Two Lover’s Point

Jenifer DeLemont
Two Lover’s Point Hafa Adai Sign

There are several popular places for tourists to go on Guam. One of them is Two Lover’s Point. As many of you probably know, Guam was invaded by Spain in 1565, and the peaceful Chamorro people who lived on the island were subject to a fairly brutal rule by Spanish conquerors.

During the time of the Spanish occupation of Guam, a ship’s captain took a fancy to a pretty island girl. Unfortunately, this girl was in love with a island boy. When it became clear that she would be married to the Spanish captain against her will, she and her lover jumped off the point together. They felt they would rather die together than live apart.

This brutal story is an odd inspiration for a tourist destination. However, the Japanese and Korean tourists that frequent Guam find it romantic. In fact, many tourists have been married at Two Lover’s Point. Others go to place “love locks” there to declare their undying love for each other.

Jenifer DeLemont
A fruit stand which brags that it is Korean-owned and operated.

Before I lived in Guam, I spent a little over three years living in South Korea. During that time, I learned to read and write Hangul, which is the Korean written language. That is why I can tell you that this fruit stand is advertising Mango Smoothies, and also the fact that they are Korean people. I assume that is so that the Korean tourists will buy from them instead of from other shops at the point.

In South Korea, I was impressed to find that all the fruit juices were made from real fruit that was blended with ice to make a drink. I had hoped that this stand would be the same, but fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to get on this island. It is made of coral rather than being a volcanic island, and so the soil is not very fertile. As such, all the smoothies are a disappointing blend of ice and flavoring powder.

I hope some day Guam will start to utilize the new technologies available to farm in a sustainable way. Actually, everyone should be doing this since soil nutrient levels have become dangerously low.

Jenifer DeLemont
Two carabao statues at Two Lover’s Point.

The statue here is of two Carabao. A caraboa is an Asian Oxen which was brought to Guam by the very first settlers, the Chamorro people. They are not indigenous, since that title is reserved for animals who evolved on the island. However, they have been on Guam so long that they are considered to be indigenous in the eyes of the locals.

Guam has actually been fighting to get rid of brown tree snakes, toads, rats and other invasive species. However, it is very hard to eliminate a population of animals once they have been introduced. New Zealand wants to try a new gene editing technology, but that is fairly terrifying since containing genetically modified animals is impossible.

Whatever the solution, the caraboa has a safe place on Guam and is seen as part of the cultural heritage of the people. You can find statues of them all over the island.

Jenifer DeLemont
Love Locks and hearts at Two Lover’s Point.

These are the love locks I mentioned earlier. This tradition of putting love locks in various places it common in many countries across the world. It seems to me that they are always in places like Two Lover’s Point, where there is a little bit of sadness to the location.

Take, for example, the town of Lovelock Nevada. This tiny town is in the middle of the Nevada desert, and really only exists to sustain the strip mine and the prison. The majority of people who travel to Lovelock Nevada are there to see a relative or loved one who is in the prison.

Rather than couples leaving rocks with two sets of handwriting, it is mostly mothers and wives leaving love locks in Nevada, in hopes that they will see their loved ones again some day.

I don’t know how I feel about this tradition, but my husband and I didn’t put our names on a heart and lock it to the point. It seemed morbid somehow, and like it would be a bad omen for our marriage.

Two Lover’s Point sign.

The main reason to go to Two Lover’s Point is for the views. There are several places that are intended to be good photo spots, such as the Two Lovers Point sign (above) and the sign reading “Hafa Adai,” which means “hello” in the local language.

There are a lot of good photo opportunities that are free of charge, and if you do them all, you will have a pretty good album to show off. However, the highest point is behind a pay wall, and you will need to give $5 (or $2 with Guam ID) to the gatekeeper if you want to see that view.

In case you don’t want to spend the money, I have included a picture (later in this post) of what it looks like. You can actually see my house in the picture if you look real close! (We spent the last several years in a building in Tumon Bay called Blue Lagoon.)

Looking out at some of the cliffs.

If you are already going to Two Lover’s Point, you may as well check out Tanguissen Beach as well. However, I should warn you that it is not something to do in just any car. It is best if you can get a truck or a Jeep, because the road is dangerous and at the bottom, there is quite a bit of driving on dirt.

