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August 18, 2008 Lalla Japan

One of the many women who came by today to congratulate Xalti is one who I call “Lalla Japan”. The Japan Lady. She is planning a trip there in December, and it’s already all she can talk about.

Lalla Japan has the makeup and attitudes of a European lady, and speaks a bit of French (which she keeps trying to use with me, to our mutual confusion), and generally considers herself more elegant and worldly than the rest of the Berberville populace. She’s also some kind of cousin or great-aunt or something of mine, I think.

Lalla Japan asked me all sorts of questions about Japan. I did my best to field them, but had to claim ignorance on many. (Do they eat a lot of meat in Japan? Do most people in Japan have a lot of money? How many people in Japan have servants?)

She was surprised that I knew so little about a country that’s so close to America.

Me: It’s not close to America. It’s very far away.
LJ: No, it’s not. They’re very close.
Me: No, really, Japan and America are very far apart.
LJ: No, they’re neighbors. I know someone from Japan. I’m going to stay with her. She’s been to America. It’s right there.
Me: Yes, people travel between Japan and America, but they’re very far apart.
LJ, turning to the person next to her: Did you know that I’m going to Japan? It’s right next to America.

A few minutes later, she turned back to me, and we more or less repeated our previous conversation. Finally, I turned to the old debate standby, the made-up statistic.

Me: Japan is, maybe, 5000 km from America.
LJ: 500 km?
Me: No, 5000 km. I think. Maybe. Veeeery far away.
LJ: 5000 km? That’s far.
Me: Yes. Very far.

I haven’t checked a map, but I’m thinking now that I underestimated…it’s more like 5000 miles, I think. Maybe it’ll be 3000 miles (5000 km) from Hawaii, and I can pretend that was what I meant…

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps