Tuesday, November 26, 2013

things I have learned about guamanians so far

1. They are super Catholic. All Saints' Day, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are island-wide holidays. Schools, banks, and government offices (except the military) are closed.

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2. They are super patriotic. Everyone is either a veteran, in the Reserves, or a family member of someone who is. 

3. They are in no hurry. Ever. To get anywhere or do anything. Examples:  The maximum speed limit is 35mph island-wide. It took 2 months to repair a traffic light at a major intersection after it was damaged by a storm. Et cetera.

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4. On a related note, efficiency isn't really a priority. Many companies just have one person answering phones, with no way to leave a message or streamline the process in any way.  There's one DMV on the entire island and you just show up and stand in one long line. There's no "take a number" system. But no one gets upset because...

5. They are super easy-going and friendly.  They'll go out of their way to help you out. I've had customs employees stay past closing time to help me, DMV employees make extra phone calls and give me their personal emails to solve a problem, and daycare providers refuse extra payment when they watch my kids for an extra day.  

6. They go with whatever works.  If it ain't broke (or even if it kind of is) why bother fixing it? Enter the concept of the Guam Bomb.

7. They revere the coconut. Coconut oil will cure all external ills, and coconut water will cure all internal ills. (And sometimes vice versa.)

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8. They love to eat.

9. They especially love Spam and fried rice.  Fried Spam with a side of fried rice is a common Guamanian breakfast entree at many restaurants.

Read the description under the Fried Rice section.  Read it!

10. The women are magically immune to the heat and humidity. A large percentage of them have hair that is well past shoulder-length (even the older ladies), but you almost never see them pull it up into a ponytail or bun. Meanwhile, my hair is above my shoulders and I feel like I want to die if I go outside with it touching my neck.

11. The majority of children under five have never in their lives worn shoes that require socks.

12. If you are Caucasian, Guamanians will assume you are military. Or if not military, then a Russian tourist.

13. Instead of "out-of-state," the phrase on Guam is "off-island." E.g. "I haven't seen them for awhile-- I hear they're off-island." "Oh, the new hire? Yeah, he's from off-island."  "We can't do that lab test here, we need to send it off-island."

14. "Hafa adai" (pronounced "hoffa day") is to Guam what "aloha" is to Hawaii.  Only MORE. It's EVERYWHERE. Hafa Adai Motel, Hafa Adai Daycare, "Hafa adai, how may I help you?"

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15. They are fascinated by blue eyes. I get comments on my (or my daughters') eye color on probably a weekly basis.

16. Boonie dogs and Japanese tourists are both just basically... background noise. They're everywhere, but generally Guamanians don't acknowledge or interact with them.
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17. They think nothing of riding unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. Construction workers, college students, kids, everyone.
If there are people riding in a truck bed, it's an automatic Guam Bomb.

18. 90% of the population has the last name Dueñas, Castro, or Leon Guerrero.

19. Typhoons (like everything else) ain't no thing to Guamanians. They all have generators, concrete roofs, and a 3-month supply of canned foods (mainly Spam).

20. If you go to church, there will be guitars.  There will probably also be a drum set.  And there will definitely be applause at the end.  That's just how it is.

That's it for now... I've only been here for four months, though, so I'm sure there's more to learn...

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