By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

Every Wednesday, we have a class field trip as part of our course. This wednesday, we went to Hagatna and toured parts of the city with Elder Malia. One of the most notable parts of the trip was traveling to the canoe house where the most traditional canoes are still kept to this day. The Chamoru people are a canoe maritime people, and it was incredible to see their traditional structures as well as their contemporary changes. Malia was very knowledgeable about the history and language of her people, and shared in detail.

We spent some time learning about the importance of the canoe and how fast it was, as noted by Spaniards during the 1500s. It is truly remarkable technology, as the canoe is shaped differently than most canoes in the world. Instead of keeping a symmetrical shape, it is curved and this allows the air to flow differently, letting the small canoe soar.

Our next stop was the Guam museum, but on the way we stopped by the town’s Catholic church. Right in front of the church, there was a vendor selling Coconuts, and because it was a really hot and humid day, all of us wanted a coconut. He sold it with a straw and told us to come back when we finished the juice. He would then open it for us and serve it with soy sauce. it was delicious!

After being refreshed by the coconut, we headed to Guam museum! It was closed, but Elder Malia’s status as a leader in the community granted us access because she was giving us a tour. It was beautiful and had a really nice view of the town. As we all gathered on the outlook, Malia explained the history of this town center and how the Spanish gathered and displaced Chamoru people when they were colonizing the island. The Spanish relocated Chamoru people around the churches and the Spanish officials lived in the hills to police the community with a good view of the land.

Fortunately, we ended on a happy note as we then traveled to a Latte site where there were multiple giant Latte structures. Malia explained that these structures were used as foundations for the traditional Chamoru houses. They are found all over Guam and are reminders of its original inhabitants. The Latte are very important to the Chamoru.

Tecpatl studied abroad in Guam in Summer 2019.