chamorro

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! 

 

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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Things to Do in Guam: Chamorro Village

Chamorro Village is a night market with music, food, animals and local vendors. During the day there are a few restaurants open, but only on Wednesday evenings does the real fun take place. I’ve heard that it’s also open on Friday evenings but every time I’ve tried to go on a Friday, it hasn’t been opened. Recently it has been extremely overcrowded, which hasn’t really made my experience too fun. It’s so crowded and hard to walk, there’s no place to sit and eat and you have to wait in line to do/see anything. Aside from that, it’s a nice place to go maybe once a month and enjoy the music and food!

Locally owned businesses serve food, drinks, sell crafts and souvenirs. You can ride a carabao, drink from a coconut, watch traditional Polynesian dancers, dance the Chamorro cha-cha and hold coconut crabs, snakes and monitor lizards! My dad would LOVE this place because he loves dancing.  Every time I’ve gone to watch the band play, there has been an older man dressed similar to Elvis. He usually wears a red shirt that says, “Thank you Elvis” written in sloppy writing on his back. He and his dancing partner are quite popular with the tourists and very fun to watch dancing.

I go for the food honestly! It’s delicious! I always get a few BBQ chicken sticks, red rice and a rice ball or two. Also, the fruit slushy drinks are AMAZING and the flavored popcorn is good too. The last time I went I tried something called a Latiya (pronounced Lateeza), which is a cake with pudding on top sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s very, very good!! As I mentioned it is crowded so I just go to whichever food stand has the shortest line. This week I decided to see why so many people wait in the LONG line for food. Sometimes the line is so long it wraps around the building. Anyway, I ordered the Fiesta Plate (in Spanish that means Party Plate) which is the standard Chamorro food plate. This was enough for Peter and I to share. It came with red rice, BBQ chicken on a stick, BBQ pork on a stick, pancit, some fried shrimp thing and fina’ denne. I soon realized why the lines are long and why people don’t mind waiting. The food tastes SO much better! Better pieces of meat, better tasting and all for the same price. So just wait in line and you will be happy!

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but Guamanians really love their choreographed dances. At any party, including Chamorro Village, you will here The Cupid Shuffle, Wobble or any other song that has a dance to go with it. People of ALL ages know the dances. Most of these I had no idea came with dance routines ha! One of my favorite things to do is watch the dancers old and young!

 

If you visit:
Bring cash!

Most souvenirs are overpriced like the swimsuit coverups and some of the jewelry. 

It's in Agana near the baseball field
YOU MUST EAT EVERYTHING!

Things to Do in Guam: Two Lover’s Point

What kind of Guamanian blogger would I be if I didn’t write about Two Lover’s Point? A very popular  tourist attraction, the story behind Two Lover’s Point is Guam’s own version of Romeo & Juliet. It’s a story about two young lovers whose parents try to keep them apart, so at an attempt to stay together for eternity, they jump off the cliff at Two Lover’s Point. The story is romantically crazy and looking out over the cliff, where the lovers were supposed to have jumped from, gives me chills!

I’ve been to this park a few times, but I never actually went up to the viewpoint. There is an entrance fee of $3, or $2 if you have a local I.D.  Finally, we  decided to go up to the viewpoint! We chose a clear day, just before sunset. As you walk around the park and up to the viewpoint, there are HUNDREDS of locks attached to the fences and some parts of the rock that the viewpoint sits on. There was a large group of tourists waiting for the sunset when we arrived. I’ve never been disappointed with a sunset on Guam. I think we have the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen! Even though I live here, they still put me in awe and make me thankful for having the opportunity to experience this life!As we watched the sun go down, it was very dramatic and wonderful. “Another day down,” Peter and I always say as we say goodbye to another day on Guam and welcome another day of us being together.

As I was looking out over toward the sunset, I noticed to the left there is a chapel right on the cliff and below that, a CAVE! I think we are planning on exploring this cave sometime…

The park closes at 7:00pm, so on our way out we found a good place to attach our lock to. It is a tradition to put a lock on the fence with a message to your loved one. I’m sure someday we’ll come back to check on our lock.

Finally, we rang the bell for love and headed out.

But not before we stopped to look down this HUGE natural hole. I have no idea what’s up with these, but throughout Guam there are various sizes of these holes. I’ve asked the park person what is it and what caused it and he had no clue what I was talking about. I’m not sure if it is connected to the cave, but it seemed to be. Anyway, that’s a mystery I will hopefully have solved soon!

Part 1: So You’re Coming to Guam.

Don’t be scared! Breathe.

When I told everyone I was moving to Guam, of course they had their own opinions. I did my own research and didn’t want to hear any negative comments that would put doubt in my mind about Guam.  Some people told me that Guam is full of poor people, that it was a third world country and that there were wild animals everywhere. These were people who had never actually been to Guam, so of course I didn’t take them serious. I did listen to some people (like my co worker) who had lived in Guam for a few years. She gave me tips on what foods to try and places I could apply for work. I really appreciated that. I wanted to come here with an open mind and I think that’s the key if you are going to move to Guam, or anywhere.

Guam is part of the United States but it has its own culture too. Chamorro’s are the native islanders here and they have a wonderful culture that was influenced by the Spanish. Guam is also very influenced by Philippines, Japan, Korea and the U.S. military. It is in the middle of the Pacific ocean, far away from anything else, so that creates some limitations. Being an island, some people have never left Guam. Many people haven’t been exposed to other types of music, foods and people. Don’t come here expecting everything to be the same as where you came from or you will be angry and disappointed. We live on an island, things go very slow, everyone knows you somehow and it’s pretty hard to get away.

So after being here for just over a year, here are a few things that might be helpful to know.

1. Your hair will probably become frizzy.

2. Coming here alone will be hard. It’s very important to be friendly. Then you will be invited to BBQs and family parties, which are always fun 🙂 If you’re a little anti-social like me, then it will be very hard to get by on your own.

3. The roads are bad (potholes and poorly made), there’s way too much traffic and people regularly run red lights so be careful.

4. Everything is expensive.

5. Guamanians speak English.

6. Unfortunately there is a high rate of robbery and theft, so be smart. Despite a few recent events, the island is usually very safe.

7. Nepotism exists and that is unfortunate and means there are a lot of people doing jobs that they aren’t qualified for. This is VERY frustrating to me.

8. Military guys run rampant throughout Tumon on the weekends.

9. There’s a lot of litter and people dumping their garbage in the jungle. It’s also very hard to recycle.

10. There is a reef that surrounds most of the island. It creates blue, clear water that sort of looks like a swimming pool. If you go past the reef, there is a VERY long drop and swimming becomes dangerous. The beaches are beautiful and there are tons of fish, which is great for snorkeling.

11. Lots of stores don’t ship here. Products are limited so if you have a favorite lotion or food, you might not find it here. If you do, it will most likely be double to the price.

12. Most of the news and events will be in the newspaper. The two main newspapers are Marianas Variety and Pacific Daily News.

13. You will probably gain at least 10lbs because the food is DELICIOUS!

14. Knowing Japanese or Russian will greatly benefit you.

15. Lots of great hikes and outdoor activities; although, the paths aren’t very clear and you will have to do a lot of exploring.

16. There are very few homeless people and always someone to help you out when times get tough.

17. Catholicism is the main religion and you will find it affects many things in your life, whether you practice or not.

18. Internet speeds are slow and that’s just the way it is. Phone service is spotty.

19. There’s a lot of corruption in government and police, but I see it getting better.

20. Electricity is expensive and almost as much as a mortgage/rent payment at times.

21. There are many beautiful, clean beaches and a lot of WWII history.

22. Cars tend to rust quickly because of the humidity and the salt in the air. On top of that, cars are ridiculously expensive. Repairs are also pricey. I wish someone would open a Les Schwab! We bought tires for our car and a week later we had a flat. So we went back and they had not properly put the tires on. They fixed it and tried charging us $50!

23. It’s VERY hot here. Probably worse than the heat is the humidity. Since I’ve been living here, the coldest it has been was around 78⁰F and the warmest was about 98⁰F.

24. There are a lot of small earthquakes and sometimes tsunami threats from earthquakes around the area. At first I was really scared about this, but there are evacuation routes and safe zones. The Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, usually absorbs most of the potential damage.

25. There are two seasons: rainy (June-December) and dry (January-May). Rainy season you really need a car to get around because it is intense. Dry season makes you forget there ever was a rainy season. It’s just an absolutely beautiful time.

26. Guam is located in typhoon alley; although, there hasn’t been a typhoon in MANY years.

27. There’s always a local/military price and a tourist price. Always ask for the local price.

28. Just think of it as an extension of the U.S. Very small town feel to it, same problems as anywhere else you might live within the U.S.

29. Shopping is limited. The only large department stores are Macy’s, Ross and the Filipino SM store. There are other small shops as well.

30. Explore and don’t be afraid! We’re living on an island!

I’d be interested to hear what other people have to say about living on Guam and the differences they encountered!

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Boonie Stomp to Ague Cove

I’m very excited about this post because it has been the best outdoor excursion I’ve done since I’ve been in Guam. Peter and I decided to take a scooter trip around the island looking for this place called Ague Cove. We found the entrance, which is near the Naval Base in Dededo. Unfortunately, the property belongs to a family in Guam and they decided to close it off to the public! A few days later I was reading the newspaper and saw that the Guam Boonie Stomp group would be holding a boonie stomp to AGUE COVE in two weeks!!! What luck! The Guam Boonie Stompers are a group of people who gather on Saturday mornings around 9:oo to go on all sorts of hikes throughout Guam. The cost is $2 and you can find out more information about future hikes on their Facebook page. If you’re interested in going on a Boonie Stomp, I highly suggest it. This one was a clean up stomp so before we left we scoured the area for trash.

I’d cut out the advertisement in the newspaper about this hike. It said what we needed to bring (snorkel gear, swmsuits, lunch, hiking shoes…). Saturday morning came and we were off! There were about 55 hikers total who met at Chamorro Village in Hagatna. We paid our dues, got driving directions and met at the trail. Thankfully, the property owner gave permission to the Boonie Stompers and opened the road so we could hike that day.

The hike is about a 200ft. descent to the cove. There were red ribbons to guide the way through the thick jungle. The shade from the trees protected us from the heat and the humidity, on this day, was manageable. The hike down wasn’t bad at all, it might have taken about 20 minutes, the hike up was a different story! It is a very steep climb down so if you go on a day when it has been raining, you might have some issues with mud and sliding. When we reached the bottom it was like an oasis or a beautiful scene from a movie. Another unreal moment for me. The color of the water was beautiful, massive coral formations jutted out from the side of the hill we’d climbed down from and formed a perfect cliff to dive from. On the other side of the cove was a rope for swinging into the water. We wasted no time and began exploring the serene area.

When we were ready to swim the water was surprisingly cool and took some time for us to get used to. There are freshwater springs that mix with the ocean water; thus, the cool temperature. There were so many small, bright blue fish everywhere. Peter and I took turns jumping from the rope into the water. It was hard to see anything when we were snorkeling because it was a bit cloudy, probably due to all the people splashing around. We ventured out near the reef line where the waves crashed against some rocks and I spotted some really bright fish. Peter put the snorkel gear on, leaned his body across the rocks and stuck his head in the water. He looked really funny. When he popped back up he said, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He couldn’t stop talking about the huge bright fish in that deep pool of water. We splashed around some more near the waves and headed back.

The Boonie Stomp leader showed us the way to a small cave where there were old Chamorro drawings along the walls. We took photos and Peter tried to see if he could fit into a hole (of course!) then headed back down. There is a lot of sharp coral that we had to climb through. It’s very dangerous and painful if it cuts. After that, we packed up and climbed up the hill, which was a struggle for me! I want to go back again! I hope someday Ague Cove is reopened to the public; although, it was very clean and beautiful I think it might be better that it’s closed so that its beauty can be maintained.