We made it home! Almost exactly 32 hours after we left the hotel “this morning”.
What a Tuesday. Anticipating going to bed in a couple hours, this day will have been 34 hours long. Plus 4 before we woke up, and 2 more after we went to sleep for total of 40 hours between 12:01am and 11:59pm on Tuesday Dec 12 from our perspective.
A single day that’s 40 hours long and 9000 miles wide. Now there’s an experience you don’t get to have too often.
Hopefully at least!
During our flight from Guam to Honolulu I sat next to a guy from Saipan who was leaving the islands for the first time. Hawaii was impressive to him, I can’t imagine what he’s thinking now, having gone through LA and landed in Seattle where he’s going to try and get set up. The island he lived on is slightly less than half the length of Guam, at only 14 miles. From the single high spot you can actually see the whole island he says.
And our Lyft ride home from the airport was 24 miles, almost the entire length of Guam.
Sometimes the scale of things just really gets you.
I hope that guy enjoys Seattle. I assured him he did NOT in fact have to worry about frostbite upon arrival.
Kitties got up to some shenanigans while we were gone and got themselves into some places they’ve never gone before. Whoops! Learning for next time.
We’ll try and post a few more things in the next few days as we go through all the pictures from the other phones as well. But for now: we’re home, and ready for a nice sleep with actual lying down and such. What luxury. Almost like we’ve been upgraded to first class!
We’re currently in Honolulu airport, where it is once again Monday. Oh joy, we get to experience 4am Tuesday morning for a 2nd time, just what I wanted.
The morning got a late start because we were enjoying snorkeling and swimming in the bay. I do wish we had pictures of that, but we really don’t like to be the people with the GoPro firming everything, rather than enjoying it. The bay is lonely though we were 100-152 yards off the beach, and the water was never too deep for me to stand up. (and thus for Bevin or Caren to use me as a platform if needed.) The water is clear enough that you can just look down and see the fish swimming around, but it does get truly spectacular when you get the goggles on and see it from below. I’m certain there are plenty of videos of snorkeling in Tumon Bay available on YouTube if you really want to see!
Since we got a late start we weren’t able to do the breakfast at the hotel and had to wait to get lunch. This turned out to be excellent because their lunch had some great items, includinga local dish called Kelaguen that they did a very good job of, in fact the best version we’ve had since arriving!
After lunch Caren and Bevin and I went to the Guam Aquarium. We weren’t expecting much, based on the reviews and seeing the entrance (it’s in a mall) but it was really pretty great! I think they have the longest walk-through aquarium tunnel I’ve ever seen!
Our last day was going to be just mostly sitting around, perhaps some swimming, but some early morning internet sleuthing uncovered a few extra family graves, including one that was quite important to Dave: Auntie Bita.
Unfortunately he never knew anything else about her, so we could never find her. Didn’t even know what the true relation was. It’s possible she was just a family friend. All we knew was that her headstone had ten picture in the upper right. She was a very important figure in his childhood though, and he was very much hoping to find her.
Well Marcia and her Ancestry account did!
It turns out that “Auntie Bita” was actually Great-aunt Rita, and she’s buried just a few headstones down from her sister, Dave’s paternal grandmother, Maria Taitano Aguero. We literally walked right by her last time we were at this cemetery and didn’t notice the picture. (Dave had remembered seeing a picture of a dark headstone, so hadn’t looked at this one.)
One further bit of research that was accomplished in the morning was finding out the actual neighborhood that Dave’s grandparents used to live in! He remembers it being across from a schoolt we had visited all the local schools and not found in. Narrowing down the search grid to about 5 blocks though we were able to determine what is now a park/playground used to be a school, and we found his grandparent’s house!
When we drove by someone was in the font yard, so Dave hopped out to talk to him! It turns out that the guy’s parents are neighbors, and bought the house from the Agueros! He and Dave chatted for a bit while we watched the neighborhood roosters run around. (they’re like squirrels! They’re just everywhere!)
We did a little more last minute souvenir shopping and picking up some things we needed before heading back to the hotel.
Eventually we went back to Meskla, clearly our favorite restaurant since this was our third trip, and had nome more delicious quasi-local food.
After dinner it was back to finish packing and turn in so we could get up at 4. Bevin and I went on a walk down the beach though. It’s really quite lovely out there in the dark, but there were a surprising number of loudly drunk people. There’s some kind of flying fish in the bay though that only comes out at night, and skips along the surface like a skipping stone. And tons of little schooling fish that come right up to the tide line.
