Things to do in Guam

He Did It!

From the time I was born until I was about 16, my family spent the summers fishing. As I got older, it was usually just my dad and me fishing in the deserts of eastern Oregon. I loved it!

Fishing in Guam is very different and challenging. Peter and I decided to take up fishing and bought a pole from Kmart during one of their sales. We fished at Cabras Island near the power plant, the Oka viewpoint cliff, lots of different beaches and the Masso reservoir. We had NO luck. We got fishing advice from everyone, even the lady who worked at Sweet Home who said her husband was a fisherman. We would see people fishing with bread or hotdogs and so we tried that too! I’m sure if we were on a boat out in the ocean we’d have no problem, but the small-time fishing we wanted to do seemed impossible.

It wasn’t really a big deal to me whether we caught a fish, but Peter was determined. About a month ago, we went back to Masso Reservoir and it finally happened. Peter caught a fish. Though it may have been the smallest fish ever caught in the history of fishing, he did it and was so happy. He caught three more and decided that was good enough. We released them all back into the pond and left feeling satisfied. Good job Petey ❤

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Snorkeling and Walking on the Reef

This morning I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. He randomly asked me if I had been swimming and told me to watch out for sharks. I said to him, “Dad, there’s a reef, so it’s hard for the sharks to get in. But now you’ve scared me!”

This whole weekend was spent at the beach. No complaints here. On Sunday, Peter had a gig at Jimmy Dee’s Beach Bar to play during a beach rugby tournament. It’s been SO hot lately, and Sunday was no exception. I had a good time, it was relaxing and fun! That evening we swam in Tumon as we watched the sun set. Beautiful rays shot out through the clouds making another breathtaking sunset in Guam.

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Today (Monday) we had brunch at King’s then headed to Ritidian. As if I didn’t get enough beach time from the previous day, I wanted MORE. And why not? The weather has been perfect, hot, but perfect beach weather. These are the type of days that made me fall in love with Guam. ❤

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We’ve had low tide for a few days now and the usually rough waters of Ritidian were calm, shallow and HOT! Because the water was so shallow and the sun was working hard, the water warmed up. Warmer than I’ve ever felt it.

We snorkeled near the shore and saw tons of cool fish. Then I noticed that the tide was so low that the coral was sticking out all the way to the reef. We decided to walk to the reef. The water went from ankle deep near the shore, to no water at all. For most of the walk my feet were out of the water, that’s how low the tide was. After a long walk, me slipping on all the bumps and crevices in the coral, we made it to the edge of the reef! I’m so scared of going out to the reef because there are so many stories in the newspaper about people being swept away into the depths of the ocean after falling over. I made sure Peter and I stay away, but today was an exception. It was great! If I had a bucket list I would have crossed off “Walking out to the edge of the reef.” I looked back to the shore to see how far we’d come and it was a little further than the length of a football field. I said, “So this is what’s on the reef!” As I looked down at these strange sea plants that had long stems with big things that looked like bubbles on the tips. We walked over them and let some of the water splash on us from the waves hitting the reef. I looked out to the dark blue water  and  got an eerie feeling, thinking about what my dad had mentioned earlier. The ocean is both beautiful and scary to me.

As we walked back to the shore we found a deep pool of water that we thought would have some stuff to look at. We put our snorkels on and saw that the pool was filled with sea creatures. I saw a very LARGE spiky sea urchin, tons of black fish and some other larger multi-colored fish with lips that looked like they were kissing, baby needlefish AND my worst fear of all a small sea snake! After that we walked back over the coral and headed into the shade.

What a wonderful weekend. All the worries that had been on our minds were cleared away as we explored the waters of Ritidian.

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 Note to self: First trip back to Ritidian (just the two of us) after our engagement. 6-16-2014

 

Things to Do in Guam: Get Dirty!

Over a year ago, Peter came home and said he found a dirt bike that he really wanted. Since it was his birthday and a really good deal for Guam, he bought this bright green used bike. At the time we had a scooter and maybe a car (I can’t remember). Since then, we now only have the dirt bike and it is our ONLY mode of transportation.

We’ve taken it out on a few expeditions like riding around this abandoned golf course in Barrigada. There are lots of cool, paved trails that are good for riding.

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We also explored the red dirt roads near Leo Palace.

