I think the easiest summary could be “grocery shopping.” Why? Because we’ve done a lot of it!
So… Susan and Olivia arrived Friday evening. I took the airport limousine to the… airport… and got there early. I took the bus with an advertised arrival time of 3p, but it was actually 230p. That was really early for a 415p flight arrival… especially when they didn’t get through customs, etc. until almost 5p. That said, I had a little bit of entertainment for my troubles… an unclaimed piece of luggage got the attention of the airport police. I have to hand it to them, despite quite a production, they never seemed to slow down the airport.
It went like this: I was walking on the 2nd floor, killing time, pacing the airport terminal, when I noticed a couple of airport officials looking at a piece of luggage. It was pretty quickly obvious that they were concerned about it. A handful of cops showed up and began trying to figure out how to cordon off the area – ‘should we move this row of chairs to block that exit? No…’ Eventually they put up a combination of yellow ‘keep out’ tape and the extensi-barriers. Oh, some spacial context would be good, I suppose: this is right next to the arrivals gate. RIGHT NEXT to it. One of the things they had to block was a path from the arrivals gate. They have two (A and B) in Narita, but only this was one was operating.
So, the cops cordon off the area, but that’s generally all they do. A really young cop says something in Japanese on a megaphone a few times, but nobody really does anything. My perch on the 2nd floor is immediately above their protected zone, but they never seem to notice me there. All the people watching for their loved ones to arrive continue to stand, waiting. Most people are pretty fascinated with the process. Oh yeah – and the cordoned off area is only about 10 feet in either direction of the luggage… foot traffic is only slightly impeded.
Eventually the bomb squad and dog handlers arrive. The first bomb guy walks over, crouching behind his shield and swabs the case, presumably for explosive traces. He crouch-walks backwards to the entrance of the area. Next, a dog handler crouches behind the shield of a bomb guy and sends over an old German Sheppard on a long rope lead to the luggage. The dog sniffs and is generally disinterested – he just ambles over, around and starts to wander away. The pull his lead to have him return. Next a handler with a much younger, more excited German Sheppard. They send him out on his lead – he goes straight for the bag, sniffs and doesn’t care. I figure their detection indication is to sit down next to the bag. Since neither of them did, nor did anyone react, I guess that I’m still safe. They repeat the dog exercise again, just to make sure.
Finally, after a little consultation amongst themselves – presumably reviewing the evidence available to them at this point – the handler with the younger dog takes up his position again. He removes the lead (!) and sends the dog toward the bag. The dog – just a wee puppy compared to the other one – dashes for the bag, snatches it with his mouth and drops it to the ground. They sent that poor guy on a death mission if it were a bomb! 😦 From there, the bomb squad approached with a shield, put the bag on a cart and covered it with a heavy cloth-like thing. They made a rolling cordon and headed away… never interrupting anything.
After that incident, I still had close to an hour to kill. I took a little nap in the chairs near the arrival area. I did some people watching. I stood at the railing, waiting for the two of them to come out for around 30 minutes. Eventually, they did, and I caught Susan’s eye almost immediately. Olivia didn’t see me right away, but once Susan directed her attention, she made a beeline for me. She got to me, locked her arms around me and exclaimed “daddy! daddy, daddy, daddy!” This mantra was repeated most of the time we were in the airport.
We made our way downstairs, which wasn’t too easy as our cart would only go to into an empty elevator… and the bank of two elevators didn’t offer a lot of opportunities. We could have (should have) taken an escalator, but didn’t. We got downstairs, and because I didn’t have enough cash, had to wait in line for a ticket on the Narita Express (N’Ex) train paid by credit card. We bought a ticket for the train scheduled to leave in 10 minutes – tight timing – and headed downstairs. Of course we had to ditch the cart before the platform, so now we were carrying 3 checked bags, two carry-on bags and dealing with a clingy three-year-old. We got to the platform just before the train arrived. We had tickets with a lot of information on them, but I didn’t know what it meant and we didn’t have time to review the signage that explained it. We ducked onto a train car and found an empty pair of seats.
