“ Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” - Gustav Flaubert
I have been in and out of your life all of my life, but I have never forgotten you. Though I moved away in the prime of my life, I always considered you home. I first met you when I was a young child. I have many good memories of fine white sand beaches, delicious fiesta food, friendly people, good teachers, and lifelong friends. I am sorry that people who don't know you say bad things about you and make silly remarks about snakes and life on a “rock.” Some ignoramuses even have the nerve to make fun of you, and use you as a joke for something insignificant. You are anything but, if they only knew you.
There are still many places on the island that look pretty much the same as when I was growing up, especially in the south, quiet and slow-paced village life, serene rolling hills, the carabao at the Umatac lookout,rugged shorelines. In the north, there is a pristine beach, Ritidian, that was closed to the public when I was growing up, but is now a National Wildlife Refuge. I hope that designation will protect it from damage of all kinds, such as military purposes and over-zealous visitors.
You are the biggest, most developed island in Micronesia. You boast modern shopping centers and big box stores. A lot of American franchises have set up shop. But even the franchises seem to have developed a local slant, for example, the local red rice and chicken kelaguen wraps are on the menu at Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, I prefer eating at local venues.
Guam, oh Guam, how you have impressed me with your restaurants. You have taken the local food that I grew up loving, and doing creative things with it in your restaurants. An example of what's happening in the food scene is at Pika Cafe. They take Chamoru comfort food, tinaktak, ground beef cooked in coconut milk with green beans, and make a luscious burger with it. And your promotion of local produce! Commendable. There are examples of this "Chamoru fusion" all over Guam.
There's something about you, Guam. Your history - from ancient times through the colonial periods, Japanese occupation, and now in this American era as a territory - is fascinating. Your people and your culture are a unique blend of your history. Your status as the hub of Micronesia, and "Where America's Day Begins," gives you a prominent position in the region. Your resilience after being hit with destructive super typhoons in the last few decades defines your spirit.
And now, you seem so ripe. So full of energy and creativity. So bursting with pride infusing all kinds of human endeavors. A recent documentary, Talent Town, made by local filmmakers, the Muna brothers, explore the many forms of talent there and the need to support it. You can hear live music any day of the week somewhere. Even on a weekday, you have to club-hop to hear the music you need to fuel your soul.
There is a sense of purpose with you, Guam. Your people care about making you thrive, like the non-profit Island Girl Power, empowering girls by having them participate in projects such as abandoned parks restoration and community gardens.
You are not perfect Guam. There is a lot of work to be done. But people are showing up, doing their thing, contributing their gifts. Biba!
I have traveled quite a bit, and am using this page to record some memories. Travel is a wonderful education, expanding your view of the world, of other cultures, of the beauty of diversity.