Culture

Buying & Selling at the Dededo Flea Market

If we ever get up early on Sunday, our favorite place to go for some breakfast is the Dededo Flea Market. Vendors set up shop early in the morning to sell their fresh produce, fish, hot food, clothes, souvenirs and lots of other things. I love the smoothies, sticky rice balls, BBQ chicken, and looking at all the plants. Over the last couple of years it has grown a lot. More and more people have utilized the space to sell their own belongings, so it’s a great place to go to find a good deal on second hand items.

One weekend Peter and I also decided to sell some of our things at the market. We got up early on a Sunday morning, before sunrise, and headed up to Dededo. All of the spaces in the main area were already taken by people who sell every weekend. We stopped at the entrance where the lady took our $8 and guided us to one of the open parking spaces to the right. As we parked, glancing in our rearview mirror, we could see a crowd gathering. I thought maybe they were going to tell us not to park there, but when we hopped out of the truck they pulled out their flashlights and started looking at our things packed into the truck. Suddenly, in a frenzy, people started pulling things out and asking to buy them. It was crazy! An hour later, we were left with about one box and had made more money than we thought. We stayed for a few more hours to sell what was left. At 9am, we were hungry and had almost nothing left so we packed it up and left.

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Perhaps our success was due to the payday weekend or maybe because we were newbies, whatever the reason, it was a good experience and a lot of fun!

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Things People Want to Know About Guam 3

It’s that time again!

Part 1

Part 2

1. What’s the weather like in Guam?

Always hot & humid. Even though people refer to the summer months as summertime, there are really only two seasons: dry and rainy. Before I moved here I asked someone what the weather was like and she said, “When it’s hot, it’s really hot and when it rains it really rains.” At the time I thought to myself, “What kind of answer is that!?” Now that I live here, I completely understand. There’s no in-between in Guam, it’s either super hot and dry or super hot and rainy. It never sprinkles but always POURS.


 

2. Things to know about Guam?

I think it’s important to know about the history of the island and people. It might explain a lot about life here too. Sometimes the beaches are under advisory, which means there are high amounts of dangerous bacteria in the water that can make you sick.   The people born in Guam are U.S. citizens and speak English.


 

3. What’s life like on Guam?

It’s both relaxed and chaotic.


 

4. Worries living in Guam?

I worry about typhoons during the rainy season, about the cost of flying home in an emergency, and about needing medical care that can’t be found on island.


 

5. Are there any giant animals living in the deep blue sea we didn’t discover?

We shall soon find out. James Cameron was in Guam filming his deep sea dive into the Mariana Trench!


 

6. Is it easy to meet people in Guam?

Yes!


 

7. Vacation Guam or Philippines?

If you’re looking for safety or family vacation, Guam might be more appealing. Personally, if I had to choose I’d say the Philippines simply because money will go further. You can experience both the major metropolitan life in Manila and then take an affordable flight to another of the Phillippine islands, like Boracay or Palawan, and have a more relaxing and laid back trip. Sorry Guam, but you’re just too expensive.


 

8. Russian places in Guam?

There is a Russian restaurant that just opened a few months ago. Other than that, there aren’t really any Russian places, so that might be a great business opportunity for someone. I think people are slowly realizing that there’s been an increase in Russian visitors and hopefully will make things more Russian-friendly.


 

9. Fuji Ichiban Guam menu party tray

Can I come to the party?


 

10. Gun culture Guam

The gun laws are pretty strict here. So I haven’t really heard much about gun culture other than people hunting.


 

11. Does Guam get snow?

NO!


 

12. How big are cockroaches in Guam?

Pretty big. I’ve seen one the length of my palm. They also fly around at night 😦


 

13. Why do people hate Guam?

Someone who has lived in Guam for more than 20 years told us that Guam is 15 years behind the U.S. and the other Micronesian islands are like 30 years behind. So I can see why people who aren’t from here might not like it. It’s quite dirty, people seem resistant to change, and the government has been slow at implementing things like basic recycling.


 

14. Best steaks on Guam?

We’ve been to Avenue (Tumon), Sea Grill (Tumon), and Angus Steak and Grille (Harmon) and all three were delicious with excellent service.