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But the most memorable adventure was on Peter’s birthday (a couple of days after buying the bike). We packed up some snacks and drinks and headed out to Channel 10 to do some riding. It was during the rainy season, but hadn’t rained in a week or so. We thought everything would be dry and, for the most part, it was.

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The main road we were riding down was pretty dry; although, some of the side roads looked flooded. Suddenly our dry road turned into THIS! A huge puddle.

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We passed through it easily, but it wasn’t until we were headed back that we ran into trouble. We rode along the outside of the puddle and ended up getting stuck in mud on the left side. I jumped off the bike so that my weight wouldn’t pull the bike deeper in, but it was too late we were really stuck. Peter called me over to help unload everything and I stepped in ankle deep mud. Ugh! We worked for about 45 minutes trying to pull the bike out, I found an old plastic bumper and tried to wedge it under the tire, but the mud was sucking everything in. We decided to take a break, drink some gatorade and rest in the bushes. Peter called his friend in Oregon for some advice on how to get our bike out. He basically said you need to man handle that beast, and that’s just what we did. After over an hour of being stuck, we were free!!!! I was muddy from head to toe, but thankful that we were unstuck. I’m pretty sure Peter will never forget THAT birthday!

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Despite the horrible time we had with the mud, the view was gorgeous!

 

Asan Falls

I’ve been trying to do one to two small hikes/walks a week just to get some fresh air and see something new. We’ve been getting good use out of our trail book, so I guess the money was well spent. Some of these trails have no trailhead so it would be impossible to find, if not for the book.

Yes, we found ANOTHER waterfall. I had no clue there were this many on Guam. I guess I can check that off my bucket list for Guam (if I had one). This time our adventures led us to Asan. The trail started behind some newly constructed homes, which I was worried that they would someday restrict access to the falls. The book said the hike would be very difficult, but to the top of the waterfall it was very easy. It looked as though the way to get down to the larger falls would be difficult.

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We again didn’t come prepared to swim so we just sat at the top of the falls and looked down. Another peaceful retreat away from our day-to-day life in Tumon. From here I couldn’t hear anything but the water falling and frogs. From the top of the road I would never have guessed that this beauty was here. More Guamanian mysteries.

I felt that this was the perfect spot for a doughnut break (everywhere is a great place for doughnuts).

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The other, larger waterfall further down, which we were unable to locate a way to get to, has a 25 foot drop. I’m sure we will go back and try to find it. We found this rope that Peter used to climb down and check things out. The swimming hole looked very deep, but probably not deep enough to dive.

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After that we drove to a little viewpoint on Nimitz Hill and watched the sunset. That’s our Guam life!

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A Couple Days of My Life

This time last year I was on my way to the Pacific Northwest for my first trip back home since moving to Guam. I remember we left on an absolutely beautiful day. The rest of the week consisted of rain, cold, and my skin turning grey. I was miserable, but so happy to see family again.

This year we’re not going home, but instead enjoying our Guam dry season before the rainy season begins. I don’t know why every morning I wake up and am surprised by the blue sky! I hope that I never stop appreciating it. I hope that I don’t turn into one of those people who just goes about their day without seeing the ocean, being happy when the sky is clear, or being too busy to realize that I live in MY paradise!

Thursday: After work we decided to go to Tanguisson beach and walk to Hilaan beach. We were trying to figure out how far the walk is. Maybe one or two miles. It felt really long because we hadn’t been there for over a year. It was also very hot but we walked in the water to cool off. We set down our pack, got attacked by mosquitoes, and then jumped in the water. This is a very rough area to swim in so we just waded in the water for a bit. After that, we ate our sandwiches that I packed and then began exploring. We found these huge rock formations and noticed that fresh water was seeping out and into the ocean. We also found some really cool shells, a baby praying mantis about the size of my thumbnail, crabs, and watched as a group of people raised a cross in remembrance of a young man who died in the water recently. We headed back just before sunset and watched the sun fall as we sat on the crushed coral on Tanguission beach. At the end of the day I felt exhausted, but it was good to stretch my legs.

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Friday: Peter asked if I wanted to go for a ride on the bike and I thought it would be a nice and relaxing time after the previous day’s long walk. When he came home I chucked my mosquito repellant and left all my hiking gear because I didn’t think we’d need it. On our way to Nimitz Hill he called his friend and invited him to ride.  What started out as a nice ride on the bike, turned into a hike! At first I was annoyed because I wasn’t prepared. It was hot, I didn’t have sunscreen or a hat, and I left my bug spray. I was also scared because the trail was really bumpy and steep so I wasn’t sure how Peter would do packing me on the back. We decided to park and walk the rest of the way, which was a good idea. I had no clue where we were or where we were going. We kept walking through a valley and finally stopped in front of a cliff and a rope. Peter went down first and came back up to tell me that it wasn’t so bad and I could do it. After some convincing and pretty much no choice, I grabbed his motorcycle gloves and propelled myself down.

