If there’s one thing I love, it’s waking up to an earthquake.
Also, I love sarcasm. In case you didn’t catch it, I was using it in that first sentence.
On our first night in Miyazaki, everyone was awoken by an earthquake that managed to hit 5.8 on the Richter Scale. Most of the people who were sharing their rooms arose thinking that someone they were cohabiting with was shaking their bed to try and get them up. I might have thought that, because that’s what it felt like, but since I was by myself I knew no one was around to shake me awake. I tried to just lay still as the room shook around me but it continued for what felt like a very long time. It probably wasn’t but I really have no idea. Talking to people later, they felt as though it went on for a while too.
I did get back to sleep after that but not for long. I got up and decided to try going for a run even though I was probably even sorer than I was yesterday, still from that one 25-minute workout that I did. I’m weak, I can admit it now. But I did set out for a run. It was possibly the slowest one I had ever taken. I only accomplished half the mileage I set out to, finishing just a little over than 10 kilometres.
But the route was beautiful. The Phoenix Seagaia Resort is right next to a beautiful beach with a picturesque ocean view. I stopped several times to take photos, and not just because it was so gorgeous but probably even more because I needed the breaks along the way. Again, I was really sore. I found some awesome spots along the run, going up and down the beach and around to where a lot of men apparently do a lot of early morning fishing and where there are a ton of really nice boats docked.
When I made it back to my room, my first thought was to send some of the beautiful pictures I had just taken out via social media. I quickly discovered that the Internet situation was no better than it had been when we arrived, meaning I could do no such thing and that my panic continued. I had taken a brief break from the stress while I was out running but that would be all.
I took my computer to breakfast to see if it would work better there because I’d received some emails the day before during our tour of the facilities, but I couldn’t make it work on Friday. I was unsuccessful at sending out tweets or pictures or Facebook posts, which was pretty disappointing.
During breakfast, Andre brought up the idea of putting on an Amazing Race for the team on Saturday. He wanted the staff to come up with some obstacles and a course that we could put 10 teams of two people through together between breakfast in the morning and leaving for practice at ten-thirty in the morning. Since I had just come back from running on a fantastic route, I threw out the idea of having the turnaround point be at a huge set of stairs that I had found.
My idea was to have a list of the numbers one through 10 at the bottom of the stairs in Japanese for the teams to memorize, reciting them individually at the top. If the first member of the team couldn’t do it, they would have to go back to the bottom of the stairs and send up their partner for an attempt, and so on and so forth. The only problem with my plan was that I wasn’t sure exactly how far away from the cottage the stairs were because I had run all around and found them near the end of my run. I figured they were about two kilometres away but I had to go back and check just in case. I didn’t want to injure any of the athletes on the trip who were about to compete for a world championship.
So after a brief post-breakfast meeting to continue talking with the rest of the staff about Amazing Race plans I set out to run back to the stairs, even though I was obviously still sore and now a little bit tired. I made sure the GPS on my phone was working so that I could get an accurate reading and I went back. It was a little over two kilometres, and then my run back was slightly longer because I decided to try another way and hit a dead end, but we figured that some of the teams might do the same thing or just go the wrong way in general, so their results might be similar.
While I was out running and thinking – mostly about how sore my legs were and how far I would make it – I realized that the trip is more than halfway through, almost two-thirds of the way done even. It was a sad realization. It has already been great and a lot of fun and a fantastic experience but I’m just not sure I’ve made the most of it yet. Hopefully there is still time.
Andre had worked with Hiroko on Thursday night to find an exhibition game on Friday to replace the one the team had missed out on the day before. The game was set for the afternoon and everyone would be leaving just after lunch for it. My immediate concern was finding an Internet connection for the game. I would need to tweet the game updates and then write and send a game story and hopefully upload some pictures to the Facebook page. I talked to Yukiko, our latest translator, and tried to enlist her help in order to find a wireless connection to the Internet that I could use at least until the Women’s Baseball World Cup games started. I was told there would definitely be Internet at the stadiums for those matchups.
Yukiko said that there was probably a place at the mall we could go to get a portable connection so she took me there. She drove me in her personal car, which was incredibly kind of her, and we went to three different stores at the mall and got the same answer for all of them. No one did temporary connections and everything was based on two-year contracts. I obviously was not interested in a two-year contract so we were back at zero.