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It’s Not Always Perfect in Paradise

I’ve received a few emails from future Guamanians asking me what the hardest adjustments were for me in Guam. I’d like to think that I adjust easily to new environments, especially since I’ve moved around a lot in my life. At first, Guam seemed pretty perfect to me. Aside from the things I usually complain about; the cost of everything, bad drivers, extreme heat, lack of variety in stores; I was pretty happy with the island. Now that I’ve been here for a few years and once I started working and interacting more, I became aware of some major differences between living in The States and living in Guam.

  • Healthcare – When I decided to move, I went to Google and typed in, “Guam.” The first thing that popped up was a news article about a young, pregnant woman who had lost her baby while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I thought “Maybe ignorance is bliss,” and closed the screen. I told Peter about what I found and he said there was only one hospital on Guam and that the woman lived in the southern part of the island. I mostly hear horror stories about the hospital. People going in for a routine surgery and dying, babies having their pinkies chopped off for no reason, no space, no medical tools…really terrible things. There is an urgent need for doctors. Most times people have to go off island (The States or the Philippines) for treatment or to see specialists. This explains why so many people have medical fundraisers (if you move to Guam you will probably be invited, no doubt). The lack of good medical care really scares and worries me. It’s also pretty much impossible to self insure, which is super irritating.
  • Business/Work – My first job in Guam reminded me of a job I had in my small hometown. Everyone was either related or were family friends. There was a lot of gossip and a very relaxed atmosphere — too relaxed. Prior to my move, I was in banking where we were always made aware of our rights as employees as well as how to work in a professional setting. Working in Guam (my experience) was very different to that. I was often asked by co workers/managers how much money I made, how much I paid in rent, how much Peter made, how much I spent, and other personal questions. There is also a strange attitude that I saw at my job, and in many businesses, where the employees have this unwarranted fear of their boss and being fired or punished. That fear was definitely taken advantage of and very shocking to see what people would put up with. On top of all that, I found an overall lack of professionalism and customer service in work and as a customer. Whether it was not receiving a reply to my emails or phone calls, not completing a job duty, or not being prompt; it is always frustrating doing business. Many people would take extended lunches or come in to work late, which was just annoying and hard to get anything done! My first work experience here was terrible so I will just stop there!
  • Environment – This is the issue that really hurts my heart the most! When people find out I’m not from here, they always ask me what I don’t like about Guam and I always say how much trash is dumped everywhere and that there are so many cars on this tiny island. Their answer is usually something like, “I know” or “That’s Guam.” I feel like the people who say “That’s Guam,” or “That’s not my trash, not my problem,” are part of the problem. I guess if you’re a tourist, haven’t lived here that long, or don’t ever go beyond the beaten path you might never see the dumping; it is the ugliest thing about the island. It’s now to the point where I can’t even enjoy sitting on the beach because I’m assaulted by the putrid smell of garbage! Someday, if island leaders don’t do anything NOW, the tourists who come to Guam for its natural beauty will have no reason to come anymore.  It just seems like Guam is a small island trying to be a big city/state without all of the same resources or space. We need easier ways to recycle and dispose of our garbage, to teach people how to minimize their impact on the environment, improve public transportation and encourage people to use it, and reduce the number of cars on the roads. There isn’t a reason why there should be traffic jams and people using their cars to get across the street, the island is too small for all of that.  

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I saw that someone had graffitied this onto a park canopy in Umatac. It says, “Respect Umatac like everyone should ok…” I thought it was quite stupid and ironic that they are asking for respect by showing disrespect. This pretty much sums up how Guam treats its trash problem, not very smart.

It’s been a process for me to learn how to accept the differences without letting them affect my happiness and also learn how to live in and love Guam, flaws and all.

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I Left My Heart in Inarajan

DSC_0070You would think that living on an island means going to the beach everyday, enjoying the sand and sun, and living a laid back lifestyle. Living in Tumon, it’s easy to forget that I’m on an island because things seem much faster. That’s why every-now-and-then we go south, where the true spirit of island life seems to live.

I first went to Inarajan when we were invited to a fiesta (Don’t Be Ashamed!) and again this year (Go Eat). It quickly became my favorite village on island. The historical part of the village is like walking down a street in the village that my dad is from in Spain. That’s what I love about it. It felt nothing like the other villages I’d been to. The Spanish influence was evident in the architecture of the old houses. The streets are narrow, the homes are dilapidated, and on some there pretty murals that depict a part of Guam’s culture. It’s beautiful and there’s no other way to put it.

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I again visited the village when my parents came to visit in February. My mom also felt that it reminded her of Spain. I think we both felt nostalgic and it seemed like she loved Inarajan as much as I do.

