So, we left off with our super hero (me) on a southbound train down to Kumamoto to celebrate New Years Eve with her long-time friend Herbert.
I had no seat on the train, which bummed me out - as it was over an hour and a half long ride. I finally snagged a spot in a glass box with two stylish Japanese women. I closed my eyes and turned up the volume on my MP3 player. Damn, that song LoveStoned by Justin Timberlake is catchy!
Anyhow, I finally made it to Herb's apartment, where food was already set out on a low table. We caught up over fried chicken, spring rolls wrapped in rice paper, and a big pot of nabe/shabu-shabu. And beer. And shochu - which I didn't drink. We were going to ring in the New Year at the very beautiful castle - which I could sort of see through the trees off Herb's balcony. It's the highest point in the city, and it was bathed in lovely lights. There was supposed to be an awesome light show choreographed by some famous light-show-dude. Herb had made it sound like I probably would never witness something as awesome as this awesome light show. So we laughed and talked and listened to music that was too loud, and watched a great little kid run around and around - which angered the neighbour below, but it didn't matter - it was a party afterall!
And then as we started to bundle up for the walk to the castle, Herb pulled out a large bottle of Jagermeister.
Have you ever had this stuff? It's deceptive. While it tastes quite a bit like root beer, it's clearly made from gasoline, arsenic, and LSD. As we bounced down the street to the castle, Herb kept grabbing the back of my head and pressing the bottle to my lips, forcing gulps down my throat. Either that, or he offered the bottle and I stupidly drank it.
As we headed up the hill to the castle, we thought it was kind of strange that there were masses of people streaming in the opposite direction. Why were they leaving? Was it midnight? No one had a watch. Ah well, it doesn't matter. Look how weird my hand looks! Has it always looked this weird? It's funny, my hand, ha ha ha ha ha, look at it! So funnnn ha ha ha haaaaaa.
We must have missed the light show. Either that or it was the lamest light show put on by the lamest famous light-show-dude. There was music, which didn't seem to be playing when we arrived. It seemed like the show had just started, but then it was finished. Maybe I had spent the whole time looking at my hands and wondering why they weren't being illuminated enough, but damn, they're still so funnnnnnhahahahaha.
In the middle of the road, in the middle of the crowd, Herbert raised his index fingers to his forehead to look like horns. In Korea and Japan, this is a sign that denotes anger. In Herbert-speak, this means "I have become a bull." (I've seen this sign before, and it's never good - at least, the outcome isn't!) With a couple scuffs of on of his "hoof" he charged into us, throwing me into and over a temporary fence, and he knocked about 20 feet of the fence down as well. He landed on top of me. Ooooof!
"OLE -yo! Honto OLE!"
Kind Japanese people hurried over to help us up and help reset the fence. Herbert-el-Toro offered then a shot of Jagermeister which they cleverly declined. So he grabbed the back of my head "Driiiiiiiiiink it, senorita!" (Either that, or he held the bottle out to me and I took it.)
Then I had to pee. Luckily, there was a large public toilet just over the grassy way. I pointed in its direction and said I'd be right back. Whilst inside the loo, though, a crane came along and picked the whole building up and turned it around so the exits were pointed in different directions. Either that, or there were two exits and I went out the wrong one. Who knows? Not I.
I walked and walked and doubled back and went around the washroom and walked and walked and suddenly I was far far away from where I'd left my friends. I was on the other side of the castle. Far away. Lost. not even a magical, funny hand was going to help me out of this pickle. Lost and alone in a strange city in a foreign land, I didn't even have Herbert's address!
But because I'm a smart kid, when I saw a tent which looked like a Lost and Found Area, that's where I went. "Hi! I'm lost!"
The security guards and police were very helpful. I showed them my funny hand, but then it was down to business trying to get me found. Calls to my friends' cells were unanswered. I knew they had spoke of going to a Gaijin Bar (foreigner) and that the owners name was Jeff. Can you believe a helpful security lady found out where the place was that I was probably talking about, and walked me down the hill and through the streets right to the bar? So helpful!
Unfortunately my friends were not there. But there was an Australian guy who said he had waited all night to give me a New Years kiss. "Here," I said. "Kiss my funny hand!"
(Forgive me, I'm tired.)