I’ve been living on Guam for 4 months and have yet to write about it. So here goes:
I really like it here. My job is challenging and interesting and I am impressed by the judicial system out here. So far it has been a humbling experience, as I found out rather quickly that my coworkers are absolutely brilliant. I am learning a lot from them and have been pleasantly surprised by how close knit the attorneys are in the office – it has made the transition out here significantly easier. Coming out here has refreshed my appreciation for my education and my career – and not just because it is allowing me to live in such an interesting, beautiful place- it also challenges me and forces me to keep progressing. It took awhile to get sworn in to the Guam Bar, which gave me some time to get settled and made me seriously miss being active in court.
My favorite thing about Guam is the lifestyle. People are active and welcoming and my day does not end after work. Ok, sometimes I work late, but I love that no matter what time I get home, I can go for a run in Tumon and will likely see at least one other runner. Since I arrived, my weekends have been jam packed with social events, outdoor activities, dinners, and various gatherings. I never expected to meet so many people in such a short period of time, or to have been invited to so many cool events and adventures so quickly. Like most experiences in life, my experience on Guam has been great because of the people I have met here.
I came into this adventure ready to completely dive in. I have no idea how long I will be here and I am overly aware that the people I meet here will not be here forever…or perhaps not even 3 months from now. I have tried to make the most of my time here with everyone I meet, because, who knows if these opportunities, with these people, will ever present themselves again.
The first several weeks were aggressive. I was going out A LOT and not turning down any adventure. Once work picked up a bit and I realized how tired I was, I tried to slow that down and find some balance. I still feel like there are not enough hours in the day, and that there’s always something cool I could be doing. And I am beyond grateful for that.
My apartment is located in the super touristy village of Tumon. Yes, on Guam, we live in villages. I live in the middle of the hotel strip, near a Duty-Free shopping center and TGIFriday’s. Sometimes the congestion and constant flow of tourists taking selfies gets to me, but most of the time, I enjoy it. I love that I can walk to the bars and restaurants, and it takes me 2 minutes to run down the hill and be on the beach. I LOVE hotels more than most people, and often spend evenings at the Outrigger having coffee and relaxing. I think we are quite lucky to have such a steady flow of tourists, most of which have proven to be polite and respectful.
My apartment is interesting. It’s a small apartment complex tucked away up on a hill. When I first moved in it had a tendency to get a little loud in the evenings…but things have settled down. I’m starting to collect more furnishings, but it has been a slow process, and not a priority. I am rarely at home but I am starting to notice that it is a bit nicer to be at home with some furniture! I have an awesome view of Tumon Bay and sometimes the sunset lights up my apartment. Kinda cool. There are three little girls who live next to me, and I adore them. They are super shy but get really excited to see me. They’re always rather disheveled but still adorable – sometimes I’m a little concerned that they’re still up and wandering around the complex at random hours of the night, but, they appear to be very happy. And they’re always sure to greet me, about 3-5 times, every time they see me.
The major flaws of my housing – the pool leaves much to be desired, and sometimes living on top of a steep hill means that, although I could walk, I’m driving. Its hot here and I sweat a lot, ok? Oh, and I don’t have a washer and dryer in my unit. I love doing laundry, and I like to do it frequently. Getting quarters and using communal washers is not ideal…but I’m getting by. 😉
We have a lot of chain restaurants and a lot of stores geared towards tourists. We have a 24 hour k-mart that is almost always over run by tourists. I’m grateful for our Macy’s and Cost U Less (our version of Costco) but I detest the grocery stores. They’re expensive, not well kept, and just running in to pick up a few things seems to always take forever.
Everyone has PO boxes here. I don’t really have a true physical address – its just the name of my building, the street that its not actually on, and my village. So, I get my mail at the post office. It takes forever because everyone else is also getting their mail at the post office.
Maps. So, everyone here draws maps to places. Maybe its because of the lack of physical addresses and perhaps an [understandable] distrust of SIRI – but maps are a common occurrence and inquiry on the island. When I bought my car I had to draw a map to my house. I was cracking myself up at the car dealership, drawing a picture of a water park and TGIFRiday’s and starring where my building was. If only I would have been allowed to draw it with crayons and stickers.
So yeah, my tumultuous relationship with Siri has been on a major hiatus. The only thing Siri can find here is Home Depot and the airport. To her credit, those are two VERY nice places on the island. (Seriously, they’re both quite impressive).
So what have I been doing here? Aside from working, I spend a lot of time outside. I have lived on an island before and sadly I think I may have taken it for granted. Not this time! I make it a point to get to the beach as much as possible, see as many sunsets (outdoors) as possible, and maintain the active lifestyle I sought by coming out here.
I try to do things that challenge and scare me. I’m keeping my mind and heart open, and trying to keep this place as adventure filled as possible. I’m sad to report that I’ve only surfed a few times but once my new board (that will have its own post) comes in perhaps that’ll change. The water here is different from any that I’ve experienced before and the surfing is intimidating. But I’m going to keep trying.
