This past weekend, I spent some quality time with my favorite Kiwi, Kate. She is definitely one of the coolest girls that I've met here in Japan and I'm sad to see her go. However, it's not "good-bye", but a "see you later." She's moving back to New Zealand soon so she wanted to hang out with Alex and myself. I must say that the weekends have been pretty eventful. Instead of the usual "What am I going to do this weekend?", I find myself already planning my schedule in advance nowadays. It's kind of a nice change to know what you're going to be up to prior to it happening.
Last Saturday, Kate joined up with us in Hakuba. We spent the day making strawberry banana smoothies--which rocked--going on a quest to find the rumored "best gelato place in Hakuba" (mission accomplished!), going for a nice hike in the forest, chilling out along the river (which Alex stupidly went into while it was still freezing cold), and filling our tummies with delicious Mexican food at Uncle Steven's. Not bad for a weekend start, eh? That night, we drove to Nagano to go salsa dancing with some fellow JETs. My Japanese gym friend, Yuki, had told me about this salsa party called "Cubanismo." I spread the word and got a few recruits, and all of us ended up having a blast.
The following morning, Alex had a soccer game down in Suwa, so Kate and I slept in and had a nice hearty breakfast at my place. Then we rented some bikes at the castle and ran some errands in town. We were in search of the perfect tea set for Kate, but we only succeeded in finding tea kettle. Kate also bought me an early birthday present, which was definitely unexpected! I had mentioned a cute owl mug that I'd seen at a shop, and I took her there to look for a tea set and she ended up buying it for me! Thanks again, Kate! It was love at first sight for me. The mug is shaped like an owl with huge eyes. The weird part is that if you were to sever the owl's head just above the forehead, that is where you would be drinking out of. I guess it's like I am drinking out of the owl's brain. Kate and I hit up Sunny Place Cafe for some delicious mocha and blueberry shakes, then checked out a cute boutique just above the cafe. After that, Alex joined up with us and the three of us made our way to U2 Burger. I have to say, all in all, a fantastic weekend. I got my mandatory nine hours of beauty sleep, went out dancing, and was surrounded by great company!