Tears on Both Sides of the Ocean part

It was in 1962 that mom and dad started welcoming exchange students into their home. The first was from Indonesia, followed by Argentina, Brazil and then several short stays from Japan and China. They even had a young man stay for two years from Canada and although that was not quite what most of us might consider a "foreign country"; he was treated no different than any other foreign student. Both mom and dad found it to be almost a new lease on life.

My brother and I were both off to college or off to "life" and this helped them keep the nest from feeling empty while doing their part to educate the world. 34 students later they finally decided it was time to rest in the old arm chair. I have often thought that had they not stopped they may still be kicking the bed post. "YOU NOT TRY CONTACT EKE! I WARN YOU!" was the note written inside the enveloped labeled "23B". No signature, no address on the outside ' nothing.

Carlo was still a bit drowsy so he rubbed his eyes and shook his head then read the note again. "YOU NOT TRY CONTACT EKE! I WARN YOU!" Well, one thing was for certain, someone was receiving his letters. How else would anyone know when he was to arrive and where he would be staying especially in this out of the way hotel? Now what? Carlo lay back down to think a bit and try to relieve the tension that was forming in his shoulders.

"Man, I didn't come 5100 miles to have someone shoot me down like this." Carlo, quite frankly, was getting pissed. What a gutless thing to do rather than trying to "talk to me like a man." All he was asking was for a fair shake here. Meet with me and if you don't think I am sincere or that I am not right for your daughter then send me on my way.

But don't threaten me with a note in the dark of night. It took about an hour but Carlo did fall back asleep since his body was still very weary even though his mind was filled with rage. It was after 10 AM when he finally awoke, read the short note again and then set it beside the bed and just lay there trying to figure out where to go from here. On the way in last night he had noticed a small restaurant two door down so he decided to see if they were open so he could at least get something in his stomach and a cup of coffee, if that was possible in Wakayama, Japan.

He decided to take the stairs to again try to get some exercise. As he approached the lobby, one of the men behind the counter who actually spoke some English asked Carlo if he was hungry. Carlo asked about the restaurant next door but he was told it was only open for dinner but that there was a place down the street and the young man would take him there.

Ty, as he preferred to be called, seemed like a nice guy and was somewhat close to Carlo's age as far as he could tell and it was good to find someone he could talk to. Ty asked him why he was in Japan and where he was from and they talked all the way to the restaurant and Ty even sat down while Carlo looked a the menu and helped him order some rice with fruit and coffee. Carlo was somewhat careful because of the note that evening but he was enjoying the conversation. He did not tell Ty about Eke or that he was there to ask for her hand in marriage but only that he was traveling here because he had a friend from school that lived in Wakayama and he wanted to see what the city was like.

He told him about school and what he was studying to become and then Ty shared some things about the city and places he should go while he was in Wakayama. In fact, when Ty stood up indicating he better get back to work, it was agreed that Ty would be Carlo's guide for the next couple of days and show him the sights. "Ty seemed nice enough," Carlo whispered to him self as Ty walked out the door. His rice, fruit and coffee arrived just then and since he was quite hungry he dove right in.

(.to be continued).

Jeff Gustafson and MyHATT, An international dinner club concept where people get to know people one bite at a time...thank you to The Daily Buzz and my entire MyHATT contributing staff for the educational content for world culture, the history, world traditions, the international menus for this family activity...

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