Sunday, 28 August 2011

大船渡第一 Catch up and First Report from Phil on Oofunato

We have had a busy few days here at the shufuinjapan residence. My friend "Phil", who sometimes comments on this blog, arrived from the UK to stay for a few nights on his way up to Iwate Prefecture to do volunteer work helping to clean up the mess left by the tsunami. 
We had a get together at my place for a few old friends over yakiniku (BBQ on the table)to 2am! Anyway, here is his first report of volunteering in Iwate. He has written it on his cellphone in Japanese as that is much quicker than doing it English. So please excuse my translation as I assure you he is much more eloquent in real life! I am posting this here so people who know him can keep up with what he is doing as there probably isn't much chance for him to update everyone himself.

午後5時ぐらいに大船渡に到着して、盛というところにあるボランティアセンターに泊まってます。今はbunk bedの上のほうで、下にいる大きい人がゴロゴロ転がって、10秒ごとに地震があるかのように感じます。眠られないだろう。盛は海より結構高くに位置してるのでとても安全です。部屋は40人ぐらいいて非常にくさいけどすぐなれそう。晩御飯はカレーライス食べて、食べてからみんなで打ち合わせして、僕は自己紹介した。そのときから何人かと話ができて、変わったやついてもやっぱりみんなは親切。バスから見た景色は本当にきれいでびっくりして、でも陸前高田をはじめて見たら正直にショッキングでした。なのに、チャリに乗る人、買い物する人、手つないだまま歩く高校生のカップルも普通に見る。その背景には瓦礫だらけ。きっと頑張るしかないとみんな思って一生懸命頑張ってる。すごいなぁと思います。こっちも頑張って寝ないと。明日は高速道路で掃除したり瓦礫を運んだりします。
Arrived in Ofunato about 5pm, and am staying in a volunteer centre called "Mori". At the moment I'm on the top bunk and the big person on the bottom is rolling around which feels like there is an earthquake every 10 seconds. Mori is located in a high up safe place. There are 40 of us sharing a room so it is really stinky, but I think I'll get used to it quickly.
For dinner we had curry rice, and had a meeting while we ate. I introduced myself to everyone. I've been able to tallk to a few people so far and even though some of them are a bit different, they are all nice. The scenery from the bus on the way was really beautiful, but I was shocked to see Rikuzentakata for the first time. Even so, there are people riding bikes, shopping, highschool student couples walking hand in hand just as usual.
The scenery is all debris. So everyone can't help but think they have to do their best . I have to do my best now to get to sleep. Tomorrow we are cleaning up and taking away debris on the highway.

In other news from us, Amelia is getting much much bigger now we are doing breast followed by top ups with formula. I feel much happier knowing that she is not half starving anymore. She is over the 5 kilo mark now and looking very cherubish. She does a lot of chatting and has started to reach out and touch things rather than just wave her arms in their general direction.

Sebastian has had a lot of excitement with lots of visitors coming and going. We have figured out that he has issues with strangers (to him, not to us) who are male coming into our house. He pees out of fright when he sees them and takes him a good half an hour or more to warm to them. Females are fine. When Phil arrived the other day, Sebastain ran and hid behind Amelia who was sitting in her bouncer....Big brother is not so brave after all! It's funny to see Sebastian's interactions with Amelia. He tries to get her to play with him by bringing toys over to her whilst she is in her bouncer and dropping them at her feet. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Back in Fukushima again

Well we survived our 2000 km round trip to Tottori. Amelia and Basti were both very good on the way back so it wasn't as horrible as I imagined. Basti slept almost the whole way and Amelia only got really over it during the last 10 kms and I must say I was over it by then too.

Basti was a little uncertain being back in our house the first night but by the next day he was up to his usual antics. Last night he was so excited when DH came home from work he slipped on the floor and fell flat on his back and hit his head...that didn't slow him down for more than a second though. 

Today he got a hair cut. The first proper one he has had in a while. He looks a little less cute and a little more scary now, but it should be a little cooler for him.

