Back in early 2018, my Marine husband and I were discussing where we would like to consider going for our next duty-station. We selected Okinawa because, in my words, “our parents are healthy, and this would be a great time in our lives to travel in Southeast Asia, so it’s a good time for an over-seas duty station.” I have a feeling that all he was thinking was, “because not many people our age actually choose Okinawa, they will probably give it to me, AND it will get me back to the fleet.” Fortunately for him, his fleet time has been outstanding.
Unfortunately for me, within months of me saying this, my father became very ill, and he has since passed away. Losing him was devastating. Living so far away from family, knowing that I could lose a loved one at any time, has been one of the most mentally challenging things I have ever experienced. The next thing that I had stated was “we could travel.”
As you all know, travel has come to a complete halt because of Coronavirus. Sadly, since March, we have had a handful of weeks, where we could leave the small, little bubbles of our homes. Fortunately, this past week, a message was released that we could order take-out, eat at restaurants with outdoor seating, stay in hotels or Airbnb’s, and we can shop. Little outings that we have taken for granted are now all signs of health and freedom. All I could think of was, “I need a break from my house. I need a vacation.” One of my core values is ADVENTURE, so it was definitely time for a get-away. We decided to rent an AirBnB, and we headed up north. We did not pack groceries, because I wanted to really feel like I was on vacation, and I am sick of cooking and doing dishes. We bought over-priced cups of fruit. We ate out for every meal. We played on the beach from sunrise to sunset. We enjoyed the jacuzzi in the backyard under the stars. We read books. We combed the island for sea-glass and pretty seashells. We talked for hours, and we even took naps. We got there at dinner time Friday, and we were back home by mid-day Sunday. Even within this short time period, it legitimately felt like a vacation.
Kouri Island – We chose Kouri Island because that region of Okinawa is one of my favorite places. I ran a race up in the area in April of 2019, and I knew that I would go back. There are no words that can describe the color of the water. The island is small (the radius is less than a mile), but on the small island, you can find a few sandy beaches that are lovely places in which you can enjoy the views or get in the water to snorkel. There are a handful of restaurants which are all delicious and unique, and it is a slow, quiet place, which I enjoy.
Our AirBnB – There are a few AirBnB’s on the island, and we chose this one specifically because it is a short walk from the beach. The closest beach typically has more people on it, but if you choose to walk up the seawall, and over some rocks, you can get to a smaller beach. We had the beach to ourselves for the day. One of the “extra’s” that we didn’t need, but we sure enjoyed was the jacuzzi tub in the backyard. After dinner, we got in and enjoyed the warm water and jets in the jacuzzi while looking at the stars. We also liked the outdoor shower for ourselves and our dog; outdoor showers are so smart if you are near a beach.
Left to Right: Jacuzzi tub at night (photo credit: AirBnB because I never got a picture.) Panoramic of our private beach. Outdoor shower and beautiful plants made the AirBnB even more special. I love a sunset on the water.
Eating – Hands down, my favorite place on the island is Dre x Dre Burgers. I love the burgers, and I love that we can take Gus up to the open-air outdoor seating area that has beautiful views of the water. For dinner, we had poke bowls at the Beachside Cafe within a block of our AirBnB. Once again, it has an open-air, outdoor eating space, so it was the perfect place to eat, within our restrictions, and with our dog, Gus.
Left to Right: All smiles because we are on vacation. Burgers and Mango juice. Dre x Dre is one of my favorite places.
Play Until You Have to Go Home – Our check out time was at 10:00am, and we were not ready for our short trip to come to an end, so we found another beach in which we could snorkel and hang out for a couple of hours on our way home. We also found a fun taco place to have lunch.
Left to Right: Yagaji Island. Sunny Tacos was on the way home. He ordered chicken; I ordered beef; we shared. Even Gus enjoyed the scenery at Sunny Tacos.
Our trip cost money. It cost more than I would typically feel comfortable spending for a weekend get away, but because we haven’t spent money in months on eating out, traveling, or shopping, we have saved some money. We are also very blessed. Through this challenging time, my husband has been paid every two weeks, like he always has, and I continue to get paid every week too. This weekend, we had to spend a little money to have a little fun.
We also recognize that we may not always get to do even small trips like this as often as we would like so we need to take advantage while we can.
We learned that a change of scenery, even for a couple of days, can be rejuvenating. Okinawa is a travel destination for many people in this part of the world. Even though we live here, we can make different parts of the island be our destination for the weekend too.
Finally, it is all about mindset. The entire weekend, I kept saying “we are on vacation.” The more I said it, the more I believed it, and the more I believed it, the more I really felt it. It was only 2 days, and it felt like vacation. It is amazing that if we tell ourselves something enough, we believe it, and if we tell ourselves the right things, then all of a sudden, the water is bluer, the skies are brighter, the conversations are better, and the laughing comes more often.