My Guam Continued….
Guam was not only an adventure, but also a peaceful retreat for me. This dot on a map of the world measures 212 square miles about 30 miles in length with a width of 8.5 miles. We’ve driven around the entire island in a little over 2 hours.The local population, who call themselves Chamarro totaled 158,875.
Before arriving, I thought Guam would be a jungle island inhabited by brown skinned people and the American military. I expected quonset huts, shacks, no birds, and snakes falling from trees. Instead, I found a modern American land of pleasant people from diverse cultures who seem comfortable together. High rise buildings along Tumon Bay, provide lodging for Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and other tourists. There are a few wooden structures with tin roofs, but most local homes are concrete boxes bringing to mind bunkers with flat roofs. Many have small fenced yards.
We lived in an air conditioned four-bedroom apartment on the twelfth floor of a fourteen story building that sat on a cliff called Oka Point. The view from my windows was awesome. From my eastern window, I looked over many white homes and shops that form the village of Tamuning and Tumon. At night, the towns lit up red, orange, and yellow against the black sky. Often a full moon shone above, and the air was still. Jetliners broke from the clouds and glided down to a landing as I watched from a distance. I looked over the Pacific Ocean from my western windows.
I watched pods of dolphin jump and on most days saw various tropical fish swim beneath the pristine turquoise water. Because we were on a cliff at the point of Agana Bay, I could see the village of Hagatna. Using my binoculars, I saw Nimitz Hill where the navy hospital was located. The sunsets were spectacular. Just as the sun sank into the Pacific, its last light seemed to glow green. I rarely saw this “green flash”, but when I did I became elated and wished I could capture the moment on film. But, by the time I saw the flash, it was gone.
As I sat on my balcony overlooking the bay, I looked to my left where tourists and locals rode the waves on their surfboards and jet skis, or were pulled over the surf while sitting in rubber banana boats. Watching them parasailing or hanging onto a kite while floating in the air caused me to smile and wish I could do the same — if only I were a bit more adventurous.
Joel and Peggy Best in Guam 2007 – 2009
My husband, a civil engineer, worked for Esso/Mobil Guam as a project manager for the upgrade project created for the purpose of refitting, restoring, and resurrecting the oil tank systems on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam destroyed by Typhoon Ponsongya in 2002. As project manager, he supervised everything related to the construction on the four islands, including pacifying each government, creating contracts, supervising employees and bringing qualifications up to Exxon and International standards. The project answered to Exxon International based in the United States, but his direct boss was stationed in Singapore, so my husband spent many days traveling between each location. Time differences between the offices required his working into the Guamanian night. By the time of his retirement in 2009, most of the project was completed and all of the systems were up to speed.
I enjoyed my status as his wife—being invited by the governor to his home, and hosting dinner parties at the Top o’ The Mar Navy Morale, Welfare, Recreation restaurant located on Nimitz Hill. The Mar was once the Navy Officer’s Club, in 2007 it catered not only to military personnel but also the general population.
As the wife of a professional, the Guam International Women’s Club invited me to their functions where I made many friends. As a matter of fact, I met the publisher of the Guamanian Magazine who, after discovering that I like to write, offered me a position as a journalist. That may not sound prestigious, but being published had been a dream of mine since childhood. This gave me an ‘in’ for freelance writing.
I first interviewed Leigh Leilani Graham, the United Services Organizations director. She and I had much in common—both being military brats and staunch supporters of the military services.
The two articles that started my quest for publication. October and November 2007 Guaham Magazine.
Many people who read that article gushed over me as a writer, however I was not happy. The editor changed much of what I wrote while keeping the gist of what was said. I think my writing was better than hers. As a matter of fact, the publisher fired her right after the article appeared, then she asked me to write an in-depth story about diabetes.
I interviewed three doctors for the article on diabetes, researched the disease on the internet and talked with several people who had diabetes. When the article appeared in the Guamanian Magazine without extensive editing, I was pleased. I discovered that military veterans who were in contact with Agent Orange while serving twenty years before, and who were diagnosed with diabetes, received compensation from the government.
My husband had been told by one doctor that he had markers for diabetes. My husband didn’t want to believe the doctor, but after my article, he agreed to testing. And, sure enough, he had diabetes. He is receiving treatment at the Veteran’s Administration Clinic.
I began writing this book about my life on Guam. I enrolled in a graduate class in creative writing at the University of Guam. Driving sixteen miles over Route 10 from Tamuning to Mangilao gave me time to view the inner island. Traffic on Route 10 was light, and the two-lane paved road had no potholes. Civilization had not ruined the jungle views.