Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goodbye Guam

Our farewell weekend was one of celebrations. We had fun in the sun with great company. Our good friends, the Ramirez family, the Simmons family and the Harris, were able to join us for a weekend stay at the PIC.

I also scored the best sauce recipe on the island from Mr. Vitale who owns and operates Vitales Italian Ristorante! I have been going there for 3 years and asking him to pass on his recipe to me when I leave. He finally succumbed to the barraging requests.

Our weekend was a very special one but very sad. We did not want to say goodbye to our friends or to Guam. Our time on Guam was one of continuous goodbyes but we are so thankful for the friends that we've made along the way. There's something about making a connection with someone and then finding out that your time is limited. It forces you to get to know someone quickly, that's for sure!
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Our first year we said goodbye to our friends and neighbors, the Browns. Our carports connected and we would meet outside to chat, cook on the grill and just hang out. We did boonie stomps together, had birthday parties together, shared holidays and learned how to play mexican train from them!
We said goodbye to the Pattons on the second year. They were our neighbors as well but lived a few houses down from us. Theresa was there for me in the middle of the night when I went into labor with Ryland. She came down to the house in a flash to watch the boys so Chris could drive me to the hospital.
Now it's our turn to say goodbye. We took trips with the Ramirez and Simmons families to Hong Kong. That was a memorable trip and we all had a blast. A few months later the girls took a trip to Thailand and then to Yap. We celebrated holidays and birthdays together.
Our neighbors, the Harris family had daughters Isabel and Jojo that were like the daughters that I don't have. Last year it was the summer of Isabel. She and Logan were attached at the hip!
We count ourselves as blessed because of all the wonderful families that God hand picked for us. Each one made our time on Guam a blast and I know that we will all be lifelong friends.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yap Trip

Let me just start by saying this trip was FREE! My friend, Dot won a free trip to Yap for two back in October at an MWR (military lingo for Morale, Welfare, Recreation) travel fair. Her hubs did not want to go besides the fact that they would have paid airfare for their four kids plus lodging. So she asked me to go and let's just say I didn't take long to ponder on the decision!

We left Guam and arrived in Yap but it was dark out so we were not able to see much. We walked down the stairs from the plane and there was this little building which was the airport. We were herded into a line for customs but as we were waiting someone was holding up a sign with our names. We were shuffled passed the customs line, greeted with the most beautiful leis (presented by young topless girls...not kidding!) and into a dark waiting room. I didn't think much of it at the time until I stepped out of the room to take a picture of the airport. The man that was in the room with us serving drinks jumped up to escort me out. As soon as I stepped out of the room there was almost a hush over the crowd of people waiting for their loved ones. All eyes on the strange white lady with the camera. I snapped and dashed back into the room. I had heard stories about the yapese people that they are very protective of their tradition. They are also a very suspicious people. There is fighting between the different villages even today. If you walk through a village other than your own you had better carry a blade of grass with you to show that you mean no harm. Those entering the village empty handed are looking for trouble.

After a short wait our escort for the trip, Al (the owner of the place we were staying, the Village View) showed up with his friend. We made arrangements to meet up with his friend to discuss the package that we would choose for diving/snorkeling. I didn't understand why we just did not discuss it right there but just followed along. I learned real quick that we were headed to a bar. Ugh. Just where I wanted to be. It's not bad enough that I was sticking out there like a sore thumb but now I'm entering the land of drinkers with inhibitions out the window! When we arrived to an open bar/shack with a dj on a stage and a dirt dance floor there were plenty of stares and even an invitation to dance. Yay me. I did my best to remain calm and act nonchalant but inside I was praying hard! We finally left and arrived at our final destination. It was a row of houses set right on the beach. The water at high tide literally crashed under the deck right below us. The moon shown brightly on the water and it was just a beautiful sight. We were very thankful to have arrived safely and got some shut eye.

The next morning we awoke to the soothing sounds of the ocean. Ah what a sound. If I could live out my life right there, I would be a happy woman. We walked across the dirt road to the only eating establishment within 30 miles, the MoonRize cafe. It was completely open with nature as it's decor. Breakfast was rice, scrambled eggs and spam. What more could you ask for? We spent the day relaxing and walking around the village. Each village has a man hut where the men go to get away from the wives (or so we're told!) and to share the stories that were passed on to them.

There are ancient stone paths set up from village to village around the island so we decided to take a stroll up the path....or I did....Dot was a bit hesitant to go off into the woods on a strange island....I don't know why?? ;-P Needless to say, we made it back safely.

The next day Al took us around by van. There are little stores set up with a few items around the island. They are set up like a small food stand in the states where you stand on the outside of it and tell them what you want. We got to see a lot of stone money which is Yap's currency. It's used more for tradition now or trading of land. The stone money was brought over from Palau to use for trading. We stopped at a spot where they continue the tradition of making the canoes out of giant logs.

That same day we went to Colonia, the capitol of Yap. Dot got a massage at a local hotel and I got a foot massage. I think Thailand has ruined me for massages after the 3 hour massage I got there. Um, no thanks, not doing that again. While I was waiting for Dot to finish I took a stroll out by the pool and who did I run into but Nick, my neighbor from Guam!! He's a captain of a Coast Guard ship and had pulled into port for the night. It was comforting to have someone we knew there after our little bar excursion the night before!

The next day we enjoyed a day out on the boat. We went snorkeling at a few different spots and I saw an octopus! Definitely the highlight of my morning. That afternoon Al took us to his daughter's school to watch the children practice their traditional dances in costume for their upcoming graduation ceremony. We had such a blast and I made friends with the local kids. They got a great kick out of the digital camera and the fact that I could take video of them and play it back.
Our time in Yap was short but sweet. We were able to truly get an appreciation for the Yapese culture. Being there felt like I was back in time 100 years ago. But the best part of the trip was spending quality time with a good friend, a lifelong friend, Dot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still here

So I bet you thought that I have fallen off the blogging train. Well I haven't. I have just moved from one side of the world to the other. A lot goes along with a move but when you've grown accustomed to a certain way of living, ISLAND living, everything else is just overwhelming. I've spent my time unpacking and occasionally venturing out into the great city called MEMPHIS. I've got restaurants coming out the wazoo and shopping, oh my, let's just say that a trip to Wal-mart nearly brought me to tears with all the choices. We've had visits from some of our dearest relatives and met some new friends. There are photos documenting everything but I just haven't had my external hard drive to load them on. Now that are second shipment has arrived with the hard drive we've noticed problems with the computer so it's going to be a little while longer. I appreciate your patience and once my blog is up and running, it will be well worth the wait when I continue dictating my adventures.