Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guam's Real Beauty

As a tropical island just 13 degrees north of the equator, Guam has its share of beauty, although it was blasted down to a raw rock in 1944 and still shows signs from human wear and tear (not to mention the devastation left behind from several wicked typhoons). However, having been here for a year now, we've come to the firm conclusion that Guam's real beauty is its people. Just yesterday, for some random reason, we had three encounters with Guam's most beautiful asset.

Yesterday marked our 23rd anniversary, so I decided to take Kar
yn to a hotel buffet for their lunch special and leave the kids in the dust. Christian drove off with the girls one way, and we headed the other. I was pretty certain I knew where to turn, but was wrong. Contrary to what you've heard about men and directions, I don't mind asking, so at a stop sign, we rolled down the window and asked the gal next to us if she could direct us to Leo Palace. She obviously felt the pressure of the light about to change, so she said, "Let me just pull over and give you directions." Instead of asking us to follow her straight, where she was headed, she swung left down a side-road and led us to the nearest pull-off. There she leisurely explained how to get to Leo Palace. It was certainly out of her way to do so; she would now have to turn around and wait at a light to get back onto the road she was traveling, but she didn't seem to mind. Karyn and I looked at each other, laughed, and said, "Can you imagine someone doing that in California?"

After t
he buffet at the hotel, we wedged our bloated bodies from the chairs and headed to the car. Strolling along, we noticed what the locals call "sleeping grass," which retracts when touched. Up alongside us came a golf cart driven by a local employee. He made a smooth stop and began carrying on a leisurely conversation with us about sleeping grass, explaining what it is and why the locals like to extract it (it has tiny hidden barbs). With the nicest attitude and willingness to chat, he sat there and smiled, and finally motored off. The people here love to stop and tell us about their island and culture.

We spent the end of the day lying on the beach and reading, an activity we could so easily enjoy more frequently, but rarely have the time. Strolling to our destination, we bumped into Lola (our friend from church who gives us bananas), and the typical small-talk ensued. We mentioned how many net fishermen we'd seen working the shoreline that day. Lola explained they were after a particular one-inch-long local fish that is fried and eaten whole. (Apparently they taste like corn chips once fried!) She went on to say she had just eaten some. It turned out that she and her friends saw some local guys net fishing these tiny creatures and frying them. They went over to the fisherman and asked if they could buy some, but were told they weren't for sale. However, a few minutes later, in true Guam fashion, the fishermen showed up to give them a plate full of the delicacies. "Do you know them?" we asked; although we should have known the answer. Of course not. That's just the way the people are.

Over and over we've experienced this hospitality here on Guam. There's nothing quite like it anywhere we've been. Whether it's someone next to us at a park having a picnic and giving us all the leftovers or the scores of people camped around a parade sincerely asking us to come and share in their food and drink, we are convinced that Guam's greatest beauty is its people.


Paul B. Wilson said...

And I thouhgt that was you Eric with the fishing net. Sounds like you two had a great 23rd. A Pacific island, good food, and quiet time on the beach.

You two are a real blessing,

SLS said...

I'm always amazed at the stories of hospitality that I hear from people who travel to places that aren't at wealthy as the US. Truly puts us to shame when we have so much and are so unwilling to share.

Happy anniversary. I agree with Paul - you two are a real blessing.