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Oh but it was SO worth it to see the Lonfit waterfall and river. Tons of tadpoles and even a freshwater eel swam around us. It was serene, lovely, and unexpected.

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Pulling myself up the steep hill was much easier. I was so proud of myself! We all hopped on our bikes and decided to explore more of the roads.

We found the memorial for the Korean airplane crash that happened in 1997.

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Then we followed the fuel pipeline down until we reached a very steep slope that was too dangerous for Peter to drive down. We rested for a bit while taking notice that we could see both the east and west sides of the island. It was so cool!

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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! 

 

Abandoned in Guam

There are many abandoned homes and buildings in Guam. At first sight they are an eyesore but now that I’ve become used to seeing them, I have so many questions. I want to know why and how it happened. Why would someone abandon this house in the heart of Tumon or who owns the Oka Point land and where did they go? I tell you, Guam is FULL of mysteries and absolutely no answers! Peter and I often ride on trails through the jungle and end up finding an abandoned structure of some kind. I know that a lot of land was taken by the military and when they were done using it, they returned it to the people. The problem arose when the land was given back and there were no records kept that stated the owners. Now, much of this land is in dispute. In Spain, land is held by the parents and when the parents die it’s passed on to their children. This goes on for generations. The same happens in Guam, yet there are so many disputes about who really owned the land, who it should belong to, what should be done with it. While family members are disputing who the land really belongs to, it’s neglected and deteriorates.

I often like to give myself photography projects to work on, one day I asked Peter to drive me to a couple abandoned properties so I could start my new project. He took me to two, the first an old Navy building in Dededo an old Navy and the other the Bordallo mansion.

It was a really hot day when Peter and I stopped in front of the abandoned Navy building in the middle of red dirt trails. A few cars passed by as I wearily got off our dirt bike and moved forward toward the dilapidated structure. The shrubs surrounding it were overgrown and it was covered in spray paint. It looked spooky and I was thinking, “I’ll just take a few shots from the outside and be on my way.” Thankfully, I have a very adventurous fiancé who ran up the steps and said, “Take a picture!” Then he ran the rest of the way up to the second floor and called for me. The steps up to the top looked like they might just give way and crumble as I fall to the ground. Adding to that, there wasn’t a rail. So I scrunched myself as close to the wall as I could and tried to not be clumsy for once. When I reached the second floor, there were many rooms with large windows. I wondered what this building was used for. We walked through each room, looked at the graffiti while making up stories about what each room was. The huge picturesque windows on all sides of the top floor showed a gorgeous view of the surrounding landscape. We walked to the end of the hall and down the stairs on the other side of the building. Peter pulled me through the darkness of the bottom level where there were mattresses and wooden blocks placed strategically for Airsoft with pellets all over the ground.

After this I felt inspired and wanted more photos, so we headed down to the Bordallo mansion. The first time I went, Peter told me that it was supposed to be haunted. So of course, I refused to go inside. I didn’t want any angry spirits attacking me (haha)! I stood there looking up at the eerily daunting mansion and it looked like it had some secrets.  This time, as we approached the hill in Yona where the mansion sits looking down on the bay, someone had cleared the trees around the house so it was somewhat friendlier from the outside. Again, a gorgeous view gone to waste! This might have be the one and only time that I thought about being a squatter, in a place like this, with views of the bay and a breeze might not be so bad! The first floor of the mansion looked like it was a kitchen. Upstairs there were about eight identical rooms sharing a bathroom and a living room at the end of the hall. Once the entrance to the mansion, now covered by trees and leaves, the living room opened out to stairs that led down to the driveway. There were a few moments of creepiness, like that small, window-less room in the main living area where someone spray painted, “Listening Room” on the wall. We climbed the stairs to the top floor where there were a couple of rooms. Here is where the best room was. It had so many windows and what looked like a balcony. Around the back there was another balcony that looked out over the ocean. Behind the house there was another structure, but it was covered with branched and trees, so it was too hard to reach. When I came home I tried to research what had happened. All I could find was that it was supposed to be a hotel and that Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo had lived there. I wish I could take this house and renovate it, I’m sure I’m not the only one. If someone knows why it’s abandoned, please tell me!

