September 7, 2003

guam first impressions


map of guam
Greetings from Guam!

Well, I'm now pretty much settled in to my apartment here on Guam. Since Guam is a US territory I have access to quite a few services and things that I am familiar with from the mainland US. For example, I have a US area code and phone number so I can place and receive calls within the same system as anywhere else in the US. 800 numbers are free from here too, which means that US calling cards can be used for long distance. Another nice service available here is the US mail system, which allows me to send letters within the US using the same stamp as I would use in Maryland. Guam also has several familiar commercial establishments including Taco Bell, Denny's, Payless Shoes, Ross, K-Mart, Ace Hardware and many more. There is even a full-fledged mall complete with a food court and an attached movie theater. As you can see, life on Guam isn't quite the same as life in Cambodia. The one thing that is a bit similar is the humid weather, although so far Guam seems a bit cooler than Cambodia typically was. It also helps that most things here including my office, car and apartment have air-conditioning, although I haven't been using it in my
my car and apartment
apartment so far. My apartment is spacious with a bedroom, an office and a large open living room and kitchen area. The radio station is located just a couple of miles south of my apartment and both the station and my apartment are in the small town of Agat. The station provides me with a car to get around, which is very nice to have since most stores and things are located in the more built up areas about half an hour north of Agat. The car I'm driving right now is an older Mazda, although I think I'll be assigned a different vehicle next month when another worker leaves.

Anyway, let me back up a little bit and write about my trip here. After I wrote last time I spent Sabbath and Sunday with my mom before she dropped me off at the airport Sunday evening. We enjoyed a nice church service and invited some friends over for lunch afterwards. On Sunday we spent a few hours at the boat where we had to first charge up the battery which had gone dead. Once it finally got charged enough to start the engine we moved the boat to a new slip and then headed to the beach for a couple of hours "on the way" to the airport. For supper I got my last dose of PAHIT brand mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is my absolute favorite ice cream that I've ever tried. Apparently the ingredients are imported from Italy, but the ice cream is then made on Cyprus. It's definitely worth trying if you ever visit Cyprus.


the view from my driveway
From Cyprus I flew to Dubai where I slept in a relatively comfortable chair for a couple of hours before boarding another plane bound for Manila. In Manila my layover was over 6 hours long so I decided to explore the city a bit on foot. Since the airport is not too far from downtown Manila I just walked out of the terminal and towards town. I'm not sure exactly how far I walked but along the way I visited a mall, McDonalds and a night fruit market where I was able to find some very good Mangosteins which are one of my favorite tropical fruits. After walking for about three hours I caught a train most of the way back to the airport and used a share taxi followed by a regular taxi for the last few kilometers to the airport departure lounge. I certainly didn't see very much of the Philippines, but it was fun to wander around and at least start to get a feel for Manila instead of just sitting in the airport doing nothing.

I pretty much slept straight through the 3 hour flight from Manila to Guam, but awoke just in time to enjoy the approach and landing from my window seat. I couldn't see a lot since it was dark out, but could still make out the coastline and a rather large harbor area. Brook, who is the Chief Engineer at the AWR
sunset from the beach across the road from my driveway
radio station here on Guam, met me at the airport. He drove me the 30 minutes to my new apartment and told me a little about the island along the way. Once I arrived at my new apartment I took a much needed shower and then got a few more hours of sleep since I landed on Guam at about 4:30 am local time. By the way, if you want to figure out what time it is here on Guam you can now click on the link on the right side of my web page as I have removed the Cambodia time link and added one for Guam instead.

After getting a few hours of sleep Tuesday morning I had a quick tour of the station and then spent the rest of the day touring the island while running errands with Brook. By the time we got back to the station it was nearly 5 pm so I checked email quickly, drove myself home, had a little supper and went to bed very early. I slept well, but did wake up for a few hours during the night due to jet lag.

The rest of the week I have been working at the station, mostly learning how things are being done currently computer-wise. We've also had some discussions about what projects I will be working on and I've gotten to know
the guam coastline on the way to lost pond
most of the other AWR staff as well. On Wednesday after work I drove around the southern coast of the island, which took a couple of hours. The southern part of the island is not very built up with only a few very small towns and almost no hotels. It is very picturesque and I enjoyed a nice sunset along the way. I eventually ended up in the more northerly built up part of the island where I stopped at K-Mart and stocked up on some food and other supplies before heading back to my apartment.

