I thought I would briefly mention some of the outstanding characters that we have encountered so far (and we still have a whole week left to meet more!). Meeting new people is easily one of my favorite parts of traveling and probably why I like being a park ranger so much. I won't be able to remember everybody, but I'll give it a shot so I don't forget them after I get back home.
We have met several WWII veterans on this trip, both Japanese and American. Hearing their stories absolutely amaze me. I think I will write a separate post about the individual vets that I talked to. I've mentioned Tanji, our local guide. He is very colorful and cheerful. I imagine I will have more stories about him before the week is out. Dan is a Japanese translator that went with us to Iwo Jima; it turns out he went to the same high school as my mom, only graduating two years later. He is a very cool guy with lots of stories about the Japanese experiences in the Pacific. Tara works for the Stars and Stripes; we met her on Guam. She is very classy and approachable. She was neat; she dressed insanely feminine, had two of the cutest and most well-behaved kids ever, and is getting her masters in military history. I love it. James was our tour guide around the southern battlefields on Guam on our last day. He's not officially a native of Guam, but has lived there for something like 20 years and was very knowledgeable about Guam. He probably knows the Code of the Ocean by heart. Jeff the Pirate owns Jeff's Pirate Cove. He was cool; just a guy from Massachusetts who wanted to be a pirate, so he opened a bar/restaraunt on a cove. Rosa was an elderly Chamorro lady who showed us how to make salt; I can't remember the last time I've seen such dry sarcasm, especially out of someone who doesn't have all of their teeth. She made me smile. There are lots of others to write about for different reasons, but I should probably go. I think we are encouraged to meet some of our locals by eating and drinking with them in the restaurant next door. Plus I need to get to bed early so I can rise early for that boat ride through paradise.