Liberation Day and Last Dive Day
August 21, 2012
This is our last day of diving and we are going out of the closer marina in the afternoon. Yea, one day we get to sleep late! Unknown to us when we planned the trip, it is also Liberation Day in Guam, the 68th anniversary of the day when Guam was liberated from the Japanese in WWII. It is a big party day here. People have paid small fees to have a watcher site along the main parade route and yesterday they were busy unloading tents and awnings and chairs and barbeque pits and such. Many people come and camp out on the boulevard (Marine Corps Highway) and have a big party. It’s not too expensive to rent a site if they clean it up afterwards because they’ll get a large part of their money returned. So the entire highway through the main part of town is lined with people getting ready to party hardy and watch the parade.
Our host and hostess are going on the boat with us this afternoon to snorkel. Our hostess is a water baby and a scuba diver and such but her husband is more of a land lubber and she is not sure she will get him into the water. The plan is to watch part of the parade and then head over to the dive marina in a roundabout way because we won’t be able to get onto the highway to drive down the road.
We have a lovely breakfast again and then pack up the car to go watch the parade. We end up by a small museum where someone has collected some WWII vehicles and memorabilia and put it in a museum that looks interesting. We might be able to stop by here tomorrow on our down day. We are able to park the cars close to the museum today so we can walk down to the highway. Supposedly the parade starts at 10 and that’s right about when we got there but we think we only ended up seeing about 3/4ths of the parade. The military floats and the military marchers and bands were the first entries in the parade and we missed them entirely. That was sad. I would have liked to have seen that. There are still a very small few of men from that time frame. They are quite old now (80’s and 90’s) and each year the number who participate in the parade declines. Soon they will be all gone. It would have been nice to see them and honor them for their work by supporting the parade but we missed them.
We found a spot to stand in the shade of a huge telephone pole and right across from the governor’s offices. They were slotting people into the parade from this location so that they didn’t have to walk extra miles before they got to the actual parade route where there were people to watch them. So we saw a lot of entries that walked onto the highway from where we were standing. It was very hot and some of the entries were NOT wearing shoes! OMG. Those poor men, women and children! I know they were in their native costumes from centuries ago when shoes weren’t invented for them but they didn’t have to walk on hot tarmac and blacktop back then either!
The Liberation Day parade is a chance for a big party as there were many entries in the parade that had absolutely nothing to do with the liberation of Guam but had a lot to do with showing off your car or just having a party. Hey, ok with me. These people are at least community spirited and proud of themselves and of Guam. And we did see some floats that were very proudly proclaiming the liberation slogan. It was a really nice parade and I haven’t stood and watched an actual parade in probably over 20 years! I was quite glad that we were able to catch this one and see it and see the community in action and the pride of it all.
Of course those were my thoughts at the beginning of the parade. By noon, when we had been standing there for two hours, I was pretty hot and tired and not so thrilled with it all and ready to leave. Luckily for us, the end of the parade came by us just about that time and we were able to walk up to our cars and drive them down to the highway and turn left, away from the parade, and drive to the marina. There is a small restaurant there and we have time for lunch. Several of the boat people come in for their lunch as well and they must have standing orders because they get their food quickly and are gone. Takes a little longer for us but MDA people have recognized us and know we are here so they won’t leave us. Another boat crew from another dive shop is there eating their lunch as well. They look like a combination boat and snorkel and dive and party crew.
Onto the boat and ready to go and oh look, a whole bunch of Japanese tourists and a drift dive! What a surprise J don’t mind. We are enjoying ourselves and growing ever so much more confident in being by ourselves under the water. We don’t go far and anchor, seemingly just outside the harbor. Our dive briefing says we will drift towards the right of the boat but we probably won’t go around the bend of the island. We believe him. Another so-so dive in that we didn’t find anything spectacular and marvelous but there were a lot of little fish and they are pretty. Our hostess got in the water to snorkel as did her husband but he got right back out again. He is truly a land person.
