The early-rising kids and I again head down to the hotel lobby and enjoy our new routine. I have a frappucino and they share a guava nectar. We have extra Potu from the party last night, which is a refreshing sweet treat. I call this journal time, and they both write in their journals after we finish eating the sticky Potu. My daughter has written a song called I Love Guam and she sings it to us. The lyrics are preserved in her journal.
Shana picks us up at our hotel and brings us to King’s for breakfast. Dear son enjoys a stack of peanut butter pancakes. I enjoy coconut pancakes. Did I mention there is no sales tax in Guam? We enjoy that.
It’s raining sideways as we exit, so we decide to delay our tour of the southern part of the island, and instead visit the other War Museum. This is the one I visited 14 years ago, but it was since relocated and expanded. This collection is donation only, and the exhibits are organized in two wings, the American side and the Japanese side, with actual military vehicles in the middle that we can stand around and touch. We sign in and start on the Japanese side. The placards are homemade and contain many typos, which my son enjoys identifying. The placards are in English and Japanese.
One of the first stories is that of Yokoi. I find this story utterly fascinating: as the Americans liberated Guam, some Japanese Soldiers retreated to the jungle and one of them hid for 28 years. He was discovered in 1972. He was a tailor and well-suited for his jungle-living, even stitched himself an army uniform with buttons made out of I don’t know what. He survived in a ten foot by 3 foot underground cave, coming out at night only, eating berries and rats. He was hailed by Japan as a hero (because he didn’t surrender). The next day we would visit the site of his cave.
This is also an excellent museum, with a totally different feel from the Naval station visitor center. The relics are personal donation and you really “get” that. There are weapons and canteens and blood-stained handkerchiefs, flags, and beautiful watercolor artwork painted on linens by Japanese soldiers when they were interred. The American side again shows the hardship of Chamorros during occupation. Many letters from the government on actual letterhead. There are painted cut-outs where you can stand behind a sign and look like you are wearing army uniform.
The rain eased up so we continued our way south, they call this God’s Country. The land is lush and green. Shana brings us to a lookout point where people have carved their names into cactus leaves. My children do the same. Maybe someday they will bring their children and they can show them their leaves. Shana brings us to several historical sites during this day, including the Spanish Fort and canons in Inarajan, the oldest village. The kids and i delight in the “sleeping” plants, a ground covering that withdraws to the touch. We spend some time finding these plants and “turning it off” with a swipe of our shoe. We would go to Asan Beach, and of course Nimitz Hill, which boasts a memorial honoring Chamorros who suffered personal injury during occupation. I show my children their great-grandmother’s name. Brings me tears even as I write this.
I never knew how brave she was, for I was very young when she died. I wish I could have told her how sorry I am that she had to suffer in that way, raising her seven+ children during the occupation (one of her daughters died at age two, two were still-born), and how proud I am, and how grateful I am for her. (My mother has not visited this memorial. I think it’s too difficult for her, emotionally.) But I know Grandma’s spirit is with me. It was at Grandma’s Novena (rosary after her death) when Shana’s mother spotted me at age 7 and invited me to become penpals with her daughter. And Shana would bring my family to this memorial today, over 35 years later.
A wonderful stop is Jeff’s Pirate Cove, a unique only-on-Guam place with a pirate theme, some Greek offerings on the menu, and burgers and fries aged with petite local bananas. The restaurant is inside/outside, with the breeze blowing through open sides, as 80s rock music plays. Pirate Jeff has a fascination with Sgt. Yokoi, there is a photo displayed of the two of them together. Alongside another photo of Pirate Jeff with Carlos Santana. A short walk away is a World War II bunker. It’s wild.
Shana does not seem to have interest in visiting Talofofo Falls, so we mark that for tomorrow. We spend all day together, and as always, I’m sad as we part. But we want to get to Chamorro Village for dinner, before the crowds. She brings us home, we collect Nana & Papa and head back to Hagatna for Chamorro Village.
Chamorro Village is a collection of buildings: eateries, a dining hall, and gift shops. But on Wednesday night, street vendors, barbecues and food trucks set up shop, and the islanders congregate. Music plays, people line dance, and and tourist busses deposit Japanese tourists near the mobile ATM machine. We seek and find Shana’s cousin Eloi, whom we met the night prior. He has a barbecue booth right in front and we buy dinner for most of us for like $17. I’m enjoying barbecue shrimp on a skewer, and sweet corn so delicious, my daughter exuberantly shares with me, even though she’s lacking her two front teeth! Hubby finds BBQ meatballs on a skewer nearby and dear daughter enjoys those so much she has meatball sauce all over her face 🙂 Nana buys a fresh young coconut and we drink from straws direct from the coconut before they hack it and we scoop out the insides. We continue journeying through this delightful colorful musical maze of vendors, and I find that the Coconut Villa no longer supplies the Daok Oil I seek, they offer coconut oil at $14 a bottle, but I find it for $6 at another vendor a few stops down. Hubby finds a cold coconut bubble shake, which he is in love with. I am looking for Banana lumpia, but I find banana doughnuts instead, and now I am in love. Two large fried banana doughnut nuggets on a skewer for just $1! I get two skewers and share with the family. It’s super hot in the dense crowd but exhilarating. We come to the dining hall, where people are line dancing. We watch a couple, then my daughter and I join in on “To The Left…” Here two of my cousins find my mother, we hug and kiss hello as one says to my father, Joe is on the other side of the dancing, wearing a red shirt. He makes his way over there and says hello to a fellow in a red shirt, saying I’m Uncle Jerry! They chat for five minutes before realizing it’s the wrong Joe. My cousin’s husband Joe is nearby in his red shirt. We crack up over this story for days.
I think this is the night we get the kids in bed and I use coin-op laundry in the hotel. This is efficient but it’s not the same as doing laundry at home. It reminds me of the dorms in college. It’s $2 per load and everything’s HOT. Some of our clothes may have shrunk. Of course we ate so much, we may have also increased!
Tomorrow we will go to Cocos Island, and visit Talafofo Falls, and go back to Pacifico’s.