GUAM

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According to legend, the origin of the people of Guam resulted from a god of the past ages named Chaifi (Fire) who lived in Sasalaguan (Hell). Sasalaguan was a place where Chaifi made souls and used them as slaves. One day Chaifi built a very large fire in an open pit which suddenly exploded. In the confusion, one of the souls escaped and landed on the southern part of Guam. The soul turned into a rock, which softened as the rain fell thus transforming into a man. According to legend, the remnants of this rock is Funa (Rock), located a mile to the north of Umatac in Fouha Bay.

After exploring the island of Guam, the man found he did not like to be alone so he decided to make some companions for himself. He gathered up some red earth and water forming it into the shape of a man. He used the heat of the sun to give it a soul and then he made both men and women calling them children of the earth.

Chaifi, by this time, had found that one of his souls had escaped. He searched for it for many days and noticed a small child playing on the beach. Chaifi thought that this child was his lost soul and sent a big wave to destroy the child who consequently escaped as his soul had come from the sun. Chaifi then tried many other ways to destroy the child but was unsuccessful. This child became a man and told Chaifi that he could not destroy him or the many other souls on Guam as they had come from the sun. Chaifi had no power over souls from the sun and returned beaten to Sasalaguan.   

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ABOUT GUAM

         

Guam is the largest and most southern island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the western north Pacific Ocean, covering 212 square miles with a population of some 150,000 people. The most developed island in Micronesia, it serves as a transportation and communications hub and is regarded as the gateway to Micronesia. There is traffic congestion, fast food restaurants, large shopping centres, a university, lavish resort hotels and a large U.S. Military Base.

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map of Guam

Click on the map above for a larger and more detailed map

In contrast, southern Guam is made up of hills ranging in altitude up to 1,300 feet (Mt. Lamlam) and has sleepy villages, good sandy beaches and an abundance of butterflies and rainbows. The central and northern part of the island consists mainly of a limestone plateau with steep cliffs dropping down to a narrow coastal shelf.

 

HISTORY

The earliest inhabitants were the Chamorros who traced their origin to Indonesia and Malaysia. The islands fell to the Japanese shortly after the Pearl Harbour attack and was occupied by Japan until 1944. It was retaken by America and was made a United States territory.

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A wide variety of vines, shrubs and trees decorate the island giving it a lush tropical appearance and there are also many types of flowers. Today, small scale agriculture provides families and local markets in the capital Agana (now recently renamed back to its original Chamorro Hagatna), with pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, limes, avocados and melons, also cucumbers, green beans, squash, peppers and eggplants.

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Although Guam's lifestyle is increasingly Americanized, which means most modern conveniences can be found, the old Chamorro and Spanish traditions are retained and that translates into a very relaxed, gentle atmosphere.

INTERNATIONAL RESORT HOTELS

International resort hotels line the shores of Tumon Bay less than fifteen minutes from the Airport and shopping centre. Sea Charter Fishing is on hand and only a day's notice is needed to secure a boat charter which departs daily from Agana Boat Basin, Agat Marina or the charter pier in Merizo. Scuba equipment and snorkelling gear can be bought at duty free prices and if you are not interested in deep-sea fishing, you can rent scuba gear and go see the fish in their natural habitat on the coral reef.

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There are lots of small sail boats and catamarans for rent at most hotels and resorts. Guam is a shopper's paradise for the island has duty free status, which means you can pick up name brand merchandise and other items cheaper than in their country of origin.

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In 1969 Guam initiated its visa waiver program whereby citizens of more than a dozen countries are allowed entry to Guam without a visa for a period of up to 14 days. However travel onward to other U.S. points is not allowed.   

Guam waterfall

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Guam sunset
The above image is courtesy of In-Depth Photography,
Guam, and copyright © mpwarner.com

DIVE

Guam has an underwater world only recently discovered by visiting divers to be exceptional. The water is crystal clear, with 200 ft visibility being common place and you can expect to see coral gardens teeming with fish life, a unique blue hole and caverns.

