Archive for September, 2006

A few words from Davis.

“Dad, let’s go email Maggie and Dan and tell them I can swim now!”  These are words Davis uttered as he climbed out of the deep end.  Formerly, the forbidden territory, Davis has worked on his floating/swimming so now he can navigate the scary depths of the pool.  Three weeks with a swimming pool has paid off.  Our stay ends next weekend.  I’ll be sad to leave the place now.  

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Try them, try them, and you’ll see….

Since I haven’t written in a week, I’ll post 2 installments today.  This past weekend in our quest to try something new and different each weekend, we went jet skiing.  After 20 days of watching the Japanese tourists outside our window ride them, we finally took the plunge.  Pretty cool.  If you can get by the noise and occassional smell of petrol, they’re pretty fun.  I rode with Davis, Gwen with Elli and big boy Alex got to ride all by himself.  30 minutes of speed and spray.  Davis and I had a blast, gunning in on occasion and holding on for our lives.  Davis couldn’t contain himself and asked for more.  Alex got the hang of it and would like to save his money now to buy one.  On his allowance, he’ll be 32 before he can afford it.

Bali or Palau?  That’s the big question.  We’ve decided to stay put on Thanksgiving and take a trip during the Christmas break.  Continental Micronesia offers specials with airfare  and 3 or 4 nights at a resort for $400-500 per person.  We hear the coral and fish are the best in Palau, but Bali offers so much culture as well.  Both will have great food.  I’m sure we’ll go to both during our time here.

Gwen is job searching, getting her resume in shape and trying to figure out if environmental consulting or something else would be right.  She’ll start some informational interviews with contacts we’ve made or knew about before we arrived.  I think her first will be with Dave Schilling’s dad’s wife’s brother’s wife.  Got it?  She’s the general manager at a country club.  I’m crossing my fingers.

A house of one’s own.

We’ve signed a lease on a cute home in Mangilao (ma nee laow). Mangilao is just outside the capital of Agana which means we’ll have a short drive to the commercial/resort area and my office. Only 1.5 miles to the office. Sweet commute. The kids soccer fields are only 500 yards from my office too. We chose this house because it had a great neighborhood feel with mostly locals. It’s tucked at the end of a gravel road with dense foliage including the most beautiful palm tree. The leaves fan from the top of the trunk in a massive semicircle. I’d show you a pic but my camera is on the blink. Turns out my friend Danzel who bit the octopus has an uncle 2 doors down. Lots of kids in the neighborhood too. The house has a great set of air conditioners with split units (big suckers that can keep several rooms cool) and individual window units in each bedroom. This way, we can control what we cool and keep electrical costs down. Even with the control, we can expect $300-400 per month in electricity costs. It has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. Carport for 2 cars, a nice covered patio, and grass! The grass will be welcome after living on the concrete and sand here. The 4th bedroom has been made a studio with bath. Anyone coming to visit can stay there. We’ll use it as an office and homework area, i.e. no TV. A few days ago, we went over to dinner at Don and Terry’s. They are here on assignment too. He’s the chief engineer for the Water Works group, and has been here for over a year. He’s a public health service officer and thus gets a nice housing allowance. The rented a gorgeous home on the beach. Gwen and I had some regrets about our home, but it was the right choice for us. Their beach house was way out of town and would mean 20-30 minute drives to everything. With school and homework, the kids don’t get much free time as it is.

We have 10 days remaining in our condo. I’m sad about leaving here, but ready to have all our stuff…the beautiful couches and lovely garage sale furniture. Actually, I just want my soccer cleats and the VCR. Need to tape Survivor and the early morning NFL games that start at 3am on Monday. I know, simple man, simple needs.

Can you say octopus?

Today was a good day. The fellas at work decided to take the 23′ boat out to show me around the island. Six of us headed to Apra Harbor, the main commercial port that is also shared by the Navy. Protected by a long breakwater, it’s a natural deep port with dry dock for ship repair, a very large military boat filled with war supplies for quick deployment, and a coral reef smack dab in the middle of the harbor. We launched in the harbor and went out to open water and hugged the coastline for about an hour. We saw seagulls of various types collecting near the water and headed over with the fishing rods on the boat ready for a catch. Apparently, tuna swim these waters. No luck though. We toured some more and headed back in the harbor for a quick swim and test of the new battery operator propellors. These they use to fight the currents when collecting water samples off shore. Nifty little machines like James Bond used in a few of his movies.  The boat captain, Danzel, disappeared for 5 minutes and came back with an octopus on his spear.  After we examined it a bit, he isolated the brain and bit it.  It died instantly.  Here I am holding it up.

