Posted by: crossroads49 | November 6, 2011

Guam, “Where America’s Day Begins” Hafa Adai

In February of 2000 I deployed for 23 days with sixteen other air force civil engineers to the US Naval Magazine, now the US guam5 Naval ordnance Annex in Guam. The base was located in Agat Santa Rita near Agana (Hagath) on Apra Harbor. Now, Guam is not a place that come to mind as a hot vacation spot, but it is a little piece of paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, close to no-where and part of the Micronesian Federation. On Monday morning February 5, 2000 I left Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii at 6:30 A.M for a 12 hour flight to Andersen Air force base in Yigo, and was transported to Tumon, Guam.Guam075 On our way to Guam there was a brief stop over in Wake Island to refuel. What or where is Wake Island you may ask? Well, Wake Island is a tiny, two and one half square mile Micronesian island in the middle of no-where in the vast Pacific Ocean. Wake is located 2/3 of the way from Honolulu to Guam, best known for its role in World War II. It is an unorganized United States territory, with no permanent residents, just members of the U.S. military and civilian contractors who manage the facility. Commercial air service to Wake girls_and_myselfhas been discontinued, and the atoll is no longer generally open to visitors. The airstrip remains available as an emergency landing site for trans-Pacific flights; if you don’t have official business there, that’s perhaps the most likely circumstance in which you’ll visit the place. Wake is positioned just a few hundred miles west of the International Date Line, and is one day ahead of the 50 states. Wake Island is “in the future” from most of the world, and the rest of the United States. guam10 I arrived in Yigo on Tuesday evening at 5:00 P.M the 6th. By crossing the international dateline I had moved ahead a day and a few hours, not too shocking. However, what was amazing and very interesting, on my return back to Waikiki Beach, I left Yigo on Wednesday morning, February 28 at 7:00 A.M, 0700 hours on the twenty-four hour clock or military time, and I arrived back in Waikiki at 12:30 A.M, 0030 hours on Wednesday the 28th, in effect six and one half hours before I left Guam. By crossing back over BGthe international date line I moved back in time, or moved back a day and a few hours. In actually I had a chance to live Wednesday all over again. Once we arrived in Yigo, Guam, picked rental cars and work vehicles we went to the navy base at Agat Santa Rita where we were guam beach9 greeted, given orientations, and a walk through the work site. We were told to watch out for the dreaded and much feared imported venomous brown Australian tree snake that has decimated most of the native birds. We were also told that, because of the oppressive sweltering heat we would be working from 3:00 in the early morning, before dawn’s early light until about 10:00 blistering hot A.M, which would give me plenty of time after work to see all of the 30 mile length and 12 mile width of Guam. I finally food1 checked into my hotel in Tumon, and went out to dinner. My very first meal in Guam was at the Phuket Thai Restaurant next door to the hotel. The meal was an exercise in how not to act like the proverbial ugly American. I sat at a table by myself, away from the other members of my group. Some members of the group were making fun of the cooks and the owner who were not fluent in American English, they were just acting ig-nut, not ignorant, just plain nuts. After a bit of casual conversation, getting to know people, because it was a given that we were not from Guam or stationed at the Navy ribsbase or Andersen AFB, the group placed their orders. However, my order was not taken, so I was the butt of some jokes, about being disrespected. The owner, I think her name was Toy, came by my table and leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Don’t worry my brother, I got you.” Everyone orders off the menu were brought except mines, and there were more jokes and laughter, that is until my serving platter of moist, golden fried pork chops, thick as a brick, and deep-fried, crispy, golden brown chicken that would have made my mother proud arrived. There was a soup that was more like Louisiana Gumbo, and fried rice to die for. Toy had cooked for her family, and I was the lucky recipient of a personal and private dinner if you will. To add insult 2869678329_0256928082to the misery of the group, their order came to $175.00 and some change. The owner leaned over me again, and said, “Everyday you come here for your meal, I take care of you.” She gave me my check and there was NPD written on my guest check, no pay due, with a phone number, so I could call and let her know that I was on my way for dinner. The next day, after we returned back to the navy base civil engineering facility to turn in tools and clean up so we could call it a day, and return back to the hotel, or get BG3 out