Sunday, May 27, 2012

Riding Bessie and Other Romantic Island Tails

by Pa Rock
Culture Vulture

It's a beautiful evening in Agana, Guam, and I am sitting out on the large patio of the Hilton Hotel among the tiki torches listening to native drums and watching Polynesian dancers tell tales of the sea with their gyrating hips and swaying grass skirts.  Some of the dancers have their own torches.  Tumon Bay is their backdrop - and it is truly a magical night.

I've never seen a show like this in the Ozarks, or in Phoenix either, for that matter.

Our agency nurse on Okinawa lived on Guam for many years and still maintains a residence and a car here.   She loaned us her car to use during our stay.  The nurse is a reserve major in the Air Force and has an officer's sticker on the windshield - so it was kind of fun having the young gate guards salute us when we drove onto the navy base.  Valerie did get a bit flustered however and returned one of their salutes with her left hand!

So, armed with a car, we spent our first day back on Guam driving around Agana and  then heading south to where the most beautiful beaches are.  We hit many of the cultural centers in Agana - Denny's for breakfast (it was horrid), K-Mart, and the Harley Davidson Shop where I found a really great Harley shirt on the clearance table.  It has long sleeves, so I am not certain what use it will be in Phoenix, but we'll see.  (If Joe Arpaio loses his election, hell will undoubtedly freeze over - and I'll be ready!)

(One of the male dancers is now jumping around the stage chopping up a sugar cane stalk with a machete!  And  now he's twirling some sort of native baton to the beat of the island drums - and he is very, very good!)

On our drive south we stopped at an old fort near where Magellan supposedly landed when he was doing his around-the-world thing.  It was located on a park-like setting high over the Pacific.  As we pulled in we passed a very large Chamorro gentleman with a Mohawk haircut who had four water buffaloes with him.  He was placing small children on the largest one, a mango-loving bovine names Bessie.  The man, who went by the name "Big John," was clearly having as much fun as the kids.

As we were walking up to take some pictures of Bessie and her sisters, Valerie up and asked Big John if I could sit on Bessie - and despite my best efforts to demure, he promptly gave me a leg up and I was water buffalo-borne.  Valerie thought that was really hysterical until I finally got off and Big John put her on Bessie - then it wasn't so humorous!   The best part though was when Big John had Valerie bite into a mango and let Bessie take it from her with her cow teeth!  It was a weird bit of mango-loving!

One of our most interesting stops of the afternoon was the beach at Iranijan, a place where we had spent time on our last visit to Guam.  Valerie did swim a little at Iranijan.  She also found a one-eyed dog who appeared to be starving and very fearful.  She went across the street to the little market and got the poor creature some dog food - and then spent time trying to rehabilitate her new friend.  (Valerie also recently invited an itinerant cat into her home, and the cat showed her appreciation by having a litter of kittens on her bed!  She is truly soft-hearted.)

I took pictures at Iranijan of a young man who was doing the most amazing dives - and my cheapo camera was able to catch his airborne contortions!)

Our final diversion was at Jeff's Pirate Cove, a tourist mecca that has gift shops, a big open-air restaurant,  and (today) a live band.  Jeff's was rocking this holiday weekend!

(Now we are at the segment of the performance where the dancers are pulling audience members up on stage.  Excuse me while I duck beneath my table!)

It is hot in Guam, much warmer than it was during our trip over Thanksgiving.  We also drove through a heavy rain today, but like most ocean storms, it quickly blew out to sea.

Having fun - obviously!

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