Unfortunately it’s even harder to get pictures on the water at night, so you’ll just have to take our word for it. 😎
We survived the flight from Guam back to Hawaii without too much difficulty. It was a bit ahead of schedule due to 100mph tailwinds and cut about an hour off the time.
So here we sit in Honolulu, 12 hours after leaving our hotel, waiting for our 11pm flight, and 11 hours away from touching down in Portland. On this flight we have the entire middle column of the 777.
It’s 9pm Sunday night, we just finished dinner on the beach. At home in Texas it’s 5am Sunday morning.
The slogan “Guam: where America’s day begins” is more than a little true! It began, had a middle, and is practically over, just as it’s getting started back on the continent.
One of the unforseen challenge of staying at a hotel visited in large part by Asian tourists is the side-of-the-road issue while walking. We move to the right. They move to the left. Chaos ensues as we stare each other down, vying for cultural dominance on the part of our team.
Fortunately for us I’m taller than 99% of the people we see, they generally blink first when confronted with the possibility of running headlong into me.
After we left the coffee shop we went on a driving tour of the area trying to find some locations Dave remembers. Unfortunately we couldn’t find his grandmother’s old neighborhood, but things here HAVE changed quite a bit since he was here last…
After our tour of Agana and Barrigada we did a little more souvenir shopping at a store everyone saw. Everywhere we go we see this little dude, and I keep forgetting to look him up and see what the story is. Who is this tiny egg man?
Back in Marcia at Dave’s room, looking out at the water, we decided we wanted to go swimming some more. But the sun is an evil death laser, so we waited until closer to sunset. In meantime: bubble tea!
We went out quite a ways this time, in search of even better fish-watching. There are some pretty cool ones, and if you get out to the big coral patches they’re not even bothered much by your presence, you’re on THEIR turf now.
In fact, this morning Caren got bitten by a fish. Just a nice little kiss on the foot, but there’s still a mark even tonight! Bevin atd I laughed at her panicked flailing, and then immediately felt bad.
For dinner we went to the grill on the beach of the neighboring hotel. (they’re the same chain, that one is the ridiculously high end one…)
We got a table literally right by the edge, looking down at the beach.
The guitarist doing live music did actual voices for his covers. His Shaggy was pretty great, and his Satchmo for “what a wonderful world” had all the right growl to it, even if it wasn’t quite low enough.
Doing another visit to some cemeteries this morning, and stopping to get some coffee at the fanciest coffee place around. Because Bevin.i
It turns out this building is an old bank. Their kitchen is in the vault. Still a pretty neat spot!
Back at the hotel waiting for breakfast earlier I had a sudden snap of irreality on account of the Christmas tree. I just do not feel like it’s December, and sometimes it just feels really out of place to notice the Christmas stuff…
So we found a more Islas-themed place to hang out.
Anyway, we’re at the coffee shop waiting for our order. Afternoon plan is to drive through Agana and Barrigada looking for places Dave remembers, and go pick up a souvenir or two at a place we saw. Maybe some snorkeling or a nap after that. Rest of the afternoon and one more day to go!
We don’t have a ton of pictures of yesterday, due to doing either fairly uninteresting (to you, dear reader.) things, or because we had no electronics with us.
We started out with some swimming in the bay by our hotel right after sunrises.
We visited a few more cemeteries and drove around through some neighborhoods looking for old places Dave remembered.
For lunch we went to a burger place that has a bugger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
Bevin found that too extravagant, and instead got the burger between two pieces of French toast.
We did a little shopping in the afternoon, and Caren bought a snorkel. One of the snorkels at the gift store had some very clear and concise helpful informational infographics:
We went out into the bay again right about sunset. Caren at I both fear our mortal enemy The Sun, so swimming at sunrise at sunset is pleasant. And the water at sunset was LOVELY. Nice and warm. Sorry for lack of picture of Bev floating around chastising the fishes for not coming over to where she could see them, you’ll just have to imagine.
Earlier in the afternoon much effort had been put into deciding where to go to dinner.
In the end we went to a place I’d found online before the trip that had a dish Dave remembers called Bistek.
After we got back Bev and I walked down the beach a ways to get away from the hotel lights. Tons of little fish right by the water’s edge jumping at darting around, and plenty of stars visible. You can’t hear the waves because the reef is so far out, but in the dark you can see them occasionally.
Today we did a full circumnavigation of Guam. 87 miles total, including some little detours. Going all the way around is something Dave had never done, they didn’t take the family on road trips except up to his uncle’s farm on the very north tip of the island, which was our first stop.
Down below in that flat area is where Dave’s uncle had some land and farmed breadfruit and such.