The turn for Two Lover’s Point off Marine Corpse Drive is marked, and you can easily see the sign. It’s almost directly across the street from Micronesia Mall. You turn, and go down a long road through the jungle. However, there is a second turn that you must make to get to Two Lover’s Point. It’s a left, and there is a HUGE sign to let you know to turn.

In order to get to Tanguissen, just follow that road straight instead of making the right-hand turn. Slow down to about 10 MPR because there is a fair amount of traffic that comes around the blind corners a little too fast, and the potholes seem to jump out of nowhere (and those potholes could shollow up a Smart Car.)

Free view of Tumon Bay.

You follow the road until you get to the bottom of the hill. There, you have two choices: You can turn left and continue along some pavement to a power plant, or you can leave the pavement and go straight.

The power plant has been recently retired by the Guam Power Authority, but it is still closed to the public and not safe to explore. It is also not recommended that you swim in the spillway coming from the plant, which no longer dumps hot water into the ocean, but which has dangerous currents and sharp rocks around it.

I like to take pictures around the plant because I think it looks neat, but I have never gotten in the water there.

Tumon Bay paid view from the overlook point.

However, there is a great place to go swimming- it’s just a little tricky. See, the beaches here on Guam are all public property. You cannot actually own a beach. However, you can own the land that a beach is attached to. Tanguissen itself is public, but it is not a good place to swim. However, it is attached to a beach that is nice for swimming, and that beach is attached to private property.

What you do is this: To the right of the beach is a small path along the water. It looks dangerous and like it doesn’t go anywhere, but it does. Just follow that path through the rocks. Make sure you have coral shoes or some other kind of sturdy water shoe.

You’ll come out of the jungle and see a long beach in front of you. If it is high tide, some of your walk will need to be through the water. Do not swim as soon as you get out of the jungle. The water is shallow there and full of very sharp rocks. Just keep walking.

Tanguissen Beach and abandoned power plant.

As you walk along the beach, you may want to pick up sea glass. This is a good place to find it, and people tend to use sea glass in all kinds of art projects. There are sometimes shells on the beach as well, but remember: most shells on Guam have animals living in them! Hermit crabs are everywhere on Guam, and it’s best to leave the shells for them.

Tanguissen used to have some beautiful stag corals, but they bleached in 2017 and have not grown back. Now, it is mostly algae. However, it is also a good place to see sea urchins and puffer fish.

Fins are not recommended at all if you swim. The water it too shallow and it is best to float while keeping your feet on the ground and walking. This way you will not bump into any of the coral and damage it.

A walk along the beach.

Of course, most people don’t go to Tanguissen to swim; they go for the rocks. The rocks at Tanguissen were once part of the imposing cliffs the line the beach. However, they broke off and fell into the water. They have been eroded by the ocean and watered by the rain, and they have become quite beautiful.

Please remember that if you plan to climb onto turtle rock (the one with a shelf for standing on) that you should walk out in coral shoes, and try to avoid stepping on the coral. Keep your eyes on the ground and move carefully. There are tiny clumbs of coral here and there which are home to many fish, and they will not thank you for stepping on them.

Climbing on the rocks is (of course) not recommended. You won’t have cell service there and emergency services couldn’t reach you anyway, so if you hurt yourself you will still have to walk back to your car. In other words: maybe just take a picture of you standing in front of them?

Turtle Rock

You can walk past the rocks and follow a path up into the trees that will take you to one more tiny beach, but it’s not really safe to swim there, as there are more sharp rocks. Tanguissen is actually off-limits to the military because it has so many dangerous spots, but you can frequently see a tourist of two swimming there.

As with most spots on Guam, people sometimes die there. The island doesn’t have much in the way of safety nets or guard rails, so you need to use common sense when going places and always be aware of the fact that the coral and the rocks are sharp and will cut you open.

If you swim, stay inside the reef and away from the coral, and you should be okay. It is a wonderful chance to see baby fish who come and hide in the shallow water from sharks and other predators.

Another view of the rocks.

Also keep in mind that you really shouldn’t go up onto the land. It is owned by a local who is sometimes there on weekends. If he is, he may invite you to come up and say hello. Otherwise, remember that it is private property and be respectful of that.

