Thursday, December 9, 2010's been so long!

Well it sure has been a long time since I last updated anyone about our life in GiTMO.  Everyday I come across stories and events that I want to write about and to share with the family.  Then the days come and go and eventually there are so many things I want to share that I end up sharing nothing at all.  Who ever thought that in a place that is so small and so limited one could be so busy, particularly during the holidays.

There are several holiday parties being planned, a few kid's birthdays on the same day, same time, different place; the Spouses Club Cocktail party, Boat Parade, Float parade, tour of homes, and the unchanging gatherings that come up on a daily basis for one reason or another... are you tired yet?

One thing I have to say about living here is that there is no reason for anyone to be bored or lonely.  Here we have to schedule time to be alone. Turn off the phones and the computer and literally, disconnect from human contact.  But most of you know, that's just not me so busy is good.  A little stress which puts me into action so that's a good thing.

Thanksgiving day was very nice.  While we missed the cold weather we were accustomed to in the North East there was not a lack for families, food, and experiencing a nice day away from those we love.  Having this local family is so important and I hope the people that are just arriving embrace this new family.  We spent the afternoon with the GiTMO Latino Families.  They had a Turkey and a Pig roasting over a fire Pitt in the back yard, teens playing games, kids playing in a bounce house, ladies dancing, guys laughing (at the ladies) and really great conversation with wonderful people.  We all miss our families but it really helps to be able to spend it with many other families also on the same boat.

Soon after we began planning to decorate and participate in the parade of floats.  Not exactly the Macy's Day Parade but definitely a lot of fun and a lot less people.  Our float was really great, the Seabees did a great job decorating it, however, at the last minute we discovered a faulty generator and our lights and music were not working.  We became the "greenest" float that day with lights from the fire truck behind us and our voices singing holiday music for about 1.5 miles.  The fun thing about this parade is that everyone knows everyone so it was cool to see people you know waving you by as we passed them on the road.  They waved, we threw candy, fun times.  At the end Santa and Mrs. Clause were available for the children to visit and get their gifts from Santa and of course pictures.  All in all, it was two hours of fun the kids will always remember.

Now we are planning the department party on Friday night, Santa will be there as well with more gifts for the kids, the spouses club cocktail party at the Admiral's house and from there we will be able to see the parade of boats (pictures to come soon.)  Finally, Sunday we have the Tour of Homes, of which I am a part.  This is a lot like a progressive dinner, except there's no dinner, just appetizers and drinks.  I have a feeling by the end of the night the people touring the homes will be well fed and partially intoxicated.  I don't have to travel, I just have to clean my house, decorate with what I have and welcome guests who come in increments of 10.  I am making a Sangria, Mulled Cider, BBQ Meatballs with mini rolls and a Spinach dip served in a bread bowl.   My house is as decked as it's ever going to be...I'm ready!

December 14th is the day we look forward to the most.  We are traveling to the states to visit family and friends.  I can't wait to see everyone, especially my son Josh.  He turns 20 today and I miss him so much.  I miss making his favorite stack of pancakes with lots of butter, syrup and a candle on his birthday.  We will celebrate next week with a trip to the Mall.  Me, King of Prussia Mall, and four kids~~~ Yikes!  I better take my B12.  We will be home before Christmas, if all goes well.

Whew!!  This doesn't even include the Diving I've done and plan to do before the trip, the kayaking with my morning class, Michael's fishing trips, Emily awesome grades this quarter, Natalie's soccer and tennis fun, and Jonathan's.... well everything about him!

Oh almost forgot, you know we have a dog, Honey.  She's awesome.  Best dog ever.  Well, we also have 2 darn cute.  Had to rescue them from the needle.  The were born stray and generally they are put down after a while if no one adopts them.  They are very playful and at times very annoying as heck but so darn cute and cuddly.

OK that's all I can give for now.... I'm tired, have to teach Spinning tomorrow could use a little time to just sit and do nothing.  Good Night!!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Blue Monday - Fall Season is upon us...sort of

This past weekend reminded me how much I miss a little cold air during this time of year.  It seems impossible to get in the spirit of the season when you are walking around in tanks, shorts and flip-flops, using mosquito repellent, and going kayaking early in the morning.  

