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It’s no secret that I am not a fan of waking up early. If I haven’t been clear about that thus far, let this be the moment.
For the team’s flight to Miyazaki, we had to leave at four-thirty in the morning. I thought it would be a good idea not to stink up the plane or irritate the person who ended up sitting next to me, so I got up 45 minutes earlier I order to shower and finish my last-minute packing. It seems as though no matter how much I do ahead of time, there is always some packing to do just before departing.
As I headed to the lobby of the Kazo Center Hotel on the way to the bus, every piece of luggage I brought with me was completely at its capacity. And most of it was probably overweight. I left some extra food in the room and in the fridge when I left because I didn’t even have space for that in my bags. My concern for the weight of my bags dissipated as my concern for sleep grew, so eventually I just got over it and figured that whatever would be, would be.
Everyone loaded up the bus and it seemed as though we were all set to go, but we ended up being one short. We were missing our translator Rena. It was her last day with us and all she needed to do was get us to the airport and see us off but no one knew where she was. Women’s national team manager Andre Lachance went to find the last man standing and came back to report that she was still sleeping when he knocked at her door. She didn’t take long to join us but we were a little bit behind schedule without much wiggle room before our flight to Miyazaki.
On the bus I had my last chance to use the wifi I had been so generously offered by Hiroko, the Japanese team’s business manager, because I had to give it back to Rena before we took off. I finished some final emails and before we arrived at the airport and then gave back the piece of equipment I owed to Rena, along with some maple cookies and maple syrup that I had picked up in Vancouver on the way to Japan. The Canadian staples were really meant for Scott Mathieson and I had planned to bring them when we went to the Tokyo Dome for the Yomiuri Giants game, but I had forgotten. I didn’t want them to go to waste, I didn’t want to travel with them – clearly I already had enough stuff to tote around – and I thought they would be a much better present for someone living in Japan than someone else in my own party. Rena seemed to be happy with the gifts so that worked out nicely, because I am really not sure she was a fan of us after spending so much time dealing with all of problems and the language barrier.
I tried to sleep a little bit on the rest of the ride to the airport. I’m not really sure if we went to Narita or Haneda but they’re both in Tokyo and it all seems relative, really. When we got off the bus we were really rushed in getting our luggage, going through lines and trying to get through security and to the gate. Because I only had one suitcase and we were allotted two each I also had to take a heavy bag full of baseball equipment. I was obviously concerned about the weight of my own to begin with but they took both pieces of luggage without questioning anything, even though they both clearly weighed in beyond the limits set out on the signs right in front of me. I would consider that winning.
We got through security and to the gate and I needed to use the bathroom. Once again, I was confused by whole toilet ordeal. They all seem to have instructions and a whole lot of buttons and there really doesn’t seem to be a real reason for it all. I might just think that because I don’t actually press any of the buttons or make use of whatever options are offered, but I remain convinced they are useless.
Next to the bathroom I found a great little shop with what I would now consider to be awesome food. My standards might be lower than they were when I first arrived in Japan but it was amazing to see cheesy crackers, chocolate crackers and M&Ms, so I bought and almost immediately ate all of the above.
There was wifi in the airport but I had a whole lot of trouble logging on at first because all of the options were coming up on my phone in Japanese. Obviously I don’t understand anything in Japanese but I did surprisingly get through several of the options just by pressing random buttons. I couldn’t make it all the way to the Internet however, so I had to ask Niki Boyd how she managed to get through. She politely informed me that there had been an English option at the beginning of all of my button-pushing. Oops. So I went back and finally logged on. That was a big moment for me.
Somehow up to this point I forgot to mention how sore I still am from the workout I did with a few of the members of the national team. It’s actually unreal how out of shape I feel. I mean, I just ran a marathon in February. What happened? Seriously, need to get back to business as soon as possible.
The team’s arrival in Miyazaki was also unreal. It was an unbelievable red-carpet entrance to a slew of reporters and cameras and people presented team captain Ashley Stephenson and Andre with flowers. And we were all in our sweatpants. It was awesome. We got to our bus and it was specially designated for Team Canada, which I thought was a cool detail.
As we drove the Phoenix Seagaia Resort – it even sounds awesome – everything out the window of the bus ride looked beautiful. I tried to take some pictures on my phone and they weren’t all great but I got a few shots. It seemed like a tropical paradise, with mountains and palm trees, plus it was really hot. And humid. It wasn’t bad but from what Ashley and Kate Psota had talked about from their previous experiences in Japan, I expected worse.
When we arrived to the hotel we got an immediate tour while the people who worked there took all of our bags to the cottage – their word, not necessarily the one I would use – designated for the Canadians. We saw the gym and the pool (that cost money to use) and the room options for where we would get our meals. Then they led us back to the rooms and we were all given our keys to split up.
I kept waiting for my name to be called among the others but I was left for last and as it turned out, I was in a room on my own. That probably sounds like a good thing but I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t take me long to get lonely or bored. Andre had his own room too and wanted to switch me to be on the second of the two floors in the cottage, so I happily switched for the room to which I did not have to lug my bags up a set of stairs to get to. It was great.
My room was what I would call an open concept. It had three small beds off to the right with the living room in the middle, and the kitchen and television off to the left. The shower room was at the front near the door and the toilet room was on its own. At first I just thought my bathroom didn’t have a toilet – which would in no way surprise me here – but then I figured it out.
I got in and made a mess of the place right away, rooting through my things and leaving everything all around the place before heading to dinner with everyone. Meals were prepared buffet-style with some interesting options. There were some traditional (I think) Japanese options with some fish and octopus and other things of that nature, with a variety of rice options, and then some spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and a lot of bread. I opted for the bread products and the pasta. I stayed away from the mystery meat, as per usual, and loaded up on carbs.
After dinner we headed to the mall that was just a five-minute drive away from the resort. There was a huge grocery store there so we could check out some of our own food options and then it had some normal stores too, even a Sports Authority. I walked around with Kate, Ashley and Jen and we went to a bookstore before hitting up the sports store. We also found a Baskin Robbins – basically the jackpot – and got some ice cream before going to get some food. I bought more bread items, not surprisingly for those who know me, plus some cashews.
When we got back to the hotel I tried to get on the Internet and had problems again. I kind of panicked a little bit, worrying that there would be no wifi for the duration of our stay in Miyazaki but I really didn’t know what to do about it. So I got absolutely no work or writing done and hit the sack for the day. Travelling isn’t my strong suit.
This is the final stop. It’s real now.
The pieces you're reading are written by a baseball enthusiast who can completely confirm the notion that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That's me. I never know what day of the week it is, but I always know who's starting tomorrow. There are no limits, but there are plenty of rain delays and extra innings...just embrace them.