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Let’s go way back now to the beginning of December. Sometime back then – I forget the day now – I got into a little trouble sleeping on the bus. They had told me it’d be okay to sleep on the bus because it was such a long ride, and even if I didn’t get off till the last stop I’d still only be a five minute walk from home. But they failed to mention that that only goes for one of the two kinds of buses I can take. I found out from experience that if you fall asleep on the bus marked “Aikawamachi”, you’ll, strangely enough, end up in Aikawamachi. And that’s definitely not where I live.

I don’t know how any exchange student can survive without a cell phone! (Other than making sure not to fall asleep on the bus.) I called home and tried to explain where I was and, I guess, my host mom actually understood. But I also asked someone in the area to explain, because I didn’t think I had done a good job of it. Turns out it was some crazy old lady. When she started talking on the phone, she asked my host mom “Are you my daughter?”. I would have asked someone who worked at the convenience store, but nobody was there.

Anyway, once I was sure my host mom was on her way, I just had to wait twenty minutes by this bus stop in the middle of nowhere late at night. People there were really nice, though. Aside from the crazy lady (who was still nice) another woman came by the bus stop just to ask if everything was alright, and the bus I had gotten off of, once it had turned around and passed on its way back into town, stopped and bus driver made sure I was ok too. I had told him when getting off the bus that I had messed up, and he told me (I thought) that I could just catch a bus in the other direction and be ok. Turns out, though, that he said he’d be the bus going in the other direction, and would take me back to Koebarumachi.

That reminds me of an incident around the same time, when Janelle skipped school to meet me and some Jaodori friends. She didn’t get off the bus at Nagasaki Ekimae, where I was expecting here, or Chuoubashi either. So when the bus driver saw she wasn’t getting off at what was supposed to be the last stop, he asked her where she meant to be going and, I’m sure, went out of his way to take her back to the Ken-ei bus terminal. Of course then she had to wait for me for an hour, because once I saw she didn’t get off at the Ekimae, I went to meet her at Chuoubashi. Seeing she wasn’t there either, I made a worried call to Anita (on my cell phone) to get some ideas as to where she might have ended up. I finally found her and promptly made sure that, for the next time, she knew that Nagasaki Ekimae and the bus terminal were the same place. And, of course, told her to get a cellphone so I can call her when she’s lost and not just guess at where she is. At least we were still able to meet up with a few friends from the Dragon Dancing team and have our day of McDonald’s, Karaoke, and (when it was just the two of us again) our now traditional parfait at the cool ice cream shop in Hamanomachi (no, not Baskin Robbins).

Anyway, after that week of crazy bus rides, I had the big school trip to Hokkaido! We spent three solid days of skiing and skiing and skiing. I’m definitely going to want to do that again once I get home. I liked just being able to spend some time in real winter weather again – not this stuff people on Kyushu think is winter. The first day there was hardly any snow at all. I think a lot of people (including myself) were disappointed when the plane came into the airport and all we could see was brown fields and forests. Once we got to the hotel, there was just enough snow on the ground to make footprints, and some of the guys were excited just to be able to do that. On the next day, though, it started snowing. And it just didn’t stop. It wasn’t until the afternoon of our third day on the slopes that the skies were clear enough to be able to see any respectable distance down the mountain. Maybe that was a good thing, seeing as how we never really saw how high up we were till we had already skied down a dozen times. Despite not really understanding anything the ski instructor was saying, I think I did pretty well.

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