Our house is mostly unpacked and all there really seems to be left to do is laundry, laundry, and (did I mention?) more laundry! I realized our clothes wouldn’t smell fresh-from-the-dryer when we unpacked them (after all, they were in storage for about eight months before we got them!) but I had no idea the stuffy smell would permeate the whole house! Now, therefore, I have to clean every. single. stinking. piece. of. clothing. OHMYGOODNESS.
I have probably never done this much laundry in a single week. I have never done this much laundry in my LIFE. There are sheets, comforters, bath towels, kitchen towels, mats, blankets…and the list goes on. Let’s not even get me started on the number of loads I’ve done with just clothes alone. (The count is currently at 21…and I’m not yet finished.) Needless to say, the past 48 hours has consisted of me staying in the vicinity of the washing machine! Thank goodness we aren’t living off base…off base housing (while greatly envied for many reasons) has ridiculous utility bills. I’ve heard of people paying in excess of $700 a month – for electricity alone! At least I can wash everything without cringing in anticipation of the next bill each time I turn on the machines! Thank the Lord for small graces.
Anyway. Now that my laundry rant is over…on to cute Okinawan things – like cars!
Okinawa has the cutest (and some of the ugliest!) cars I have ever seen. For starters, there are more pink and lavender cars than I have ever seen anywhere. My first two days on the island I counted 57 pink cars…once I started counting, about halfway through my first day. That’s a lot of pink. There are dark magentas and very light pinks though most are this color shown below. ↓
Here’s the back of a purple car I spotted on one of our explorations through town. ↓
Now, to clarify, both of the cars I just showed you are a decent size for Okinawa – another thing here that is unusual is the general size of vehicles. To give you an idea…a Toyota Prius is huge. A Dodge Caravan would be monstrous (though I’ve yet to see one here). Most cars are two or four seaters and very boxy – though there are lots of cute old cars and many hatchbacks as well. If I see someone in a sedan the only thing I can think is that I would never EVER want a car that long here! The streets are tiny, and the parking spaces take me back to high school when I lived in Belgium – and when I first decided that a Smart car was very practical (and for good reason!). There are, as far as I know, only two Smart cars on the island. I have no idea why they aren’t more popular here, but I’m going to take a guess and assume it’s because they’re more expensive – why pay $12,000 for a car when you can buy a nice, albiet used car, for $4,000? (Or, if you really want a lemon, for $800?)
Initially, I wanted the smallest and cutest (most “island-y”) car I could find! My heart was set on the Nissan March Bolero.
Check it out. ↓
Isn’t it the cutest!? Hoban and I decided that if a Mini Cooper and a Rolls Royce had a baby, this would be it. Adorable. I found someone selling theirs for only $2,700 and almost bought it – but due to the awkward JCI (Japan Compulsory Insurance) date I’d have to get it redone TWICE. (Which would be quite expensive and a pain in the butt.)
(If you’re interested in learning more about the JCI, check out this article shared on Okinawa Hai! For those of you who don’t care to read the article, I’ll give you the rundown. The JCI must be redone every two years and can cost anywhere from $400 to $1400 (or more, depending on the condition of your car). Basically, someone official checks out your car and must “pass” it in order for you to be able to legally drive the vehicle. They will get you for anything large that’s wrong (such as an old timing belt) as well as anything small and stupid (such as having no windshield wiper fluid.) If your car doesn’t pass, you have to pay the place to get your car fixed. It’s a little insane.)
Anyway, the Nissan March Bolero. The cutest car in the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up buying one. By the time my happy bubble was popped and I realized the one I found wouldn’t work out, the practical side of me was leaning toward a different car. The March Bolero, while undeniably adorable, just didn’t have the space I’d probably need. The trunk was tiny (almost non-existent) and driving with more than four people would be impossible. Should Hoban and I have kids in the next three years, we would have practically no space left once a car seat was installed. The real issue, however, was that if Hoban and I wanted to scuba dive, we couldn’t fit more than two people and our dive equipment. That was the final nail in the coffin. Bye bye, Bolero. 😦
We looked around and eventually settled on B.C. Used Cars right outside base. It was reputable, almost everyone we spoke to recommended them, came with a new 2 year JCI (and all road/weight taxes pad for one year!), and had a one year warranty on the car – so I could take my car to their garage whenever there’s an issue and they’ll fix it for free (and will give me a loaner car in the time being!)
B.C. Used Cars (Outside Kadena Gate 2) ↓
Now, B.C. Used Cars was a bit more expensive than getting a car from the lemon lot on base – but we personally felt that the peace of mind (and having the JCI/taxes paid for already!) were worth the extra money. That being said, while negotiating we decided to pay in cash as it significantly reduced the price of the car – but we had no idea that paying “cash” literally meant with cold hard money! Checks and debit cards weren’t accepted…nor was any dollar bill larger than a $50! We cashed a check at the Officer’s Club and returned to B.C. the next day with our wad of bills. It was pretty ridiculous! I felt like I needed a briefcase to make the transaction. (A very very small briefcase 🙂 )
Our small pile of car money ↓
While I’d decided not to buy the tiniest car available, I still wanted a fun color – one I wouldn’t have in the States. I saw a car while perusing at B.C. that fit the bill. It was baby blue and it was one of those super boxy cars Hoban and I make fun of in the States – a Nissan Cube Cubic! Here’s a link to a youtube video showing the inside of the car. Ours is slightly different (Yes, we ended up buying it!), but it’s pretty much the same except for the color. Our interior is grey/black, and our dashboard has a GPS navigational system (all in Japanese though so we can’t figure out how to use it). The two seats in the very back fold down to create trunk space. I doubt we’ll have the two extra seats up often (unless we have several visitors at one time) but we love that we have the flexibility of more seats.
What do you think? So far we love driving this around – it’s spacious though still small enough to explore the island – and small enough to fit in the teeny tiny parking spaces!
Here are some more cars commonly found on Okinawa! ↓