“And they lived untouched by sorrow in the islands of
the blessed along the shore of deep-swirling ocean,
happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet
fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods..”
In ancient Greek mythology, Elysium (to be deeply stirred from joy) was the afterlife. It was a place reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. It was where the righteous would remain after death, to live a blessed and joyous life. Sometimes when I am out in the jungle, I honestly believe that I am in my own sort of mortal ‘Elysium’. From the freshly fallen raindrops, to the sweet smell of the flowers that lead the way down a bright green jungle trail, it’s hard to believe it is anything but.
This weekend, tropical depression ‘Bavi’ passed through the Mariana’s. Heavy rainfall and strong winds took over the island, leaving no trace of transition from day to night. Under candle light, we shared stories of life’s journeys, while we waited out the weather. With the arrival of morning came the calm after the storm. The skies were still grey and gloomy, but the air was cool. The rain slowed down to a light drizzle & each drop felt almost cleansing to the soul. Droplets of water decorated the flowers and ferns that surrounded us, memories of the storm that was still not far gone. The colors of the jungle become vibrant with life after it’s nourishment from the sky, coloring the terrain in many different shades and tones of greens. It was a day meant to be explored and so explore we did. Guam has many hidden gems, and on this day we were grateful enough to explore one of them without any interruptions from the outside world.
Although now this location is more known for the 3 large (140mm) Japanese coastal defense weapons that reside there, it was actually once part of a 30-acre piece of land covered by small ranches the Chamorro people kept away from the villages. It was also home to school gardens, that were used to help encourage boys and girls to learn the art of cultivation and to put into practice all they had learned. About 5000 cuttings and hundreds of seeds of ornamental plants were started here, including the hibiscus flower, Mahogany and many other plants that were found to be adapted to local conditions.
To honor this land is to honor its history and the people that resided here long before my existence. Before you step foot onto this sacred ground, it is customary to ask the Taotaomona (spirits) for permission to roam a place that has and always will be their home. We assure the Taotaomona we enter with positive intentions and with the utmost respect for what is rightfully theirs. From the trees to the grass to the ocean waves that crash upon the shore, the spirits of the island sing us their song. In reality, the island of Guam really is its own ‘Elysium’. It is a place where spirits reside, present and passed on. I feel quite honored to be given the opportunity to call this place my home. I will forever be grateful for the lessons it has taught me, the memories it has given me, and the bond I have with the people, who are the heart and soul of this island in the sun.
– Naturally inspired. Locally aware. Universally beautiful. With love, Kerri.