by Mariah Gill
Carabaos are awesome creatures! There is not a more gentle or majestic farm animal. On a road trip to the southern tip of Guam early Sunday morning we were lucky enough to meet two beautiful carabao females, Betsy and her daughter, at the old Spanish fort. Big John the owner was a towering Chamorro man with a Mohawk. We learned later that day from another carabao owner in Tumon, Koa, that Big John was “big” because his Chamorro bloodline was very pure. I had been longing to ride a carabao the whole trip so when Big John asked if I wanted to ride Betsy, I was ecstatic! What an amazing ride! We slowly lumbered along the cliff and overlooked the beautiful bay in which Magellan supposedly first landed. Riding Betsy was like riding a couch that sprouted legs, there was no harness or saddle but there was also very little risk of falling off. That scenic ride on Betsy completely made my trip to Guam.
After our tour of the southern part of Guam, we met up with the rest of the group and headed to Tumon, the tourist destination of Guam and also home of a marine protected area. There after snorkeling we were lucky enough to meet Koa and his year-old carabao bull, Kulu. Koa was very friendly and was happy to share his knowledge of the culture and carabao. He was currently working on building — a traditional Chamorro village to be presented at a cultural festival in October. He told us that although carabaos were brought by the Spanish for transportation and carrying heavy things, today the Chamorro people still use carabao when they go hunting. He said that they pile the deer and pig that they kill high on the carabao’s backs and then slap their buttocks. The animals then trot straight home with the game on their backs! Carabao as young as Kulu can only hold up to 150 pounds, but carabao as big as Betsy can carry hundreds of pounds. I bet she didn’t even feel my weight on her back!