Saturday, July 22, 2006

Biba Guam...

Ya, you read it right, “biba.” I don’t know if it’s the fact that Chamorro, the indigenous language, has only been written for 20 years or if people here have hearing disabilities, but that is the local way of saying “viva Guam!”

Why is “biba Guam” on the tip of my keyboard? I have seen it everywhere as it is Guam Liberation Day. My first official holiday in Guam. It’s fitting that it is a local holiday, not a national one. There is something more unique about experiencing local holidays.

62 years ago on July 21nd(in Guam, July 20th in the States), the American armed forces liberated Guam from the control of the Japanese. What better way to celebrate that than to use your government food stamps to buy Budweiser and dance in the poorly paved streets waving Japanese made flags to Japanese made fireworks? I can’t think of one.

I attended the 62nd annual Liberation Day Parade. It was hot, muggy, and, sadly, a pretty weak parade. Some floats were actually well done. Mostly, the line was nothing more than car dealerships parading new 2007 models. No joke. And it wasn’t like these were masked as something relevant to the festivities. Each dealership actually had a section. There was no music, but every single vehicle in the line was honking solidly through the 4 hour parade.

The cell phone companies, the political candidates and local businesses, each had a float. It was more about shameless promotion than liberation. I’d like to see a parade that celebrates the liberation of industrialized cultural imperialism.

The local politicians were giving away hotdogs, hamburgers and water with their logos on them. If they wanted my vote, the burgers should have tasted better.
Campaign Food

Campaign Food

Yummy...Campaign Food!

I took some pics of the parade that were not meerly mobile commericals.

Chamorro Dude

I bet his feet are like rubber

Student Ass

I wanted to get a shot of this truck from the angle most people first saw it from. I think next time they should hang the sign better.

What Parade?

I wonder if this guy on the scooter even knows that there's a parade going on. "What parade?"

Barrigada Float

Barrigada is the villiage I live in and the name of my branch

I think my favorite was this car.

Drunk Busters

Drunk Busters (possible copywrite infringment with that logo...)

I’m not sure if that was a car in the parade, or if it was on duty. I dare say that many of the people lining the streets of the parade had seen the inside of it before. Ironically, three cars ahead of it, the guy driving the float was drinking beer. Seriously, driving a truck in the parade with an open beer can yards away from “Drunk Busters.”

Biba Guam!

Drunk Busters and me

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where America's Day Begins...

I arrived in Guam Sunday night. The airport was surprisingly empty. It was also void of Bill Davis, my new supervisor and person I expected to meet me at the airport.

As per usual, I didn’t sweat it. I find that things always seem to have a way of working themselves out. I didn’t have an apartment yet. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have the number of any person on Guam except Bill. So, I used the courtesy phone to call Bill. His cell phone was off. I left a message saying that if I didn’t hear back from him, I’d take a shuttle to the Hilton, and bill him. I gave him one hour.

When it was reaching one hour I turned around and saw Bill and his wife, walking out of customs. Apparently he had also flown out of Honolulu almost the same time as me on another flight.

We crammed all of our stuff into a car and I almost passed out of exhaustion at the hotel. I was finally out that suit, and planned on being so for a along time. The next day I was to be in the office at 7am.

My predecessor, Steven Loosle, had left the job almost a month before I got there. I had only spent two working days with him to try to learn the ropes. Half of that was paperwork and protocol. I really was left to figure most things out for myself. This wouldn’t have been so bad, but at the same time, I was still homeless and had been since I graduated over 3 weeks ago.

When I had a chance to take a breather, I instead called realtors, apartment managers, car lots and dealerships, Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, cell phone companies, banks and financial institutions, and insurance companies. Not having transportation or a place to hang my hat for almost a month was taking its toll on me and amplified with the addition of a new job on top of that.

