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“MY New Book About Guam coming in 2021″

Margaret Allyn Greene Best

Author of “Unsung Hero”
and “Dandelion CHILD: A Soldier’s Daughter”

GUAM:

Where America’s Day Begins

Wake up on Guam: Discover the island

This memoir/travel book with beautiful color photographs gives the reader a snapshot into the beauty, culture, history, and experience of a little-known American territory the author calls paradise.

Looking over Hagåtña Guam. Hagåtña is the capital city of Guam.

Listen to Dr. Diann Schindler’s podcast as she interviews award winning author Margaret Best. Margaret will be discussing her upcoming book release about Guam, which is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2021. Click to listen to the audio. Don’t forget, Volume up.

Previous Guam Stories

Jungle River Boat Tour

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Jungle River Boat Cruise

Most of our Guam adventures began with a ride around the island with no place in mind, always finding something of interest. While driving in the Talafofo area of Guam, we came across a small sign on the side of the road. It read Jungle River Boat Cruise. Sounds interesting. We stopped. No boat in sight, however, a woman sat behind a make-shift kiosk close to the river. She explained the itinerary and pricing for this river cruise.

“There are two times for the cruise on a medium sized, canopied and motorized flatboat,” she said. “Call for reservations. The boats fill up quickly from all the tourists at the hotels in Tumon.”

The boat captain unfastened the rope from his gang way and allowed each person with a ticket to enter. Joel and I sat in the back of the boat. Big mistake. Although the guide spoke as loud as he could and in English, we heard little. The tourists talked  in their loud rather chopped languages. This shouldn’t bother me, but it did. I wanted to hear what the guide was saying.

As the captain took the boat out along the Talafofo River toward the junction of the Ugum River, I joined the crowd with excited talk. “Look,” I pointed toward the front of the boat. It looks just like the scene of the River Boat Queen with Katherine Hepburn and What’s his name.”

“Humphrey Bogart,” Joel said. “The African Queen.” 

“Yeah, that one. My, it is beautiful. It’s just as if we are in a real jungle.”

“We are,” Joel mumbled.

I watched small, green florescent fish swim along the bottom of the clear water while listening to the faint sounds of birds and crickets with an occasional splash.  The breeze rustled through the leaves on trees, the air smelled clean and pleasant this morning. Too soon, the temperature rose and our captain pulled the boat to shore. We docked beside a wooden stick constructed home. A stocky Chamorro woman wearing the local mestiza dress escorted us to another dock where she offered water.

Women Wearing Mestiza

The boat captain and his assistant joined us. “You are sitting at an authentic Chamorro Village site. The Chamorro came to this place from Micronesia on boats called proa, about four thousand years ago.  They built houses and used the resources found in this rain forest you may call a jungle. The water was pure and the soil rich.”

Proa Boats

At this point, another man entered the scene carrying a large round breadfruit and a platter of smaller fruits easily gathered in the forest. “The Chamorro were a fishing, gathering group of people. They ate what they could find. Breadfruit, coconut, wild yam, arrowroot, taro, ginger, and Federica nuts. The men fished while the woman cooked sea cucumber, shrimp, eels, and crabs. The only mammal indigenous to Guam prior to the Spanish was the fruit bat which became a delicacy.”

The guide cut open the breadfruit and passed it around for us. “Breadfruit was our stable,” he said. “We ate it with coconut milk, mashed, or sauteed in garlic and oil. We had no matches, so creating fire became important. We used a branch or stalk from the white hibiscus tree, and coconut husk to make fire.”

The jungle provided everything needed in the ancient society. Woman weaved everyday items like the lidded bags orbalakbagk for carrying tools, small rectangular baskets called kottot for carrying rice, fans, and hats. A woven mat or guafak was used as a blanket or a platter for food. Each item created came from either the banana leaf or another palm. Rope was made from shaved tree bark. Over the thousands of years life in the jungle necessitated clever invention.  

 “The ancients,” our guide continued, “used every tree and fruit for their life. They were fishermen rather than hunters. The women used the banana and pandamus, akyak, leaves to make their food pouches, kottot, and skirts. They used sturdier leaves from the coconut or nipa palm for roof thatching.”

We divided into small groups and tried our hand at weaving. Then the guide asked for volunteers. Guess who? That’s right. Me.

He put a grass skirt around my waste. Why couldn’t one of those skinny girls have volunteered? I hope this thing fits. It did and being me, I launched into an amateur hula dance shocking everyone, but the guide was thrilled. He asked me to stay still while he continued his talk.

Map of populated places in Guam
Map of populated places in Guam

He gave me a fan made of pandamus, followed by a hair piece and a little bag to carry food. I laughed and we had a ball, until he brought out two coconut shells. Oh, no. I giggled. Those are not going to fit me. The group started laughing while he played around a little  and then put the shells down and took out a long and wide woven pandamus halter and fastened it over my blouse while I cringed every time someone snapped a photograph. But we had lots of fun.

We then hiked a short distance to the latte stone site of this original settlement. We saw a few unearthed latte stones among the jungle foliage.

“These were unearthed here,” The guide continued. “We know the ancients settled in this area from about 1100 to 1700 AD, and then abandoned the site. We do not know why they left. The latte we believe supported a thatched roofed hut made from coconut and banana leaves and wood.”

About this time in the day, the sky became dark and rain threatened, so we loaded onto our boats and returned to the parking lot.  The Jungle River Boat Tour is a must by both locals and tourists.

“These were unearthed here,” The guide continued. “We know the ancients settled in this area from about 1100 to 1700 AD, and then abandoned the site. We do not know why they left. The latte we believe supported a thatched roofed hut made from coconut and banana leaves and wood.”

About this time in the day, the sky became dark and rain threatened, so we loaded onto our boats and returned to the parking lot.  The Jungle River Boat Tour is a must by both locals and tourists.

Expected Publication in Summer 2021

Author Margaret Best shares experiences and insights learned while living on the island of Guam.  Come with her as she explores this little- known dot on the map. Read its history, meet the people, and share her pleasure revisiting her life there.

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