Personal/About Me

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Si Yu’us Ma’ase’, Guam

“The only way I’ll leave Guam is if you make me, but I’ll be kicking and screaming the whole way!”

Well, it happened. As you read this, I am somewhere in the Midwest starting a new life with Peter. It may come as a shock to you, it was surely a big shock to me too. The day we left for our South Korean vacation, Peter received a job offer that would mean we’d have to leave Guam. During our trip, we got a taste for what the weather would be like for us in the future. I hated it.

“Umm I don’t think I want to move anymore.” Peter replied, “I thought you wanted to be closer to your family. If we don’t like it, we can always come back to Guam.”

Since our last (and only) trip home, we’d been thinking about moving closer to our family. Throughout the last two years I’d gone from being extremely homesick and ready for something more, to feeling like I could just give up my old life and stay in Guam forever. This truly is a bitter sweet moment for me, as I am incredibly sad to be leaving Guam, I am excited about Peter’s new job opportunity and what is to come for us in our new home. I’m not sure if I will return to Guam, but I hope I do.

I am terrified. I don’t think I am the same person I was before my big move to Guam. I wonder if I still have anything in common with the friends I left behind and if people will accept me as they have in Guam. I don’t know if I’ll be able to assimilate back into life as a Statesider and I don’t know if I want to. I love who I’ve become, an island girl.

The past month has gone by in a flash and upon my return from South Korea, I had just a couple of weeks to pack three years of my life into a few boxes. It’s not so easy for me to throw things away. I have a memory attached to almost everything, and I like that. I’m starting a completely new life in a place I’ve never been and so, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what deserves to be in that life.

I have felt so many emotions including something that feels like heartbreak. I’m not sure when it happened, it kind of just snuck up on me, but I fell in love with Guam. It is so unique and has been full of lovely surprises, so it breaks my heart to say goodbye. I will miss the sun, beaches, flowers and my laid back lifestyle. But most of all, the warmth from the people. I don’t think there is any other place in the U.S. where the quality of life is so good, where so many different people can come together and live harmoniously, as I’ve seen while living in Guam. The island spirit is something that I just can’t describe, especially in Guam, you have to live it to really understand it.

I’ve been blessed to live this life and, thankfully, I’ve documented it over the last three years on this blog. So whenever I’m really cold, homesick for Guam, or need a reminder of the good things in life, I can come back here to read my posts and all the positive comments from my readers.

Thank you Guam for giving me this experience. Thank you to everyone who has supported my blog and to all the people I’ve met because of it. I love you!

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It’s that time of the year again, no I’m not talking about the holidays! It’s my 3rd year Guam-iversary!

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November is a special month because it marks the time when I took a leap of faith, quit my job, left Oregon, moved to Guam, shared a life with someone special, and started this little blog!

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I’m willing to celebrate anything that lets me drink on the beach while reminiscing and watching the sunset!

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Thank you for reading, commenting, saying “hi” to me in the grocery store, and supporting my blog along this great adventure 🙂

We’re Going to Seoul!

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I’d never given much thought to traveling to this side of the world prior to my move to Guam. When I was younger, I’d always been more interested in traveling to Europe to see family. I never would have thought that moving to Guam would mean I would get to explore Asia and the Pacific Islands. It first started with our trip to Philippines then to Japan (which has been one of the best trips of my life!) and soon Seoul, South Korea!

We crunched the numbers, found good deals on flights and places to stay, and decided to just do it. Although most things in Guam are pricey, flying to Asia has been way more affordable and obtainable in Guam than if we were back in Oregon. We have tried to take advantage of that opportunity. So what better way to celebrate my 30th birthday (O.M.G. I can’t believe it) than with a trip to somewhere neither of us have been, South Korea! It’s been more than a year since we’ve been off island so we are really looking forward to this trip! Very excited to add another country to the list 🙂

If you’d like to suggest anything I should do/places to eat while there, please feel free to leave a comment thanks!

 

 

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Japanese Memorial, Park Life, and Pig Trails!

Hey everyone, hope you’re all having a great month! Just wanted to share some of my recent explorations in Guam. Starting with the South Pacific Japanese Memorial Park in Yigo. This shrine is in one of the buildings on the main part of the park.

