forty days. forty stories.
by Robin Walker
Joolee is pen pal who always has interesting stories to share. We met in 2002 for one marvelous stint of oh, maybe twenty four hours! Joolee was buying a ticket for the Beetle Ship from Pusan, Korea to Fukuoka, as she and Andy were about to set off on their adventures in Japan. The only problem was, they had just exchanged all of their Won (Korean dollars) for Yen (Japanese dollars) and needed something to the equivalent of a fifty cents to pay for the boat trip. I was lucky enough to be the money lender. We hit it off right away and had such a blast over the next 24 hours. On the boat we picked up, okay maybe I picked up, the only other white person on the ship, Marco, the South African. The four of us struck out and experienced our first night in Japan together.
Those magical hours included some wild times. Being penny pinching travelers, Julie and I got a hotel room and then somehow snuck the boys in. This led to giggling. *I’ve read Andy’s account of the tiny hotel room in “Squid Balls”. So small! The following beer details may help explain his not remembering the details of the night as well as my not recalling the size of the shower!* The four of us found our way into the downtown area by subway and wanted to get to a specific mall or street. We found the right bus and paid our steep bus fare after checking our destination with the bus driver. We were relieved that we had been understood and then were shocked to find that the next bus stop, about a one minute roll down the road, was our stop. This led to more giggling. Who rides the bus for only a minute….it is not my style and not the that of adventure loving Joolee! After this we hit a Sushi Bar. We took off our shoes, shuffled to our table wearing little plastic sandals and ate to our hearts’ content. That meal may have also included some beer. It must have because later we were eating again; little rice triangles from 7 -11, and giggling about how the 7-11 was in fact a 24 hour operation! We found our way to a bar populated by obnoxious American Army Cadets, played defense on the pool table and then found our selves tipsy and still giggling out by a sort of inner city pond. The advertising on the warning sign clearly depicted a little kid having their underpants yanked down by a turtle. This led to more giggling about turtle underpants. That warning still finds it’s way into our correspondence! That night ended with the four of us sneaking into the tiny hotel room. The photo booth picture depicts a fair idea of just how tight those living quarters were! This squeezy lack of space of course led to… more giggling!
Years after our fine evening together, Joolee and I have continued to write back and forth. I have sent letters to all sorts of places and I am thankful that when the snail mail slows, there is always email to keep us in touch. Bill and Joolee came to Vancouver, BC to visit for one amazing weekend about four or five years ago. There was more giggling and maybe a little bit more beer. Joolee, I am so glad you live life to the fullest and that so many people are fortunate to know and love you. Happy Birthday Joolee Patchouli!