Apr 15, 2004

26.65N, 127.89E, overcast

April 2 - We arrived at the Naha airport around 11 am, after a 2.5 hour flight from Tokyo's Haneda airport. Cloudy but balmy in Naha. We picked up our Mazda rental and hit the toll highway north, worried about getting to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu with enough time to catch all the exhibits before closing time. Between the highway exit and the aquarium, we spared a moment to fill our empty bellies and grab a frosty mug at one of Okinawa's famous A&W All American Food joints. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a creamy root beer so much. After the aquarium, we realized there wasn't much else to do on that peninsula-like chunk of the island. So we found our hotel - the Bel Paraiso - and checked in. This place must have been a kickin' resort during Japan's bubble years, but there's a reason we got it cheap. It's way out of the way, the drive is more pothole than not, and dinner was a so-so buffet at 5-star prices. To be fair, we caught them in their off season. The Bel Paraiso is geared for marine sports, which action probably doesn't really pick up until next month. One thing I'm sure has not changed over the years, though - the view. Even without much in the way of sunshine, the crystal clear ocean was stunning.

Tomorrow - pineapples, castles, and pig heads


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