Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guam. Guaaaam. GUAAAAAAAAM!

Now that things have settled down a little since my big move, I can finally tell y'all about my trip to Guam! I've been so busy the past several weeks getting settled and learning my new job, plus going to Gwangju or Seoul every weekend, that I haven't had time to write about, um, anything. So so sorry!  Jennifer is going to keep me accountable for timely blog postings from now on.  If I'm slacking, please blame her. (jk)

Guam was amazing.  I knew it would be, aaand it was.  The warm temps, the humid ocean air, the salt and sand, the shopping, the food!  I would do it again in a heartbeat!  

I flew in in the middle of the night and found out that I *should* have booked my hotel for that night, cause there I was at 3 am in the hotel lobby and I couldn't check into my room until 3 pm.  PM.  


I slept in the hotel lobby.  

Live and learn. 

I woke up at daylight to find that the desk clerk had covered me up with a towel.  SUPER NICE, right?  I was actually tweeting about how pleasantly surprised I was by such a kind gesture when he noticed I was awake and came to bring me coffee!  10 points to Gryffindor! Or, Guam, as it were. 

I threw on a swimsuit and shorts, stored my luggage in a closet and went for a long walk on the beach.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  The water was so clear and the sky was overcast, throwing shadows everywhere.  I walked all the way down "Hotel Row," as it's called, and back again.  I sat on the beach, I played in the water, had the world's most disappointing margarita (who makes them without triple sec??) and then I got caught in the rain. Once it started raining, I went looking for lunch and found Hard Rock Cafe!  (I know there's one in Seoul somewhere, but I haven't been there yet. Maybe I'll hit it up sometime this year and compare.)  It was so great to read a familiar menu!  It reminded me of all the times I go to Hard Rock at Bayou Place in Houston with my family after shows at Hobby Center.  I had a huge salad, a mai tai (YUM), and got flirted with by the bartender and the army guys at the bar watching basketball.  Pretty nice lunch!  AND the bartender gave me a free shot - strawberry cheesecake - for dessert! (The guys asked if I was going to Ladies Night at some bar down the road. UM NO I'm not going to a bar with a bunch of soldiers by myself, but thanks for asking. I'm flattered, really.

World's most disappointing margarita.  
I finally got to check in to my room at 3 and spent the afternoon chilling at the pool and, well, ...moping that I was in this gorgeous place by myself.  I know, right? How insane that I was feeling downhearted while I was looking out at paradise?  You must understand, I'm an extrovert; I don't handle being alone well.  Someday, God-willing, I'll be married with kids and I'll think longingly of a time when I went on vacation alone - the quiet, the peace.  But I am not there yet.  

I have never traveled by myself anywhere for more than a day, so I was pretty nervous about this trip (even if I told you otherwise) and worried that I'd be really lonely for five whole days.  

BUT GOD is better than that.  There I was, sitting on my balcony that evening, looking out at my incredible view, when it hit me:

You see, as a see-me-notice-me-youngest-sibling, I love attention.  I love having people around.  I love to SHARE amazing experiences with people I care about!!  I wanted my parents, my siblings and cousins, my best friends to be there with me.  And then God reminded me that I'm never alone.  

What an incredible reminder.  

I pulled out my journal and poured out my thoughts -- I was on the cusp of a beautiful revelation.  I started to realize that I had been given a RARE opportunity to spend time with God with no distractions.  I barely had wifi, so I could hardly connect with the outside world.  I didn't have anyone else to spend time with or be distracted by and thus neglect my daily Bible reading and quiet time.  I realized that it was as if I were on a spiritual retreat, but instead of lasting a few hours or a weekend, I got 5 days.  AND WHAT A LOCATION FOR A SPIRITUAL RETREAT, right?  GUAM.  Look out your window, Zara.  GUAAAAM.  

I had the privilege to spend a week in Guam fellowshipping with my Savior.  I outlined some books that I wanted to read while I was there (Biblical and other), times that I would set aside for worship, for podcasts of sermons, etc.  Once I had a schedule with "breakout sessions" and "social events," I felt much more centered and ready to get into my vacation.  Bahaha. I'm such a nerd sometimes. 

Call me nuts, but going on vacation without a real plan left me feeling a little... floaty.  I didn't like it.  After my revelation, I went to sleep on Day 1 feeling confident that I was in the right place, that God's crazy plan led me there for this purpose.  With this new-found purpose, I slept really well.  

(Being in an actual room in a beautiful hotel with a soft bed didn't hurt, either, especially since I hadn't gotten much sleep the past few nights and had slept in the lobby the night before.)

Day 2 - I woke up to THIS.

Not bad, huh?

AND THEN I WENT TO K-MART!!! Guam has one of the largest K-Marts in the world. They've closed stores all over the US, but this K-Mart does some serious biddness.  I had a long shopping list of western things I wanted and forthwith spent a ton of time and money there... medicating homesickness with retail therapy? Check.

I wish I could have fit ALL THIS in my suitcase! I settled for a couple of small cookie trays and a 9x13 cake pan. OH how I love baking stuff! 

Too big for my little Korean oven :(

 And they had a million pop tarts!  Pop tarts are my litmus test for all things familiar.  Do you understand the greatness of a fresh pop tart, fresh from the toaster?  The crispy edges that fall off in your paper towel, toasted to a perfect golden brown?  Did you spend your childhood wishing for the ones with frosting because your mom would only ever let you eat the plain strawberry or blueberry (but when you went to your friends' houses to spend the night, THEIR moms let them have the ones with frosting)?  Appreciate pop tarts and you appreciate my culture.

