Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Going, going, Guam, part 1 of 4

On 10/12/11, I flew the three hours from Maryland to Houston. Then six hours to Honolulu. Then seven hours to Guam. Then 10 minutes from the airport to a hotel, but that was by car. All told, it is the farthest away I’ve ever been.

And naturally, that means that I am experiencing a world unlike any I’ve seen before.

This two-week engagement will include presentations at 26 schools, a library talk, a teen writing workshop, a teacher workshop, two radio interviews, and the filming of a PBS public service announcement to encourage reading. Plus snorkeling and, time permitting, learning how to husk a coconut.

However, my hosts scheduled no presentations for my first full day; instead, they toured me around the island from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. That was a long day and the island is relatively small (30 miles long, 12 miles wide at its widest), but there were still areas I was left wanting to see.

Here are highlights of what I have seen/done so far:

My warm (and well-attended) airport welcome!

The warm welcome (print edition).
I love the Guam slogan “Where America’s Day Begins.”
I also love their confidence in believing I will make a difference.

Two Lovers Point is the legendary site of an ancient young couple
who tied their hair together and jumped from a cliff
rather than be forced apart by the societal rules of the time.

The island is lousy with abandoned Japanese bunkers from WWII.
You can even enter some—no admission fee, no safety barricade,
no accompanying gift shop. Also no light and no guarantee that
you won’t encounter something creepy-crawly.

One of only two (or possibly three) prewar homes still standing
on the island (which was heavily bombed during WWII).

Before the Japanese and Americans (but after the native Chamorros),
the Spanish occupied Guam. Remnants of a lavish palace complex
still stand, though much of it is in disrepair.

This is a “chocolate house.” No, chocolate was not made inside.
People would go there for the equivalent of afternoon tea.
Today, it is home to a homeless person, whose shopping carts
and sleeping bag were strategically not visible to take this photo.

Above the doors of this bunker are three Japanese symbols
(whose meaning I don’t know), plus a fallout shelter sign.

Appropriate timing: I got to see this and other WWII-era
Japanese artifacts within two weeks of going public with my pitch
for my nonfiction picture book involving a WWII Japanese pilot.

I did an hourlong radio interview (though two others were part of it,
so luckily for whoever was listening, I didn’t talk the whole time).

Magellan landed here.

These 17th century Spanish church ruins are the
oldest manmade structure on Guam.

My hosts think these trees inspired Dr. Seuss, who was apparently
on Guam during or shortly after the war.

Carabao, a kind of domesticated water buffalo, graze the island
(under care of humans). This one, his owner, and I became fast friends.

More scenery:

On 10/15/11, I was the speaker at the International Reading Association Guam Council meeting.

The audience of more than 150 was hearty and fun. You can see that I have repurposed the name of my presentation. You can also see that they weren’t kidding when they said I’d be signing a lot of books; this is a partial showing:

And this was only the first presentation day of two weeks.

This time of year, the sun sets around 6 p.m. on Guam, which is far earlier than I was anticipating.

But just as gorgeous as I was anticipating.

Part 2.


Sandy Brehl said...

Great shots and comments. Not only did you void the shopping carts in the pix, there is nary a sign of a snail!
Enjoy a remarkable opportunity.

Liza Martz said...

Wow, I never knew Guam was so gorgeous. How cool you'll be there for two weeks, what an adventure!