i quit my job and moved to guam

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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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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Creepy Creatures: Monitor Lizard

How could I NOT do a post about the monitor lizards in Guam! I first saw one while on the River Boat Cruise sitting up in a tree catching some rays. I wasn’t too creeped out by it either! The next time time I saw two laying out in the sun on the road to Marbo Cave. These ones were about double the size of the first one I saw and they had bright yellow dots all over. At first I thought they were dead because they weren’t moving, then suddenly they lifted their legs and walked into the jungle. I was so creeped out, they look so much like alligators!

Then on a walk down the steps at Oka viewpoint I heard something big jump into the bushes and Peter, who was ahead of me, said it was a huge monitor lizard that was about 5 feet long from nose to tail!!! It’s a good thing I didn’t see that one!! The one in the photos is from Chamorro Village where they have it sitting out for people to pet. For a small donation Peter held the creature, while I took a few photos while saying “Gross!” That’s probably really rude of me. I did have the courage to touch it though, just once. The claws are pretty intimidating and the tail means serious business. These are harmless creatures, but I’m pretty sure they would eat me if they wanted to.

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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My Happy Place

After this last trip to Ritidian and the outdoor hikes I’ve done since then, I think I’ll be staying out of the sun for awhile and give my skin a break. I love going to Ritidian for hiking, swimming, and relaxing under the trees. I always feel refreshed after beach days, especially after days at Ritidian. It’s so quiet, I could walk on the sandy beach for a mile without realizing it, and when it gets too hot I like to wade in the water. I love chasing birds, looking at the shells and rocks that wash up on the shore, and staring into the sky. It’s always beautiful here, that terrible drive is actually worth it! This beach has a special place in my heart.

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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Stop and Smell the Flowers

One of my favorite things about living on a tropical island are the tropical flowers! During my evening walks in Tumon I see lots of different types of flowers, but most of them are plumeria. Occasionally Peter will cut a branch from a plumeria tree so we can have fresh flowers in our home. They usually live for a week in a vase and smell incredible. Their scent is so strong that they fill my kitchen with a sweet smell and it lingers in the air when I walk past one of the large trees.

Hibiscus is another common flower here in Guam. I didn’t know that they came in so many different colors. The photograph of the white flower with a purple/pink center is one I found in Inarajan! I haven’t found one that smells nice like plumeria though.

There are also lots of other brightly colored flowers that seem to grow like weeds, but they are gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind if they grew in my garden. Most of these flowers seem to grow anywhere, abandoned homes, side of the road, everywhere! They just need sunshine and rain and they’re happy. There are so many more flowers on Guam, but these are my favorites.

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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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