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Things to Do in Guam: Underwater World Aquarium

There’s something about aquariums that make me feel calm and peaceful. It’s probably the low lighting, the reflection of the water, and the sea creatures swimming by. When I lived in Oregon, my sister and I loved visiting the Oregon Aquarium. I always thought it was the best aquarium I’d ever been to and it was once home to Keiko the whale! That’s why I was a bit uninterested in visiting the Underwater World in Guam. I didn’t think that any other aquarium would be better than the one in Oregon, so why bother. During my parent’s trip to Guam, we decided to check out the Underwater World Aquarium one rainy morning. We were able to get 50% off of our entrance fee with our local ID, so it turned out to be about $11.50 per person (slightly cheaper than the Oregon Aquarium but that aquarium also has a zoo which is included in the fee, Guam does not). Maybe I’m a cheapskate but every attraction on Guam seems to be double the price of what I think it should be. If it weren’t for the local discount, I probably wouldn’t do anything!!

I think I was expecting Guam’s aquarium to be the same as the few aquariums that I’ve been to, Oregon and London. At those aquariums, I saw similar or the same type of sea animals in both. Guam’s Underwater World is about double the length of the Oregon aquarium, is home to many different types of fish found in tropical waters, and for an extra fee you can dive in and swim with the sharks. I was surprised, in a good way, by the variety of tropical animals it housed and the length of the aquarium. If you’re new to Guam, this is a great place to go! Some people will never get to see most of these animals in the wild, so the aquarium is the perfect place to go. There are sharks, sea turtles, manta ray, and other tropical fish throughout the aquarium. They were all very active and easy to see. Once we finished walking through the aquarium, we entered another section that had separate displays of sea creatures including sea horses, eels, water snakes, and TONS of other fish that can be found in Guam’s waters. It took us about an hour to get through the entire aquarium. Definitely a great experience. In the evenings, it opens up as a bar so you can have drinks inside the aquarium and watch the animals swim by! I enjoyed this and had a great time. It was actually better than the two other aquariums I’ve been to!

 

Fonte Dam

A few months ago I purchased The Best Tracks on Guam: A Guide to the Hiking Trails from Bestseller bookstore. I contemplated buying the book for awhile because it was $25 and I thought that I could just go online and look up these hikes for free. Though, every time I’d go to the bookstore I’d sneak peaks at the book to get more detailed directions for hikes I was interested in. Since most of the hikes on Guam lack trails and can be impossible to find on one’s own, I bit the bullet and bought the book. I wouldn’t say that it’s a great book, but the directions are helpful. After I bought it, I went through and marked all the hikes I wanted to do, one of those was Fonte Dam.

In February, Peter and I hiked to Fonte Dam; although, it’s more like a walk than a hike. If you go to the Nimitz Hill area across from the Japanese communications bunker at Fonte Plateau, there is a blue sign that says something about a historical trail. Down the hill past the 7th or 8th concrete pole, you will find the small rock that says, “Fonte Dam” on the lefthand side. From there, you can take the trail through the jungle and to the dam. We walked down the trail and just as I was about to ask if we were there yet, I saw the concrete structure to my right. At first it looked like a sidewalk, then I noticed the dam. It was much bigger than I had anticipated. We walked along the top of the dam to the very edge. After about two weeks of rainy weather, the water was flowing over the dam and the Fonte river was full. We sat down on the edge and took in the beautiful surroundings. Other than the sound of the water pouring through the dam, it was absolutely quiet. The sun was peeking through the tops of the palm trees and the air was thick from humidity. I looked over the edge and noticed the rope, which I’m not sure if it’s for climbing up or down the dam when the water isn’t as deep. We walked back and continued on the trail that led down a slope. Someone attached a rope to the trees leading down the slope for holding onto during slippery/muddy times. We didn’t need it. When we reached the bottom, we then realized how glorious the dam is. There were black butterflies everywhere! We found a couple rocks to sit on and just listened to the water. It was so nice and we were happy that we found this pleasant surprise. We decided to keep walking down the river until we couldn’t walk anymore. It was so peaceful and we were the only ones there. This is an extremely easy hike. The tough part, as with most hikes I’ve done, is the humidity. Definitely a hike I will be doing again!