As long as you are careful and respectful, Tanguissen is a wonderful place to get some breath-taking pictures and to spend a relaxing evening enjoying the sun and the sand. It is best to go after noon, as the cliffs cause the area to be in shadow in the mornings (making it impossible to get good pictures.)

A lovely lawn to sit on.

If you are just coming to Guam, I cannot recommend a Jeep or truck to you enough. Don’t buy anything nice that you will love, because it will get scratched up and end up covered in rust from the salt and the sand. Get an old beater that you can fix up a little and take everywhere.

We got a Jeep Liberty which we bought cheaply because it needed work. We ordered all the parts through Rock Auto and had them delivered, and it’s been a good vehicle for the island. We’ll be selling it soon, and it will be hard to part with. It’s a good car, and now that we replaced all the parts in the suspension, it’s even a smooth ride.

Anyway, if you are visiting: rent a truck. If you are moving here: buy a truck. Most of the best spots on Guam are very dangerous to take a car to.

The Jeep Liberty we took everywhere.

 

Thoughts on Seaside

Hug Point

One of the places that I went while I was on my stateside trip was Seaside, Oregon.

This is a town that is hard for me to explain, because it strikes right at the heart of middle-class American life in a way that makes me nostalgic and a bit sad.

My biological family (who abandoned me, as you all know) used to go to Rio De Mar in California each summer for a family reunion. So, the adopted family also having a beach reunion can -in and of itself- cut a little deep.

However, there is more too it than that.

Seaside is a town full of what I can only call classic American kitsch and, it can make anyone Generic American feel nostalgic. I fear that bit might need explaining…

Seaside

I hate to talk about race/culture differences because people always attack people who bring it up (like if you ignore it, it might go away.) But if I want to be honest about the Seaside experience I have no choice but to mention it.

See, as a kid I went to a summer camp at Sierra College. My two best friends there were a Chinese girl who went by “Christine” (so white people could say her name) and a black girl named Michele.

I used to sit and eat lunch with them every day, and we talked about our lives and our toys, and things we did with our parents.

Their stories were different than mine.

Christine went to CLC (a kind of Chinese school,) watched her mom pay Mahjong, and helped out at the family business. They went on summer trips to visit family in China, too. Christine always brought food that I liked, so we traded lunches. She was excited to eat my peanut butter and jelly, and I liked to eat her cold noodles and rice crackers.

As for Michele, she usually had a bought lunch because her mom didn’t have time to pack her one. Her family came from Somolia and she didn’t talk much because English wasn’t her first language, but she did tell us bits about being Muslim and attending an Eid festival.

I want to stress that their experiences were no less American than mine. But they are not Generic American. They are uniquely American. (Which is maybe cooler since diversity is kind of our thing as a country.)

There are differences in race/culture in this country, and there is no point in denying that some of us had experiences that others didn’t.

The point is: Seaside is nostalgic for people raised in the Generic American culture of the 80’s and 90’s. Christine would not find Seaside nostalgic because her childhood cultural experience is not represented there. But, mine is.

Also, a disclaimer: When I say race/culture it is because it is not one or the other that determines experience. I know white people from Poland who were raised Polish rather than Generic American. I also know people of Chinese or Mexican decent who had the same Generic American experience as me with crystal-growing kits and light brights and the whole thing. So when I say Generic American, it is exactly that. It is the experience that Americans have when they are not raised with extras, and only get the generic culture laying around.

I hope that makes sense, because I think it helps explain Seaside.

Seaside Aquarium

Seaside is a small town with restaurants, an aquarium, shops, and boardwalk attractions like bumper cars and mini golf. It really can’t be described as anything other than Classic American Kitsch.

I saw a Simon game in a store and remembered the hours I used to spend playing with one of those. I saw a tie dye kit and remembered the adults bringing us one when I was a kid to keep us busy while they sunbathed (and yes, of course we all ended up covered in dyes of various colors, as you do.) I saw bottles to put sand in, bags of shells for sale, and every other generic thing you ever had or saw as a kid.

I guess some of it is classically west coast. I mean, I hear that the shells and beaches are different on the east coast. I have never been to an east coast beach, so I really couldn’t say. But my husband is from Massachusetts and he says its different over there.

me in birthday hat

Seaside has a hat store full of silly hats that everyone goes in and tries on because the photos are amazing. There are squid hats and pizza hats. There are huge hats that look like Jacky-O would have worn them, and silly hats for festivals or Halloween.

