This morning I woke up, looked out the window, and saw the beautiful blue sky. Not long after, Peter called and said there was a tropical storm coming and they were preparing for it at work. I don’t watch T.V. and I rarely grab a copy of the newspaper, so I went online to check the weather stats. Sure enough, the news were reporting on the tropical storm that is headed straight for Guam. Now, I never really know whether I should take things seriously because it seems like the media blow things out of proportion. There have been so many storms that people were worried about and were hyped up, that ended up missing us completely. Either way, Peter and I always stay semi prepared. We have flashlights, batteries, food, propane and a burner, typhoon shutters, and we will usually do a big grocery shopping trip just before the storm arrives. It’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s been a realllyyyyy long time since Guam was hit by a typhoon and people say we are overdue for another one. Over the last three years that I’ve lived in Guam, we’ve been pretty lucky that the typhoons haven’t formed until the storm had passed our island. I’ve never experienced a typhoon and I hear that the past ones have left parts of Guam without power and water for MONTHS. Let’s just hope that this storm doesn’t turn into anything bigger over the weekend. The rainy season has wasted no time in giving us scary storms. Looks like it might be a rough one this year.
Photo of the approaching storm.(map from : http://goo.gl/n1ARyA)
At the moment, we are in condition 2 readiness. Read what that means here.
Stay safe everyone!
A few months ago the power went out for about 6 hours (as it usually does at least once a month) and I tried my hardest to deal with it; by 2:00pm I ended up walking to a nearby coffee shop to cool off. This got me thinking about something that a co worker on Guam had mentioned to me last year. She referred to her daughter as an AC baby. Not knowing what she meant by that she explained that even though her daughter was born and raised on Guam, she was raised in air conditioned cars/homes and couldn’t stand the heat. This made me think about all the people I’ve seen who do anything to avoid the sun. I never understood how someone can live on Guam and 1. not be tanned 2. avoid being hot. But this whole “AC Baby” concept sort of explained it all. Police officers leave their cars running with their hoods up to avoid overheating (not sure how safe that is), so that they can leave their AC on while they’re doing checkpoints and then jump back into a cool car when they’re done. People have found ways to live on this hot island without actually experiencing too much heat.
Our first apartment on Guam was a first floor unit that was shielded from the sun on one side of the building, making it much cooler. That meant that I could go most of the day without using the AC. For the first six months the AC in my bedroom didn’t work so I slept in the heat with just a small fan. It was hot and uncomfortable, but bearable, and I grew accustomed to the temperature. We now live on the third floor and there is no shade to protect us from the sun. By 9:00am the apartment is pretty warm and by 12:00pm it’s too hot. Opening the windows in different rooms to get a cross breeze going is no use because there’s not enough wind on Guam and it makes the apartment hotter! I think there are certain parts of the island that are cooler and windier than other areas. I really don’t like using the AC so much not only because of the cost, but also because I’d like to just breathe natural air and I feel like the AC makes my allergies worse. Unfortunately I’ve also become accustomed to the cool air and whenever I’ve been inside all day, the moment I step outside it’s like a shock to my body and I start saying, “Ahh why’s it so hot and humid, what’s happening, I’m sweating!” And to top it all off, if I leave chocolate out on the table, within an hour it’s melted and that’s the last straw for me.
It’s official, I am an AC Baby.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, rain is not unusual. I think we (North-westerners) are all born with the skill of managing to stay nearly dry when it’s pouring outside. You know you just wear a hoodie or put your head down, shoulders up and speed walk to get where you need to go. The rain doesn’t really bother me much and I’m used to days, weeks and months of gloom and sunless skies. I’ve learned how to drive in the rain and avoid hydroplaning. I know that you never wait for a dry spot in the clouds because you will be waiting forever. And when the skies cleared and there wasn’t anymore rain, I’d feel out of place. Like, “What is that bright, ball of fire in the sky?!” as I shield my face from the sun. That’s what being an Oregonian (Northwest at least) is about.
The sun makes me feel happy and my mood changes according to weather. I’ve been so spoiled by the weather in Guam. It’s sunny and perfect everyday. I always wanted to be an island girl I just didn’t realize that; although, there aren’t the usual four seasons there are the dry and rainy seasons. At first it’s just a little rain during the day, then there is thunder and lightening and then it rains all day everyday for a month. The rain is so intense and the skills I used in Oregon for staying dry don’t work here at all! The rain gushes down the streets and it feels like it’s going to flood. Last year it did flood, thankfully not where I lived. Somehow, overnight it seems, all the puddles evaporate and you’re left with the thick, heavy, humid air…until it rains again. Even though the temperature may be 77 degrees, it’s still an unbearable 95% humidity!
As I’m writing this, it has been raining all day. My first year on Guam I arrived near the end of the rainy season. Last year I’m pretty sure there was one full month of rain and the season lasted from around July to November. It’s hard to plan anything because, riding on the scooter, we never know when it’s going to rain. We are also usually confined to our house. Just a few minutes in the rain during Guam’s rainy season will leave you drenched all the way through to your underclothes.
It’s not like in Oregon when it rains everything is green. On Guam, when it rains everything looks grey, bringing out the grey in all the cement buildings. It’s not until after the rain ends that everything is green and beautiful again. Guam is actually quite ugly when it rains because the ocean water mirrors the dark sky. Then one day you wake up and the grey skies are gone and everything is back to normal. You’ve survived the rainy season!
Even though there was really no way that someone could describe the humidity in Guam to me, I wish I could have really known just HOW humid Guam can be before I arrived. The humidity is far beyond anything I could have imagined. I’ve been to Hawaii before, but that was nothing compared to what I felt when I stepped outside of the air conditioned airport and into the hot, sticky air in Guam for the first time. It took me a long while before my breathing was normal again and it took me MONTHS before I stopped sweating profusely. I would be sitting, doing nothing and still feel overheated and sweaty! Yes, it was uncomfortable and disgusting. Slowly but surely my body adjusted to this new norm and I felt much better. Even though I’m complaining, I prefer the heat and humidity to what I came from in the north western side of Oregon, which was rain and gloom. Along with the sweaty, stickiness I felt due to the humidity, my hair went WILD! I have naturally wavy, thick hair and when it was exposed to the humidity, it tried to straighten in a large, fluffy, crazy way. Nothing would help. I tried to straighten it and the moment I stepped outside it became large and fluffy again. That was just a dreadful time for me. Oh and if you wear makeup, just forget about it because it will not stay put! All you really need are sunblock, water and to sit still!
Now, a year later I’m feeling very well adjusted to the weather. I don’t get overheated and I know how far to push myself in the heat. My hair on the other hand, is still struggling . There’s not much for me to do about it. One day I noticed that it was beginning to lighten and feel very dry due to the sun, so I had it cut to my chin. As of now, it’s in the growing process. To keep it from being damaged by the sun I use leave in condition and spray sun screen mixed with water to protect it. Because of the way my hair texture has changed, I usually just tie it back. It has grown quickly and I’m getting the urge to cut it off again. Sometimes it makes me want to cry and sometimes I wish it would just make up its mind. I’d much appreciate any suggestions to manage this tangled, jungle-like hair of mine!
Hope you enjoy the video! Ritidian on a rainy day.
I’ve been craving beach time a lot lately, so we loaded up the car and drove on that beat up road to Ritidian Beach again. There was a giant, ominous cloud drifting over the island. Being optimistic, I thought it might just pass us without a threat to our beach day. Half way through the drive the rain poured and didn’t stop for about 1 ½ hours. We waited in the car until the humidity was so intense that we were drenched in sweat. So we ran, umbrella in hand, to a shelter outside. Then the thunder and lightening began and we thought it would be safer in the car! The thunder was so strong that it shook the car! The rain slowed and we couldn’t take the humidity in the car anymore so we took a walk on the beach. As usual, once the storm passed it turned out to be another beautiful day on Guam. During our walk on the beach, we gathered shells and then decided to jump in the warm water. Ritidian really is a beautiful beach. The sand is also different than any other beach I’ve visited on Guam. If you were curious about the weather in Guam, this is a perfect example of what the rainy season is like. I think it rained in one day what it would rain in one month back in Oregon. It will just pour down, seemingly out of nowhere, and then suddenly clear up and the sun will shine again. As you can imagine, the heat and rain combined make for a HUMID day!