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As we walked through the village, we spotted this giant statue of Chief Gadao the chief of Inarajan located next to the Baptist church. Someday I’d like to walk to Gadao’s cave that is located in the area!

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(Read about the legend of Chief Gadao here)

That weekend they had a cultural festival where they taught us how to husk a coconut and throw a talaya (fishing net). Peter and my stepdad entered a coconut husking contest where they both cut their hands on the coconut grater!

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We ate red rice, with finadene and bbq chicken and stared out into the bay; we were hypnotized by the cool breeze and shining water. It was a hot day, but we didn’t care! After that we walked over to the bakery where the baker had made fresh bread. He taught us about the history of the village and the stove where they bake their breads on Sundays. Apparently many of the homes are historical houses and can only be renovated in a way that reflects their original appearance, which is too expensive for many people to accomplish. So instead, they are left to wither away. If I could, I would buy one of the homes and renovate it and turn it into a museum or something. I wish I could live in Inarajan! It would be a nice place to retire or raise kids.

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After our busy day at the festival, we headed to the Inarajan pools and watched the sunset.

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Mangilao Night Market

It’s nice to get out of Tumon to visit other villages. I finally went to the Mangilao Thursday night market! I don’t spend much time in Mangilao, but I will be going back to this market. Most markets in Guam start either super early in the morning (4am) or in the evening because of the heat. I’m not sure what time this night market starts because some of the vendors said they had been there since 3pm and sold out of most of their food. We left our house at around 6:30pm and stayed for maybe an hour. By that time, some of the vendors were starting to close up.

The market is located in a park next to the church and when we walked in, a lady on a loud speaker was calling out numbers from what I assume was a drawing they held. When she was done, they started playing island style music from a stereo. I immediately spotted the elusive tamale guy! Actually, I learned that his name is T.C. and he is from Guam but lived in The States, where he learned how to make pretty delicious Mexican food. He now sells them at various markets on island. He’s always very nice and friendly and we like to support his business. We bought some beef tamales and drinks.

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Across from him there was another food stand where I ordered a plate (pancit, bbq chicken sticks, lumpia). There weren’t too many places to sit, but we found some bleachers next to the playground and ate our meals. SOOOO yummy!

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After that we walked through the rows of vendors. Some were selling used items and some new, lots of fresh local produce, clothing, DVDs, handcrafted wooden tables, shell jewelry, and lots of other things! If you’re looking for an old school video game (NES, Super Nintendo, PS, original Gameboy…) you might want to check some of these vendors because they sell used games for older consoles.

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I’m always on the lookout for locally made products, which seem to be hard to find, and stumbled upon this booth. They had a variety of locally made products. One of the vendors ran over to me as I walked away and handed me their business card. The website is pretty cool and I’m definitely a supporter of the small business owner. They sell individual products and gift baskets, for those of you who are homesick, you should visit their website Guam Gift Baskets and for those of us who just want some cool products like coconut oil sugar scrub, body oil (a fav of mine for my hair), cookies, tea, clothing and other handmade items.

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On our way out we met a very friendly man who was trying to raise money for his cousin or sister who was running for Donne Queen for the Donne Festival! We bought a book of raffle tickets from them because they were so nice and funny.

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The Donne festival is in September and will be at the same location as the night market. Thanks for a good night Mangilao!

 

Go Eat!

This Sunday (May 4th), was one of the best days I’ve had in Guam.  We were invited to the Inarajan fiesta again!!!!! I’ve been counting down the days to the fiesta since Peter came home and told me.  Last year was the first time I’d ever been to a Chamorro fiesta and I definitely learned a lot of things, which you can read about here. I feel like this time I was slightly more prepared, but I still felt like I was wide-eyed and there were still things to learn.

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We rode the motorcycle down south to the historical part of Inarajan, just like we’d done last year. This time it seemed like there were more people, the roads were crowded and parking was limited. When we arrived we found Peter’s coworker fanning away the flies from the food. He said, “We don’t believe in the small plate. So what you need to do is get two BIG plates each. One for rice and one for your meat!” Yes, that’s what he said TWO plates!

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I wanted to take pictures of everything but it was kind of crowded and by the time we finished eating, the food was almost gone! I did take home two kiwis and a grapefruit, which I’m proud of because I NEVER would have done that before. There was a huge pig, cooked breadfruit, taro, chicken of all kinds, TONS of fresh fish, and Oh my goodness the dessert table was filled with treats. I had one plate full of dessert. I loved the dessert so much that I dreamt about it and was craving it the next day! I ate lumpia, red rice, dried beef, chicken, and a Chamorro tamale.

