ponedeljek, 16. maj 2011

The End

Day 23
Eight earthquakes so far, hurricane wind during the Golden Week, yesterday evening a typhoon. I'm tired like I have never been in my life. I walk like a cripple since I tore my leg muscles and my back is nothing more than a collection of pains. No problems with that. But today was the day of the Graveyard Shift.We requested it because we tought that it was involving moving tombstones. It wasn't. You think that all Japanese are cremated? I thought so, too. Luckily there were no fresh bodies, they were removed long ago. Our job was the usual, mud shoveling and rice straw removal. But no forks or shovels this time. Do it with hands. And do separation of straw, glass, wood, metal and... bones. Probably you think that for work like this there are special teams. I bet there are, but here is just so much work to do that it looks like a neverending story. My story will end in two days. We go togheter, five members of the Hard Cocks Team. All three of them have been here longer than Ramon and me.
It's party time every evening, not the usual drinking but we started with farewells early. Have you ever been proclaimed unanimously a Japanese by a bunch of Japanese people? I was, yesterday. And it broke my heart that I had to correct them. I'm Korean. It looks that even Asian people can't really tell the difference between them.
I go to drink now. Again someone brought sushi and beers for the volunteers. Maybe tomorrow I will be in better mood. Just no Graveyard Shifts anymore, please.

Day 24
Ninth earthquake in the morning, when we were waiting in the Volunteer Center. A long one this time, the tension among the people was palpable, if only one had started running out everybody would have moved like one. It was just a short break between laughter, shouting, cheering and similar retarded behaviour. We - The Team Hard Cocks - started in the morning with a competition who will have the team sign in a more stupid place. Now we have signs on boots, shirts, jackets and facemasks, on arms, fingers, fronts and asses.
This Team Hard Cocks stuff is like a snowball. It started as a stupid joke one drunken night and next day six of us were the founding members. We were nine same day in the afternoon. When folks from the Volunteer center saw the moral of our group - we always requested the hardest jobs and we were laughing all the time - they started joining us in the evening drinks in the park and one by one became members of the team.
Today we hit the jackpot. We got the hardest job possible, assigned to us by our Hard Cocks infiltrators in the Center. We had to move 15 tons of rice back in the cleaned warehouse. And there was no queue for us. When job assignments started The Dynosaur (our member at the Center) simply shouted "Team Hard Cocks!" and our bunch of morons moved forward. Other volunteers (hundreds of them, it's Saturday, mostly new faces) looked at us in astonishment. The briefing was memorable. Saito kun (another member from the center) started the orientation but The Octopus stopped him and started like all orientations start, asking if someone is here for the first time. Fifteen hands up. Laughter. Shouting. People waiting becoming more and more puzzled. Saito kun explains about the 15 tons of rice. More laughter, more shouting. Team leader Ramon. More and more laughter. We're so pumped up that we could stop the tsunami in that moment. We do our job so fast and so cheerily that the farmer is shocked. He starts asking about our stickers (and writings on the skin) and after hearing the story he wants to become a member. And he's fucking proud when he gets the sign on his arm.

Day 25
Tokyo. Waiting for the night bus for Hakata. Tired, sleepy, hangovered. And sad. It's the end of a beautiful story, a story of challenge, rage, fight, laughter, romance and tears. So many tears yesterday evening and this morning. Tanaka san cried when Ramon and I thanked him bowing on our knees. Okano san cried when I gave him a leaf from the Boddhi tree. Jinen san cried when I hugged him. A lot of people came yesterday evening for our farewell party. People I've never seen but they heard stories about the Team Hard Cocks and read a story about two gaijins on the Iwanuma Volunteer Center blog. They brought food and beers. An older man - never saw him - brought two sixpacks, specially for Ramon and me. And I was crowned as King of Japanese Beer, this time by a Japanese. Yes, the old guy did it. It was great. Because I knew that there are still a few hours to spend with the best people on this planet.
I laughed loudly when the farmer (of the 15 tons of rice) came with a box of beers to say goodbye.
This morning again lots of people came to say goodbye. Haruka chan came to Sendai to hug Hiroto san for the last time. And Ramon, Hiroto san and I hopped on the shinkansen for Tokyo. With beers. Since it was my third beer in the morning I managed to spill it on the train. Hiroto tried to catch my can and he spilled his beer. And drinking our last beer together in Tokyo, on Shinjuku Station, we coined a new slogan: Give your beers to the volunteers!
In Nagasaki. May 16th. I received a mail from Iwanuma today.
アッコです!今日で最後の皆さん、本当にお疲れ様でした。それから村長さんはじめ、テント村で暮らしながら私の故郷、岩沼を助けてくださっている皆さん、本当にありがとうございます。私は23日に岩沼を発つまで、ボランティアセンターでお世話になっている予定です。見かけたらぜひ声かけてください。それからFacebookをやっている方が居ましたら、AkikoSchaetzle で検索していただいて、ぜひお友達にしてやってくださいね。
Dag & Ramon,
Thanks again for helping my hometown Iwanuma! You guys are our legend at Iwanuma disaster volunteer center!!! We will miss you guys and hope you both come back sometime in the future to find stronger Iwanuma residents, and beautiful land scape. Have a safe trip to Korea. If you do Facebook, please find me and friend me and keep in touch. I will stay in Iwanuma until 23rd, and will go back to Alaska where my husband and kids wait for me to come back home.

Cracks on roads
Takeno san posing
Oohashi san admiring
Rahman san and Ramon kun
Free hugs from Haruka chan
Okano san very happy
The Graveyard Shift

Helping local kids
The oyabun cooking
Part of the Team Hard Cocks
Last day of work
The farmer wants team signs

After the last charge
Playing with kids in the park

Iwanuma Volunteers 4/21 - 5/15
The last party
Crowned as King of Japanese Beer
Last time for "team sign" in Iwanuma
Beer on the shinkansen

1 komentar:

  1. Congrats guys!
    I do not know you guys personally, I only know about you by reading your blogs but I am still very proud of what you did for people in need.
    Also as a Korean/Slovenian/Japanese, you represent you countries much better than most people ever will. Thanks.