Somewhere between Peru and Chile I decided to take a detour and visit my old home, Guam. I lived on Guam for 3 years when I was in the Navy. I look back on my time on Guam as my transformation into Adulthood. It was the first time I really was away from home. I lived by myself without room mates. I paid rent, utilities, cleaned my home, cooked my food, and solved my life problems on my own. There were many ups and downs that came with the experience which is why it feels like a home.
Guam is a small island in the Pacific Ocean. It is a United States Territory, like Puerto Rico. Citizens on Guam cannot vote during federal elections but they do have a delegate in the House of Representatives. The US military is the islands #1 employer. The bases cover 27% of the islands land mass. Most of the income comes from tourists that visit from Asian countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. Here is a video by Wendover productions for an overview.
It is very expensive to fly to Guam from the United States. The average round trip ticket is around $1000 USD. I was initially going to spend three weeks in South Korea. My thought process was that I can take a cheaper flight to visit Guam now than when I return to the States. So I took a detour and made some arrangements with some friends that were still on the island.
My friend, Jordan, and his wife, Emily, were hosting me during my stay. They live in Mangilao, Guam. They gave me my own room and bathroom. It was a luxury that I rarely had during my trip. Both of them were working during my stay but we caught up at night. Jordan even let me borrow his car while he was at work. Jordan worked during the day and Emily at night but she comes home at 8 to 9ish. At that time we would eat dinner and have catch up on life.
I visited my duty station, Naval Hospital Guam. I was a Hospital Corpsman at NH Guam for 3 years. One of the most frustrating jobs of my entire life. Though it helped shape the person I am today because of my experiences there. I ran into some old peers that were still there. It felt great to catch up but it didn’t feel good to listen to the consensus of low morale. It was a good reminder of why I left the Navy to travel the world. I know where their dissatisfaction comes from because I lived it. I hope they find their peace with the Navy. I compare the hospital visit felt like going back to your old high school, if your high school took care of sick and dying patients.
My friend told me it would be a good morale boost to be on American soil and be around friends. I didn’t realize until I left how true that statement was. The ability to speak English freely without thinking if the other person understood me was comfortable. I used to live on Guam, so when Jordan let me use his car, it felt like driving around my home town. I revisited my favorite restaurants McKrauts, Gabriels, Cafe Tu’re, Asu Smokehouse, and Pikas Cafe. I cooked risotto for Emily and Jordan as a kind of payment for hosting me. I’m so thankful to have friends on the other side of the world.
I trained Jiu Jitsu twice. I went to Vida once. It wasn’t too far from where I was staying. It had a good core of students. Some are MMA fighters on Guam. Every night was competition training for them. It was a good push. They waived the mat fee too. Then I trained at Spike 22 at Steel Athletics. I had to pay a $15 mat fee for that day. Only two people showed up for lunch open mat. Rohin was training for a MMA fight in July and Mike was there training with him. It was good training with heavy weights that just used technique, especially Rohin. Rohin could have crushed me, he looked over 250 lbs. It was a chill rolling session. Despite the $15 mat fee and the few people it was a good experience.
I went to see Gabe Baker, my coach when I trained at Carlson Gracie Guam. We had lunch at a Thai place next to the academy. It was getting renovated, new mats, so I couldn’t train at my old gym. Getting a one on one with my old coach was what I needed. It felt at times that I was stumbling through the dark with what I needed to work on. He gave me some guidance that was worth more than the two training sessions I had on the island. He had an interesting philosophy on the belt system. I’m grateful for the training I received on Guam and I thanked him for all that he taught me. I will visit Guam and Carlson Gracie Guam again some day.
“Purple belt is the longest belt, and is the belt most people quit at. A brown belt is just waiting for his black belt. “