Right around the beginning of October we would begin to use the old crock pot several times a week making the transition from outdoor grilling to soups and stews.  The kids come home with crafts and activities related to the Fall season.  We begin raking, raking, raking, taking a pictures in the piles of leaves and raking some more.  By the way, that's quite the workout, embrace it!  My other favorite is visiting local the farmers market to pick up the best of the season.  Mmmmmm, nothing beats eating exactly what the season offers, nothing more, nothing less. 

Then there's the pumpkin patch, haunted trails, the corn maize, and costume selections.  We love carving pumpkin and lighting up the jack-o-lanterns.  This is our first year living in Guantanamo Bay and it's just not the same.  We carved one pumpkin and forgot to light it up, went on a hay ride wearing shorts and t-shirts, picked pumpkin from a field where they were strategically placed, and went to a local party where we could all be outdoors sweating instead of freezing.  It's very different.

I do appreciate the efforts our Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department put forth to give the kids a piece of what they miss from the states.  To me that matters more then what I miss.  I can always make my indoors a little cooler and turn on the crock pot, bake a pie or two and for just a little while make believe it's cold outside.  It was a fun weekend for everyone, busy, but fun!!  Enjoy the blues and please, visit Sally at Smiling Sally to see all the beautiful blues shared by others around the world!!

Happy Fall...

~~ Terie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Around town in GTMO Bay

Guantanamo Bay has never been as green as it is now, albeit, with huge mosquitoes flying in your face. Hello bug repellant!!!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take my camera for a little ride around town.  These are but a few snapshots of things I see between my house and the Child Development Center.  Enjoy the tour - this was a 4 mile ride round trip... next time I'll take you on a tour of downtown and all the beaches.

Good morning sunrise...a glowing cloud in the morning

the windmills

sunrise at the fitness center where I cause the pain that people love :-)

residential homes

residential duplexes

a little water from the bay, beyond that are more homes

Marine Hill Fire Department

Green GTMO...haven't seen this in a while


Granadillo Pointe, residential

The dog park

a bus stop (free rides everywhere)

town homes


Marine Hill, where they train and live

I can't get over the vibrant green, this is Sherman Avenue

Residential neighborhood

single family homes

We're home!!
Visit Susan at A Souther Daydreamer to see other great outdoors!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The last two months.... whew!

It has been a busy, busy two months.  Crazy busy with the kids going back to school, the beginning of sports, work, and of course, all the social activities that we MUST attend :-)

Dad has been off-island twice and the most fun part about that is that when we drop him off we just stay put have a fun beach day; when we pick him up we look for sea glass and try to spot pretty fish in the bay.  The Ferry brings everyone back from the airport and on the off chance that we get there early, we sometimes ride the Ferry to the Leeward side and wait at the terminal.

Emily (#6) started the year off really well.  She was selected, along with another boy, to become a student liaison or mentor to new incoming students.  They were taken to San Antonio, TX for one week of leadership training, shopping, fun, and homework... that was exciting.  Actually, despite the fact that they had a lot of homework to do on the road, they are now all caught up and doing well.  The training went well and she is really excited to share it with her school.  Emily raised her AP grades from a C to a B! YES!!!!!  Emily is still taking Tennis lessons and is now playing Volleyball with the High School team.  They recently had their first win and it was quite the battle.

Natalie is doing really well in 3rd grade.  Her teacher is strict, but fair.  She really puts all the responsibility of getting work done and proper behavior on the students.  She is getting all her work done on time because she knows that no homework means no soccer or skateboard and she can't have that.  This is my very physical, athletic child. She is the one in blue about to bend it like Beckham or at least attempt to kick the ball.

Jonathan is doing well.  He spends a lot of time either at the pool, with friends in play groups or with me.  He is so darn cute and sweet. We are now practicing letters, numbers, shapes and colors.  His favorite line when he's getting yelled at is "I just want to be happy!! Kiss me, give me a hug!!"