Not that pop tarts are beneficial or even delicious, really... as I've gotten older, they have begun to taste more like cardboard covered in sugar. It's the nostalgia of the thing, really.

These suckers ARE beneficial, though! I used to eat these all the time at home cause they're so quick and  snack-ready. HAVING A FAMILIAR GROCERY STORE IS SUCH A BIG DEAL! Sugar snap peas, bags of baby carrots, cartons of Silk very vanilla soy milk... la la la la la!!!!

I spend the late afternoon and evening reading on the beach, watched the sun set over the Pacific, then chatted with one of the security guys who showed me a little burger bar with THE BEST MARGARITAS EVER. Seriously.  I went several times that week.  Mango margarita, blended to perfection, nom nom nom!

Totally makes up for the sucky one on the first day. Above and beyond. 

The next day I spent WAY TOO LONG on the beach and got hella sunburned, but it was so beautiful that I couldn't leave! I read a whole book and listened to music and just... enjoyed.

My personal bar on the beach. 

Best margarita: round 2
The sun/sand/salt treatment I did on my hair turned out well ^^
I went to a dinner show with "local" dancing (sorta)... the scantily-clad 18-year-old boys were... very loin-cloth-y.  So that was awkward. But the food was good and I didn't get picked for the audience participation part of the evening (I was suddenly very interested in my roast beef when they walked around picking people to come and dance with them... for someone who loves attention, I get strangely shy with stuff like that. I really am my dad's daughter.)

I spent the next day recovering from the worst sunburn of my life, spending time on my breakout sessions for my retreat, and shopping. I rode around on the island trolley, cruised through Micronesia Mall, had an all-beef hot dog at the food court!!! I know that's not exactly what you think of when you picture *Guam* food, but Korea doesn't know how AMAZING an all-beef frank is! OH MY GOSH I was so happy to find a good hot dog! It's the little things, you know?? (Local cuisine is more along the lines of Chamorro barbecue, but there is obviously a lot of American influence as far as restaurants go. I enjoyed both ^^ )

Speaking of the little things, there's this coffee shop called the Honolulu Coffee Company that has the most wonderful drinks! My favorite was called "The Nutty Hawaiian."  It's a coconut macadamia nut mocha frappuccino.  Oh my word.  I'm pretty sure Jesus drinks those in Heaven.  I went there as much as possible, especially since I could get decaf and soy lattes!! Korean coffee shops, as wonderful as they are, don't offer decaf and only Starbucks offers soy. Craving coffee at 8 pm? Not a problem when you can get decaf! It was delightful!

Later, I sat out by the pool again to read a book and watch the sun go down over the ocean. Does it get better than that? I just don't know.

The days went by so smoothly, even without a travel buddy.  God totally provided. His company is so valuable; more than words can describe! How do I doubt Him over and over? Why did I think I'd be lonely, when the creator of the universe is the lover of my soul?

And He sends us this:

It's like a love letter.

He's so creative like that.

Yes... just a little sunburned

Hotel Row at dusk 

Last day! I spent the day on the beach until I had to check out of my hotel (at noon), then I stored my stuff in the lobby's closet again (Another tip: if you want to stay at the beach all day on your last day, you should reserve your hotel all the way through your trip. If you have to check out at noon, that means you have to shower all the salt and sand from the lovely ocean off before noon. Bummer. Unless you want to be salty and sandy for your 6 hour flight back to Korea. No thanks.) I made a final shopping trip around the island, bought some beautiful shoes and got a pedicure!  They even have a Ross at the outlet mall! Now THAT brought back good memories of shopping with my mama at home.

I also got a haircut... worst. idea. ever.  I thought, "Hey, they speak English here! I could get a haircut without worrying about the language barrier!" :/
Y'ALL.  I have never hated a haircut like I hated that one. She chopped off all the beautiful length I'd been working so hard on for the past year! I had short hair all through my university days, so it's been fun and challenging to grow it long again.  "Do you want layers?" she asked. "Sure, why not?" I replied. Big mistake.
AND THEN IT STARTED RAINING ON MY HAIRCUT. And the layers curled. And looked like a girl mullet.  Luckily, Jennifer was able to help me fix it when I got back to Korea, but at the time I was so, SO upset.  Now it's a good 4 inches shorter than I wanted it, and it's still pretty long, plus it will grow. I've come to terms with it.

After a while, the rain stopped.  I got myself a mango margarita and watched the sunset from the beach, again at peace with the world. Sigh!!!

After the sun sank below the horizon, I went to get a Nutty Hawaiian and sat by the pool for a few hours until I had to leave for the airport for my flight back to Korea at 2 am.

Beach combing, pre-haircut

My airbrushed tattoo lasted all of a day and a half. Oh well. 

Sunset through the clouds 

Best. Margarita. Ever.

Goodbye Guam!  I had such a great time.  If given the chance, I'd go back again. The mix of western products and American culture with island style and tropical beaches was JUST ABOUT PERFECT. It was exactly, exactly what I needed after a really cold winter and an entire year away from everything I've ever known.  The time I got to spend alone with the Lord was a blessing beyond what I expected. I thought I'd be lonely; instead, I came away refreshed and filled up with the Spirit.

It was just a few days, and they went so quickly, but this little vacation enabled me to start the next phase of my adventure in Korea on the right foot!

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