On Friday I visited a couple of government offices and was able to get my new Guam drivers license. On the way back home I stopped for some "necessities" from Taco Bell and a local warehouse-style grocery store called Cost U Less. In the evening I had supper near the local Adventist Academy at the home of a coworker. Several others from the station were also there and I had fun getting to know their wives and kids.

On Sabbath I went to the closest Adventist church to my apartment which is just
lost pond rope swing
a couple of miles up the road. Afterwards I stayed for potluck and then went hiking with a few people. We drove to an area in the northern part of the island and hiked along the rocks and beach for about half an hour before turning inland for the last few minutes of the hike. Our destination was a freshwater pond called Lost Pond. There was a nice rope swing and the water was refreshingly cool, which felt great after hiking in the humid weather. On the way back we spent a few minutes in the ocean and I even tested out my mask and snorkel. The water was cloudy with sand so I didn't expect to see anything, but saw a few colorful reef fish in the couple of minutes I spent in the water. A couple of people in our group needed to get back in time for a meeting so we didn't stay too long, but I'm sure another time I'll be able to do some real snorkeling. On the way back we stopped at a scenic cliff-top overlook point called two lovers leap and enjoyed a good view of the coastline including the main tourist area called Tumon Bay.

Today I have mostly been doing things around the house like laundry and email. I've got a laptop and dialup access here in my apartment which is quite
kitesurfers near my apartment
convenient, especially on the weekend. This afternoon I took a walk along the water just across the street from my apartment and watched some guys kite surfing. In this sport they fly a powerful stunt kite while strapped in to something like a wake board or surfboard. It looks like a lot of fun and they can really move quickly back and forth across the water. I also walked up to the local marina and looked at some of the boats there. The marina is within easy walking distance from my apartment and there are even several sailboats there. Too bad it's so far from Cyprus. It would be nice if my parents could come visit by boat but that trip would probably take at least 4 months one way.

I don't have any big plans for the next few months, other than to explore some more of Guam when I'm not working at the radio station. I'm considering taking a scuba course since they are fairly reasonable here, but we'll see. Anyway, I think that's it from here for now.

Until next time,

Andrew

Posted by andrew on September 7, 2003
Comments

The link to the picture "sunset from the beach across from my apartment" isn't working.

Posted by: Sarah on September 24, 2003

It's working fine for me, if anyone else has trouble let me know. Otherwise, maybe you can try reloading Sarah?

Posted by: Andrew on September 24, 2003

Drew - glad to see you're doing OK, despite roughing it with a nice car, tropical beaches across from your apartment, mainland-style amenities, and that horrible weather. So do they have any web dev positions open? Where do I sign?

Posted by: Lauren on September 25, 2003

You're site is very informative about Guam. We are planning to move there someday. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: gie on March 15, 2004

Andrew,
i loved this site, i have been doing alot og looking into guam my husband just got stationed there.i will be leaving the states in August to move there. maybe you can help me with questions i have. ill need a job what do i do? where do i go what is the pay like there. so are the horror stories i have heard about guam are they not true. i am sure i will love it there. thank you
Erin

Posted by: Erin Wenzel on June 16, 2004

I'm not sure about jobs but there should be someone on base to help with info. You could look at the classifieds on http://www.guampdn.com I suppose. I certainly enjoy Guam very much and I hope you do too!

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew on June 17, 2004

Better check out why Guam is on the Governments Superfund Clean-up list and a number one priority. My entire family has come down with one disease or another since being stationed there.

Posted by: Gary Morgan on October 24, 2004

Hi Andrew,

I am from Guam but now reside in California (just moved out here in 2003) and I really enjoyed your site.

Have you made your way to Cocos Island yet? I know that the resort side of Cocos is too much but you can enjoy the Public side (has a small landing pier) which is free.

I checked out the Superfund site that Gary mentioned (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/index.htm) and the only 2 sites mentioned on Guam were the Anderson Air Force Base (Military) and the Ordot dump. The ordot dump has been a problem for years which is the reason for the listing (small Island, large population). I hope his family is okay.

Posted by: Ed Tajalle on November 6, 2004

Ed,

Yes, I have been to Cocos Island and as mentioned elsewhere on this site I have now left Guam after thoroughly enjoying a year there. Thanks for the link and Superfund information.

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew on November 8, 2004