Lifestyle

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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Beware of the Guam Massage Parlor

The day after I arrived on Guam, Peter had to go to work so I was on my own. Before he set me loose on the streets of Tumon he said, “Oh yea stay away from the massage parlors!”

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They’re the places with the Christmas lights on all year long, usually open 24/7, and in the evening there are ladies that sit outside. They’re hard to miss. During our evening walks in Tumon we see non-local men walking past one of the lit up massage parlors. A lady in lingerie usually pops out of the dark building and calls out, “massage!” to the male passerby’s.

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I guess it’s surprising to me that 1. there are so many of them on such an incredibly small island and 2. it is so obvious what they do. Maybe I lived a sheltered life in Oregon, but I’d never seen anything like that. Sadly, I’ve become used to them and I don’t even notice anymore. It’s hard to differentiate between the legitimate massage/spas and these ones, I guess I’m lucky that I hate massages so I don’t have to worry. I do wish there weren’t so many in Tumon because they make the village look trashy, but they must be making money because they have prime real estate along San Vitores Road.

Dear massage ladies, at least stay inside when wearing lingerie and leave the Christmas lights for Christmas!

Holidays in Guam

It goes without saying that, if you’re not from Guam, Christmas just isn’t the same. December is the beginning of dry season and has some of the most beautiful, sunny days. So, it’s hard to get into the spirit of the holidays. Each Christmas I’ve spent in Guam has been very untraditional for me. My usual Christmas, at home in Oregon, consisted of family and food. In Guam, we’ve spent the holidays hiking, BBQing at the beach, swimming, and this year eating at a buffet and visiting the aquarium. We try to make it fun, even though it’s not a traditional way to celebrate the holidays.

On Christmas Eve we drove to Agana where the governor’s house was decorated with Christmas lights. We were allowed to walk throughout the property. It was beautiful!

Because there are so many tourists and military people away from their families, nearly everything remains open so it’s easy to find some way to celebrate. Most of the hotels hold holiday buffets and we chose to go to Sea Grill. Our favorite duo, Jesse & Ruby, were the entertainment. We also got discounted tickets to the aquarium and won a gift certificate to eat at Sea Grill again! This Christmas, it rained throughout the day and wasn’t very nice-looking outside, so the aquarium was the perfect place to go.

After that we went home, watched some Christmas movies and fell asleep after all the eating we had done. When we woke up, we watched The Hobbit at the theater.

Hope you all had a nice holiday!

There have been only a handful of times that I ever questioned my decision about moving to Guam. One of those times was the evening that I arrived on island. As the taxi pulled out of the airport and onto the road toward my new home of Tumon I noticed that most of the island was dark. I asked Peter where the city center/downtown was and he responded, “I don’t think there is one but I guess Tumon.” I looked out toward the bay, darkness, and in that moment I realized just how small Guam is.

People often ask me where the best place is to live in Guam. I have no idea. For the last three years, I’ve lived happily in Tumon. It was important that I live somewhere that was pedestrian friendly and near the beach, since I didn’t have a car. What’s the point of living on an island if I can’t walk to the beach! Although it is a little pricier than other villages, it can be done affordably. We chose to live a different lifestyle than the one we led in the states. We don’t want a car or smartphones (shock!), we rent furnished places, and try to live as minimalistic as possible. Even though we’ve lived on Guam for a few years now, we try to have fun and live like we might leave tomorrow; enjoying everything we possibly can.

If apartment hunting in Tumon, make sure that you aren’t fooled by the location of “upper Tumon.” People like to advertise as upper Tumon to charge more and make their place more appealing but, there isn’t an upper Tumon, there is just Tumon. If you can’t easily and quickly walk to the beach or you have to cross Marine Corps Drive to get to the beach, you’re not in Tumon. I consider Tumon to be From the Hilton Hotel all the way down San Vitores to Gun Beach/Fai Fai Beach and a little bit up the hill toward Tagada.

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Why I ❤ Tumon

  • Although I’m curious about life in other villages, I love Tumon because I feel like I’m on vacation. That’s partly due to all the tourists running around and having fun.
  • There’s always some form of entertainment available; whether it’s the beach, bars, coffee shops, dancing, restaurants, aquarium, parks, live bands, shopping; the list goes on and on.
  • Every hotel has different restaurants, bars, and cafes that are really good.
  • Driving down the hill after a long day at work and seeing the sparkling ocean is just another perk of living in Tumon.
  • And OH MY GOODNESS, cloudy or clear, the sunsets are ALWAYS amazing.

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  • There are so many fun and free things to do in Guam, especially Tumon, that we don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment if we don’t want to.
  • Any kind of food you want at all price ranges, you’ll find it in Tumon.
  • There are sidewalks up and down the main road that’s great for running or walking.
  • During my morning walk, I usually pass a foreign couple getting married at one of the many chapels that line the beach. I see them so often that I’ve noticed their weddings are all the same, but I’m sure to them it is a unique and memorable experience. Who wouldn’t want to get married in a chapel made of glass overlooking the ocean?

