• Road Map of Guam

    Four years ago I returned to Guam for the first time since I left at age 6. I was returning to my childhood, re-introducing myself to family and meeting some for the first time. I was also on a research trip, collecting oral histories surrounding my grandfather's store.

    As soon as I arrived my Uncle Roland was eager to help me with my work. Roland had worked as a courier for a law firm on the island for over twenty years. He knew every route on the island, and he claimed that for at least the last ten of those years he was slowly losing his eyesight and still driving. He became my navigator. Riding shotgun with his retractible cane Uncle Roland would guide me around Guam, interspersing directions with family gossip, island history, and his own philosophies. The following is a transcription of our first outing paired with snap shots I took of our travels.

  • I was off-roading up in the hills right across from Uncle Mike's beach, and the sword grass was tall, so I was making my own trail, and then something went BAM! And I'm like, "what the hell was that?" So I got down and I had to, you know, get through the grass: it was a refrigerator. Aw, man, dump this here? It’s kind of a problem all over Micronesia, like, junk cars. Surplus junk cars here in Guam are usually collected and sold to China for recycling, but the other islands in Micronesia, like Yap, Chuk, I'm not sure about Palau. Palau is like the upper class of the Micronesians and (Is there a base there in Palau?) Where, in Palau? I'm not sure. Never been there, but it's great for diving. Tank diving. Scuba diving.

  • (We're in Agana by the way.) Where Chief Kepuha's at? We're going straight up, past that? (The crypts are on the right.) The Veteran's cemetery? (Yeah.) Oh, no- that's Pago Cemetery your talking about. We're in Agana, or Anigua, part of Agana. There's a civilian cemetery there, Pigu cemetery. I think we should pick up Shawnel first, cause if we get caught in traffic to go to Tamuning then to Chalan Pago we're gonna be late, and Shawnel can be a real bitch. (Laughing) She can. She used to throw stuff at her mom and yell at her. (When she was younger?) Oh yeah, growing up.

    One day we were in the van and we were going somewhere and it was me, Bing, Shawnel and Lani and we stopped by the store, and she's going, ‘Mom let me have some money, let me have some money’ and I go, 'here Shawnel' and I give her some money. When she came back out I saw she bought everything for herself, so I was teasing her when she got back into the van, ' Did you get anything for me?' you know, I wasn't expecting anything. She just got quiet…and then she screamed. She just kept screaming like she was getting attacked by a grizzly bear. That's the first time I ever experienced her like that. Freaked me out.

  • Up ahead is the post office? We can go past it and make a U-turn and go back to the traffic light. I wanna keep you on the main roads. Right? You see the post office? (No.) On the right side here? (No. There's a carpet store) It's right behind the ITC building, the post office. (Oh, yeah!) So you want to make a left. Yeah, so that's the International Trade Center, it's called the ITC building. (Oh, I see it) Up here if you go straight on the left it's the Guam Premiere Outlet, they call it GPO. It's like a mall. A lot of expensive stuff, designer brands, stuff like that. A theater, a couple of theaters. Food court.

    Okay we're going up three traffic lights and you'll see Pizza Hut on the right, you're gonna want to move to the left turn lane, cause we're gonna go left on Watkins road and head up to- did you make that right turn at Chief Kapua? (No! I've been on the 1!) Oh no, Micki, are we lost? If we didn't go up to snake road and Naval hospital we're headed for Chalan Pago. (I think I know which way to take because I need to take a right, right?) Cause Route 4 starts at Chief Kapua. Did we pass Chief Kapua? (Yeah, we passed it back there.) We're in Tamuning. We're in Tamuning! Micki, we need to turn around, cause I don't want to take you on any side roads, then we're gonna get lost.

  • (It's kind of funny how there are Pizza Huts everywhere) Yeah. (Pizza Hut, McDonalds, but I think I see more Pizza Hut's then anything.) They're all controlled by the Calvo family. One of the richest families here on Guam. One of the most powerful. One of the sons is running for governor. But there are also a lot of rich people from Hong Kong that have moved here to Guam. Made Guam their home.

    Back in the day Hong Kong was under the UK flag. The British flag. And then Hong Kong was turned, given back to China. Yeah, and the Chinese that were in Hong Kong didn't want to be under the Chinese Republic, so they moved out and came here. Here and Australia. But you know there's no place like home, so they're always going back and forth, back and forth. I'm not sure how far Hong Kong is from here.

  • We’re going down the hill. This is lower Afame, Sinajana, on the left. Ordot. They call it Ordot Chalan Pagu. Like one village, but it's actually two. Every village has a church. You have to ask Zac about the names of the churches. He's the expert. Zachary. He's got a thing for collecting statues, has he showed it to you? I bought him a seventy dollar Saint Jude statue one time. He ordered it from South America. You know he's not really a devout Catholic, but he's really into it. The praying, the nobenas, going to church. He's part of the Christian Mothers for God's sake. They’re an organization of senior ladies.

    They go around, say Fatima, nobenas and other stuff, it's a catholic group. Zac hangs out with them at church, singing and praying. He likes that. In fact he’s caused a lot of the older techas- do you know what that means? (It's the woman that leads the nobenas) Men or women. There’s a lot of men techas now. Zachary's young and he's good. He sings good. He's loud. He presents himself well. And the older ones are like, ‘Who the hell does this young kid think he is? Getting in into our turf?’ He's gotten popular. He's got clients! During the holiday season, people call him up, ‘Can you do my Nobena? Can you do my Nobena?’ and he gets, like, money. They're not supposed to pay, but people will force it into his pocket. This last holiday season he was stressing out. He had one in Agat and then 5 minutes later he needs to go down to another place, he's got a schedule, and sometimes he's late and he's like, ‘Sorry I'm late! Sorry I'm late!', and they’re like, 'Oh, that's okay’. Everyone treats him like a priest. It's like he's a rock star. He likes that. (We’re here.)

  • I think we're on time right? Jon is like, he loves Zac, but he's always putting him down for his, ah, alternate lifestyle, all the statues, even your mom called up and was like, ‘Zachary are you turning protestant? Why are you buying all those statues?’ I don't know what that meant. Your mom’s kind of naive. You know she was sheltered growing up so she's kind of ignorant to a lot of stuff.

    One day Norma and I were talking at your house. She's had a really pretty wild life so we were talking sex. Your mom'd joined us and the conversation went to the cresta, which is the Chamorro word for the clitoris. Your mom was like ‘What's that?’ Norma goes ‘Darling, you don't know what your- what the clitoris is?’ Your mom says, ‘Cresta, what's that? I don't know what that is.’ We started cracking up. My poor cousin she was so sheltered at home she was ignorant to that. She just missed out on a lot of stuff, things that your grandmother never talked to her about. You know, being a woman. Because there's a lot more to know about women than there is to know about men. You know, men eat, have sex and that's it. But a woman is more complicated. And I respect that about women. I believe in women's rights and all that stuff. I'm a liberal.