Showing posts from April, 2005

버스 (bus)

The bus ride to Gwangju was quiet. Alex and I held hands, I leaned on his shoulder, and he talked about his day. Looking out the window, I saw a beautiful array of landscapes; mountains, hills, rice paddies, cherry blossoms, and a cemetery. The bus had satellite television, and the older folks were enjoying one of the many karaoke game shows on Korean TV.

I nodded off, and Alex wrote in his journal.

Two hours later the bus made a stop for everyone to stretch and grab a bite to eat. We walked through the little roadside mall to the bathrooms. Two little girls almost ran into me when entering the bathroom. They stopped, and looking up said, “wow” under their breath. It was really sweet. Children don’t often see western faces so up close in these parts Alex informed me later.

We ventured into a little mart and got snacks. Funny thing about Koreans, they aren’t so big on salt. We bought pretzels that were sweet and had sugar on them. My water was sweet, and we also bought a stick…

공 항 2

I had no idea what to look for, where to look, or at what point I would find myself toe to toe with Alex. At luggage claim, a boisterously American Marine helped me with my luggage, and pointed me in the next direction. In my immediate memory, the trip up until this moment faded.

I pushed my big, awkward cart with my big, awkward self out of luggage claim and into an area roped off to keep crowds of waiting loved ones from pushing into the exit door. People were shouting names and waving frantically. I tried, at this point, to wipe the intense look off of my face (you know, non-smiling with a furrowed brow), and look as attractive as I could after a 14-hour flight . . .

I didn’t even recognize him. He had lost so much weight, his blue jeans gathered at the top by a belt that no longer fit. His hair longer, his face shaved, his smile . . . the same (*sigh*). He yelled my name once, it had been barely audible in the noise around me, but we’ve always had an easy time spotting each other. I…

공 항 (airport)

When the plane landed in Incheon, I had been awake for six hours (sleeping like the dead for the first eight). My body ached, my pulse raced, but my mind eased into a funnel of focus. “It’s an airport”, I thought, “how hard could it be?”

Things were posted fairly clearly alongside the Hangul in English. I navigated the terminal using a bit of instinct, and of course the little pictures of a suitcase. Slowly I came to realize that eyes were beginning to follow me.  I became excruciatingly aware of my steps, my facial expressions, my size (packed in amongst groups of Japanese, Chinese and Korean  most of whom stood below my shoulders), and my passport blatantly announcing my homeland. In the Asian nations where their economic growth, military might, and technological advancement are poised to overtake if not already overtaken that of the U.S., we are an anomaly for the senses only.

After passing through immigration, a process involving a yellow ARRIVAL/ DEPARTURE card that's filled ou…

22 April 2005

And . . . I'm off.

Thank you to everyone for the support, patience and kind words this past week.  It's masked the nerves until this very moment, and now I must vomit.

Love to all!


Moving to another country, as it turns out, is a lot harder than I ever imagined.  With the bulk of the move behind us (thanks to all my family for their vehicular assistance & brute strength), I can now concentrate on the "little things".  
Alex and I have had some problems getting all the necessary visa paperwork, which ultimately creates problems with me being issued the correct visa.  We've got it right this time - fingers crossed - and I should have the visa early next week.  What happen to my April 15th departure, you ask?  It's now April 22nd.  

My flight has been successfully rescheduled, although I have to say, could do better when dealing with an exchange.  I spoke with 3 different people and was on the phone almost two hours.  It was as though they had never been confronted with an itinerary change in the history of the company.  Unnerving? Just a bit.

If this week goes off without a hitch, my next post will be my last stateside! Peace.