Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oranges and Cherry Blossoms

This past weekend a girlfriend and I set off for an adventure up North on the island. We were on a search for a place to go orange picking and were hoping to spy some early blooming cherry blossoms too.

We got to 85, the road that promised orange picking, but we couldn't find the right place. We stopped at 3 orange stands to ask directions (pointing to oranges, miming picking out of a tree) and finally drove down far enough on the road to find the correct orange stand.
The correct stand:

With some more miming and some more pointing and joys of the language barrier (oh how I miss my husbands language skills at times like these!) we understood that we were to drive in our car and follow the farmer up to his land where we could pick the oranges. He took us back, winding up the country side, and down picturesque roads until we arrived at a secluded orange grove. The farmer asked for Y250 to use his land, handed us a bag and let us pick whatever we wanted. We paid a few hundred yen per kilo at the end for however much we wanted to take home.

It was so quiet up there and the air was sweet with the smell of the oranges. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed wandering down the lanes in the orange grove, carefully picking the oranges I wanted, soaking up the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air. And there was even a cherry blossom tree blooming in the orange grove.

We finished with the oranges and decided to find Nakijin-jo (Nakijin Castle Remains) because it is a fabulous place to see the cherry blossoms. We drove along streets lined in cherry trees that were covered in buds and just ready to burst any moment, but we were a bit early to see most of the trees blooming. But there were some! We got to the castle and it was packed with people who had the same idea as us.

Next weekend is the Cherry Blossom Festival and the castle grounds were being prepared for the event. The all the cherry trees had lights under them for night illumination and little pink lights lined the walkways. This was my favorite castle site I've been to. The castle has a fabulous view of the ocean and cherry trees galore.

It was a wonderful, perfect day... that is until our drive home. Before getting on the expressway to come home I noticed a light on the dashboard of my friends car had come on. We stopped to look under the hood to see if anything was amiss, but we didn't see anything. We kept driving, but slowly more and more lights started to come on and it was clear we were not going to make it home. My poor friends car completely broke down on the expressway! While we waited for the tow truck her good friend came to rescue us (both of our husbands are away), took one look under the hood and he saw the problem. The belt was completely shredded, in strips and no longer attached to the car. Just another Okinawa adventure!

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