There is also a carousel, because on the west coast I feel like every beach town is required to have one. The fee was $2, which I considered a bit steep, but what can you do? It might be things I remember from the 80’s, but the prices have inflated (as, I guess, is to be expected.)

And of course, there are store full of junk. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s just stuff.  I know lots of people like stuff and work their whole lives to acquire it. But, as someone who moves all the time, stuff is just dead weight to me. I guess that means I don’t appreciate it properly. Sorry. But you might appreciate it, so I took lots of pictures.

silly things for sale

We have been stationed in Guam for three years now. Before that I was in South Korea for three years. The plants are strikingly different in those places, and so there is something about walking down the streets in Seaside and seeing pots full of succulent cactus. There were also lots of lavender and hollyhocks, and post of petunias and violets.

As you know if you know me at all, I really love plants. I notice them more than I think most people do, and they are a huge part of what I feel to be the soul of a place.

Anyway, Seaside plants are of the same sort that you find in Northern California (Where I was born and spent the first 12 years of my life.) So, it feels a lot like home. I even saw California poppies in front of the little museum the town has.

hands in the air

The air is amazing too.

I post of lot of pictures of Guam. When you look at one, you can see what Guam is like, but you cannot feel what Guam is like. Each picture of a beach in Guam should come with the oppressive heat and sun that only the equator can provide, and mosquitoes buzzing in your ear the way that they always are in Guam. That’s the full experience, you know?

By the same token, pictures of Seaside don’t really cover what it is like. You are missing the biting cold wind that makes you snuggle into your hoodie, and the clean smell of the air that makes you feel happy and alive.

Another thing that I found striking was to remember the sound of the waves. In Guam, the waves break out of the reef, far away from the beach. But in Seaside, the waves come right up to the shore and you can hear them breaking. It’s a lovely sound.

cute little shops

My adopted mom loves the salt water taffy. I think that was a big part of the west coast experience when she was young, about 50 years ago. She talks fondly of seeing it made in store windows and such. I tried it and it is rough on the teeth. (I have a lot of fillings.) However, I don’t hate it.

There are also a variety of other restaurants. When my friends drove down from Seattle to see us, we even found one on the main street that allows dogs (since they brought their new puppy.)

There are quite a few places to get elephant ears, cotton candy, and hot dogs. I guess that is pretty standard boardwalk food, although Seaside doesn’t have a boardwalk. I guess to sum it up, if you were feeling like an old-fashioned root beer in a glass bottle and something on a stick, you would be able to find it in Seaside.

flower by the beach

There are also a lot of places that are only a short drive away. Canon Beach, for example, is just up the road and full of all kinds of lovely art galleries and bakeries. It’s a nice place to spend a day.

There is also Astoria, just up the coast. It’s the town where they filmed a movie called Goonies, and also another cute little ocean-side town full of kites for sale and beach blankets.

We went to Hug Point this year, and the beach there is charming. I also loved the tide pools, full of sea anemones and star fish. There is even an old section of highways down on the beach, which is completely covered in barnacles and muscles.

So, if you get a beach house in Seaside and then want to take short adventures, there is no shortage of nearby places to go and see.

 

 

bumper cars

I guess my strong emotional reaction to Seaside is rooted in growing up on the west coast in a very generic american household of middle class people. It is exactly the kind of place that people like I grew up with go on vacation, and it is really intense that my adopted family should hold their reunion there.

It is no accident that I was re-reading the Harry Potter series on this trip.

The family reminds me of the Weasleys. They are not rich or fancy, but they love each other deeply. And they adopted Harry because he was alone in the world and they felt that everyone deserves a loving family. That is, as far as I can tell, the same reason that the Layman family adopted me.

It’s not exactly the same as having a biological family. Nothing is. But when you don’t have a biological family, the next best thing is to have loving people adopt you. I am very lucky to have been adopted by the family, and I am very lucky that they let me come to their reunions.

 

 

tie dye kit and such

If any of you are also west coast kids, then I hope you can appreciate why Seaside is such a charming place.
And just because it is so different from my beach (or at least, the beach I live on), here is the ocean at Hug Point: