Thursday, January 10, 2013


That's ZOOPARK in the middle, written in the Cyrillic alphabet

Guam is experiencing a welcome boost to tourism, thanks to the increasing arrival of tourists from Russia.  The government has recently made it easier for Russians to travel to Guam, and Vladivostok, a major Russian city on the far eastern coast of Russia near Korea and Japan, is just several hours away from Guam by plane.

But the first Russian tourists to Guam came long before there were high-rise hotels on Tumon Bay.

Let's go back to....1817!

In that year, a Russian scientific expedition on board the Rurik, commanded by Otto von Kotzebue, visited Guam.  The scientist Chamisso and the artist Choris were part of this visit, and, thanks to them, we have some information and sketches of life in the Marianas back then.

Otto von Kotzebue
The First Russian Tourist to Guam

There was yet another visit by Russians, this time in 1870.  This time it was not a scientific expedition, but a Russian warship, that briefly stopped at Apra Harbor.

The Spanish priest of Hagåtña, Father Aniceto Ibáñez, went to visit the ship and met the chaplain, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Russian priest could speak Russian, naturally, and German; neither of which Ibáñez knew how to speak.  Thankfully, both the Russian priest and Ibáñez could speak some French and so they could communicate.  The Russian priest showed Ibáñez all the sacred items he used for their sacraments.

A Russian Priest
Much like the one who visited Guam in 1870


A few people say that Russian submarines were spotted off the coast of Guam in the 1960s, during the Cold War.

One John Forbes of Sinajaña is said to have taken his boat out to the submarines to practice his Russian, which he had studied in college.  We have no solid evidence of this, and is perhaps just one more entertaining morsel of the John Forbes legend.

Soviet Submarine
Did they visit Guam in the 1960s?

Before we had this....?

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