What is Guam Like?

What is Guam Like?
Close your eyes. (Not too hard, then you won’t be able to read this). Now picture the movie 50 First Dates. You know the scene where Adam Sandler is in the café when he first meets Drew Barrymore? Adam Sandler is talking to Drew Barrymore in a café right next to the water. The cook has a tan and tribal tattoos. He also has a stack of SPAM on the counter next to him. Bob Marley is playing in the background. Throw in some feral chickens and roosters outside along with some “Boonie” (stray) dogs and you just pictured a typical Saturday morning here in Guam.

When you drive around Guam, there is a lot of sightseeing. The ocean is in every direction. And you’re almost always looking down at a city full of lights or up at tall green and red hills in front of you. You’ll see a lot of Japanese and Korean tourists crossing the streets. You'll see best friends in matching outfits and selfie sticks everywhere. Along with a lot of business signs in English, Japanese, and Korean.

It is S L O W paced. There are no highways and the highest speed limit is 35 mph. Their roads are made of coral. You don’t cut people off and give them the middle finger, people are way more respectful here than that. I’ve actually been humbled quite a lot since being here. In Guam, you can’t stomp your feet and demand a manager. Trust me, you need peoples business in Guam way more than they need yours.

Everyone here has big families and a lot of kids. They are taken care of so well. Big families in Guam and “Welfare moms” are not something that you hear of like you do in the states. People are happy to have 8 kids and support all of them. The locals are prideful and don’t want handouts. I’ve actually offended some locals when I’ve offered to give them money for the food or drinks they provided to me. It’s not about the money for them at all.

The locals are so friendly and generous. They want to feed you, that’s how they show their love. They also make sure you have everything you need for any babies coming, if you’re sick, or if you need help around your house. However, it just takes one time to lose their respect. If they see you litter or be disrespectful towards another islander (even if they don’t like them!!), then that’s it you’re on the shit list. And word travels fast. They refer to themselves as a clan out here. Locals stand together.

Guam is a part of America because it’s a US territory, but if you ask me it’s its own country. There aren’t any Targets, Starbucks, Charming Charlie’s, American Eagle, Hot Topic, Victoria Secret, CVS/Walgreens, Walmart, or any other major corporation stores like this. They have laws set in place to keep these stores out so it doesn’t take away from the local businesses. The one familiar store they do have is K-Mart and it is surprisingly a HUGE tourist attraction. It is actually the largest K-Mart in the world. In the tourist's areas there are a lot of modern, sparkly new buildings. In the more residential area, there are a lot of buildings that have been forgotten about and could really use a pressure wash, but you get distracted by the beautiful murals and graffiti they have on the surrounding buildings.

Guam is home to the world’s tallest mountain. (Yes, even taller than Mount Everest because it goes 6 miles underwater). Every year the Catholics on Guam drag a cross to the top of the mountain on Easter representing the cross Jesus carried for us. It is such a breathtaking site (I will include pics below). Guam has some of the most beautiful hiking spots I’ve ever seen. There are hidden caves you can go swimming in. Of course, you have to be careful though because you never know what (or who?!) you’ll run into. My husband has been chased by boars and we have run into a three-foot-long lizard(?). The hills are unreal and despite it being such a small island, it’s like they never stop.

Instagram is HUGE out here. People run businesses from Instagram alone. It’s actually kind of funny how they do things. One time my friend went to meet up with a girl to buy some eyelashes off of her. They met in a parking lot in a public place, they didn’t know each other personally. This is how a handful of Instagram businesses work! They’ll post products on their page and if you want to buy it you just meet up. Having these Instagrams with a lot of followers puts Instagram “on the map.” Of course, you have the girls too who are known for having a lot of likes, taking good pictures, and always being at a nice hotel or the beach. People will want these girls to come to their events and businesses to promote them. I know we’re always on our phones in the states, but it is unusual not to have your phone out the whole time catching every picture in Guam. This is how they promote their island.

Also, this is something I feel I can’t leave out but may offend others. But I’m just gonna say it anyway…

White privilege is not a thing here. When getting pulled over, you will not get out of tickets simply because you are white. They don’t care that you’re white, your dads a cop, or that you or your husband are in the military. If for any reason there was a court case, the white person would not have favor like they would in the states. Profiling isn’t really a thing here. Racism against black people is not a thing here. In fact, they don’t really have “race wars” as we do in the states. Racism is hardly talked about, not to say that it doesn't exist. If you respect people, people respect you. Simple as that (and simple as it should be).The history in Guam is long and sad and too much to get in to. When the military came here decades ago they “bought” the land from the native Americans for pennies (aka stole it). Land is what people pass down to their family members. Now they don’t have much to give. This has left a bad taste in the local's mouths and I cannot blame them. But to simply put it, white privilege does not exist here on Guam. And you better not get caught disrespecting a local or littering, especially if you’re here because of the military.

If I could sum up the island I would say its small, but mighty. It is a tight-knit, family-oriented island. It is blessed by the Saints they believe in. They take care of their island and its people. They want more people to come to Guam and see the island, they want Guam to be a destination island. Everyone will either try and make a business for themselves or will be content with working for someone. It is always sunny and the water at the beach is the clearest I’ve ever seen. By coming here you get a break from the fast-paced, drinking coffee 3 times a day, never get a day off lifestyle. Here you can s l o w down and take in the island breeze.

It's been a huge adjustment living out here and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Amoure asked me to move out here and I did, no questions asked. (Okay I did ask two questions, what is their main language and do they have American currency lmao). I didn’t realize I wouldn’t have all the things I’m so familiar with. It was a shock when I found out there weren’t any Targets or Starbucks (basic white girl, helloo). It can be really frustrating when you just want to drive and are used to 80mph highways, but you have to adjust to the 35mph or you look like an asshole. I’ve had some people simply not like me because I’m a white, military wife. There are a lot of jokes that have been made towards my pale skin and I just have to be a good sport about it. When I started working out here people weren’t interested in getting to know me. I had to really prove that I was someone worth getting to know. Now that I’ve shown I’m respectful to the Islanders and care about sustaining the island, I’ve gotten respect from the locals. I have a handful of people who I know I can call for anything at any time. Even adjusting to the heat was hard for me and I’m from Louisiana. It’s not that it’s super humid, but the sun out here is incredibly bright. Once I put myself out there and made friends and explored the island it changed my life. I feel like I’m more confident in being able to ask people about their culture. I also feel like I got rid of my American-always-get-what-you-want attitude. This place has made me stop being the center of attention and to know when to just sit back and observe. I have been humbled in ways I never would have experienced if it weren’t for coming here. Even though sometimes I’m incredibly homesick and miss what I’m familiar with, I am so grateful and lucky to have lived on this island.

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