On the beaches in Oahu, I couldn’t help but notice that they had these lovely signs to tell you where you were, what you might see, and what the rules were.
It occurs to me that this would be extremely useful on Guam.
I mean, I have seen tourists stand on coral. I have seen people toss trash off the side of boats. I have been in a heated argument with a woman “looking for sea turtle eggs” because she wanted to eat them. And, I have asked people not to pet or feed the endangered species more times than I can count.
I am getting really tired of tapping people on the shoulder and trying to educate them, because most people are really not open to suggestions from some random white girl.
So I think we need signs.
I want signs in several languages telling people what our endangered species in this area are, and why it is wrong to cook them in soup or BBQ them. I also want signs explaining that coral is alive and not to stand on it, and signs warning people that there will be a fine for littering.
I know it wouldn’t solve the problems. I get that. But it would help. We would need English for the locals, and Japanese and Korean for the tourists. I don’t think it would cost that much. The ones in Oahu didn’t look expensive.
So get on it, Guam. Let’s try to do something about all the abuse of our oceans that I see every day.
I always heard that it is important for a writer to read a lot. I think that’s true, although there is only so much time in a day, and I do love outdoor activities.
Currently, I am reading a book called Gulp, by one of my very favorite authors, Mary Roach. She has written some amazing books, my favorite of which is Bonk (because I actually giggled out loud a bunch while reading it.) But I have loved everything she has ever written, and been following her since she had a column in Reader’s Digest called Pardon My Planet.
I also recently re-read the Harry Potter Series for the 20th Anniversary. They were good books to bring on our recent vacation because they are engaging enough to read on a plane with screaming kids.
Some books are good, but maybe not the kind of books that you can read in a train station in Calcutta or a subway in Seoul.
My battered paperbacks of Harry Potter have served me well through all the chaos of travel, and have managed to grab my attention no matter how loud my surroundings. If you need to ignore someone else’s screaming kids, Harry Potter will never fail you.
Plus, the TSA in the US is always scary and often they are not very nice. But, I got one of them to laugh out loud when he asked: “Do you have an e-reader, tablet, laptop, or other device in your backpack?” And I replied, “No, Sir. I have a book.”
The line got quite and everyone stared at me like I had horns and a tail. It was awesome. I pulled out my copy of The Half Blood Prince and flashed it around, and I got a lot of laughs.
Another series I was recently reading was the Sookie Stackhouse books. If you have seen the HBO series called True Blood then I am sorry, because it was pretty awful. But the books are awesome and I had read them ages ago as they came out. I recently found out that the series was finally complete, and so I bought the last two and re-read the whole thing. It was a lot of fun, and each book only takes a day or two at most. Wait in a few lines at the post office or the bank, let a few meals simmer and stir occasionally while reading, and you’re done before you know it.
My students in Korea used to be aghast that I would walk while reading. They thought it was perfectly scandalous. But like any avid reader, I have read while doing pretty much everything, even showering (holding the book out of the spray, of course.)
Something else I took a second look at recently was the Anne of Green Gables books. I hadn’t read them since 8th grade, and I forgot how… let’s say “dated” they are. But, I loved them dearly.
I actually cried reading them because it was so intense to read something that I had been reading back when I was an awkward pre-teen in a loveless home full of abuse. During some parts, I remembered my biological mother screaming at me so clearly that it was almost like she was in the room. It was always in such stark contrast to the books, where Marilla and Matthew love Anne and think of her as the light of their life.
Point is: If you never read Anne of Green Gables, they are charming and worth a look.
I know a lot of people are re-reading American Gods because of the TV show. I thought about it. But American Gods is another one of those really engaging books, and so it used to be my go-to book on long plane rides. I think I can actually quote nearly the whole thing from memory by now, so I decided not to jump on that boat.
I do have the new Mary Roach book, Grunt, on the way. I am looking forward to that. But if you have any other recommendations, please get in touch and let me know. I always need book recommendations. I don’t have enough friends that read!
Living overseas can be really cool. I see all kinds of new and different things, and that’s always neat. How many people get to go to a Buddha’s Birthday parade in Seoul or swim with a sea turtle? I know that I am lucky.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things that you just can’t get in other places in the world.
Fun Fact: Did you know that cocktails were invented in the United States? Some claim it was in New Orleans, and some claim that it was in New York, but no one disputes that they are a uniquely American invention.
This means that it is also pretty uniquely American to find a wide variety of alcohol and things to mix with it. (For non-US friends, I am talking about things you mix with alcohol like bitters, grenadine, and vermouth.) So, it is cool to see things like that on the shelves.
Then there are produce options!
In South Korea there is a poisonous berry that grows wild. It looks a lot like a raspberry. As a result, they do not think raspberries are food and do not import or grow them. This is a shame, as they are my very favorite fruit.
In Guam we mostly don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables. Everything has to go through customs in Hawaii (as per US law,) so by the time it gets here it is rotten. And unlike Hawaii, we are not a volcanic island where it is easy to grow things. We are a coral island, which means that the soil is harsh and infertile.
So it’s apples and oranges, and broccoli. That’s what can make it here, so that is what we eat.
I also miss things that are hard to explain. For example, we have Chinese food in Guam. However, we are very close to China and so we have Chinese Chinese food here. As it turns out, I don’t really like Chinese Chinese food. I like American Chinese food.
Another thing I really miss is good tortilla soup and carnitas. The people of Guam have some Spanish influence in their culture, but it’s not the same.
I went all through High School and College in Arizona, and every now and then I am just dying to have some really good Mexican Food.
Thankfully, I can get good Korean and Thai food on Guam, so at least there is that.
I guess the hardest part for me living overseas is shoes. Even in the US, I have absolutely broken down crying while looking for shoes.
See, I wear a size 12 or 13 in women’s. Yes, that’s right, a size 12 or 13.
Don’t bother leaving all the jokes in the comments. I have heard every single one. Yes, if I am in a hurricane I won’t blow over. I don’t need skis to go skiing. I am probably related to big foot. Ha. Ha. Ha.
All I really want to cute shoes like girls wear on TV. I want sexy pumps and cute boots and adorable sandals.
However, no one makes cute shoes things in my size.
In Asia I can’t even buy plain or ugly shoes. There just aren’t any. I tried ordering online, but so many places have sizes that “run small” and they don’t tell you. I ordered a pair from Chinese Laundry because I was so excited to see a size 12 on their site. I don’t know whose idea of a size 12 it was, but I could have cut off all my toes and still not fit my foot into it. So, I have to buy shoes in person.
I was excited to do this while stateside.
I went all the places that folks had suggested to me, like Nordstrom’s Rack and DSW. And I have to tell you: I have nothing nice to say about those places or the people who work there. Same for Target, Walmart, Journeys, and every other shoe store besides Payless.
Not only is Payless literally the only store in the United States that still carries shoes in my size, but the lady there was nice. I have no idea why shoe salesmen in other stores have to be nasty, act shocked, or ask if I am transsexual (I am not.) However, there are some mean and rotten shoe salespeople, and I think I talked to all of them.
Anyway, I think a lot of times people look at my blog and they think that it’s really glamorous living overseas. And yeah, it has its moments. But I do live a life without raspberries and shoes, so maybe keep that in mind before you think my life is “perfect.”