25 March 2014

Ever since the U.S. won Guam from Spain in 1898, this island in Micronesia has been a key U.S. military bastion in the far Western Pacific.

Apra Naval and Andersen Air Force Bases now have over 6,000 Americans in uniform with another 5,000 Marines soon to be shifted to Guam from Okinawa.

Even without the Marines, Guam was already considered by some to be the most important overseas U.S. military base. Its strategic importance seems sure to grow due to challenges by Pyongyang and Beijing.
Hotel row along Guam's Tumon Beach viewed from my room
As soon as you land in this U.S. territory, despite its distant location and despite the many Japanese tourists, you feel like you are indeed back in the USA, such as Hawaii. Even the row of hotels along Tumon Beach end in a high cliff (Two Lovers Point), not unlike Honolulu's Diamond Head.
Prada, Hermes, Cartier, et al. ― all the big name designer stores are here
Sincere apologies to the military, I'd foolishly supposed Guam's commerce was heavily tilted to tattoo and massage parlors, beer joints, and some t-shirt and trinket shops for the occasional tourist. While such places exist, Guam's version of Rodeo Drive is much more conspicuous.

Not only do the many Japanese (and Russian) tourists patronize the long designer row, they also flock, in tour buses no less, to American-style shopping centers, including what is often claimed to be the world's largest KMart.
Tsunami? Please head uphill; a modern tower echoing a centuries old latte (aka latde),
a Chamorro pillar that has become an icon representing the traditional island culture.

In the crucial battle of Guam, weeks of brutal fighting finally ousted the Japanese from their 1941-44 occupation. Memorials salute the many brave who died.

Guam sunset from near the War in the Pacific National Historical Park
Guam elects a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives who can vote in committee but not on the floor. Guam also elects a unicameral legislature, with Democrats now in the majority (9-6), but since 2003 Guam has elected Republican governors.

My Guam beach sunset photo at the top was used as the cover page for a fall issue of The Log, and my recap of my Micronesia travels was the feature story. The Log is a publication of my travel club, the Circumnavigators Club for people who have circled the globe at least once.