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It only got up to 90 degrees today.

Day 12, not that I’m counting really. I have to keep track of expenses for food and groceries because I will be reimbursed for most of it for the first 30 days. Thank you Guam EPA! It was the kids’ second day at school and their first riding the big bus. The school bought a Greyhound Touring bus. It costs a bit of money per month, but the principal gave us a free pass for Sept. It’s been an adjustment for the kids all around. For instance, I helped Elli tonight with her homework which included memorizing a scripture. John 14:6 for those in the know. From the uniforms, hot lunches, loud buses, calling the teachers “sir” and “teacher”, pretty much everything is different…except the kids themselves. Alex’s classmates could not believe he didn’t have a gameboy or xbox. They asked him “what on earth do you do for fun?” We had a good chuckle.

We are officially the Orange Crushers family. The OCs is a club that has a soccer team for all ages, like a football club in Europe. Alex and Elli had their first real practice tonight which went really well since it wasn’t scorching hot. Good thing we got on the field too. We’ve been getting news that Sasquatch and the former Jelly Beans are undefeated. We’ve been itching to play, and love hearing about the games. Keep it coming. Thanks.

It was my first real day at work. Read alot and mingled with coworkers, asking them lots of questions about their work and the environmental issues on the island. Like many small governments, they struggle with resources and here on island, there is a lack of skilled professionals to take on the jobs. Guam EPA would like to institute a good recycling program to ease the burden on the landfills, but the culture needs some changing first. Gwen and I can’t bear to throw recyclables away, so we just store them. We can make a special run to the recycling center later, they just won’t come pick it up. I guess we’re well trained.

Gwen got her first taste of being home alone while the rest of us were in school or at work. She was still busy, but was able to get a haircut. Looks great too. Her job search will start soon too. I think she may be drawn back to environmental work. I’m still holding out for her to get a job at Continental (for the free flights).

As we look at the school calendar, we’re starting to plan our first vacation off island. We may hit Palau in November, and perhaps Bali over xmas. In the meantime, we plan on doing Guam stuff each weekend. I’m trying to get the kids more comfortable snorkeling, going farther out each time. Alex can even become a junior certified diver if he warms up to it. Next weekend, it’s jet skiing.

Here’s a pic of Sunday’s outing at Tarza Waterpark, about 5 minutes away in Tumon Bay where all the big resorts are. It’s really a Waikiki crawling with Japanese tourists.

That’s Elli if you couldn’t tell.

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Alex Gets A Haircut

Today we registered the kids at a school. After much hemming and hawing, changing our minds, and tears from some, we enrolled the kids at a small 7th Day Adventist School. We wrote the big check and learned all the rules for going to a private religious school. We spent a bunch more money setting them up with uniforms, gym suits, school supplies and the hot lunch program. We are happy so far with the choice but it will be an adjustment for all of us from the laid-back family-friendly fabulous UCoop.

Gwen

Before and After

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The Woman’s Perspective

Gwen, here. Finally voicing my thoughts on our new two year life on Guam. Have you read that book The Sex Lives of Cannibals? Well, luckily Guam is not like Kiribati. There are plenty of modern conveniences to enjoy along with the sun and the beach.

My limited observations on Guam so far are:

  • they don’t recycle much here – I am having a hard time throwing the plastic drink bottles and yogurt containers in the trash
  • People are very friendly and helpful
  • Even though it is extremely hot, people wear pants and long sleeved shirts
  • Pasty-skinned white people can get fried in about 30 minutes if not wearing sunscreen
  • Boys don’t have long hair in Guam
  • All kids wear uniforms to school-public and private.
  • there aren’t as many brown tree snakes as there once where (thank goodness), we haven’t seen one yet albeit we spend most of our time by the pool
  • If you want to see the jungle and a brown tree snake then you should hook up with the local boonie stompers and take a hike into the jungle-we hope to head out on some of those hikes soon
  • When you shop for a house, make sure it includes accordian -style typhoon shutters
  • And you can’t tell if a restaurant is any good from the outside or even peering in the window cause so many places are holes in the wall- you just have to go in and try it.
  • the food is great, we haven’t had a bad meal yet!

More observations later!