Fortunately, I have had a good support base. The Loosle’s did leave behind something for me. No, not a “man chair.” They left me a friend. Allison has been able to give me tips and pointers on Guam life and introduced me to people, saving me from boredom. Everybody in my office is friendly and has been willing to help me out when they could. Bill used to be both a realtor and a car dealer, so that made the process of settling in easier. Within a week, I was in my new apartment:

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room



And on the same day I got the water and power in my apartment, I also got to drive my new car off the lot:

Magnum and Me

Magnum and Me

Magnum Side

From the side

Magnum Rear

From the back

Sam the Snail Rides Along

Sam the Snail Rides Along

It’s official. I’m in. I am now a…Guamanian? Guamese? Guamanite? Guamish? Well anyway, I’m livin’ in Guam. When the sun rises here, it’s probably long gone from you. One the coolest things about living in Guam, is that you are ahead of the class. I’m always one day ahead of you in Guam - where America’s day begins.
Where America's Day Begins

Friday, July 07, 2006

Arizona Pit-Stop...

My stay in Arizona was even shorter than I had anticipated. Darn that International Date Line!

I was off by a day on my flight to Guam. I actually was leaving a day earlier than I originally intended on. That 24 hours makes a big difference. Still, I had time to get the basics done.

I ate Mexican food. I worked on my parent’s computer. I hung out for a day with Lamb and gave him some surplus electronics of mine. I showed the Scotfords some new tricks on the computer which I showed them last time and will show them again the next time I come. I set up some home entertainment stuff at my sister, Ladawn’s place. And finally, I took a nap with my cat, Buska. Yup, my usual Arizona pit-stop routine.

One of the smaller routines that I always find amusing is the time when I walk into my old bedroom. As I walk in, my mom behind me always says, “Well, here it is. Just the way you left it. I didn’t touch a thing.” By this she means, “When the kids were in here playing around, I didn’t do a thing.”

I’m amused that I find old fake plants from the 70’s and books from my mother and father’s collection on every flat lying surface I can find. Since I know my mom didn’t touch it, I can only assume that the StarTrek beaming technology of transportation is alive and well in my house. That would also explain why when my mom wants to keep something safe, she teleports it to a “safe” location. Unfortunately, even she is not aware of where that is. Somewhere in Mexico there is a family with a shrine around a “magic” table where random goods from my house occasionally appear. Although they thank Mother Mary for it, they should be thanking Mother Bodine.

Not being privy to the teleportation technology of my mother, I did my best to pack up what I could for Guam. My last night, I was up until 8am packing and getting boxes ready to ship. I had to leave some things behind that I wanted to keep, but c’est la vie.

All things being mostly done, I was dropped off at the airport ready to leave. At the counter I was asked if I would accept a bump for one night. That would give me the extra day I needed and $500 credit for ATA flights (worth $5 is my opinion of that airline). I had a connecting flight in Honolulu which I would miss. I decided that I needed to get rolling with my job in Guam. I declined. As I was boarding my flight, again in that infamous suit, I was eager to be going.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Krashing Kona...

Despite my deplorable bedding on the curb of the airport, I arrived in Kona with enough energy to spare. However, my family had been on a whirlwind of a vacation while I was at my work conference in Sydney. So they had been quite busy seeing all of the sights, and were winding down on the vacation.

My first night was mostly just sitting around our very cozy condo that my parents got from their time share. The next morning, however, we got up and did something which I am ashamed to say I hadn’t done in years, even though I had been living in Hawaii: snorkeling.

We went to Kealakokua bay. That is the bay where Captain Cook became “Captain Cooked.” He met his untimely demise, but became a lovely casserole for the Hawaiian people after a skirmish over canoe borrowing. Now the reef there is a nationally protected region.

Captain Cook Memorial

Captain Cook Memorial

We took a boat to the spot. There we snorkeled and took dozens of pictures with our disposable cameras.

Fam on Boat

Family on the boat

Reef Traffic

Reef Traffic

Deep Shaka

Deep Shaka

Double Shaka

Double Shaka

Honu (Sea Turtle)

Honu (Sea Turtle)

Following that we were pretty worn out. The next day we embarked on the adventure of “Fluming the Ditch.” In the village of Hawi, a sugar plantation owner needed to get more water from the wetlands to his dry crops in the Kona leeward. He paid Chinese laborers something like $.50 a day to work on the ditch. In 18 months, his ditch, miles long, was complete. The sugar has left the island, but the ditch stayed.