We are having great luck with our new safety sausage and its reel of string and are able to deploy it from 30’ depths or more and then just reel it back onto the reel as we go up to our safety stop. However on our first dive, when we surface, we are around the bend! This is the bend that the boat captain said we would probably NOT drift around it. We look all over and don’t see our boat anywhere. There is another boat there and seems to be a dive boat and they see us but they don’t come over for us, we are not their clients. My husband and I have been down approximately 45 minutes so we figure we went pretty far and probably need to swim back around the bend so that the boat will see us. I may have already mentioned that I am not a fast swimmer and apparently I am not a good swimmer either (well, I pretty much knew that). We start swimming slowly towards the bend. A couple of minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes and we haven’t moved at all really. The current is pretty much keeping us in the same location where we surfaced. Great. There is no way I am going to be able to swim around the bend. We are bobbing in the water with our safety sausage trying to decide what to do. I try to blow on my whistle a couple of times and it’s a small thhwwit noise that isn’t going to attract any kind of attention. We try to swim a bit more and nada – going no place. Some more bobbing and then suddenly my husband sees our boat! It is coming towards us from the opposite direction! Yea! Apparently the boat captain came around the bend to look for divers anyway and some of the Japanese tourists had drifted a lot further than we did because we hadn’t even seen the boat further down the shore. Saved by the Japanese!
Back on the boat and some of the good mango snacks that we picked up from K Mart and then soon we are ready to enter the water again. Our hostess is back in the water snorkeling as we get ready. Oh wait! This is going to be a return to the boat dive! Our first one here. Now we could use a guide because we will have to go out, turn around and find our way back to the boat. Just great. I am not very good at this even though I have a compass on my rig.
Into the water and I try really hard to figure out which way we are swimming and I do this numerous times so maybe we will be able to find our way back. This is a nice dive as we find a whole community of anemones but they don’t seem to have any fish swimming in them. Then we find some anemones with fish and spend a bit of time with them. We make a square box maneuver and are swimming back towards the boat, we think. Finally I see an anchor line but there is no boat attached to it. As we have been slowly rising depth-wise, and have been swimming in the safety stop zone for enough time, it is safe to do a spy-hop – that’s a quick bob to the surface to check and see where the boat is. We both pop up and glorioski! – the boat is just a few meters away at the second anchor line. We probably would have even found it had we kept swimming. Wow. I have actually navigated us back to the boat – with my compass and my hubby also deciding which way to go. We have plenty of time left with air so we descend and swim to the boat and play around the anchor line for a while. We find our one and only lion fish hiding under some rocks by the anchor line. I find another eel as well. So this was a pretty good dive. Finally we figure we should get back on the boat and we are actually the last ones on the boat. Back to the shore with some good dunking of our gear and then we are ready to head for the house.
Now we really rinse everything even better and then spread it out to dry and hopefully under the eaves in case it rains. Last thing I want to do is pack up wet gear. We also head for the laundry. It isn’t a problem to wash it here and sure makes my load back at the house much easier to not come back with a total suitcase of dirty clothes. Not too hungry after our big lunch but we hit Del Taco one more time. It will be months before we are able to go to a Del Taco again. Total junk food but it is tasty.
Sadly now we are done diving. Haven’t been real happy with the performance of my new dive light. I definitely still need buoyancy work and camera work. The diving was good but wasn’t spectacular so not sure if we will dive here again. I had wanted to dive on the two ships, a WWI and a WWII ship that are next to each other. We had been told we could swim out to them from shore, about 200 yards. Yea right. I couldn’t make any headway around the bend and I’m going to swim 200 yards!? Never happen. So sorry that we missed that dive but no one seemed to be interested in it but us. Maybe next time, maybe not.
Tomorrow we will pack and try to sleep as our plane leaves in the middle of the night. It would be good to also try for a museum or two but most are closed so not sure what will happen.