The area to the right in both of these pictures is Anderson air base, which takes up a huge chunk of the northern part of the island.
Unfortunately the beach itself was closed, they’re still cleaning up after the typhoon a few months ago. But we drove down the road a bit to see what Dave could recognize. Apparently there used to be some large caves with lots of bats. Wit a hillside like this I can believe it!
From there we drove down the entire eastern side of the island, stopping at Talafofo falls.
One of the things to stop and see here is this small man-made cave.
So what is it with this cave you ask? Why bother with the detour to see this?
Well this is the cave made and lived in by a Japanese soldier. For 28 years he remained on Guam, after the war was over, living in this cave. Unfortunately the informational displays were all in Japanese and quite broken English, but it sounds like he just never heard the war was over at was waiting for the island to be re-conquered.
In his own little jungle… Paradise?
Continuing down the island we stopped at a couple of scenic points, including this one at Inarajan. Not quite the southernmost point on the island, but close, there’s a large bay at some natural pools that have been formed. This was the windiest and highest surf we’ve seen anywhere on the island!
Bev was having way too much fun looking for pieces of coral, we basically had to drag her out of there.
Wrapping around the southern tip of the island and heading back up the west side, we stopped at the remnants of an old Spanish fort that was built to protect this harbor that the Spanish used to re-provision ships.
A lonely place to stand watch, but certainly not cold!
At the entrance to the park was a man selling coconuts, an access to their delicious coconut innards via his machete. The siren song of the coconut could not be resisted, I think it’s in the genetics.
Continuing our journey north once more, we stopped at one more famous Guam landmark, still the center of island life: KMart.
Walking around a bit near the hotel before dinner we NEARLY discovered the answer to that most ancient of questions…
For dinner we actually went back to the same Chamorro Fusion place we went last night because they had so many delicious things we needed to try more.
So, having gone entirely around the island, visited several places from Dave’s youth and even more places he’d never been, we’re planning a nice easy Saturday of looking for some family graves. How many more cemeteries can there be on such a tiny island? I’m sure it’ll work out! On to Saturday. Hopfully we didn’t over-use Friday and there’s some left over for you!
The rest of yesterday was quite varied. After breakfast we started with Bevin wanting to try out a coffee shop we’d driven by.
As usual, Bevin’s instincts were… Very Bevin.
Thuy just opened this week, so they’re still figuring everything out. There was a 30 minute wait just to order. Fortunately there was a lot to look at…
Pretty cool place though. They had an “art exhibit” on the 3rd floor which turned out to be, surprise surprise, more coffee equipment.
And also printing, and other random antiques.
We finally got our coffee, and croffle and were on our way. Next step a history museum.
The museum was really interesting. Guam was attacked on the same day as Pearl Harbor. We’re here at this museum on December 7th, but that’s actually a day early because Dec 7th in Hawaii was Dec 8th here. Obvious in retrospect.
The museum had some very well done exhibits with stories of the Chamorro people and what happened when Japan attacked and occupied the island. (Dave’s parents and grandparents were here when that happened.)
I read a lot of WWII history books when I was younger, but it seems like Guam was never talked about as much as some of the other famous battles, although it played quite a pivotal role, and nearly as many people lost their lives (and over a much shorter time span) in the battle of Guam as in Guadacanal…
After the museum, and getting some advice on some places to go from the wonderful people there, we went to the nearby Asan Bay park.
The American invasion to retake the island landed troops at this field, and they had to get across the flat and up the hill to destroy the Japanese gun emplacements. The air force at navy had been pounding the beach and those hills for weeks to prepare, in the pictures from the invasion it looks like a mud flat. One of the exhibits had a quote from a Chamorro woman in one of the Japanese labor camps who said that they loved the sound of the American bombs because they knew that the Americans wouldn’t stop until they were free. (unfortunately that’s when the massacres started…)
The top of those hills in the background is where the memorial wall of names we went to is, you look down on this park from there.
It’s really quite something to imagine 20,000+ troops storming ashore here, all for this tiny island 30 miles long with native population of around 20,000.
Would be interesting to hike the trail on this Ridgeline to see some of the pillboxes and gun emplacements grown over by the jungle, however it’s too dang hot and we’re not prepared for it.
Went back to the hotel for a siesta. Dinner later was at a Chamorro fusion restaurant called Meskla.
Being “fusion” it’s not exactly the native flavors Dave remembers, but they include quite a bit of it, and everything was outstanding!
Today’s plan is to head up to the north tip of the island where Dave’s uncle had a farm, and drive around more of the island to see what we find.
Sun’s just coming up on Friday now, we’re living in the future!