merizo

Villages in Guam: Umatac

One sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to take a drive around the island and ended up in Umatac. Before arriving, we stopped at a couple viewpoints. One in particular was near Sella Bay and Mount Lam Lam. We took pictures of the bay and continued on. Umatac is my favorite village in Guam. Immediately upon entering the southern village I knew I would like it. It felt much different than any other place on Guam. It was quiet, clean, had a small-town feel and just reminded me that I am in a different country with a very rich culture and history.

We first stopped across the street from the village church that was built when the old church crumbled. There is a large white cross now where the old church used to be. The view was absolutely amazing. The water looked like a thousand diamonds were sitting on top. The houses along the shore were brightly colored, just like most homes on Guam. I really like the architecture of the homes here. They make me want to buy a house! My favorite houses are the ones that have staircases that lead up to the rooftop! After looking out over the bay, we hopped back on the scooter and headed around the corner. Umatac is known for being the place where the Spanish first landed. There are bright red bridges over the Umatac Bay that lead up the hill to the Spanish Fort.

As we entered the Spanish Fort park, I spotted a carabao and had to take a picture with him! The fort is extremely old and most of it has withered away. There were a few canons, which I’m not sure are original but I’m thinking they were just replicas. There was also an interesting stone structure which I never figured out what it was used for. The fort is on the top of the hill, so of course the view from up there was incredible. Looking down upon Umatac you can see the cemetery in one of the photos.

If I had to settle down in Guam forever, even though it’s so far from jobs and stores, I’d choose Umatac. Definitely a great village. On our way home we stopped at a park in the village of Merizo where I found a group of chickens wandering around. Next village post: Merizo!

Your Cure for Island Fever: Cocos Island!

After months of trying to go to Cocos Island, we finally did it! No, this is not another country. It’s still Guam…just a small island a few miles south of Guam that forms a beautiful lagoon. We hopped on the scooter and headed down to Merizo where the Cocos Island Resort boat picked us up and took us to the island.

(sorry for the poor quality, camera broke!)

Cocos Island Resort is a day resort that offers quiet beaches, water activities and lounging. The price for locals and military is $25 and includes the boat ride and buffet. All other people are expected to pay $45 for JUST the boat ride. I think that’s ridiculous! So, if you know someone with a military or local ID, bring them with you! We caught the 11:15 am boat and off we went!

As we approached Cocos Island all I could hear were TONS of birds. Due to the abundant Brown Tree Snake population, we don’t have too many birds on Guam. Seems as though they all fled to Cocos Island. If you’ve ever watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, it reminded me a lot of that. We continued walking down the long bridge to the entrance.

Here, there’s a building where you can purchase tickets for the buffet, snack bar and usage of beach toys. You can’t pay for things with money, you must purchase tickets.

Since the buffet came with our ticket and it closed at 2:00pm, we made a beeline straight for it. The buffet was basic. Water or tea, salad, curry, rice, fried lumpia, fruits…not bad!

After lunch we took a walk to look at the birds and pool. We didn’t use the swimming pool, we snorkeled and swam in the beach instead. As I said before, there were many birds which caused the entire place to smell really bad! The humid air and bird smell combination was horrid! We had to be very careful because of the bird poop that was falling out of the sky. There were some really pretty white birds amongst all the black birds and quite a few Coco birds. In addition to the free flying birds, there were some tropical caged birds including a VERY loud peacock!

While snorkeling, we saw a few Balati (sea cucumbers), possibly the biggest one I’ve ever seen, and a large needlefish (which I call a sword fish in the video). I was so scared when I saw the needlefish because it was the largest one I’ve ever seen and it was swimming very close to us. They usually swim near the surface of the water and in the past I’ve only seen small ones that would swim away quickly when I moved. But THIS needlefish just gave us the side eye and did not swim away. I think this is a really good place for snorkeling and probably diving. I also read that there’s an old sunken Spanish ship just off the island!

The downside to Cocos Island Resort is that it looks a bit run down and if the ridiculously priced ticket isn’t enough, visitors are expected to pay for using the umbrellas, CHAIRS and pretty much every single thing. I think some of the basic things like beach chairs and umbrellas should have been free. So we found a dirty table and used that instead. Thank goodness we brought our own snorkel gear or we’d have to pay $20 per person!

As we were putting our stuff away and getting ready for our walk, I noticed something small and fluffy sitting on a broken tree stump. It was this cute little baby bird! I have no idea where it came from or what it was doing there, but Peter fell in love with it and so did I! We made sure not to touch it and just left it where it was.

After our swim, we took a walk down a trail to the other side of the island where the waves crashed close to us because there wasn’t a reef to break the waves. We continued on the trail and got stuck in a sudden downpour of rain. It was so beautiful and I loved how the rain and birds sounded together. We hid under a large tree until we decided to just run for it and headed back to the resort! While we were drying off we played a couple games of dominoes and decided to call it a day.

But before we left…

We just had to see the little bird who was drenched after the rain!