Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life in Guam

No, in case you're wondering, I haven't moved back to Guam.
I'm just going to tell a few things about living in Guam, in case you were considering moving there or just hadn't heard about life over there.

First of all, the size:
Guam is very small; only about 30 miles long.  I forget its average width...but anyway, you can drive from one end of the island to the other in less than an hour.  Well, almost.  Even if you had an off-road vehicle, you might meet with a good deal of difficulty trying to get past all the jungle growth.  However, you can get from nearly one end to the other.

The climate:
Guam is very humid...go to Hawaii for a month (say, to O'ahu) or so and get adjusted to it, and then fly back to Guam.
As soon as you get off of the plane, you will feel like you are walking into a warm, soggy blanket.  Well, maybe more like a sauna - a humid, albeit not-ultra-steamy sauna.
It is very warm: around 80-90 degrees all year long.  In essence, there are no seasons.

The people:
The majority of the island's inhabitants are the natives, although the Naval and Air Force bases account for quite a few "American" Americans. 

Every so often a typhoon (hurricanes in the Atlantic) will appear and sometimes wreak havoc.
While we were there, a few struck, and two set records.
One gave Guam the most rain it had ever seen, after it had rained for three days, which caused part of the road to collapse.  I had to stay at my friend's house for a day or two longer than I otherwise would wasn't as fun as you might expect, since he still had school and chores and stuff to do.
Another, Pongsona had the highest wind speed of any recorded typhoon in Guam's history, if I remember correctly.  It was around 160 mph.  Some of Guam's residents have learned from experience and build their houses out of concrete cinder blocks, but a neighboring island in the Northern Marianas (perhaps multiple) had houses made of wood, and the storm destroyed quite a few homes there.  Actually, Guam took quite a beating - the storm caused over $700 million worth of damage.  
Unfortunately, the first storm (Pongsona) partially flooded our first rental house, and although the sliding glass door didn't break like I thought it would, more than a few boxes of books, clothes, etc. got soaked and we had to throw them away.  You might be wondering, "I can understand that the books were ruined by being waterlogged, but clothes?"  By the time we opened the wet boxes, the clothes had mildew growing on them.
We later moved up the street to a house that was much better.  Not only did it have built-in storm shutters as opposed to the plywood boards we had to put in these "window cages" in the old house, but the backyard didn't have holes in it.  At the old house, the large backyard had lots of holes that filled up with water, and made an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes.  It just got worse when a typhoon dumped a bunch of water in the holes.  Sadly, although everyone got bitten by mosquitoes, I was the prime target: I easily had 50 bites or more on me at one time...needless to say, I didn't sleep well.  
Oh, I forgot to say that after both typhoons, at both houses, electricity and running water went good-bye...for several months, I think, although I think the water may have been up and running before that.

Should you live there?
It depends on what you like.  If you highly enjoy beaches, warm water, and snorkeling, you will probably like it; It's never very far to the ocean.  
I should mention that there aren't any taxes...well, no sales tax, anyway - I don't remember about the others.  So you can go to McDonald's and get a McDouble or McChicken sandwich for $1, not $1.07 or something like that.
There are the disadvantages, such as the unpleasant climate, typhoons, and the fact that you can't get many things shipped out there.
Verdict: I do not recommend living in Guam, although if you like the beach and related ocean activities, you might try going there for short vacation.  Although Hawaii is much better, Guam is probably much cheaper to do things on, and the water is always warm, if you like that.

-Max out

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