Even before arriving at Guam it is possible to have some impressions of the people of this island. Several times on the trip I ran into people who were from Guam whose behaviors and attitudes I found to be interesting. For example, there is a fairly large Guamanian diasporic population, but it is one that maintains strong feelings about the homeland and also a strong attachment to the tropical weather associated with their homeland. Also of note was that on the plane from Tokyo-Narita to Guam a great many people purchased many duty-free items and filled up the plane with them, signifying that at least when it comes to higher-end consumer goods that there is a strong shortage of them in Guam relative to the Tokyo Airport, and thus demonstrates something of the logistical problems of supplies sent to the island. We noticed the same thing in going to a restaurant this morning where salads were off the menu, presumably because of the same logistical difficulties in providing the ingredients there.
When one gets to the airport in Guam, one is struck by the chaos and confusion of the place. One has to go upstairs and downstairs and in and out of locked doors accompanied by security, with finicky elevators that appear to react badly to the island’s insecure power supply. (I noticed this to be an issue posted inside of the hotel we are staying at as well, which told the reader that if the elevator stops because of a power outage that it will restart in a few minutes.) It was striking to see such bizarre airport design in a new airport, as one would think that there was a more reasonable flow that one could make. At least it had an easy way of getting bags and getting through immigration and customs, though, so that was nice.
One of the notable aspects about Guam that one could see on the ground was the quirkiness of the taxis as well as the tropical beauty of the place. It was also notable that there was a lot of standing water on the streets, with very little drainage to be found, suggesting again that there are some infrastructure aspects that could stand to be improved in making the island’s roads easier to manage for cars and pedestrians. Still, if the island has a somewhat plain look in many of its buildings, there is also a pleasing quirkiness about what it has to offer, even including a rare example of a surviving Kmart that I saw on the way to the hotel.
It is also interesting to note that when one listens to the music of Guam that there is a great deal of local music that focuses on the positive feelings that Guamanians have about their native island. However little the music of Guam has crossed over to the mainland–I am not familiar with any popular crossover artists from the island in the United States–it is clear that the island has a rich and vibrant local musical scene that supports its own local artists. And that sort of local support of local culture is always interesting to see.