A Travel Blog By: Maile Norman
Hafa Adai from Guam! One of the things I enjoy about working for a planning firm that specializes in projects in the Pacific region is the opportunity to travel. I am thrilled that I FINALLY got to visit Guam and even dip my toes into the waters of the Philippine Sea during a recent HHF Planners work trip. My parents met, fell in love, and were married on Guam. They often speak fondly of their time on the island and now I understand why. Guam is a beautiful place and filled with warm, welcoming people. There certainly were things that have changed since my parent’s time on Guam…like the mini-Waikiki that lines Tumon Bay, complete with luxury shopping and fine dining restaurants. The future will likely bring more changes with the U.S. Marine Corps relocation. But, there are a few things that seem to remain the same and substantiate the stories that my Dad would tell me growing up. Below are some unique Guam characteristics that have stood the test of time:
- Spectacular Marine Life: Guam lives up to its reputation of having some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling. My planning team had the opportunity to stop by Fish Eye Marine Park at Piti Bay. The Fish Eye pier and observatory were not around during my parent’s time. Still, this protected marine preserve is one of the many great places to view the abundant coral and marine life Guam offers.
- Fiestas: Fiestas are celebrations usually tied to a village’s patron saint. Food is an integral part of the celebration and the dishes exemplify Guam’s diversity. Fina’denne’, a salty, spicy, sour, all-purpose condiment used in Chamorro cuisine, is a staple at fiestas. My Mom often made this delicious dipping sauce to complement our meat and rice dinners. My Dad claims he avoided starvation during his 20’s by attending every village’s fiesta. My planning team and I were even invited to a fiesta during our trip. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t permit attending…maybe next time.
- Latte Stone: Latte stone structures are unique to the Mariana Islands and serve as a symbol of Chamorro strength, pride, and survival. These impressive structures were used to elevate houses and gathering spaces. It is estimated that Chamorros stopped building traditional latte structures around B.P. 300. Many latte sites were destroyed or abandoned following the Spanish colonization of the Mariana Islands beginning in 1668. Remaining latte sites are protected by local and federal law.
- Karabao: Karabao or carabao are water buffalo that roam Guam and can be spotted grazing grass along roadways. The karabao were introduced to Guam from the Philippines for farming during the Spanish occupation. These massive animals are considered a national symbol of Guam. My planning teammates visited the large population residing at the U.S. Naval Magazine.
- Beaches: We didn’t get around to all the beaches on the island, but I did manage to find a few favorites. I could spend all day at Gab Gab Beach located at Naval Base Guam. There is even an open ocean pool on the east side of Gab Gab Beach which reminds me of the open ocean pools common to Sydney, Australia.
- Two Lovers Point: This landmark is a spot my parents frequented often. I was able to gaze at this point from my hotel balcony each day.
My planning team and I are looking forward to our next Guam trip! Adios!
See our last HHF Planners’ Travel Blog on sustainability in Hong Kong here.