Welcome to Guam

IMG_0926Shopping with my mother, I notice several stores have boots on display. Boots. For sale. On Guam. There isn’t much variety (this is an island near the earth’s equator, after all), but there are a surprising number of boots nonetheless – and most styles are knee-length. Who would ever wear boots on Guam, where the temperature rarely drops below 77° F on the coolest nights? I see a woman walk by in a barely-there dress and calf-length boots. Beside her, another woman is in leggings and ankle boots. Well, there’s my answer.

Pretty certain that the boot-clad women are locals, I look around. Everyone else, tourists included, is in shorts and zories (the locals don’t say “flip-flops,” they say “zories”). The boots are a bewildering contradiction, but I’m distracted by the coconut candy I have in hand.

With every new store I enter, I’m greeted with Hafa Adai, pronounced “hoffaday.” It’s the Chamorro equivalent of the Hawaiian Aloha. Although Guam’s official languages are English and Chamorro, you’re less likely to hear pure Chamorro and more likely to hear pidgin English. I chuckle in a dressing room when I hear a child telling her sister, “Nana has a big dåggan.” Translation: Mom has a big butt.

Browsing a rack of dresses, I realize that my mom’s style has either gotten younger or that I dress old for my age. We’re admiring the same articles of clothing. Frightening. So, I’m off to comfort myself with some latiya. La-TEE-jah.