October 10, 2013 – Guam
Welcome to Guam! Hafa Adai, is Chomorran (the indigenous people of Guam) for hello, but the guide says it is “half a day” for the length of time they work around here.
Unfortunately, it is raining hard with no let up in sight – but we venture out to see Guam. Guam was discovered by Magellan in 1521, and maintained a Spanish control until 1898, when it transferred to the United States as a territory, as a result of the Spanish American War.
Ruins of Spanish Fort Soledad, on a point near the landing place of Magellan.
Near the end of the war, when the Americans retook Guam, Shoichi Yokoi, a Seargent in the Japanese Army, made a decision to hide out rather than commit suicide or be captured, believing that the Japanese would return, and he would rejoin the fight. He eventually dug a cave in a bamboo thicket, and lived in the cave for 28 years until he was discovered and captured by local hunters. He returned to Japan and lived until he was 82, dying in 1997. During the latter part of his life he returned several times to Guam, and made a connection with a man, Jeff Pleadwell, owner of Jeff’s Pirate Cove, a bar on the coast near his hiding place. He told Jeff that at night he could hear the music and laughter coming from the bar.
This is the first island that we have visited which experienced a troop invasion in WWII, and for the first time I realized that a fairly large number of the passengers on the ship are WWII veterans, as they all had their hats and shirts on, identifying their service. I think many of them came on this voyage specifically to reconnect with their service in the war and the places they served.
Back home, the government shut down goes on, and you would think it doesn’t affect us here, but not so. All of the WWII memorial sites on Guam were closed, not even allowing the flags to be raised, even though most of them have no personnel, just a statue or plaque – the parking lots were chained, with a sign advising that due to the shut down, they were closed – a real shame for the many WWII veterans on this cruise. However, there were still 20 federal employees plus a dog (see below) to make sure we didn’t bring any contraband back on board.
Off for the short overnight trip to Saipan, 120 miles to the north.