September 29, 2003

beaches, waterfalls and chamorro culture


traditional chamorro dance show
Greetings,

Well, I'm still having fun here on Guam. During the week I've mostly just been working at the radio station since I last wrote. I've mostly been figuring out and documenting how the computers are networked and how they are set up.

On Wednesday night after I last wrote I went to Chamorro village with some of the student missionaries from Guam Adventist Academy. The "village" is basically a big tourist trap with plenty of shopping and dining options. They also have cultural dance performances including fire dances which we enjoyed watching. Most of the local delicacies available at Chamorro village involve barbeque so aren't very appetizing to us vegetarians.

19th century bridge built by the spanish

The Chamorro people are indigenous here on Guam and the language they speak is similar to Spanish, although it's not the same. There is quite a mix of different ethnic groups on Guam including a large Pilipino population and quite a few Koreans and Japanese. There are also quite a few Americans from the mainland living here, including a lot of people stationed at the various military bases.

On the weekends I have been visiting different churches around the island for Sabbath. I believe there are 6 English speaking churches on the island plus a Korean church and one other English group that isn't an official church yet. The churches I have visited so far have all been nice with friendly people and good potlucks every week so the decision of where to attend more regularly won't be an easy one to make.

adventist world radio station from a distance

I've also been spending some time hiking and going to the beach. The first weekend after I last wrote I hiked down to Sella Bay with a couple of student missionaries. The trailhead is just a mile or two from the radio station and we thought the hike would be pretty easy. It turned out to be a bit more difficult than we expected with a couple of stream crossings and some very slippery red mud. The last bit was through a pretty dense forest and the trail wasn't very good, but we still had fun and made it down to the beach. At the beach we enjoyed some snorkeling and we also saw an old bridge nearby that was built by the Spanish in the 19th century. Just before we started the hike back to the car it rained for a bit so the hike back up the hill was even more slippery. We certainly got more of a hike than we were expecting, but had a good time anyway. In the evening I went to a get together with most of the student missionaries and a few other people.

jumping through segua falls

On Sabbath I was planning to go hiking again, but got rained out so didn't end up doing very much after all. On Sunday I went to Gun Beach, which is on the edge of the touristy area called Tumon Bay. At the beach some of us went snorkeling and saw quite a few fish and some nice coral as well.

The following Friday I went snorkeling again near a place called Fisheye. Fisheye is a tourist attraction which includes an underwater observation area where you can look at the fish and coral without getting wet. I haven't been inside, but looked in the windows a little while I was snorkeling. In the evening I went to another get together with some people from work and some of the student missionaries.


a rare photo of me and my camera taking a picture of segua falls
On Sabbath afternoon I went on a hike to a waterfall called Segua Falls. The hike was a little longer than the ones I went on previously, but was fun with some good views. The last part of the trail to the waterfall was very steep but there were ropes tied to some trees along the path which made it much easier to get up and down the bank. We enjoyed some swimming at the waterfall where there was a rope swing. The best part though was that you could climb part way up the waterfall and stand behind the falling water. From this point you could then jump through the waterfall and land in the swimming hole about 20 feet below. On the way back to the car it rained a bit which made the trail pretty slippery, but we had a good time and playing in the waterfall was definitely worth the hike.

On Sunday one of the Chamorro employees from the school took a group of us to a
latte stones near ritidian point
village fiesta. Fiestas here are big celebrations where each extended family in the village throws a big party with lots of food. We were invited to join some relatives of the school worker and had a good time visiting and eating. The Chamorro people seem to be very hospitable, often yelling out to complete strangers who are walking down the street to come and get some food and drinks. This time of year there are fiestas taking place in different villages around the island on different weekends and some of the military people stationed here (and others) go around visiting the different fiestas, enjoying the Chamorro hospitality.

This last Friday I was planning to go to the north of the island to explore the beach there, but ended up working for most of the afternoon instead. We had some problems with our Internet connection at the station and I had to do some troubleshooting before I
some more latte stones
eventually discovered that a network hub was malfunctioning.

On Sabbath I went to a church which meets at the SDA clinic and met some more nice people there including someone I know from when I lived in Sri Lanka with my family. He was in med school at Loma Linda when I knew him in Sri Lanka, but now he is working here on Guam as a doctor. In the afternoon one of the church members invited us to visit his family beach property in the north of the island so I went along. The land they own is near Ritidian Point, which is the place I was hoping to visit on Friday. The waves were pretty big so the water was too rough for snorkeling, but I enjoyed seeing some latte stones and a couple of caves. Latte stones are ruins which aren't fully understood. Some of the experts estimate that they date back to about the time of Christ,
view down the beach near ritidian point
and people say that even back when the explorers started arriving from Europe the local people had already forgotten what the stones were used for. These stones can be found in many places throughout Guam. In order to get to the larger of the two caves that I visited you either had to get wet (the tide was high) or thrash through the jungle to get over the rocky point. I enjoyed finding my own trail through the thick jungle growth and eventually climbed down a steep rocky bank to the beach near the cave. My feet stayed dry, but I doubt the white shirt I was wearing will ever be the same again thanks to all the grass stains. There were also lots of spiders with some really big webs, but I'm told they don't bite and aren't poisonous. I mostly just used a stick to get rid of the cobwebs that were in my way. When we got back from the beach I got cleaned up and then tried to help some friends with a computer problem. I ended up spending the rest of the evening working on
this waterfall only appears out my office window when it rains
the computer and visiting with them.