and about, I met JoAnn Forbes, our point of contact or liaison. Little did I know then that we would form a lasting friendship and we would still be exchanging letters and cards today. Thanks to Abe, Joseph, Jesse, local or native base civil engineers, JoAnn, an excellent photographer, and Toy I don’t think there is much in Guam that I did not see or do. One person in my group from guamfoodMystic, Connecticut who was not like the others would accompany me the entire time. We ate our way around the island twice, if not three times. Every where we went people were cooking on the beach, having a festival. The men were smoking and grilling by the roadside on open barrels or pits. They would invite us to join them, buy something, drink something, eat something, or participate in some event that was going on. The food was awesome. Some of the people we met, especially the women cooked like they were from the Mississippi Delta. They were cooking red velvet cakes, pound cakes, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, fried rice. Like they would say in the Mississippi Delta when someone cook something that was outstanding or exceptional, “They put their foot in sashimiit, and they had no shoes on.” There were also local or traditional dishes like, fresh sea food, shrimp on the grill, mahi mahi, and raw tuna bluewater called Sashimi with wasabi sauce as a spread for the sashimi. I have to add chicken or beef kellaguin, shrimp and pepper kellaguin, the fiery finadene sauce for dipping or to use as a hot sauce. Oh, let me add latiya, buchi buchi , and of course, there was also palm wine, or tuba as some call it, and fresh coconut juice. A local would take a machete and knock off the top of a coconut to open it. The fresh coconut juice was very refreshing. From  JoAnn we also Young Yap dancerlearned about the Chamorros, Guam’s indigenous people. In Agna at the Chamorro culture center, I saw a re-enactment of Chamorro life and culture. The Chamorros, first populated the island approximately 4,000 years ago.The island has a long history of European colonialism beginning on March 6, 1521 with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and again in 1668, 701498502_8660673effwhen the first Spanish colony was established following the arrival of settlers including Padre San Vitores, a Catholic missionary. The island was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered to the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris following the Spanish-American War. As the largest island in Micronesia and the only American-held island in the region before World War II, Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, guam12hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was occupied for two and a half years. The Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana islands (especially Guam and Saipan) by about 47,000 people (about 35,000 people on Guam and about 12,000 in the N. Marianas). The Chamorros  still comprise 43 per cent of the island’s population. According to JoAnn the numbers of Chamorro BG2speakers however, have declined in recent years, and the younger generations are less likely to know the language. The influence of English has caused the language to become endangered. On Guam called “Guåhan” by Chamorro speakers, probably from either the word guaha, meaning “have”, or the word  guihan, meaning “fish”, or perhaps a blending or combination of both. The number of native Chamorro speakers have dwindled in numbers in the last decade or so while in the Northern Guamfood5guamfoodMariana Islands, young Chamorros still speak the language fluently. Various representatives from Guam have unsuccessfully lobbied the United States to take action to promote and protect the language. It is still common among Chamorro households in the Northern Marianas, but fluency has greatly decreased among Guamanian Chamorros during the years of American rule in favor of (a largely pidginized) American English, which is commonplace throughout the inhabited Marianas. With directions from JoAnn one of our tours of Guam began in the village of Talofofo at the cave of Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese imperial army straggler who lived in the jungles of Guam for 28 years after World War II ended, died at 5:07 pm Monday Sept 22, 1997 of heart failure at JR Tokai General Hospital in Nagoya Japan. He was 82. Yokoi lived in a tunnel-like, underground cave in a bamboo grove until Jan 24, 1972, when he was discovered near the Talofofo River by hunters. Yokoi, who had been a tailor’s apprentice before being drafted in 1941, made clothing from the fibers of wild hibiscus plants and survived on a diet of coconuts, breadfruit, papayas, snails, eels and rats. “We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive,” Yokoi said in redvelvetforblog1972. “The only thing that gave me the strength and will to survive was my faith in myself and that as a soldier of Japan, it was not a disgrace to continue on