Tuesday, September 10, 2013

first impressions

Guam is weird.

It's kind of like being in the US and kind of like being in a foreign country.

It's like being in the US at first glance-- many things are the same. Same money, same post office, same traffic rules, same language (well, the native Guamanians do have their own language as well - Chamorro - but pretty much everyone speaks English).  The citizens of Guam are US citizens and can vote in national elections.  True, they don't have a voting representative in Congress, but neither does DC.

But a lot of things are different as well.  It's hard to put your finger on-- there's just a different feel to this place.  It's not just the 14-hour time difference from the Eastern Standard time zone.

For one thing, there are very few grocery stores... and certainly no major grocery chains like Safeway or Kroger.  (We shop at the commissary on base, but those not affiliated with the military don't have that option.)  And even in the grocery stores that are there, there's always the possibility that they may run out of something before the next delivery comes in.  Last time I was at the commissary, they were out of chicken and salad, with an apologetic sign explaining that they were expecting a shipment that evening.  This is wildly foreign to this girl who's always lived in the states.  "What do you mean, you're 'out of chicken'?  'Out of chicken' isn't a thing!"

It's this strange conglomeration of touristy restaurants & hotels, Catholic churches, military bases, sketchy "massage parlors," flat rectangular houses build of concrete blocks (necessarily, for typhoon survival) - some of which are respectable-looking enough, and some that have had their walls and roofs patched with tied-on sheets of corrugated metal - all set in this spectacularly beautiful tropical jungly beachy island setting.
a fairly typical house on Guam (maybe slightly shabbier than the average house you see in town, but not much) - linked from guamhousefinder.com

There's an impressive population of stray dogs (a.k.a. "boonie dogs") as well.  They tend to be a bit scrappy and bedraggled looking, but they seem pretty happy and fairly harmless.  (Not that I would try to pet one, but I've never seen one act aggressive.  They're just minding their own business, mostly.)

linked from gonetoguam.tumblr.com

Anyway - I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but I wanted to get my thoughts down while everything is still new, before it all just becomes normal to me.  It's starting to already - I can't believe we've been here almost 2 months!

(Sorry for the radio silence for the past week and a half.  I'll try to be better about keeping the blog updated!)

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