As for me, well, I had to bid farewell to two truly great friends.  The amazing thing about living on base and more so in a community such as this one is that you form bonds that are so tight and so profound in a very short period of time.  Isabel is an amazing woman, huge heart, welcomed us with open arms and from day one we spent a lot of time together.  Amy, beautiful person and like Isabel, she too opened her house and arms to us.  We talked daily about everything.  These girls were my partners when I finally decided to become Scuba certified and we did it together.  It was quite the challenge.

I am still teaching 7 classes a week, all in high demand.  I love to spend time planning my classes and preparing for the next day.  I've started running again... speaking of which, we're running a 5K tomorrow and next week we have a 2 mile fun run with the dogs. That should be interesting.  Honey is going to love that.

Josh is doing fine, super busy with school, work, performances.  He was selected to join the Westminster Choir.  That was extremely exciting.  There are only 40 voices in the choir (I think) and I imagine they have very strict guidelines and a rigid selection process.  I am so proud of him.  I can't wait to hear him sing, he really needs to send me a CD soon.

Tomorrow is the Navy Ball and we are planning to begin our festivities around 4 pm.  I will return soon after to show our pictures and share the fun.  This is our date night, we get to dress up and be grown ups... well, ok, we'll call it that ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone.

Until next time!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Waiting for Daddy

"Waiting for Daddy"

Ferry Landing, named because this is where the ferry lands when people travel on and off the island. The ferry takes travelers from the Windward side to the Leeward side of the island, where the air terminal is located. It is a really fun place to bring the kids to receive dad and any other friendly face that might be coming home. It's also where many tears are shed when some of our closest friends leave.

On this particular day the kids were here to welcome dad home after being gone only a week. The water is clear in shades of blue and green. Looking into it reminds me of looking into a salt water fish tank, with a variety of colorful fish, coral, rocks and seaglass. As the ferry approaches the kids run over to the dock to wave at the newcomers and returning residents. Then they spot daddy waving back at them.

This is definitely better then any airport I have ever been in. We are very blessed to have the opportunity to experience life in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Daddy's home, again!! Yay!
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Pushing Fitness in GTMO

One of many inlets off the GTMO Bay

I push fitness, not necessarily vocally, but I guess with my actions. I can't help it!  I feel like I spend a lot of time in my fitness world and in the process I am pushing this lifestyle on to everyone around me.  Not that this is a bad thing and I really hope no one is ever insulted or offended by my level of energy.  I really don't care what your fitness level is, if you're not doing something active I'll probably come up with at least 3 things you can do outside of being in my class every day, to get your body in motion.  It's what I do and it's what everyone should do, not to be the elusive size zero, but to be in better health and feel good about yourself.

See Cuba across the bay and Hospital Cay

The problem here is that everybody knows just about everybody.  The ones that come to my class on a regular basis then see me at the NEX (Navy Exchange and Commissary) and either cover up their grocery cart or make it a point to show me what they're buying. It's quite funny sometimes.  Honestly people, I don't care what's in your cart, although if you feel you need to sneak it past me then you probably should just put it back and make a healthier choice (if you know what I mean).  However, I really don't go looking at people's carts and I definitely don't count calories for you.  That's your job.  My job is to motivate, teach, challenge, and help each person reach their potentials, reach their goals.  So please, carry that junk food with pride to the register because you'll be in my class tomorrow or the next day and I will make sure you burn that and then some!!

Another inlet on the way to Marina Point

Outside of "pushing fitness" by attending my classes (all seven), I tend to influence other activities, because that's just not enough for me apparently.  Kayaking, for example.  The other day I mentioned going Kayaking as a workout and really did not expect to get more than 2 or 3 people on board.  Boy was I ever wrong.  I'm expecting quite a few people at the Marina tomorrow.  So we're headed on a one hour expedition along the Bay shorelines during which time we'll learn how to maneuver this boat, spend a fun morning with friends, and get a workout, because believe me, you will get a workout.  If you get too hot, jump in the water to cool off, it's that simple.

It's hard not to be active here in GTMO.  Many people walk the steep and rugged hills, others bike around the base, and many participate in group organized sports and individual sports activities offered everyday. If you haven't already done so, start a new habit called "taking care of me!"  While you're at it, clear your mind of "can't" and fill that space with "will!"

See you around!


