Guam is an ugly little town smeared across a chunk of paradise. It is mostly the suburbia to military slums- a mixture of plasticized, back-lit, and homogenous strip-malls and moldy block commercial and residential boxes bejeweled with tattered and dirty awnings. A high-end destination resort area of hotel high-rises and Johnny-come-lately name brand stores that command insane prices by their mere newness is at the center of it all, in seeming denial that the island exists as it does merely at the whim of the military industrial complex.
But I like it anyway.
The same smiling bellhops working for tips on the secure and inaccessible sides of the hotels are lounging next to the over-flowing dumpsters and chain-link corridors behind them, smoking and casting surly looks at non-residents. Insular groups of fair skinned and porcelain-white Japanese women with parasols and unlimited credit stroll down the sidewalks next to the storefronts, looking bored. Everywhere I visited the disdain for tourism seems as pervasive as the tourism itself.
And yet fifty feet away from these same hotel high-rises and moldy cement boxes is water so clear, so clean, so perfect of temperament, and so full of vibrant and animated marine life that the juxtaposition seems incongruous to the point of schizophrenia. Coral of infinite variation. Sea slugs and anemones. Schools of neon fish, striped fish, and fish that swim on their sides. Valleys running between ridges of coral, limestone boulders sitting on a bone-white gravel of marine skeletons down below. Body temperature water the salinity and ph of kitten’s tears.
I rented a car from a company that delivers cars directly to the port and then drove to the one big box store on the island for supplies - a laundry basket, felt stickies to silence my rattling room, K-cups for the bridge coffee maker, adhesive-backed hooks upon which to hang gear in my quarters, a snorkel and flippers, etc. It didn't take me long to find a locals’ beach away from the glitz and the military slums.
I sat at the beach and talked to Laura on my cellphone while I got the lay of the land. Big family of locals at the intersection of beach, cliff, and water to my right, empty stage and hotel down the beach to my left. Boat of tourists floating a mile out, dead ahead. I walked out through the water on a bed of carpeted reef about a quarter mile, then swam along its perimeter up toward the cliffs where the family of locals had set up camp. A thunderstorm passed over while I was in but I couldn't be bothered to get out. Neither did the locals, I noticed. I was in a fishtank, and it was friggin' awesome.
And then my two hours of dream-like exploration and meditation-aquatic were followed by rush hour traffic, bland and tasteless chicken, then a return to the ship and my source of income. I have a few souvenir coral pieces for Laura and coconut water for myself. I am glad I got back to the ship when I did, though- the sailing board had been moved up to 2300.
And then postponed to 0200. Then to 0300. Being my second cast-off on this boat, I tried to stay abreast of the changes and set my alarm each time- all to my detriment. The callout (“0230 for 0300, all hands”) was all I needed- I could have taken an uninterrupted sleep, instead. After removing and stowing the gangway net, raising the gangway, pulling in the fire-wire, taking on the tug line, stowing the rat guards, and throwing off the stern lines, I went to the bridge and drove us out.
This ship handles nicely, however, she has a spring-loaded wheel… something that will take some getting use to. It sounds like the transit into Shanghai takes 4 hours- plenty of time for me to do exactly that.
Currently underway, making way. Retard Clocks 1 hour tonight and tomorrow… in two days we’ll be 9 hours different than Seattle, 12 from Savannah. Fire and Boat drill tomorrow. Slop Chest open tomorrow. Draw for China tomorrow. Doing laundry now (I set an alarm so I can snooze while I do it… which is exactly my next move).
All for now. Out.