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An endless amount of  food and drinks,  a gorgeous day, and a band playing island music; what more could you ask for?! We sat at a table under a coconut tree with Peter’s coworkers; an occasionally a breeze would pass through and it felt so good. I wished I had a hammock so I could take a nap after eating all that food! Fiestas are a great way to become familiar with the culture and to enjoy life. No one is worried about calories or gaining weight. Eating well is the only concern.

We stayed at the Duenas family fiesta for awhile just listening to the music and enjoying life! As Peter’s coworkers left, a few local people sat down with us at our table. I’m not sure how the conversation started, but we had about five guys telling us about fiestas. I feel like as soon as people here find out that we’re not from Guam, even though we’ve lived here for three years, they are so eager to tell us everything about Guam.

They encouraged us to try the crab and to get more food. They said that the fiestas in southern Guam are different than the north. In the South, you don’t need to be invited, you can just show up and go to all the different family’s homes holding fiestas. One guy said, “You can’t call yourself an islander until you’ve eaten these three things. 1. Red rice 2. Dried beef 3. Local crab.” Another man said, “You can’t ever lose weight in Guam and no one is ever skinny,” as he pointed at his plate full of food. They were so nice, so interested in us, and so informative. I’ve never felt so welcomed, I felt like we were all related and it was a refreshing feeling. Kindness for no reason.

After we said goodbye we walked across the street to another fiesta to see if what they said was true. This one was much smaller but had just as much food and a stage where people were dancing the Cha-Cha. We were like, “This is awkward we don’t know anyone here.” Then this man walked up to us and I thought he was going to ask us who we were. Instead he said, “Go eat!” We smiled and said thank you but  we had just left another fiesta and already ate and he said to eat more! I love it!

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After that we walked through the village and made our way to the cultural center to watch the parade. Every time I feel like I might be falling out of love with the island, I have an amazing day like this and meet such nice people that it makes me fall right back in love. That day I just felt so good.

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I love Inarajan! 

 

Things People Want to Know About Guam 2

It’s easy to search online and find things to do in Guam, but what I found difficult, was to find someone who could honestly tell me HOW life in Guam is. I often get questions about living in Guam, things to expect when moving, and the differences between living in The States and living in Guam. Since the last post, I’ve had hundreds of people searching for information about Guam and ending up on my blog. I thought I’d answer them for you! Again, if you would like to add your own answers, please do so in the comments 🙂

 

What do they eat in Guam for breakfast/Where to eat breakfast?

Many restaurants offer rice and fried rice for breakfast, which was odd for me because I never had rice for breakfast before. Oh and Tabasco with everything! I enjoy breakfast at House of Brutus (Tamuning), Tu Re (Agana), Linda’s (Agana), Kings, and The Kracked Egg (Tumon). There are lots of restaurants in Guam, but these are a few of my favorites. They all serve some type of local breakfast in addition to traditional American breakfast. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, before 9am, I like to eat at the Dededo flea market.

Do Rhino beetles fly around during the day?

Yes and they are horrible at flying! I think they dry out easily so they usually dig holes and come out when it’s cool.

Where in Oregon do people from Guam live?

When I lived in Oregon, as far as I know, I never met anyone from Guam. That might be hard to believe because many Guamanians move there. Even though there are a lot of Guamanians moving to Oregon, in comparison to all the other people, the population is rather small. I think that there are a lot of people who attend the University of Portland.

Is Guam dangerous?

No.

Areas with poor roads Guam

Everywhere!

Does Bank of Guam cash off island checks?

Yes, but it can take up to two weeks for it to clear.

Does basic talk work in Guam?

Yes.

American living in Guam

People born in Guam are U.S. citizens/American. But if you mean people who lived in The States and moved to Guam, there are a lot of us! Come join the fun 🙂 If you are a U.S. citizen all you need is a passport to move here (and money and all that other stuff).

Why is Guam so hot all of a sudden?

I was thinking the same thing just the other day. I guess it’s due to the peak of dry season! The heat is kind of getting on my nerves. It’s making me feel sluggish too!

Is Guam a poor country?