Photos by Lori Parker from A Mirror with Memory

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back in the Bay

"Home: Honey, a Blue Crab, the back yard view and new garden plants."

On our summer vacation, 
we went to the beaches,
played by the pool,
not much difference you see,
but the company was cool.

Vacation time is over,
we are back in the bay,
it's good to be home
through we still have to play.

School is not in session,
what will we do?
Go back to the beach,
the park and the pool.

We are starting to plan
our vacation next year,
we're thinking the mountains,
a fire-pitt and some beer.

But now, we must first
live life day by day,
life really is special
in Guantanamo Bay.

OK I'm no poet.  I typed the first few lines and thought "hmmm that sounds like the beginning of a poem." So there  you have it, my weak attempt after only 5 hours of sleep and a very long, hard, busy week.

We are definitely back and we all hit the ground running.  Working, studying, reading, planning "parties" and other events.

Our trip home was uneventful.  It was so sad to leave everyone again.  The difference this time is that when we leave our family in the states, we join our family in GTMO.

Our time in VA Beach was great.  I have to admit that sometimes I missed not knowing someone when I walked into a store or a restaurant.  When we checked in at the airport in Jacksonville, it was like being back in GTMO again.  We knew everyone, everyone knew us.  We immediately became relaxed about where the kids were because it's likely someone knows them and we all keep an eye on each other.  It was like being with family.

On the flight to GTMO, once again, we were surrounded by many of the people we work and play with and that was a really sweet reminder of the place we now call home and a comforting feeling.  I did not want to leave my family, my son, the accessibility of stores, open air markets, etc. But after being in the company of our GTMO family leaving wasn't quite so bad or so sad.

Michael took a few days off to finish another one of his jewelry boxes, Emily took one day off then went back to work at the Coffee & Icecream shop, I went back to work the very next day--no sense in postponing my workouts. Natalie and Jonathan spent a few days visiting friends, sleepovers, beach and pool fun times.  Now they are back in a routine with Jonathan attending play dates and pre-school a couple of days a week and Natalie attending a camp program called D.E.F.Y (Drug Education For Youth) in which the kids learn about more than just avoiding drugs.  It's pretty neat, she's there all day, they provide food, fun, entertainment and best of all, it's free.

Now we're all working full force.  I am subbing for another instructor which leaves me teaching 11 classes in one week.  Thankfully he's coming back next Wednesday so he can take his classes back.  The good thing about all these classes is that they are all different and I get to burn off my vacation weight gain.

Honey is doing great but I must retrain some things she had just learned, however, our sitter did a great job with her.

Another little surprise was my yard.  Our land people must have come across some goodies which they put in my yard.  It looks so pretty. We have more work to do but for now I have garden areas, some pretty plants and manicured lawn.

Yes, life in Guantanamo Bay is pretty special.  So glad to have the opportunity to explore and enjoy this little patch of heaven :-)

Until next time!

Pictures coming soon! I promise!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time for Family Vacation in the U.S.

It's always exciting to go on family vacations, but never has it been more exciting than it is right now.  This is the first year that we have had to live with only three of our four children, one is in college.  The first year we have lived out of the country with limited access to our friends and family... ok with no access except maybe online and that's just not the same.  Here in Cuba I have lots of friends and many are more like family.  I LOVE that we have each other here and I appreciate everyone one of my friends and "fitness followers" who are so committed and dedicated to my classes.  I will miss them all.

But for now I am focusing on how to best spend my time with my college kid and the rest of the family and of course, my friends still living in the area.  I am looking forward to going shopping at a real clothing store, a grocery store with more options, traveling more then 10 minutes and at more then 25 MPH.  Everyone tells me it's a little strange going places and not knowing someone.  I know here it seems no matter where you are you know someone or someone knows you and that's OK, although there are those days when you really just want to walk around incognito.  We have to get really creative to do that around here.

I am starting to get the house ready for our guest/house sitter/pet sitter friend.  Laundering and getting the clothes ready for travel.  My plan is to take the bare necessities so I have room to bring back things I can't get here.  I'm loading the iPods with music and T.V. shows the kids like, just in case we need to tame an angry child in the air plane.  The kids are making plans too.  The beach is not exactly what they're after, but the boardwalk goodies, the pool, family game night.  It's all going to be great.  We can't wait to leave the island for the first time in seven months.