On Sunday I spent some time watching the kite surfers again since several of them were out just down the beach from my house. In the evening I went to a fundraising supper hosted by the Junior class from the local Academy. Afterwards a few of us played a round of Settlers, which is the game that I played quite a bit in Cambodia. Last week I introduced it to a couple of people here and they seem to like it pretty well, so it looks like I'll get to keep playing it from time to time here on Guam.

Well, I think that's all the news from here for now so I'll stop and get this update and some new pictures posted.

Until next time,

Andrew

Posted by andrew on September 29, 2003
Comments

What an interesting report and great pictures, Andrew! I especially enjoyed the beach pictures. Is your house actually on the beach?

Gina

Posted by: Gina Wahlen on September 30, 2003

In the previous update there are a couple of pictures taken from my driveway. My apartment is just across the road from the ocean, although there is another apartment and a house between me and the ocean.

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew on September 30, 2003

Cool pix and commentary! Sounds nice over there... I'll have to come and visit.

-lS

Posted by: Lauren on October 9, 2003

Nifty!

Posted by: Elliot Lee on October 18, 2003

Hello...my mother is from guam and i am now doing a research project in school about it. I am looking for interesting sites with lots of pictures any suggestions?

Posted by: Tina Sherry on November 26, 2003

I haven't found a lot of sites about Guam but http://www.mpwarner.com/ has lots of pictures while http://www.gov.gu/ has plenty of information about Guam.

Posted by: Andrew on November 26, 2003

Awesome, Brother Andrew! Beautiful pictures and a well written story about Guam, its culture and people! God bless you on your work here on Guam!

Posted by: Jesse on February 29, 2004

Information about latte stones:

Latte stones of antiquity continue to baffle us today. Large ones weigh tons and stand about sixteen feet high. To quarry, lift, and transport them would be an engineering challenge even with today's technology and heavy duty equipment. Latte stones were used primarily as foundations for Chamorro houses. Once installed in a particular location, the surroundings and lots under houses were used for ceremonies, burials, and work places.

The site was treated as hallowed gound. For this reason, latte stone foundations are usually left in place even after the structures they support have been destroyed. Symbolically, the ruins of a latte site serve as a Tolai Chanmorro (Chamorro Bridge). They provide us a tangible link to our ancestral past and permit a glimpse, a sense, of the way we were.

Latte stones are found nowhere else in the world except Guam and the other islands of the Marianas. It is reported, however, that they are structures that resemble them in some locations in the Philippines.

Posted by: Susie on October 3, 2004

I enjoyed your site. Im glad you're enjoying your stay. I was raised on Guam, and am now in Seattle Wa. Always wanting to go back home.

Posted by: Ray Zaragoza on October 14, 2004

That was a nice report that you wrote about Guam. I grew up in Guam and I have been to the same sites that you wrote about in your report! It's nice to know that someone else has been to the same places that I have!

Posted by: Mandie on December 31, 2004

Hafa Adai,
well i just wanted to tell u that although we are small island, we have many different churches, and yes, some churches speak different languages, but most of them speak English. The Japanese people are just tourists and they come to visit our beautiful island. so i just wanted to bring that up. I'm 14, a girl, and I'm pure chamorro pride. ohh, and you spelled 'Philipino' wrong...

Si Yu'us Ma'asi...Adios!

Posted by: Reggie Quichocho on February 24, 2005

GUAM CULTURE IS GOOD..AND WE WANT TO SEE EVERY-THING FROM THE BEGGINING OF THE WORLD WAR I- WORLD WAR II..THATS WHAT WE ALL NEED...AND TO EXPLAIN WHY THE FISH ATE PART OF THE GUAM..AND WHY OR WHO IS AGAO..AND HOW DID HE BUSH THE ROCK OR THE MOUNTAIN..WHY DID HE PUSH IT AND HOW?I WANT TO KNOW EVERY-THING..I WANT EVERY-THING FROM THE BEGGINING TO THE END..THAT'S WHY..OKAI NOW THATS IT..IM A CHUUKESE GIRL BUT WAS BORN ON GUAM MAY 2, 1991..AND EVEN THOUGH IM CHUUKESE I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON GUAM WHERE I WAS BORN AND STAYING FOR MY WHOLE LIFES....SO THANK YOU VERY MUCH.WELL IT'S TIME FOR ME TO GO..BYE BYE

Posted by: MERRYN. NAICH. CHUTARO on April 4, 2005

I LIKE UR PIX AND EVERYTHING.....BUT I WANT THE PICTURE AND THE STORY ABOUT THE TWO LOVERS.THANK U..BUT THIS SITE IS AWESOME..BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE

Posted by: MASON.NAICH.CHUTARO on April 4, 2005

Hafa Adai,
It's always nice to know that someone out there is showing our island for what it really is, I'm military and I'm tired of people asking me.. Do you still live in huts, or How do you get around with horses, or Do all the women go topless??? This gets me upset, so once again Thank You very much, and keep up the good work.

Posted by: Pauline Gogue on April 4, 2005

I love my island and im glad you seemed to enjoy its beauty. Thank you for posting the pics... the water was awesome wasn't it? Geeze i miss it.

Posted by: Randi Rising on April 21, 2005

I have never seen the latte stones at Ritidian point. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Posted by: florence on September 20, 2005

Hafa Adai!

thanks for showing the beautiful life of chamorros. I just began researching about my culture and there are many things I did not know about it. Thanks to you I have knowledge of my culture.

Posted by: chel on February 16, 2006
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