living,” Yokoi said in 1986. No one in the history of humanity, except stragglers later discovered in Philippines, has equaled his record. Few have struggled with loneliness, fear, and self for as long as twenty-eight years. Our next stop was in Inarajan, one of the few villages on Guam that survived World War IIbeefstew_op_590x600 virtually intact (except for the bullet holes in the buildings). Inarajan which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places was founded in 1686, but most of its existing structures were erected during the first quarter of the 20th century.We then saw a modest monument in the village of Umatak that commemorates Magellan’s arrival, but the centerpiece of the community is the San Dionisio Church. The simple white bg1 church faces the open bay, but windows behind the altar look directly into dense jungle. We ended the day back in Agana, at the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market. The Chamorro Village is a cluster of shops and restaurants, part cultural center and part public market, with vendors selling items ranging from Guam-made chocolates to fine arts and crafts to fresh produce. But on Wednesday night, it is transformed into a miniature fairground, with ahu (grated coconut boiled in sugar water) or lumpia (vegetable egg roll dipped in garlic sauce) to eat on the spot and homemade sweet tuba (a drink made from the first sap of the young coconut tree) or hot sauce to take away. Most popular are the family operated barbecue booths, where short ribs, fried guam1 chicken and chicken kebobs.  Even squid are served hot off the grill. As we made our way through the mostly Chamorro crowd, we paused several times to listen as musicians performed both traditional and popular songs and once to watch children taking rides on a water buffalo. Our last stop was at a produce booth, where I selected a few locally grown mangos and bananas for breakfast the next day. On our next tour we stopped at Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, a remnant of one of 14 Spanish forts built along Guam’s coast during the 19th century to protect treasure laden galleons on the Manila trade route from 1366016960_57845fe371pirates who roamed the western Pacific. From the cliff-top sentry post, with its cannons and watchtower, we looked across the bay to Umatak, where Ferdinand Magellan landed in 1521, becoming the first European to interact with the island’s Chamorros, who still comprise 43 per cent of the island’s population. We were also given a crash course on the Latte Stones. The Latte Stones are the stone pillars of ancient Chamorro houses. Found nowhere else in the world, the Latte Stone has become a symbol and the signature, of Guam and the Marianas Islands. Original Latte Stones were composed of two pieces, a supporting column (halagi), made from coral limestone topped with a capstone (tasa), made from coral heads, which were usually carried several miles from the quarry site or reef to the location of the house. Customarily, bones of the ancient Chamorro’s, their possessions, such as jewelry or canoes, were guam8buried below the stones. Latte Stones are respected and are untouched. Archaeological milestones of ancient Guam are tied to the Latte Stones as: Transitional Pre-Latte (AD 1 to AD 1000), the larger Latte Period (AD 1000 to AD 1521), and Early Historic Period (AD 1521 to 1700). The Latte Stones shown here can be seen in images2 Hagatna’s Latte Stone Park where they were transferred from their original location in Me’pu in Guam ‘s Southern interior. Today, many Latte sites can be found in Northern Guam and replicas and images of Latte Stones can also be seen all around the Marianas. On our last day there,  JoAnn and her support  staff 23801975threw a party that will forever live in my memory. There was food and darn good food. The party was festive and lively, somewhat like a family gathering during the holiday season, in my case a Saturday cook out or Friday night fish fry at Big Mama’s House. JoAnn and her support staff really went all out with the party. There was latiya, chicken and beef kelaguen with red rice, finadence, buchci buchci and daigo with all you could drink, there was tuba, plus coke, Pepsi, rum, Budweiser and miller’s beer. I wondered why Guam isn’t  on the places to go before you die list. The tiny Micronesia island, situated 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 1,500 miles south of Japan, is rimmed 003 with pristine beaches and filled with rippling volcanic hills. Thick with jungle. There are IMG_7860-viflowering trees and shrubs, as well as flowers that stay in bloom, with colors  far to many to mention. In many places, the sweet  fragrances of the flowers fill the air. There are an abundance of tropical fruit trees right at the edge of the roads. Guam is indeed  an inviting tropical playground, with turquoise waters welcoming swimmers, and coral reefs beckoning snorkelers and scuba divers. If by chance you get the opportunity to go to Guam here is little tourist information that may make your visit very enjoyable.
