Monday, February 1, 2010

A Week in Guam

View from our room at the Hilton Hotel in Guam
Missions weren't like this when I was 19!

We were in Guam Jan 17th -23rd for couples conference. What a great experience with all the other couples. We loved it! But, we actually experienced a little culture shock going back to Guam, because the pace of life is much more hurried, the drivers are not as courteous as they are in Yap, and many of the skirts in Guam are ridiculously short. I hadn't realized how modestly the girls here in Yap actually dress until we were in Guam and saw so many that were obviously trying to draw attention to themselves... something you just don't experience in Yap. Inspite of the few who dress "traditionally", they certainly don't do it to draw attention to themselves, and no one wears skirts with hemlines above the knees and no one wears short shorts.

While in Guam we ate like kings. We thought we were in heaven until Winona made the mistake of weighing herself and she had gained 5 lbs in just the first few days. Personally, I couldn't bring myself to climb onto the scale... It was obviously defective, and I was too busy trying to decide which restaurant to try next. Actually, we settled on Ruby Tuesday most often, because the prices were good, and they had a great salad bar. Favorite dessert of the week had to be the one pictured below at the Jamaica Grill... Most everyone else in the group had an entree that included a small plate of fruit for dessert. However mine didn't... so as the waitress listed the available desserts for me, a "roasted banana" sounded like an innocent enough treat. However, as the dessert made its way toward my table, I noticed that people stopped talking and turned to see this monster pass them by. Cameras were flashing, and an audible buzz filled the restaurant. People were obviously anxious to discover who had had the nerve to order this thing! I had no idea it would feed a family... but hey! What could I do? I am so glad they snapped this picture quickly, because it looks to me like Winona was ready to dive in head first!

Roasted Banana
Hey, it sounded healthy!

We can tell that we are beginning to adjust to the humidity and heat, but have to admit that the hot showers, and cool breezes in Guam felt awfully good. However, Yap is feeling like home. We do use the air conditioning, but have raised the temperature for them to only kick in above 25 degrees Celsius. Yesterday, we tried going all day without the A/C, and were successful until we got back in the evening and couldn't bring ourselves to climb into a damp bed. Some things are worth paying extra for... so the A/C came on so we could get a comfortable sleep.

The people here are so pleasant, everyone waves, everyone is willing to talk with us, tho' no one is willing to say much. The members are beginning to laugh at my jokes, and the branch president (President Bamlul) makes an easy target for me to abuse in all my talks... :-). He and his wife were over last night for a visit, and as customary in Yapese homes, they sat on the tile floor in our living room as we visited for a couple of hours. Smoothies are new to them, so I made them a chocolate banana and coconut smoothie, which was a big hit. I love making smoothies here, because the coconut milk makes them nice and thick.. without the need for ice cream.

We are having a lot of fun. We have figured out which stores carry what, at the best price... when the ships come in, and which cashiers smile at us, and which don't. We have made a project of trying to get a smile out of every cashier, and that helps make shopping a lot of fun.

Saturday night was a full moon... I know, it happens every month, and it happens all over the world!.. but in Yap, when the full moon comes out, so do the land crabs! We had heard about this event, but hadn't yet participated... nor were we sure quite what to expect. All we knew was... "free crab!" We had heard you needed a stick, a flashlight and a sack... I figured the stick was to whack the crabs as they tried to chop your toes off, the sack was for gathering up body parts that got nipped off in any ensuing battles, and the flashlight was so you could find fingers and toes in the dark. This sounded way more fun than simply dropping a crab trap in the ocean and waiting for an hour or two, so off we went into the moonlight ready for a new adventure.

We had heard that at certain times of the year, the crabs come out in such numbers that you can literally drive down the road in the dark and scoop them into a bucket as you drive. Well, we drove for miles and are disappointed to report that this is not the time of the year for that... However, we finally ended up outside the Elder's apartment in Thol near the North end of the Island. We got there just in time to see them and some of the locals coming back from their crabbing adventure with a couple of buckets of crabs. They proudly showed us their catch, and we got totally grossed out as the locals showed us how to prep them for cooking. I know we have a few vegetarian readers on our blog, so I'll leave out the graphic details, but lets just say that tossing a live crab into a bucket of boiling water seems much more humaine than what goes on down here.

Once in a while a crab would escape from their grasp as the "cooks" were trying to rip their legs off (oops.. sorry, did I say that?) and would cause a mad scramble as the loose crab would scurry around our feet. Nothing slow moving about these guys, and they do have nasty pincers...

We were lamenting the fact that we had essentially missed the party and were going to be heading home without having captured any crabs of our own.. or even seeing someone else do it... However, the moon was shining brightly and I decided to get a look at the moonlight sparkling across the ocean. It was a very romantic thought...

As I walked toward the shore from the place where everyone had gathered, I suddenly sensed the rapid movement of spider like creatures the size of a 'roasted banana' dessert plate scurrying across my path. I hollered, "I've got one!"... which was I lie. I wasn't anywhere near actually "getting" one! I had no idea what to do except to take frequent inventory of how many fingers were still on my hand.

Luckily, a 12 year old boy name "TJ" heard me holler, and came to my rescue he came to help me capture one! TJ was amazing, within seconds, he had cornered one for me, and we headed back to the gathering place to proudly show our capture. We then headed back the same direction and captured two more. By now, we had the interest of another 12 year old, who had developed his own hunting style and was apparently an expert at capturing "Mangrove" crabs... which truly will chop your fingers off. It was a sight to behold. TJ felt we were waisting our time running back and forth to the cooler, so he decided to go get the cooler and bring it to where the crabs were. Minutes later he showed up carrying our full sized Coleman cooler on his back, and began ripping legs off our captured crabs and tossing them into our cooler. I offered to help carry the cooler as we continued our hunt, but he insisted on carrying the cooler on his own... So here we have this little 12 year old boy (not much more than 3' tall and certainly not any more than 60 lbs) carrying a cooler that is almost as big as he is, and is easily large enough to carry 50 crabs ... running through the jungle lit only by the moonlight, barefoot, tossing crab parts into a cooler that he is carrying on his head sometimes, and on his back others... and Winona and I following along with our flashlights feeling quite safe with these two twelve-year olds there to 'protect' us.

We got home that night quite satisfied that we had had an adventure that few others would ever experience... and we do look forward to that time of year when you literally can't drive down the road during a full moon without running over herds of these things! We stayed up until 1:00am cooking our catch. Tonight, we are making sushi... with real crabmeat...


  1. Such adventures! I love Winona's expression in the banana photo. Keep the stories coming.

  2. such delicacies! crab and roasted doesn't get much better than that! Enjoy! we are loving your blog.

  3. Man, Fresh Crab sounds good! And I never threw a whole crab in the pot. I always But a knife "where the sun don't shine" and popped the back off to clean its guts out first (they stink way too much if you cook them). :) Sorry to the Vegetarians for the details!

  4. Hi Guys! Frank is watching while I type. We were landscaping across the lane today and we are both stiff tonight. We are having FHE at williams's tonight and the topic is 'Love', so natch we gotta write to you guys. We are enjoying the Olympics. The women's hockey team won their 1st game 18 to 0 - cool, huh? We are having the warmest winter in 110 yrs - have to bring snow in from Manning Park. L, FJ