Guam is not what I expected. When I first found out I was to come here to race the Hell of the Marianas, I envisioned a flat, hot jungle with little culture and a lot of people in camouflage running around (Guam is home to US Air Force and Navy bases). What I had assumed could not have been further from what Guam really is. Though not truly mountainous, Guam is hilly with some steep climbs and small mountains bringing dimension to the land. The weather is hot and humid, but in a lovely tropical way, with beautiful rainbows and stunning Pacific sunsets. Its beaches are first class, with waves breaking 300m offshore, creating coral-filled lagoons with crystal-clear warm water. What's even better, though, is that you often have the beach all to yourself.
What really sets Guam apart, though, is its people. They are among the friendliest and most generous I have ever met. Drivers wait patiently to pass cyclists (though there are very few here and the roads are not designed with cycling in mind), and often wave as they drive by. Baristas say "have a nice day" not because they are supposed to, but because they mean it. Strangers say hello as you walk by, even though you're obviously OI (from Off Island - the term used by Guamanians for non-residents). Speaking of OI, although there is a considerable US military presence here, it is hardly noticeable. Guam feels more like its own country than it does an American Territory with military bases.
So, what I had once written off as an overgrown aircraft carrier has instead become one of my favorite places to visit. I know I'll be back.
Here are some photos from the last few days. Tomorrow we fly north to Saipan to prepare for Saturday's race. Enjoy!
Ak and Joseph on little spin
For relaxing times.... Canned coffee from Japan is popular here
Ritidian Beach. Completely unspoiled and amazingly beautiful