested slopes. It was hard to imagine how people managed to sleep at night with their house either dangerously perched on what seemed to be the side of a cliff or situated under a mountain that appeared ready to fall over at any time. It was also hard for me to picture people bringing construction materials up into this area to build some of the rather large houses out there.

The scenery was beautiful, especially after climbing over 330 stairs to the top of a mountain. I was soaked in sweat by the time I got to the top, but the 75 year old leader of the community group managed to make it, so it would be pretty lame of me to try to complain too much. The temperature wasn't too high today (probably 88 or 90) but it was steamy. It rained this morning, and the mountains were covered in mist. Everything was wet, so we had to watch our step, but we made it back safe and sound.

I got to wear a blue city hall uniform today, which they gave me as a souvenier. Sorry I don't have any pictures of me wearing it, but I will get some later. I got all sweaty and oily today, so I don't really want to take one now.

Anyway, just one other snippet before I go. The head of the community group was a really nice old guy. He and another older gentleman (a former junior high school principal) spoke a little English and they enjoyed telling me about things in an interesting mix of broken English and Japanese. The community organization head used to work in the dining hall on the U.S. Navy base and he seemed pretty friendly toward Americans in general.

I gotta go. I am starting Chinese lessons today and I need to change!

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