I can’t believe our vacation is half over by this point. We head over across the street and down a block to McDonald’s, where they have local additions to the typical McDonald’s fare, including rice, Portuguese sausage and Spam. I think my husband and son enjoy 5 breakfast sandwiches between the two of them. We head back to the hotel to get the car. We are going to Cocos Island today!
Cocos Island is a day resort: a tiny island off the southern coast of Guam. In the past, there were overnight bungalows as in Tahiti, but a typhoon destroyed them. So now it’s just a day resort. We are trying to catch the 9:45am Ferry. Thankfully, we receive the local discount to get across. It’s not very far at all, it even feels a little bit silly to be leaving a beautiful island for a teeny tiny dinky one. But even Guamanians like to go. It’s where they go on their birthdays when they want to get “off island.” They go to Cocos Island.
Once we dock, we queue at the cashier to pay our fare, and buy our marine activity coupons. This is a tourist destination, and I suppose it makes it easier to just pay all at once at the window, then go to the counters and kiosks to schedule activities. We sign up for parasailing, jet skiing, and ocean snorkel. Other options include banana boating, Seawalking, snuba and scuba diving. I’m scheduled for parasailing first, but the wind changes and they delay me until after our snorkel, as well as require a second rider with me in tandem. Hubby steps up. Yay! He gets his jetski and takes Dear Son, Dear Daughter, and I out in turns. My parents just watch. After the jetskiing, I take the kids to the beach where dear daughter collects shells. We are careful not to disturb any hermit crabs. We wade in the cool clear pleasant water and it starts to rain on us. Nothing major. We continue. Mom and Hubby go back to the cashier for some food coupons. We buy lunch of hot dogs, fries, and burgers. Then it’s time to snorkel.
We take a small motorized boat to this platform. It is super loud and crazy, this is the site for scuba diving and Seawalking, as well, at this time. Hubby and I did scuba diving fourteen years ago, we thought that the snorkel would be most family-friendly. The dude asks if we have been snorkeling before. Hubby and I say yes, but not the kids. They pretty much give us our equipment and help us off the platform, then we are on our own. The Seawalkers and scuba divers have dedicated guides. Seawalkers are these large weighted helmets that have an air line to a tank on the platform. So you walk along the ocean bottom and feed fish. We are comfortable enough as we are, there’s a ton of multicolored fish in the clear waters, and an enormous reef or whatever. The kids are loving it, but dear daughter is literally hanging on to me. She has one arm across the back of my neck and I am feeling all 50+ lbs of her weighing me down. We switch kids and now I’m with Dear Son, who’s doing fine. We have drifted further away from the platform than I like, the girl is again holding on to me while dear hubby finds her wayward flipper. I note dear son’s vest is floating up over his shoulders and I want to head back to readjust. But I have the girl clinging to me and I can only swim with one arm, so this is taking a long time and I’m frustrated. I give the girl back to dear hubby and bring the boy back to the platform to get readjusted. I also request a line, hello, so we can pull ourselves in next time. He gives me a long line with an inner tube on the end, Hallelujah! Now Dear Daughter can hold on to it, instead of me! We both hold on to the handles on this tube, and I’m suddenly having a much better time. Hubby gets a bottle of fish food, and we take turns feeding the fish below us. They swarm around us and dear daughter delights aloud, we can hear her muffled squeals of delight through her snorkel. It really is super cool. They’re are plenty of Dory’s, but my favorite is the skinny red and blue and silver fish, they are two stripes’ height: one silver and one blue/ red. Our time is over too soon, and the girl loses a flipper again. A staff diver comes, but hubby has retrieved it already. And we’re back on the platform, ready to boat back to the Cocos dock.
