By Kyle Mandapat
Hafa Adai and what’s up everyone! My name is Kyle Mandapat and welcome to the first installment of Planet Kyle Presents: Welcome to Guam! This is a column dedicated to answering any questions that might be plaguing people about the Guam lifestyle. If you have a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to grab you somewhat legit answers and if I can, include some rice with them. Let’s get this party started! This first letter came in a couple months ago and deals with one of the female species’ most important body parts — their shoes.
My family actually just got moved here… and we heard you talking on the radio one morning about things people on Guam that might not happen elsewhere and I have a question for you. When we got to our friends’ home everyone took off their shoes. The floors were all tiled and my family was a bit confused. I followed suit and so did my family. This has happened at every other local house we’ve been to so far. Why? Tried looking it up online, but no answers.
First off, welcome to Guam! Secondly, good job! Like the saying goes, “If people are running from a smoking volcano, you probably should too.” In this case, the smoking volcano is probably someone’s feet. What you have observed is a great Guam tradition. You are probably going to find that everyone takes their shoes off when entering homes here, and from what I gather from the two times that my Grandma yelled at me for not, its all about manners.
The first time she got on my case was when I came in from playing outside. She just got done mopping and apparently, I just got done in some red dirt. Yup, that famous Guam red dirt may look good in your facebook pictures, but it is quite the nuisance when tracked through your house. While I was make believing that I was learning to ice skate through the living room, you can imagine my Grandma’s fright. Her freshly died hair almost turned totally gray instantly. The good thing is there was no carpet. That would have been horrible.
Another reason we take off our shoes is a as a sign of respect. Simply put, when a Chamorro woman spends a couple hours cooking and cleaning awaiting your arrival as a guest you want to make her feel special. Think of this as the ultimate compliment. Like when I tell my overweight brother that he looks like a Kardashian and should stop working out. Except you are saying, “Wow, this house is so beautiful that I don’t want to bring any dirt in it.” Chances are, you probably don’t want to bring dirt in anyway, so you are being way more honest that I am with my brother.
Hopefully, this answers your questions regarding that matter. Check back real soon and I will see you around. For Planet Kyle Presents: Welcome to Guam, I’m Kyle Mandapat saying, SHOOOOOTS!