We had a rather big earthquake here this afternoon. It was a 6.8 in Fukushima but only a 4 here in Iwaki. That made the news in NZ though. Poor Amelia was upstairs having a nap and when I raced up to get her she was lying there looking quite startled. Basti was also cowering with the rattling and shaking. Luckily though there was no damage for us here and things are as usual.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Update and visit to Tottori

Last time I posted was about 2 weeks ago and I mentioned that a friend was coming over with a geiger counter to measure the radiation. Well we went round various parts of our house and found levels of 0.2 milisievelts/hr or there abouts. Outside on the grass was higher at 0.36. So we started a cleaning regime and have got the levels down already. This is still not as low as 0.05 or whatever Iwaki would have had before the power plant meltdown, but is also a lot less than people in other parts of Fukushima are living with and similar to what a lot of people are living with but they don't realise cause they live outside Fukushima prefecture.

2 days ago we headed off on our Obon vacation. Back down to Tottori 1000kms away from Iwaki. We set off in the afternoon and drove all night, got here before lunch the next day. DH drove 950kms of it...poor guy. I was in charge of Amelia for obvious reasons and that slowed us down a bit as every time she needed to be fed we would have to stop for about a good half hour or longer.  She did sleep for most of the way and only had a meltdown for a bit once. It's nice to be here in Tottori where there are no earthquakes and DH's mum feeds us well! It was so nice to see Sebastian (remember my dog?) again after nearly 5 months. He is a bit bigger and less crazy than when we left him here. He has been getting used to Amelia. At first he barked every time he saw or heard her. But now he hardly barks at all at her and is not so interested in her anymore. So it looks like we will be able to take him home with us, in that he and Amelia can co-exist together well I think. I'm not looking forward to the drive back to Iwaki with a baby and a dog, but somehow we will make it I'm sure.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Back in Fukushima

Last Friday we set off from Nelson on the first leg of our trip home. Amelia took her first flight from Nelson to Auckland. She was asleep the whole way and didn't even make a peep taking off or landing. We had two huge bags and a large carry on and were helped by some nice men who were on our plane to get everything off the luggage carousel. Then we checked in at our hotel. I do recommend the new Novotel at Auckland airport. It is literally 2 minutes away from the international terminal, which is so much easier than waiting for a shuttle to your hotel that might be miles from anywhere to have dinner etc. 
The next day I was up at 5am and we checked in for our flight early (me thinking I would not like to caught up in a huge line with tiny baby). When we got to the check in area it was practically deserted but I still got ushered to the business class lane and our bags got priority tags on them!
Then we went through customs and security in about 5 minutes flat as we were ushered into the lines for special people/crew etc! If I had known this would happen I would have stayed in bed a little longer!

Air NZ outdid themselves with service again this time, though it was a bit frustrating being seated in a row with another family even though the plane was less than half full. I did move us down to a free row with a bassinet later on which was much better. The crew on the plane helped me carry our bags all the way to customs, which at Narita is miles away from where the air nz plane parks up. At customs we got ushered through a special line and then our bags were already there when we got to the luggage carousel, the air nz crew had picked it up for us and put it on a trolley and then a little JAL lady helped us to get through customs! Through all of this Amelia was a little star and everyone commented on how good she was.
DH was waiting for us and so we got in the car and headed back to Iwaki, a 3 hour drive away.
Unfortunately for us Amelia was pretty over it by then and screamed for quite a while but we couldn't stop as we were on the highway and there were no service areas. Turned out she had pooped her pants about the second we got on the highway :(

So eventually we got home, luckily Iwaki has been quite cool since we have been back, though I am still not really coping with the heat, especially with having to feed Amelia and keep her hydrated as well as myself.
The night we got back, there was a huge earthquake at 3am. A low 5 here which is pretty big. I had just put Amelia back to bed and was just nodding off when there was an almighty shake. I leaped up and grabbed her out of her bed and ran down stairs...not sure why, just did. I guess I feel safer on the ground floor. So we are getting on with our life here. DH has been working but managed to get home before 6 the first two nights this week, which was really nice. Still waiting for him to come home tonight at it's 9pm though :( 
Tomorrow a friend is coming over to see us and bringing her geiger counter to see what the radiation levels are like here at our house. I now live in a city where people have such things. More on this later.