Tumon Bay
tumon1Many of Guam’s most elegant hotels are situated on the strip of white sand bordering the sparkling blue waters of Tumon Bay. Guam’s favorite playground is bordered at both ends by towering, green cliffs. This sprawling territorial park located at Tumon Bay is one of the island’s most popular recreation areas and is better known as Ypao Beach Park. Concerts, contests and other events are held in the park’s large amphitheater, and covered pavilions are used for parties and barbecues. The park also has shower and restroom facilities.
Padre San Vitores Shrine Just beyond the beach at the north end of Tumon Bay is a shrine marking the spot where Padre San Vitores, leader of the first Spanish Jesuit mission was killed. San Vitores and other Jesuit missionaries visited Tumon village to baptize the infant tumonguam3daughter of Chief Matapang, upon the mother’s request but against the will of the Chief.
Two Lovers’ Point (Puntan Dos Amantes) Legend holds that a pair of star-crossed Chamorro lovers whose parents would not allow them to marry jumped to their death tumon guam2from this 378-foot cliff. Visitors have a splendid view from this point of the gleaming white-sand beaches and lush hillsides along the Philippine Sea and in central Guam.
CAHA Gallery The Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) operates a gallery at Two Lovers’ Point. Exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, photography and other media are held regularly and are open to the public free of charge.
Nieves Flores Library
Guam’s main public library, located in the heart of Hagåtña, houses the Guam Room, the repository of virtually all information about Guam. The library features a selected display of museum artifacts of Guam’s history.
Plaza de España
This graceful parkland in the midst of Hagåtña’s bustling business district dates to the Spanish Governor’s Palace, intact until agana-bay-at-sunset-tamuning-guamthe invasion during World War II. Other structures remain in their original form or have been restored.
Santo Papa as Juan Pablo Dos Monument
Pope John Paul II visited Guam in 1982. This monument was erected in commemoration of the first Papal visit to the Mariana Islands since Christianity was introduced more than three centuries ago.
San Antonio Bridge (To’lai Achco)Guam080 This bridge, commonly referred to as  Tolai Acho (Stone Bridge), was built in 1800 by Spanish Governor Manuel Muro and was named in honor of San Antonio de Padua. It once spanned the Agaña River between the pre-World War II districts of San Ignacio and Bilibic. The bridge remained intact and continued to be used after Hagåtña was destroyed during the Liberation of Guam in July 1944. In 1945, during the initial stages of Hagåtña’s rehabilitation, new streets were laid out, the river was filled in, and the water was diverted to a new outlet into Agaña Bay. Presently, San Antonio Bridge is also the site of the Sirena Statue, a symbol of one of Guam’s more famous legends.
Lujan HouseGuam081
Also known as the Guam Institute, this structure was built in 1915 by Jose Pangelinan Lujan. Included in the Historic Houses of Hagåtña, the institute formerly was a private school.
Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica This majestic structure is located on the site where the first Catholic church on Guam was constructed in1669 under the guidance of Padre San Vitores. The present building looms above the majestic palm trees and is a familiar landmark in downtown Hagåtña.
Latte Parklatte_stone_park_01 As was stated above, as early as 500 A.D. ancient Chamorros built their houses on stone pillars known as lattes. These pillars are notable for their two-piece construction; the supporting column (hala-gi) topped with a capstone (tasa). The Halagi was made from coral limestone and usually carried several miles from the quarry site for installation in the appropriate location. The tasa was made from natural, hemispherical coral heads collected from the reef. In Latte Park, eight of these stones are displayed. These lattes were transferred to their present location in Hagåtña from Me’pu, their original location in Guam’s southern interior.
Fort Santa Agueda Although there is very little remaining of this rectangular fort built in 1800, a splendid view of Hagåtña and Agaña Bay stretches out below. Government House, the official residence of Guam’s Governor, is adjacent to the fort’s sprawling grounds.
Statue of LibertyGuam078 This replica of America’s Statue of Liberty, overlooks the Hagåtña Bay at Paseo de Susana. Erected in 1950 by the Boy Scouts of America in observance of their 40th anniversary, the statue is visible to boats approaching the Agana Boat Basin.
Chamorro Village (I Sengsong Chamorro Village)