Parents and kids now watch as hubby and I get on another little boat with another couple. They are Japanese and do not speak to us. They go up first, together. Their ride is a suitable length of time, and then the captain says the wind has changed and now we have to go up separately. I don’t mind but hubby hadn’t wanted to do it in the first place, he only went with me this time because 1) they said I needed another, and 2) it was free for him. (We’d both gone before, fourteen years ago, but he said he didn’t feel very safe, as a bigger guy, there’s just this little harness.) So I volunteer to go next.
And I love it! The sky is blue and the sun is shining. Talk about a bird’s eye view. Usually I’m looking at a map of Guam on a piece of paper. Right now I can see the coast of my island to one side, and Cocos Island on the other. I am but a dot on the map. On the globe. I offer silent prayers of gratefulness and exclaim my delight aloud. Time is irrelevant as I float in the calm. We are not even moving, the wind keeps me up and stable. I love it. I gaze toward my beloved island, and to my surprise I hear myself exclaim aloud: I’m home.
My time is over and they reel me in. I’m basking in the sun’s love. When they reel in my husband, they dunk him in the water a bit. He smiles. The Japanese couple gives us thumbs-up’s, and we reciprocate. The woman says “Nice.” The boat brings us back to our family. And then it’s time to ferry back to Guam. We are the only ones on this ferry that seats sixty. The captain’s radio plays Morris Day and the Time. (the Bird.)
Now we head back to the village of Talofofo. We are so looking forward to seeing Talofofo Falls. Another beautiful spot in God’s Country, plus this is the site of Yokoi’s cave. We spot a wild pig in the bushes near the parking lot. After the entrance fee, we walk past small county-festival type kiddie rides that are clearly not in use. There are not too many visitors, as we are touring again in the heat of the afternoon! Ai Adai! (Chamorro for Ay Karumba!/ Oy Vey!) We begin with the cable ride over the two waterfalls. The little cars are not air conditioned, and the windows do not open, for safety. So there are plastic fans cabled to the sides. So funny. Fanning ourselves, old school, we marvel at the glory of these double waterfalls. Soon we walk alongside the water, and we are able to get really close in some places. There are many picturesque moments, and two suspension bridges so we can enjoy the beauty from many vantage points. The safety railings are bamboo and half steel. The concrete, where paved, is rough. We are in the jungle, after all. It’s sweltering hot as we trek to Yokoi’s cave. There is railing over one side, and the terrain is slightly treacherous. I don’t feel that any of us are in any danger, but we marvel at the moderate “safety.” We are in Guam. Through the jungle and nearer to another spot on the Talofofo River, is the cave. The cavesite is labeled but there is a barricade. We see only an open bamboo covering to a hole in the ground. There are many photos, paintings (of the underground cave layout/ design), placards in Japanese, even an altar to Buddha and candles. It is amazing to think someone lived here, undetected for 28 years. For the Japanese, it’s a site of national pride. Back nearer the falls, is a welcome, air conditioned mini-museum of continuous murals depicting indigenous Chamorros, Magellan’s “Discovery” of Guam (Don’t get us started!), Spanish colonization, Spanish-American War, becoming an American Territory in 1898, World War II and Japanese occupation, American Liberation. Exhausted, we make our way back to the car.
After freshening up at our hotel, we head to Pacifico’s. This is the party they are having for us on the third floor. We are late arriving, but they don’t mind. Neighbors and friends are also there, and three of my cousins. It’s wonderful and we enjoy more homemade red rice, smoked beef, fried chicken, special potato salad (it’s like egg salad and potato salad combined with sliced olives. Crazy but it tastes so awesome!) titiyas, and more. And for dessert, there is this amazing French toast casserole. Dear daughter falls asleep on my husband, and does not move for an hour. The kind neighbors listen to my tale of my quest for the special oil; they haven’t seen it available, however. My big, strong Chamorro Warrior of a husband carries the sleeping California girl down the five flights of stairs as we leave.
Tomorrow we will go to the amazingly beautiful Two Lovers Point, see my Auntie for lunch, see the Three Generations statue, and enjoy a dinner with my mother’s childhood friend who is now a Guam Senator.