The bumpy van ride to the ditch was more adventuresome than the ditch ride itself. It was like Disneyland’s Indiana Jones ride, only not animatronics and much, much longer.

Fluming the Ditch was actually quite serene. I got to be the one bringing up the rear. I had a miner’s hat on my head and paddle to whack my brother-in-law, Rob’s head with.

Small Life Jacket

Not the most spacious life jacket.

Goofy Rob

Goofy Rob

Being our last night in Kona, we took pictures of our last Hawaiian sunset.

Kona SunsetKona Sunset

I couldn't decide on which one I liked better.

And after that, we celebrated Independence Day two days early, the 2nd of July. Since our country actually did declare independence on the second, it was more fitting anyway.

Too Much for Mom

Too Much For Mom

Still lighting Up

Even though there are fireworks going off, I'm still trying to light more off.

We flew back to Honolulu the next day where Go! Airlines lost 7 of our 15 bags. That was fun. They eventually found our bags in time for us to make our flight that afternoon back to Arizona.

Of the two and a half weeks my family was celebrating my vacation with me, I was only there for 4 days of it. Still, I had a good time, especially knowing that I would not have any homework to catch up on as a result.

When I arrived in Arizona, I knew I only had 4 days to get my stuff together, boxed up and shipped out, because I had a ticket waiting for me to finally hit my final destination – Guam.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tourist For A Day...

On my last day in Sydney, I had some free time, since the conference was over, but I didn’t fly out for one more day. I took advantage of that.

I went to Circular Quey (pronounce “key”). That is where you can see the famous bridge, the Sydney Opera House, walk to the Rocks, the old settlement remains, or to the Sydney tower.

What cooler way to get there than the RiverCat? This ferry was moderately priced and offered a great view along the way. The warmest thing I had to wear was a white, short sleeve church shirt. Keep in mind, it’s winter time in Australia. It was about 8 degrees Celsius not to mention the wind chill factor. After living in Arizona and Hawaii, it was nice to be cold again.

Sydney from the RiverCat

This is Sydney from the RiverCat. The tower is easy to see behind me.

'Mine' birds

"Mine! ... Mine! ... Mine!"

Me at Opera House

Me at the Opera House

Darling Harbor - Fountain

A cool fountain at Darling Harbor. For the record, Lisa Simpson was right, the water does drain the other way down under.

After I got some pictures of the sights, I went to the exact center of Sydney, where a giant tourist trap has been built, the tower. For only the cost of an arm and a leg, you can take a “virtual” tour of the outback, an elevator ride to the top of the tower and walk around the Sydney Aquarium. I only spent the arm and did the OzTrek virtual tour and tower elevator.

Down from the Tower

Down from the Tower

Fountain from Sydney Tower

Some church and fountain. I don't know about them, but I've seen 'em on post cards. That must mean they are something.

On the way back, I made sure to buy trinkets and souvenirs for myself and my loved ones. Now that I have a dozen nieces and nephews, I have to try hard to find something reasonably cool, but affordable. Also, each item has to different enough so the kids don’t fight over who’s is who’s, but also similar enough so they don’t fight over…well…who’s is who’s. They are all equal, but different. I got them small koala bear clips, with Australian flags. They each had a different color. Each koala was holding onto some real Australian coins and a piece of Australian candy. Man, I am just the perfect uncle.

My flight back was uneventful. I landed in Honolulu at about midnight. My family was in vacation in Big Island. To join them, I had the first available flight out to meet them. Unfortunately, that was not till 8am.

I hauled my luggage out to the small isolated terminal to sleep while I waited. Security shooed me away, saying I’d have to come back at 5. So, I ended up sleeping on the concrete sidewalk, in my suit, with no pillow or blanket, waiting for my chance to fly to Kona. Needles to say, I didn’t sleep well.

I finally got to Big Island, and finally got to start my graduation vacation which my family was having without me.