Soon a gentleman approached us and indicated that we were in his seat. Oh yeah – reserved seats… didn’t remember that part. He pointed us toward the next car, so we move up there, sorting out the details of the ticket along the way. Olivia sat in my lap, looking out the window of the train at the passing scenery. Eventually, though, she began to complain that she wanted to get off the train. Then complaints of a tummy ache, and wanting to visit the toilet. Unfortunately this came at a little more than halfway through the ride, so we were concerned about finding a toilet, using it and returning to the seat in time. That said, I scooped her up and made a stumbling (rocking train) fast walk for the #1 car… from #4. We arrived, she sat, she couldn’t use it, and we made our way back… with plenty of time, but still plenty of fuss for getting off.
Eventually we arrived at Tokyo station and the adventure really started. We found ourselves in one of the busiest train stations in the city with a ton of luggage and a toddler. There were people everywhere. We found an elevator from the N’Ex platform, but it didn’t get us to the street. I wandered around for a bit looking for the way out that wasn’t via stairs, but I was a bit flustered and didn’t realize we still needed to actually exit the station via the turnstiles. Once I got that figured out, we were a bit better off. It was still a tough slog to the outside where we’d find a taxi. When we got to the taxi stand, of course, there were no taxis. Olivia wasn’t too excited with the wait.
Finally, we got a taxi, headed to the apartment, and halfway through that ride (which was maybe 15 minutes) she was ready to get out. Eventually, though, we got to our apartment, unloaded and up the elevator.
I don’t remember the particular details – getting comfortable in their rooms, unloading luggage, etc. It was all a blur, really.
In fact… I’ve kind of lost my train of thought on this post. We ate at home on Friday – don’t recall what exactly.
Saturday morning, Olivia was awake for good around 3 or 4a. Susan and I traded along the way, but eventually we were all awake. We went out for a little walk – took them into the train station and got Susan a Pasmo. We also took a somewhat silly (and unexpectedly expensive) train ride from the station next to our house, to the station next to our house. It gave the girls a good, quiet look at the subway system however. After the train ride we went through the farmer’s market. While Olivia played in the plastic food market, I picked up a variety of things – tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, broccoli and cherries. Olivia absolutely had to have the cherries. We went through them pretty quickly.
That afternoon we went to a restaurant for lunch – the tonkatsu place across the courtyard. Susan and I each had hirokatsu, and we got a bowl of gohan (rice) for Olivia, which she ate pretty well. Olive tried the cold, roasted green tea, but didn’t care for it. She was also pretty sleepy, so a bit fussy. After lunch, we all headed for a nap – a nap that lasted at least 4 hours for each of us. Turns out cherries are just about the very best natural source for melatonin. Oops.
Before Saturday night’s dinner, I had to go down to the grocery store to grab a few things – don’t recall what it was exactly, but I know I did because Olivia refused to go with me. Dinner was spaghetti with an attempt at a homemade sauce and corn on the cob. Olivia just picked at her dinner and was generally fussy because we’d forced her to wake up from the nap with the hope that should wouldn’t wake up super early. That hope didn’t work out, by the way… she was back up at 4a.
Sunday had us at the grocery store once we were all awake. We took a walk to the one I expect we’ll frequent most… it’s about 20 minutes on foot. This was the farthest into the city Susan had been at this point and she was pretty awestruck with the scenery I think. We took Olivia in her stroller so that she wouldn’t have to worry about walking. She complained about being cold, which, while it was a bit chilly compared to recent times, it certainly wasn’t cold. This would be foreshadowing…
As we returned home, Olivia fell asleep in her stroller, so we wheeled her into the apartment, scooped her into the bed and ate our lunch. We had takoyaki and sushi from the store. Susan went for a nap / rest, but eventually Olivia woke a bit fussy – and with a fever. We dosed her with ibuprofen carried from home and she spent a lot time on the couch watching movies. We dropped her into a luke-warm bath at one point to get her down – 101 under the arm. She napped off and on, complained off and on. At one point she vomited bile, but it was pretty isolated and she seemed to feel a lot better afterwards.
Now, though, her temperature is back up and we’re trying to bring it back down before bed… assuming she sleeps. We’ve looked into the hospitals and doctors in the area, so we’re prepared if this continues to be a problem. We’re hoping to hold on through the night – Olivia is in a reasonable mood despite being uncomfortable. It does seem a bit odd to have this buried on the bottom of a continuation page of an 1900 word blog post… I suppose I should drop a note into the ever important broadcasting system that is Facebook… 🙂
Oh – through the weekend Olivia has gotten to speak with each grandmother. Mimi helped to calm her down for bed on Saturday night and Doodah provided conversation early Sunday morning.
It’s a tough start… but you’ve got to start somewhere…