There are some great places to practice yoga here, but I haven’t developed a bond with a studio. I turned my second bedroom into my yoga room – I keep the aircon off in that room to keep it nice and warm, and do podcasts from some of my favorite studios across the country. I usually keep the room dark, light a few candles and incense for savasana. Its ok, but I miss my Charlotte yoga practice, and would give anything to jump into a sweaty Y2 class – or at least find that love for a studio out here.
My favorite workouts have been running throughout Tumon. I like to race tourists between street lights, I thinks its hilarious. They generally do not. I love running on the beach – I’ve gotten to know the lifeguards at the different hotels and depending on the time of day, there’s usually someone to high-five and say hi to. I tend to get stopped by tourists and asked to take selfies with them – I love this. I like to tell myself that they must think I’m some sort of professional athlete, but really, they’re probably just not used to seeing a strange tall girl running and singing rap music on the beach. They seem to like it when I ask for a selfie with them in return.
Beach Bar. Beach bar is one of my favorite places on the island. I have made some very good friends there and love going for sunset dinners and drinks. Gun Beach is gorgeous and the sunsets are to die for. Oh, and they have really good live music.
I was fortunate to meet my friend Amber there. We were both there alone one Sunday afternoon, trying to enjoy a few drinks and a sunset, before simultaneously getting “attacked” by the same group of highly intoxicated (yet fun!) guys. It was pretty funny. We reunited the following week at another (yet inferior) beach bar and we have been friends since. I’m very grateful to have her here.
Hashing. When I first landed on Guam, one of my bosses picked me up. He asked me if I had heard of Hashing (I thought he was talking about drugs) and proceeded to tell me about these crazy people who drink and run through the jungle. He warned me that they get this little illness called “lepto” and that their activities are quite dangerous.
Hmm…drinking…jungle…running? Done. Lepto who?
Hashing has been really cool. Ok, so basically, we all gather and follow each other up to the start of a trail that has been set by other hashers. We run through the jungle, trying to catch the trail setters, and once we get to the end, we have a big bonfire and drink a few beers. See, its really rather innocent.
I have met some really, really, interesting people hashing. All ages, professions, backgrounds. It’s one of the most interesting communities I have been apart of. Ok, so, I might have thought I was going to die on a few of the “trails” but I didn’t. Sometimes I get a little scared when we have to climb up a waterfall or descend a cliff, but there’s usually someone nearby to help and there’s always beer at the end.
What else? I love getting out of Tumon and heading to the south part of the island- its absolutely beautiful. There are some truly stunning beaches, natural pools, and waterfalls. I’ve been to a few caves, which were also really cool. I’m excited to keep exploring this place.
I’m still learning about the different cultures here and its all really interesting. I sort of feel like I came here blind – I really didn’t know much about this place before my arrival. That’s changing, rapidly.
The transition has been interesting. It was a lot harder to get settled here than I thought it would be. There have been many days where I questioned everything, and felt overwhelmed by the distance and the transient nature of this place. To alleviate these feelings, I usually run on the beach or do something to remind myself of how grateful I am to be here and have this opportunity. (I learned the lesson of fighting stress and fear with gratitude when I first started practicing yoga in law school…its an amazing tool.)
I had some commitment issues in the beginning – I put off getting furniture and a car for far too long. I rented a Toyota Yaris for 6+ weeks – I probably should have just bought the thing, especially after taking it on trail and sleeping in it at a Hash camping event. I finally fell in love with an obnoxious Nissan Xterra. It is not so great on gas (and gas is expensive out here) but it is BRIGHT blue and has tons of cool compartments for gear. I love driving this thing. And I drive a lot – so that’s good. [update: said Xterra has been severely damaged in an accident (due to incompetent guam drivers) and is undergoing massive repair. I am heartbroken.]
I took my first trip off island recently, which I’ll write about in my next post. I went to Seoul, South Korea, and it was insanely easy. I was really curious to see how I would feel taking a trip – mostly the “coming home” to Guam part. It was a nice feeling to come back to my beloved Xterra (again, heartbroken) and super comfy bed. But the best part was the ease – I love the feeling that, if I need to, I can jump on a quick flight to a big city (or other remote island) for a getaway, or change of pace.
So, in a nutshell, everything is going well. I am happy here. Over the past year, I have had so many “I never expected i’d do this” moments and those seem to be in full supply out here. Life is nice on a tropical island, but I do miss the seasons and cooler weather. Fortunately, I can access that in Japan and Korea rather easily. The time difference has proven to be isolating, and I think the hardest part about this is the huge decline in communication I have with my friends and family, mostly my mom. I have been all over the world and have lived far away before, but this place FEELS far. Another new experience I guess.
I don’t have tons of vacation time right now but we have a lot of long weekends throughout the year. I’m currently building my travel itinerary for the summer – I’m locked in for Palau over 4th of July weekend, with Japan and the Philippines on my radar. Any Asia travel recommendations are always welcome.
Thanks for reading. Miss you all back “home,” please keep sending photos and updates.
Next up: kilikina does KOREA!