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  • Beach access is just a few minutes away…can’t beat that.
  • Tumon is the best place to live if you want to be in the center of all the activity and fun. There are festivals throughout the year at Ypao Beach Park and in the Pleasure Island district.

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  • It’s pretty safe and doesn’t take long for police officers to come when needed.
  • Most places have generators in case of power outages (which happen frequently).
  • Sometimes I stop to watch a fisherman throw his net to catch the really small fish near the shore. The beach is a great place for people watching.

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Things I Don’t

I wish though, that Tumon was either pedestrians only or that the weekends were, because the cars drive WAY too fast, don’t respect people walking or crossing the street, and tear up the road. During rush hour it’s really hard to get out of Tumon because of all the cars driving through trying to avoid the busy roads.

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As much as I think tourists make Guam a better place, living in Tumon has made me appreciate the towns and cities that aren’t tourist attractions. It is definitely more expensive, crowded, and fast-paced and I can see why someone might choose a different village. Although generally the tourists are fun and friendly, they seem fascinated with Peter’s and my hair. I didn’t think my hair was out-of-the-ordinary and at first I didn’t mind when they’d point at me and squeal, “kawaii, kawaii!!” and sometimes they’d ask to take pictures with me. Then one day my family and I were having a picnic when a tourist came over and pointed to Peter’s hair and then to her camera. I suddenly felt really offended like, “We’re not part of your vacation package nor are we animals in a zoo!!” I kindly said no and from that point on I decided not to let people take pictures of us anymore and to be more mindful of things that I might do when visiting foreign countries. If you can afford to visit Guam, then you probably have a T.V./internet where you can see people with curly hair.

The beaches are gorgeous, with white sand and blue water. Unfortunately there are so many hotels that have monopolized the shores, filling them with large water toys and beach chairs under umbrellas, that it’s hard to find a nice shady place to set up your own beach towel and swim.

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And of course after a busy weekend of BBQ’s there’s the garbage problem.

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There is more good to Tumon than bad and living here has allowed me to lead a completely different lifestyle than I could have in Oregon. I feel like a beach bum half of the time! I truly am lucky to have such a wonderful life, to have had many of my dreams come true, and to be able to experience life on an island. I’m glad that we chose to live this way. I feel so free and never tied down by having too much stuff. It is a great feeling and on top of that I can’t complain about the beauty that I get to see everyday by living in Tumon.

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“Thanks for Nothing…”

If you live in Guam you’ve probably been bombarded by political signs along every road, blocking your view and getting in your way over the last few months. If you’ve tried to watch a Youtube video or visit a website, you’ve most likely come across an ad for Eddie Calvo, the current governor of Guam. So it was to my surprise when the video below, showing a different yet enlightening point-of-view played. What do you think?

(The Truth About Calvo)

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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Groceries on Guam

We were running low on food in the house this weekend so I really wanted to go grocery shopping, especially before the first. I’m not sure what happens around the first of the month, but it is the worst time to go grocery shopping in Guam. It’s so chaotic and busy at grocery stores that people park on a major road waiting in line for a parking space at the 7 Day Mart. There are so many people shopping that Sweet Home (the $1.95 store next to 7 Day Mart) has to close for the first two days of every month because their parking lot is taken over by grocery shoppers. There are so many shoppers that if you don’t go before the first, you won’t be able to find bananas, meats and other foods anywhere! So I try to get my shopping done before the start of the next month to avoid the crowds, long lines and lack of food.

In The States my average grocery shopping bill was $50; by the end of my first shopping trip in Guam I had spent well over $100, a first for me. I was disgusted by the price difference and felt like they were trying to take advantage of people! This happened a few more times until I decided that I couldn’t just grab whatever I wanted and I needed to plan out my meals and cut back on my favorites. The cost of groceries is just one of many factors that add to the high cost of living in Guam.

I think the most expensive thing on our shopping list was spinach, which is $5.99. We NEVER buy pineapple or watermelon because they are just way too expensive. Fruits and vegetables cost a lot, which I thought was strange because many can be grown on island but are brought in from other places and we sure do pay for it. It’d be nice if Guam could become more self sufficient by growing more food locally, that might cut costs for us shoppers. $100 later this is what we bought, no household products just food. This shopping trip might last a week or two, we will definitely have to make another trip back for meats!

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I also eat on a special diet so that means that I require special food (more expensive), but it’s really hard to eat healthy on Guam because there aren’t many options. Another reason why I only shop at Payless because they have a decent health food section. People usually refer to Payless as Paymore because it is so expensive. I get frustrated with it because one week I’ll find food that I really like and then the next time they won’t have. Very inconsistent with their stock.

Even after three years, I’m still learning to adjust to this area of my life. I guess it’s just another price I pay for living on an island!

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