inarajan

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I Left My Heart in Inarajan

DSC_0070You would think that living on an island means going to the beach everyday, enjoying the sand and sun, and living a laid back lifestyle. Living in Tumon, it’s easy to forget that I’m on an island because things seem much faster. That’s why every-now-and-then we go south, where the true spirit of island life seems to live.

I first went to Inarajan when we were invited to a fiesta (Don’t Be Ashamed!) and again this year (Go Eat). It quickly became my favorite village on island. The historical part of the village is like walking down a street in the village that my dad is from in Spain. That’s what I love about it. It felt nothing like the other villages I’d been to. The Spanish influence was evident in the architecture of the old houses. The streets are narrow, the homes are dilapidated, and on some there pretty murals that depict a part of Guam’s culture. It’s beautiful and there’s no other way to put it.

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I again visited the village when my parents came to visit in February. My mom also felt that it reminded her of Spain. I think we both felt nostalgic and it seemed like she loved Inarajan as much as I do.

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As we walked through the village, we spotted this giant statue of Chief Gadao the chief of Inarajan located next to the Baptist church. Someday I’d like to walk to Gadao’s cave that is located in the area!

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(Read about the legend of Chief Gadao here)

That weekend they had a cultural festival where they taught us how to husk a coconut and throw a talaya (fishing net). Peter and my stepdad entered a coconut husking contest where they both cut their hands on the coconut grater!

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We ate red rice, with finadene and bbq chicken and stared out into the bay; we were hypnotized by the cool breeze and shining water. It was a hot day, but we didn’t care! After that we walked over to the bakery where the baker had made fresh bread. He taught us about the history of the village and the stove where they bake their breads on Sundays. Apparently many of the homes are historical houses and can only be renovated in a way that reflects their original appearance, which is too expensive for many people to accomplish. So instead, they are left to wither away. If I could, I would buy one of the homes and renovate it and turn it into a museum or something. I wish I could live in Inarajan! It would be a nice place to retire or raise kids.

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After our busy day at the festival, we headed to the Inarajan pools and watched the sunset.

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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! 

 

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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