Didn’t sleep a wink on the 11 hour flight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. There was nothing worth watching on the movie channels. The tv programmes were dire, apart from “Bored to Death”. The title resonated with me. It turned out to be a US comedy that had me chuckling away … though I may have been hysterical with jet lag.
The four hour flight from Hong Kong to the island of Guam departed close to midnight. Arriving here around five in the morning, I was astonished to be welcomed at the plane door by FAWA convention chairperson Sylvia Crafton and Lynda Tolan. Both women looked incredibly bright and elegantly dressed considering how much sleep they must’ve had.
A policeman hovered discreetly in the background while they draped shell necklaces around my shoulders and planted kisses on my unscrubbed cheeks. A photographer stepped forward and took rather a lot of shots of the bug-eyed traveller and her hosts.
Sylvia guided me through baggage collection and customs, along with my first armed police escort. Smiling customs officers nodded me through. It was the warmest, easiest entry I’ve ever had into the United States. Even though Guam is almost directly opposite the US on the globe it is US territory.
I’m here to give a talk on women in education at the 2012 convention of FAWA (Federation of Asia Pacific Women’s Association). Impressively run by professional women throughout Asia and the Pacific, the organisation’s 20 years’ old this year. Most of the FAWA women are far better educated than I am. I hope they don’t mind me droning on for 20 minutes or so on Saturday.
It was good to have two free days to adjust after Europe’s autumn chill. Heat seeps through the walls here, no matter how efficient the air conditioning. The outfit I’d brought to give my talk in is liable to be left on the hanger. The only bearable fabric to wear in this climate is pure cotton.
If ever there’s a lull in conversation all you have to do is ask people about typhoons. They rip through the sky at 200 miles an hour, shredding everything in their path. It’s not unusual to go for days or even weeks without power and water. But Guamanians are hardy souls with a frontier mentality.
I’m trying to ignore the fact it’s typhoon season. Glancing through my hotel curtains, the beach below is a silver crescent dotted with Japanese honeymooners. The sea’s so flat and blue it’s difficult to imagine it any other way.
Guam may appear laid back, but this convention’s running at fever pitch already. This afternoon I’ll be at the rehearsal for the opening ceremony, where flags will be raised to represent each nation attending. And after a full agenda tomorrow there’s a dinner at Government House.
Maybe I’ll grab some shut eye while I’ve got the chance.