Sunday, March 20, 2011

Travel Back to North America

Upon arriving safely in Tono we breathed a sigh of relief. Our cellular devices received reception and we were now able to make communication with our family members.We took turns using the cell phones, limiting our time. Electrical power was not available at the hotel yet and we had to conserve power in the cell phones. Our families now knew we had survived the Tsunami.

I first contacted Ryan, my partner, to let him know that I was safe in Tono. That night four of us slept in the same room, close to one another to conserve heat. The night rocked with aftershocks as high as 6.0. There was a constant rumble beneath us. The hotel walls were moving, squeaking in the corner of the room above my bed. We only hoped that the building would not collapse. By that point we had experienced over one hundred aftershocks. And although they are deemed "aftershocks", these are real earthquakes.

I realized early on in the morning, around 4am, that we had regained power. There was a halo of light around the hotel room door. Everyone awoke, eager to get online and speak to their loved ones. We we able to get cleaned up then, albeit with very cold water. We were all grateful for the return of power. It is something that is easily taken for granted in our developed world. We headed out in search of food, finding a grocery store that was preparing rations on the side walk. No one was allowed to enter. It finally hit me at that point, how dire this situation was for the Japanese people.

We spent the day after the tsunami skyping with family and friends, trying to work out a solution that would allow us to leave Japan. We were in contact with the Canadian and American Embassies, who, unfortunately were of no help to us. In the time it took them to reply (3 days after returning home), we may have been in danger of radiation poisoning in Japan. After gaining knowledge that trains were not running and there were no rental vehicles, we had to pursue other options. Mike searched the internet, finding an international airport 4 hours northwest of our location. We did not know if planes were in operation, but had to take the risk. Tono was located 60kms north of the radiation evacuation zone. At the train station in Tono we spotted a few taxis. We worked out a deal, costing us $200US each for the four hour trip. The airport was closed when we arrived, so we stayed at a nearby hotel.

In the morning, while Scott was using his phone to negotiate flights, we headed back to the airport. We had secured flights back to Seattle via South Korea for the crew. The flights seemed short, the entire experience surreal. My mind had difficulty comprehending what we had experienced over the past days.

We were greeted in Seattle by our friends and family. News reporters were also awaiting our stories. It was wonderful to be back on North American soil. I am very grateful to have such a wonderful support base for our return.

                                                            Cove Guardians Return
                                                              (Photo from Libby)

I have made the decision to participate in few interviews. I have had two to date with newspapers, one in the UK, and another from my home town in Stoney Creek, Ontario. I do not wish to speak to the media. I have witnessed exploitation from the media towards the Japanese people, and It doesn't leave me with a pleasant feeling. Of course, if any large media outlets such as Ellen were to contact us, I would likely oblige, as I agree with her ethical perspectives.

                                                Speaking to Reporters at Seattle Airport
                                                                      (Photo from Elora)

Thank you to all who supported us in our effort to leave Japan. We are very grateful for the amazing support that we received.

If you have it in your resources, please support the people in Japan who have been devastated by the tsunami. They are in dire need of your help.

For The Oceans,

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