Well, we made it. There’s no place like home—though I’m not really sure what home is at the moment—and we didn’t even need to steal any witchly footwear to get back.
What follows is a brief summary of events. Hopefully it’s coherent despite my sleep-deprived brain.
Check-in at Fukuoka Airport was pretty straightforward but took quite awhile because we had lots of heavy luggage. I had a bicycle—in a heavy cardboard box, and yes, it is doing just fine—as well as one extra piece of checked luggage. The check-in staff spent a lot of time figuring out the charge for the extra piece, but in the end they arrived at the same number—¥22,000—as we had found on the Air Canada web site.
We had lunch with bunch of teachers, including one from my school, some from Lia’s school, Jarrod’s teacher, and an English teacher who used to work with Lia, plus her son, who is friends with Jarrod.
After lunch we met up with a bunch of boys from Jarrod’s class. I lost track of how many came—they were horsing around the way 9-year-old boys do—but I think it was between 5 and 9. Jarrod’s best friend—Rie-kun—gave Jarrod a bag full of goodies, including some manga books and a fat stack of DuelMasters cards. It was really touching to have had such a great send-off, and I got rather teary-eyed.
The flight itself—Fukuoka to Kansai—was short and smooth. It was the first time I’d had a window seat on a domestic flight in Japan, and I had a great time watching the islands of the Seto Inland Sea pass below, and identifying our position in relation to the map.
At Kansai Airport we had a 3-hour wait, which was good because I had extra paperwork at immigration. Basically, I had to write an explanation for why I was not returning my Alien Registration Card. The notes—in Japanese—that I’d had people prepare for me really helped. I had one from the Tobata Ward Office explaining that I didn’t need to apply for a new card. I also had a summary that my supervisor had written up, which explained about me losing my wallet. It also summarized conversations she had had with the police department and immigration officials, which confirmed that I had lost my original Alien Registration Card, and that I didn’t need a new one. It also listed the police report number for y wallet loss and contact numbers for immigration and my supervisor.
We also so a lot of planes landing, which was good because it made Jarrod a bit more comfortable about the bumpiness of the landings on our second and third flights. I explained to him a bit about the physics of shock absorption.
I was happy when the captain announced that the flight from Kansai to Vancouver was only going to be nine-and-a-half hour since I’d thought it was going to be twelve.
At Vancouver we went through customs, then picked up our checked baggage—it was mostly intact at that point, with only a couple of tears in two of the cardboard boxes—and proceeded through the second customs checkpoint. They had us wait in a very slow-moving line. Slow-moving because the inspectors were doing a very thorough job of going through some peoples’ luggage, and because some of the people they were dealing with had very little understanding of English. When it was finally our turn, we didn’t have any of our stuff searched. But because we’re moving back to Canada after more than one year out of the country, they wanted an itemized list of everything we had bought outside of Canada and were bring back. Stuff in our possession as well as stuff to follow or sent ahead. They gave us a piece of paper and told us call the number on it once we were finished the list. If we’d known that a list was required, we could’ve done everything then and there. Regardless, the customs official who was assigned to us was very polite and professional, answering my sleep-addled questions enough times that I was able to write them down well enough to be able to read them later.
The final leg of our journey was from Vancouver to Saskatoon. It was delayed by about 40 minutes but when we finally got underway, it was a small turboprop jet. The jet flew at a lower altitude than the Airbuses that usually ply that route, but got there in only 2 hours and 20 minutes. Plus, because we were flying lower, I took a lot of pictures of the landscape. My camera is dying but hopefully they the photos will turn out.
At the Saskatoon airport, we had a small welcoming committee of about five family members and friends, and went home. My system clock tells me that it’s 4:53pm in Fukuoka right now. It’s 1:53am in Saskatoon so I should probably go to sleep.