A little preview about this email is
that I first experienced some major culture shock but I am sure one day it
will be pretty funny...one day..though not really now.
        When I left you (I trust eveyone now has received my other emails)
I was about to embark on a train trip down  to see some friends I met at
orientation...that was what I was going to do after the mandatory driving
lesson by my supervisor.  We got to the train station and everything was
in, surprise, Japanese.  Well I had no clue how to get to this place since
it was over 2hrs away so I asked my supervisor via our pocket translators
how to get there.  After some very confusing "conversation" where he used a
word and the actual translation was used in the sentence "This suspension
bridge can hold up to 2 tons of traffic" (not the right word for sure) he
decided to draw me a map.  I embarked on the train thinking that I would
probably wind up taking a trip around Japan.  Well to make a long story
short I got there okay...with the help of a few pleasant Japanense who
understood my worried look combined with the name of the place and the
priceless information provided by a Pakastinian man from NY who told me
when you change trains...which was good because I didn't know I had to.  He
even bought my 300 yen ticket to my last stop...how nice.
        The stay with my friends was a good time and it was good to be in a
city where English was exchanged.  I even went bowling and did pretty
well...how about that.  Oh yeah not to mention a lunch at McDonald's...I
was all set...until I left...which was a few days later.  I was dropped off
at the train station and figured all I have to do is the same thing on the
way back that I did on the way here...right?  Sure...that's it.  Everything
up to a point was exactly the same...same stops and waits..  Well the trip
on the way down to this point took a little over an hour and now, on the
train, it was a little over an hour.  Okay maybe we had more stops on the
way down...maybe the next stop will be mine...no...okay maybe the next
stop...okay train start back up again...no one is on this train...the
conductor is saying something to me about getting off...I have no idea
where I am...I mention Nakanojo...he crosses his arms and say Nyne (that's
Japanese for no in case you wondered.haha).  Well I get out of the train
and the station manager after I mention Nakanojo says the same thing
"Nyne"...I show him my ticket and he stamps it saying the only english I
have heard in over an hour "Mistake"...okay now what?  The station shuts
down and I go outside...well at least there are a few taxi's and my stop
should be really close...so I ask one of the drivers "Nakanojo"...he
remarks another great english word, "far"...not a good thing...how much yen
to get there?  20,000...at today's rates that is over $140...okay...so I
think I can't spend that much and start looking around...I have no idea
where I am or how I got here (I know by train...you were thinking that I
know it).  Well I swallowed hard and said okay to the proposal.
        What followed was the ride of my life through a couple mountains
using something someone MIGHT call a road...though that would be a stretch.
 It took over an hour and it costed 15,400 yen..over $120...but at least I
was home.
        The next day I told my office...again in one word english...they
laughed and showed me a map...so the train on the way back branches if you
don't get off at a certain stop...oh...okay...well great...chalk it up to
lesson learned...keep that in mind for later.
        That night, Friday, the other ALT, like me, up the road and I went
to a hot spring and watched a movie...the next day we were going off to
Maebashi for a festival.
        Okay...so we met up with the people we were supposed to meet but it
rained the whole time and we decided to get back...using the same
train...but Jason, the other guy, knows Japanese and assured me that this
train wasn't going to branch like it did for me the other day...still I was
pretty nervous about it.  At the stop at Shibukawa where the other day I
should have changed I mentioned to Jason that that was the stop...so he
asked a fellow passenger and was reassured that this train was going to
Nakanojo...no problems.  A couple of stops later after that passenger got
off I said that this all looked to familiar and that I had a bad feeling.
Jason asked someone else and the word "Nyne" came back in ringing
annoyance.  The nightmare came back.
        We got off at the next stop and realized after the train departed
that this wasn't the station we should have decided to leave on...it didn't
even have a station with people in it...okay...we didn't know where we were
or how to get back...to make this long story short again...after a few
nervous breakdowns by me and a couple "how did that happens" by Jason a guy
passed us and Jason told him what happened.  The guy agreed to drive us
back to our happy home over an hour away...sometimes I appreciate the
Japanese kindness...and we made it back...now if it were just me I would
have been in HUGE trouble...I think I mentioned before but I will again...I
really need to know Japanese...classes next week...I'll keep you posted.