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I’ve been here before but this time I wanted to see the Japanese caves. I took the stairs, which are covered by tree branches, down to the trail that leads to the caves. The trail also leads to a water well, that the Japanese soldiers built to collect water while living in the caves, and then out to the main area of the park.

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Below, shows the area where a Japanese general took his own life during WWII.

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Down in the lower part of the park where the Japanese caves are, we were surrounded by bamboo forests. They make a squeaking noise when the breeze moves them, it is a little eerie at times but so peaceful.

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On sunny days we go to the park! Sometimes when we don’t have time to go for a hike or leave Tumon, you can find me sitting at Ypao Beach Park in Tumon. I love reading, people watching, and feeling the sun on my skin.  Just enjoying my life. Occasionally there are people at this park making boats, like the one in the photo below.

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Finally, what started as a hike to explore more Japanese caves on Nimitz Hill ended with a swarm of mosquitoes attacking us. We hopped on the bike and drove off and around the corner to the trail that goes to Fonte Dam. We followed the trail all the way down until we couldn’t take the bike any further. Because it has been raining on-and-off these past few weeks, the trail was muddy.

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From there we hopped off and walked around a bit. There was this random bridge over a stream that allowed us to walk up some more. It was a pretty hot day so we just sat down, drank some water, and ate the snacks I packed.

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Of course I found LOTS of pig trails, and some dog prints too, that led to a muddy pool of water; I’m sure the pigs like to cool off in that puddle. Although, I would be terrified if I ever ran into a wild boar on a hike, I am always curious about them.

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Some of my best days in Guam have been exploring places where people don’t usually go. We have found a lot of wartime structures on random walks in the jungle. It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle in Tumon and see a different side of the island that not many people get to see.

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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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1000 Days

 

So this is what 1000 days feel like.

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(Source: TheyAllHateUs)

My three year Guamiversary is just around the corner! Oh how time flies, I still feel like I just arrived and I can vividly remember my feelings upon my arrival. I’ve done a lot while I’ve been here. If I had to leave tomorrow, I’d be pretty satisfied with the time I spent in Guam. Although, it went absolutely NOT as planned. That is why I don’t like to make plans anymore, I just go with the flow. So don’t ever ask me where I’ll be in five years because I don’t know and I like it that way!

The last 1000 days have consisted of some lows, highs and in betweens. I’ve had lots of sunshiny days and acquired a nice golden tan. I’ve survived tropical storms, typhoon threats, and earthquakes. I’ve eaten too much gyoza, fried rice, and bbq chicken. I’ve fallen in love and gotten engaged ❤ travelled to the Phillipines and Japan, felt island fever, hated Guam and loved it, taken thousands of pictures, laughed really hard, cried from homesickness, learned how to snorkel, parasailed, and swam in the Philippine sea. Saw a shark, dolphins, sea snakes, eels, colorful tropical fish, and a dead whale. I’ve hiked to Mt. LamLam, Sella Bay, and trekked all over the island. Drank fresh coconut water, met some really cool people, and started this blog! I’ve learned a lot about myself and who I want to be. I’ve chilled out a lot and feel peaceful, which is a new feeling to me. I no longer drive but ride on a motorcycle, which I never thought I’d do. I try to lead a very minimalistic life, spend time outside as much as possible, cook healthy meals, and never take things too serious.

Not sure how the next 1000 days will turn out, as long as Peter is with me, it doesn’t really matter!

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(Photo by Damian Weiler)

 

Read my very First blog post !

Why Guam?

While many Guamanians are leaving the island in search of new opportunities and adventures, statesiders are moving to Guam for the same reasons. When I’m asked, “Why Guam,” I know that they don’t mean, “What brought you to Guam?” they really mean, “Why would you choose Guam out of everywhere else on Earth?” People ask me this question with this look on their face like I might be a little crazy and when I answer, the look turns into confusion. For those of you who are moving to Guam, make sure you have the answer to this question ready because you will be asked this ALL THE TIME.

“Why Guam?” At first I think I gave them the look like they were the crazy ones. Sometimes I’d say, “because of this!” As I pointed outside to the incredibly blue sky. But still, people don’t seem to really understand or they want a better answer. The question has become a little annoying, especially when it seems like the topic of discussion at inappropriate times or I’ve been asked it more than once in a day. I do my best to answer without rolling my eyes! I wonder how long it will be before people stop asking? I can understand the curiosity though.

