Hafa Adai (pronounced half-a-day)
The first-half of the day started out as innocent as any other day. We woke up early at 4am, cooked up some coffee, packed a lunch, then headed out. We were going on a morning hike which would take us out to the end of the harbor’s engineered breakwater which protects Guam’s Apra Harbor.
Cabras Island previously was a long finger of low-lying reef which has been constructed and extended artificially to protect the harbor. It is now named the Glass Breakwater. It was named for Captain Henry Glass, who captured Guam for the United States in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. It is currently maintained by the federal government. It forms the northern shore of Apra Harbor in Guam.
There is a road that extends the length of the breakwater, though in the past it has been closed for security reasons during visits by ships. The opposite coast of the harbor is formed by the Orote Peninsula, which is home to Naval Base Guam and Point Udall, (formerly Orote Point), mainland Guam’s westernmost extremity.
Our trek would take us to the end of the breakwater where we would enjoy a small lunch and take in the views and maybe do some snorkeling. We would drive out past the Port of Guam on Cabras Island to a public access road which is where Family Beach and a host of other island water adventure operators are located. There we would park the car and hike the 1.7 miles to the end of the breakwater.
It was a relatively flat walk and with little shade, but seemed plenty long when packing like a mule and carrying a small cooler. Once at the end, we rested some, munched on some goodies, and took some photos… selfies mostly. There is a small beach below the tip of the breakwater inside the harbor but my Mrs. did not want to climb the giant boulders down some 100 feet to the bottom, so we stayed on top and enjoyed the scenery.
After about an hour or so, we began packing up our things for our return when we noticed a Navy patrol boat had taken some interest in our presence. I could not see clearly without my glasses but Teri said they were scoping us out with binoculars. I jokingly made a comment that maybe they will “call in reinforcements or an airstrike!”
Our First Guam Mango Moment!
As we began walking, the patrol boat eventually took off. We walked about a mile until we could see a vehicle approaching way off in the distance. It was definitely coming at us and as it got closer we could see it was an official security vehicle. When they got closer, the short bursts of the siren confirmed that it was us they were after. They pulled up well short of our position and both exited the vehicle and stood cautiously behind their vehicle doors until they could assess the threat (two old folks carrying a picnic basket). The Navy patrol boat spotted us, called the sighting in, and two civilian contracted security personnel hunted us down, just like you would see on one of them old TV cop episodes. Busted!
They approached us and informed us that we were trespassing and that nobody was allowed to be on this access road any longer. Because we accessed this road from a public beach, I asked why there was no signs or fencing indicating “No Trespassing?” I also suggested that this was a good snorkeling spot for many adventurers and that I have visited here several times before. The both agreed that it was just another liberty lost here on Guam. The officers announced that the “new” Commanding Officer has put this place off-limits. When it was learned that I was Navy retired, one officer comically stated “You know all too well then that when a new CO takes over, they usually like to re-invent the wheel.” After a laugh or two, the officers informed us that we had done nothing wrong and we were not in any trouble, but were quick to point out that once the new “No Trespassing” signs are posted, there will be arrests and citations issued for violating the federal law – with minimum fines of $250 per individual.
Being that there are many more places on Guam to venture off to and many more beaches and snorkeling sites, I think we can do without another long hike on the breakwater just to get some exercise and pictures. Before we were released into our own custody though, the officers and I reminisced about the old times and how we used to be able to do all these kinds of things without repercussions (they were local guys obviously)… the good ‘ole days!
Although we may have looked innocent enough, we were free to leave and went on our way back to our parked car while the two officers proceeded to drive out to the end of the breakwater, probably to look for any sabotage or damage we had done, if any. They were out there for quite some time as we walked well over a half-mile back to the beach where we were parked at and did not see them return. Maybe they felt the need to take in the great view and snap a few selfies while out there too!
In a strange and inconvenient way, it was comforting to know that the Navy Security Forces were doing their job. Spotting us from afar as they did was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.
We made it home in time for lunch and a nap, but the second half of the day had more in store! Stay tuned….