TS_121504-6 Located next to Paseo de Susana, the Chamorro Village public market offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s culture, lifestyle, and cuisine. Vendors sell everything from clothing to handicrafts, bananas to betel nuts. The aroma of freshly cooked local foods emanates from small booths where cooks stir steaming pots of seafood, fried chicken, and other delicacies. The market is a popular lunch spot for local residents and visitors alike, where one can get a hearty meal at reasonable prices. At the main mall, local artisans, such as master weavers, metal smiths, and wood carvers demonstrate and teach their crafts.
Government Houseguam23guam The architectural design of the Government House – the Governor’s official residence – incorporates elements of the Chamorro and Spanish cultural heritage. The building houses a mini-museum of Guam’s antiquities.
Located on Kasamata Hill in Agaña Heights, the residence commands an excellent view of Hagåtña and Agaña Bay. Construction on the original building began in 1952 and was completed two years later. Major reconstruction followed the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Pamela in 1976, and the expanded structure occupies 22,000 square feet.
Adelup Point
South of Hagåtña, Adelup Point is the government complex where the Governor’s Office and other government agencies are located. There are meeting rooms and a small display of pre-contact artifacts. At the top of the complex is the restored Atkins Kroll building that has become the site of the Latte of Freedom. From this vantage, one can enjoy a panoramic vista of Agana Bay. Below Adelup Complex are a cluster of pavilions available for public use.
HI265351Merizo The village of Merizo is located on the southern tip of the island and is part of the Haya (Southern) District. The village derives its name from the word “lesso”. “Lesso” is the next growth size of the juvenile rabbit fish locally known as “manahak” and these were caught at the mouth of the bay of that village. Merizo is the southernmost village where one can ride a boat to a smaller island known today for its recreational and resort facilities – Cocos Island. This small historic village was home of the ancient Chamorros who lived along the shores of the bay and fished for a living in the abundant sea, especially full of “lesso”, which gave the village its name.
Dededo Dededo is located at the north central part of the island where most of the population on Guam s_coco-palm-beach presently centers. It encompasses an area of about 30 square miles of Guam’s 212 miles. The word Dededo comes from a system of measurement using the fingers in which each finger signifying an inch. So as one measures “one inch, two inches, three inches” the name Dededo was derived the measurement of two fingers indicating two inches. There is another word that could possibly give this village its name. The word “dedeggo” means a person who walks on tiptoes so as not to wake up those who are sleeping. It is not clear whether Dededo got its name because someone long ago measured the place with his/her fingers or the people habitually walked on tiptoes.
Yigo This village derives its name from the word “yugu”. “Yugu” means the frame placed over the neck of a carabao and harnessed to a cart. Yigo is dededothe island’s northernmost village. The soil is rich for coffee, cocoa, pineapples, oranges and tangerines, which grew in abundance before the war. This village also produced chocolates, which were then transported to Hagatna where they were served to visitors in the Chocolate House of the Governor’s palace. Yigo also has many Ifil wood trees, the hard wood used to make the yoke of the carabao and oftentimes the construction of the carabao cart. Today, the carabao a domesticated subspecies of the water buffalo is often brought to carnivals or other festivities and used as a popular ride for kids.
The Cultural Emulation Syndrome
Also known as Going Native, this is when a traveller starts adopting the social, dress, and eating habits of the country they are visiting. Particularly prevalent in India, Southeast Asia, and South America; understandably rare in Switzerland. Usually clears up on its own accord when the sufferer is confronted by the reality of going home, though can persist indefinitely in all environments.

Click to View Photo Slide Show Of A Caribbean Cruise.



  1. […] rest is here: Guam,Hafa Adai « Magnolia's Travelogue Share and […]

  2. UMm hmm, the food sounds delicious and your adventure exciting. What wonderful, friendly people.

  3. […] from: Guam, “Where America's Day Begins” Hafa Adai « Magnolia's Travelogue Share and […]

  4. I really enjoyed your spirited account, borne from the respect you brought to this delightful place. I certainly found France all the better by muddling along with my poor French and keeping away from rude English visitors.

  5. lots of work going on in guam.

  6. Guam, ?Where America's Day Begins? Hafa Adai « Magnolia's Travelogue…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  7. What a wonderful view 🙂

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