Peter moved here because he wanted to travel and see the world, but I think he specifically chose Guam because it’s a U.S. territory (all you need is a passport if you’re an U.S. citizen). I guess I moved here for the same reason and I sort of came along for the ride, because if it involves travel then I really don’t have to think twice about it. I can’t come up with some really legit answer (like my job made me move here) that makes complete sense, because I don’t have one. I just took a leap of faith and wanted to see where I’d land. And I landed in Guam.

I love the warm weather and never feeling cold, the beach and warm water, the small-town feel is nice, palm trees, learning about other cultures, new adventures and challenges, starting a new life where no one knows me, meeting new people, living on a tropical island, the sun, falling in love with everything, being able to travel to places I never considered before, collecting memories, and living a not-so-ordinary life. That’s why Guam.

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Who Rents a Convertible During Typhoon Weather?!?!

   WE DID!!

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Since we haven’t done any traveling this year, we decided to extend our 4th of July holiday weekend and do something fun. We’d been planning our Guam stay-cation for over month. We were going to rent a convertible and drive around the island and also go zip lining. But the weather in Guam had other plans for us. When our long weekend arrived, so did a tropical storm.

We hung out at The Beach Bar with some friends Thursday evening and, that should have been our warning, we were blasted with sand as gusts of wind came through. At the end of our evening, the rain started pouring down. The next morning it wasn’t raining but it was gloomy and so, so windy. For some reason we thought it was still a good idea to rent a convertible and cruise the island.

That evening all of the 4th of July festivities had been cancelled so we ate at Arashi Bowl in Harmon. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but once you open the door Manga artwork covers the walls and it’s really cool! The food was delicious too!

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Saturday morning we woke up, hopped in the car and began our drive south. During our drive down we’d feel drops of rain, pull over, put the top back up, drive off, think the rain had stopped, pull over, put the top back down. We did this until we reached Piti and saw a HUGE, dark cloud hovering over the village and felt the cold breeze. The weather was all downhill from there. We continued on South, pulling over a few times because the visibility in the rain was terrible. We ended up at Jeff’s Pirates Cove and had a late lunch. The rain intensified and so did the wind and incredible thunder and lightening! We stayed there for a couple of hours but the storm was only getting stronger. Finally, the time came and we needed to drive back to the car rental to return the car.

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Later that evening the storm had calmed a bit so we walked to the Tumon BBQ Block Party. We ate empanadas from Sea Grill and tried some of the BBQ meats. At the end, we stopped for fresh coconut water and decided to go home. I think the rest of our weekend was spent trying to stay dry. I guess I should say goodbye to the dry season and an unwelcome hello to the rainy season! Stay dry, Guam!

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I Quit My Job and Moved to Guam on CNN.com

 A couple of days ago I noticed that I was getting traffic to my blog from CNN.com. I clicked on the link that was bringing people to my blog and found that an article had been written and my blog was referenced! I was very excited, shocked, and happy. If you’d like, you can visit the article here: 6 of the World’s Most Colorful Colonial Holdouts

I love it when Guam is in the spotlight for something positive!

The post that the author referenced was Go Eat, about my time at the Inarajan fiesta.

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Island Love

Three years ago I was happily working in a trust office, but dreaming of the life I live now. Peter and I were just friends; I never would have believed that I would be living in Guam with him. Although my life may not have gone the way I had planned, everything seems to have turned out better than I could have hoped. I feel so thankful, to not only be living my dream, but to have met such a wonderful person to share it with.

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2014 has been one of the best years for me and it all started with what happened in January. One Friday afternoon I received a phone call from my dad, “Antonia! Someone just called me and said you need to go outside right now!” I was worried, but I did as told and there he was! My Peter! He made plans for our afternoon that included lunch on the beach and then a drive to my favorite beach where he proposed! I cried tears of happiness the entire day.

We have been enjoying our time as an engaged couple over the last few months. Recently, we asked one of our photographer friends, Damian Weiler, to take engagement photos of us. We spent the whole day traveling to different locations around the island. I think all of our family and friends know by now, so I thought I’d share one of the first shots from our engagement photo shoot with my blog friends.

We’re ENGAGED!!!

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