A few months ago I read an article in the newspaper about poverty in Guam. The numbers showed that, compared to The States, there is a higher percentage of families living at or below the poverty line. Making Guam the poorest out of all territories and states. The cost of living is HIGH and most jobs pay minimum or just above, making it incredibly hard to get by. At a glance, you wouldn’t think that those statistics were true and I think it’s due to the culture. There are few homeless people and the ones I’ve seen don’t seem to be from Guam. It also seems to me that if you are having a hard time, someone in your family is always there to help. I think that because living in Guam is so expensive, people tend to live with their families, sharing the burden of the bills and making it more affordable. Those are just my opinions and observations I’ve made while living here. Read this article for more information.

Best places to live in Guam?

I’ve only lived in Tumon and I love it! Peter has lived in Yigo and Mangilao and he prefers Tumon. I think it would be nice to live down south, if it wasn’t so far from work. Also, I’d like to live in Agana/Hagatna.

Do white people live in Guam?

Peter and I are both half white and we live in Guam. If that’s not enough, yes there are white people here. Some are here for work, travel and others are born and raised here. That’s the great thing about Guam, even though it’s a small island, its population is actually very diverse!

Guam monthly grocery budget

I’d say double whatever you currently spend wherever you are from. It’s pretty expensive.

Do you have to worry about the cockroaches in Guam?

YES! Some villages have them worse than others and during certain times of the year I tend to see more (like after it rains).

What is Guam like for black people?

I asked Peter what he thought about this and this is what he said: When you are black and living in Guam, people assume that you’re in the military. They think that people in the military have money, so they treat you different. It’s the opposite in The States.

I think that people are just curious in general here. They always ask what ethnicity we are and where we came from. The other day we were at a store when two little boys walked past us and looked up at Peter’s glorious afro. They said, “WOW you have nice hair. I wish I had curly hair so mine would look like that.” It was sweet and innocent, because they probably haven’t seen any or many people with curly hair like his. Peter would rather that no one point his hair out, I think it makes him uncomfortable.

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Photos at Latte Stone Park

A few months ago Peter and I decided to check out this small, dark park in Agana that we often see. It’s shaded by tons of huge trees and very well maintained. There are latte stone and a cave from WWII. It would be a nice, quiet place for a picnic or to relax during your lunch hour. Definitely stop by if you are in the area!

Don’t Be Ashamed!

In May, Peter’s coworker invited us to his family’s house to celebrate the Inarajan fiesta. We headed down to the beautiful village, following the directions he gave Peter, the party was located across from the church. It happened to be a beautiful, but HOT day in Inarajan. The village is gorgeous and I want to spend more time exploring the historical buildings and beach. Just as most of Guam is influenced heavily by Spanish culture, Inarajan felt like I was back in Spain in the village that my father is from.

We walked onto the Duenas family property, where TONS of other people were enjoying themselves. This was the first Chamorro fiesta that I’d ever been to. I don’t know if all the people at the fiesta were related to one another, but it was a huge party. There were canopies set up, a band playing, a bar, and so much food!!!!  We cooled off under one of the canopies before we braved the buffet style food tables. I spotted a few tables where fruit was piled high. One thing I love about Guam is the way people celebrate. Like I’ve said before, if there’s cause for celebration, no matter what the reason, they will go all out. Everyone loves to share food and feed anybody that’s in the area. It has taken me some time to get used to, I always feel uncomfortable eating people’s food.  My dad raised me to never eat unless invited and to only get what I could eat, but in Guam it’s different. Peter and I walked to the intimidating table of Chamorro food. I was so excited to eat! I grabbed a plate and began picking out my favorites. When I sat down I watched as other people piled food on their plates. When I say pile I mean PILE. Mounds of food on these styrofoam plates that looked like they were going to break. Then I saw a lady grab a bushel of bananas from the fruit table and another grab a whole, uncut pineapple. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Is fruit that expensive on Guam that you have to take them from family parties? I went back for dessert but made the mistake of grabbing a small plate. As I was eating my cake and cookies Peter’s coworker came up to me and said, “Why did you get that plate?!” Then he said it, what I’ve heard so many Guamanians say to me whenever food was concerned, “Don’t be ashamed, take what you want!” I felt a little embarrassed the next day when all of Peter’s coworkers were talking about how I took the small plate and no one EVER uses the small plate.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have taken a pineapple home and gone for seconds! So if you’re ever in Guam: always take more food than you can eat, if you’re at a fiesta it’s okay to take the fruit home with you and if someone ever says, “Don’t be ashamed!” that means you’re not eating enough and you better eat more!

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