There are several wrecks of historical importance here such as a Japanese Zero. Also, the remains of a Spanish Galleon, the world's largest side paddle-wheeler, and a 230 metre passenger liner were found layered on top of each other. You can also trace the remains of both World Wars at the double wreck of the Cormoran a WWI German Gunboat, and the Toka's Maru, a Japanese freighter from WWII.

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RECOLLECTIONS

Micronesia and the Crown of Thorns Starfish
 by Dr. Raymond McAllister
1/10/04
 
Guam

A major trip was mounted during the summer of 1965, when Roy Gaul, who was some sort of honcho at Westinghouse called and asked me if I'd be interested in a research project, in Micronesia, to find out the extent of the Crown of Thorns infestation in the SW North Pacific, often called, erroneously, the S Pacific. It would involve spending a summer in the Marianas and Caroline Islands. I WAS interested.

The Crown of Thorns starfish was an aberrant echinoderm in that it often had 16 arms. Echinoderms usually have pentameral symmetry; 5 arms or multiples of 5! The entire top of the starfish is covered with stout spines which are poisonous, injecting venom when compressed. A full grown Crown of Thorns may be 18 to 20 inches across and 12 to 15 inch starfish are common. They occur in various shades of red, purple, green, brown, orange, etc.

 The problem with this critter is that every so often it appears to have a major population explosion and it eats live coral, digesting every vestige of the organic matter in the calcium carbonate corallum. It is devastating to coral reefs, often reducing acres of coral to bleached white skeletons overnight (during an infestation).

 Soon I met the rest of our group in Guam where we organized teams and destinations. My group was headed by Dr. Bob Jones, a new Ph.D. from the Univ. of Hawaii. He was an ichthyologist. Our team included Rodney Struck, a young Navy man from Guam and a fourth member whom I cannot remember. While we were waiting for our transport we helped the divers of Guam, both from the Marianas Dive Shop in Agana and from the University of Guam, Dept. of Biological Sciences, or some such name. We would go out to the lee side of Guam, since the trade wind driven seas were broken by the island. There we would inject every Acanthaster planci that we saw with a few cc’s of formaldehyde into the central disc, avoiding the spines which were quite poisonous. The starfish would die and fall apart in a few days.

 The hypodermic needle was fabricated from a homemade spring loaded plunger fastened to a douche bag full of formalin. It was good for 50 or so starfish. We would work in teams along the border of the starfish infestation and a boatload would kill perhaps 1000 to 1500 starfish a day. We just about held the front of the advance until a B-50 loaded with live bombs went off the runway and into the water at the end of the island nearest us. The military closed the area because of the live bombs and we were unable to check the advance. When we heard about it we said “even God is on the side of Acanthaster planci”. By the time they had cleared the bombs and the crashed plane, the Crown of Thorns was on the windward side and because of the swells from the trade winds local divers were unable to contain them, for by then we were at our destinations, looking around other islands.

 While awaiting transport we also got acquainted with some of the professors and grad students at the University of Guam. I particularly remember a malacologist who had a WW II Quonset hut in which he lived. Most of the Quonset was occupied by thousands of egg cartons of shells which he had collected around Guam. He claimed to have almost every variation in size and color for each species. This meant that he had raped the reef for 20 to 50 of each, no doubt doing his bit toward extinction of some species.

 Another interesting experiment was staining the carbonate corallum of certain coral species by putting a bag with green dye in it over the coral for a day or so. When the bag was removed, a microscopic layer of green carbonate marked the day of the test. When he sacrificed the coral at a later date, the amount of carbonate beyond the green layer gave rates of growth.

Another interesting person we met there was Suzanne Johnsruud. She had married an American and they jointly owned property on the high hill (Tumon?) on Guam. She held a cookout for the project team, and now divorced, she had a fight with her boyfriend that night and to make him jealous, I suppose, asked me to accompany her on a visit to her property. We parked high on the hill overlooking much of Guam and I am sure she was coming on to me but I was married and nothing happened.

Guam Postcards and Picture Galleries

 
 

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  Guam Postcards and Picture Galleries 

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   Jane's Micronesia Home Page

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  Guam Travel and Accommodation Guide

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  Micronesia

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   Postcards from Micronesia

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  Jane's Oceania Home Page
 
 

(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 3rd December 2012)    

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