From the mall we barely made it back to the resort in time for lunch and while I was still panicking, Yukiko was calling around to try and find a solution. I asked her to phone Hiroko to see if I could borrow hers again even if just for the afternoon. My momentary concern was the upcoming game and I figured if I could get through it I could figure the rest out later. Yukiko spoke to Hiroko and came back from their Japanese conversation with a smile on her face so I was hopeful. Hiroko wasn’t around to give me her wifi connection but from what I could understand, there was another guy somewhere nearby who was going to bring one over to our hotel so I could use it.
Yukiko got it from him and we set off with the team for the diamond where the women would play their last exhibition game before everything became completely real. I needed an outlet to plug it in so when we got to the field that was the first thing I went looking for. It took a while but I finally got one. Unfortunately, nothing Yukiko had given me worked. I don’t know if it just wasn’t compatible with what I had going on or if we just couldn’t get through the instructions between us, but nothing was working. I became super frustrated.
Everyone kept telling me it was okay and there was nothing I could do and they understood, but it wasn’t the people I was with who I was really concerned about. I was worried because not only would parents and friends of the players not know what their loved ones were doing on the field, but I am also trying to make an impression. This is my first opportunity at doing something like this and working with a team and holding this particular role, so I don’t want to screw it up.
Eventually I had to give up. I resigned to just taking photos so that I could upload them later and hope that everyone could catch up to the game’s events that way.
The game was a 14-3 blowout shortened by rain against a Miyazaki high school program called Nichinan Gakuen (to the best of my knowledge). It was at a cool field with a big dome in the background so I tried to work that into as many of the pictures as I could. Plus, almost the entire team made it into the game at one point or another so I wanted to take as many photos of them as possible. A couple of the World Cup rookies got into the game with the jitters of their first appearances out of the way and they were able to turn the page and find success. It was a great way to finish out the exhibition series and the whole story on the game can be found right here. Of course, they took a dual-team photo at the end of it all too.
When we got back to the hotel I had enough of an Internet connection to upload the photos I had taken. I even sent out three tweets, so I was incredibly excited. I thought finally I might actually be able to do some work. Cindy Saavedra also came by to offer me her computer because the Internet had been working better for her so we thought it might be a better solution. I told her I would grab it after dinner if I still needed it but for the time being, I was still doing alright.
At dinner I talked to Kate and Ashley a little bit about the Baseball Canada banquet and fundraiser which happens every year in January. I wanted to inquire as to why I’ve never seen any members of the women’s national team at the banquet and they said it was just because they would have to pay for their tickets and it is expensive. It was simple and made sense, but it still sucks a little bit. They pointed out that their program doesn’t really bring a lot back to Baseball Canada in terms of money or sponsorships or otherwise, so it’s not worth as much to the organization, which also makes sense and still sucks.
We also talked a little bit about potential sponsorships and the possibility that maybe Roberto Alomar could or would jump on board. He already committed to flying to Vancouver for just a day to be with the team at training camp and then also brought an article of clothing for each and every person, so why not take it one step further? Ashley mentioned talking to him more during the upcoming Tournament 12 at Rogers Centre to see what he says. Sidebar, Tournament 12 is named for the retired number of the Hall of Fame second baseman and is for the top draft-eligible baseball players from around Canada to showcase their skills in front of scouts and recruiters and play some games on a big-league stage. It’s great.
After dinner everyone attended a team meeting and Andre mentioned the group activity that would take place in the morning. He didn’t say what it was but that everyone should be ready. I finished the game story after that and was actually able to send it out with what little connection I had. It was an enjoyable moment.
When that was finished, I joined Ashley, Kate and Jen to play some euchre. I love the game and used to play it with my friends in high school all the time and we had a great time playing it too, even though some of us were obviously a little rusty.
Before I retired for the evening I got some updates on what would be happening for the Amazing Race – my main role would be to get around as much as I could and take pictures of everything, not staying at the stairs – and then Andre showed me an awesome video he had put together for the team at the last World Cup in Edmonton with messages from their family and friends and shots of them playing and all kinds of great footage. It was awesome.
Then it was time for bed.