OK, on to cleaning and prepping.  We leave next week and have a lot to do before then.

See you all soon,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GTMO Updates- Deep Water

"Deep Water on the Bay"

It has been almost a month since my "birthday adventure" article so I think it's time for an update on where I stand with deep water.  I have been afraid of going in deep water for a very long time.  I believe since my encounter with two rip currents while living in San Diego, over 20 years ago.  Yes, it's lasted that long and the more I put off jumping in the water the more afraid I become.  Because of this fear I stopped myself from becoming involved in many water activities and sports that seemed like fun and exciting to me.

I decided to change my attitude towards water and the Guantanamo Bay was going to become my friend. I am empowered, I am liberating myself from so much needless fear, I am going... SCUBA Diving! That's right, not just jumping in the deep end or going snorkeling.  Nope, going for deep.

I started taking diving lessons along with a few other girl friends and hired the best instructor in town to guide us.  So far we've done our lessons, taken quizzes, went diving in the local pool at a depth of 10 feet...woohoo! I'm on a roll.  Well, I still have to finish my qualification program by diving four separate times in REAL DEEP WATER - up to 40 feet.  OUCH!  I was am a little nervous about that but it's something I have to finish.

My confidence was coming back strong, that is until we went in the water a couple of weeks ago and realized that the water was murky, the current was strong and apparently I float more then most (it's not fat if that's what  you're thinking, maybe my voluptuous boobs, ha!).  Anyway, we (my friends, instructor and I) decided this was not going to be a very good day for diving or at least not instructional diving so we came back out of the water and went kayaking in the shallow side of the bay instead.

That same day we learned of an accident, totally unrelated to diving or recreational snorkeling, that took place in a different, more dangerous beach.  The accident took the lives of three Marines; three of our nations heroes.  We were deeply sadden by their tragedy and decided we needed to take some time to digest what happened. Yes, we were all a little afraid to go back in the water but we had to understand that their accident happened under different circumstances and we needed to be more vigilant of the conditions in the water and basically, listen to our instincts when we didn't feel it was a very good diving, snorkeling or swimming day.

This coming weekend we will attempt to do our first two dives again.  Our instructor is competent, has many years of experience and many dives in his logbook so we trust him and feel confident he wouldn't take us down if he didn't feel it was safe.

Aside from the diving portions of my "get over the fear" plan I recently passed both my written and driving test to get my Captain's license.  I can now drive "command" a boat and I can try to dock or just have my friends pull it in as soon as I get close to the dock.  I'm really excited about that, although, I do get a little nervous when the boat is being moved my the ripples in the water.  I'll get over that.

Kayaking has been the best adventure yet.  We go on Sundays and sometimes during the week with the kids. The water is shallow and calm and in one hour we are done having fun and ready for the rest of the day.

I admit that I still get a little nervous anytime I'm in the water, although, having a life vest on helps.  Sometimes we have to just jump in feet first and face our fears head on, otherwise they will forever control the way we live our lives.

Right now, we're going to the pool for the kid's swim lessons.  I hope they  never have to experience my fears, they should be a little nervous, a little afraid and very cautious, but not terrified. Hopefully, these lessons will take care of that.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

So long, farewell... Adios!

Fare winds and following seas my dear friends!

Everyone gathers at Ferry Landing Pier to say goodbye :-(

After the Ferry takes off many jump in the water and swim after them...

...then they stop, wave one last goodbye and swim back to shore!

Being in the military (and sometimes even working for the military) means having to say goodbye to friends on a regular basis.  It's our way of life. We don't like it. We don't enjoy it. But we realize that this is the way things roll and we must adapt and overcome.

Saying goodbye is never easy.  In the civilian world, where people rarely move and when they do they generally stay put for more then two years (and I really mean generally speaking),  you take your time getting to know the people around you.  You assess the personalities, the likes and dislikes, the kid's ages, and overall relationships around  you and then you begin to form relationships with the people who most fit with your own lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that. Except that it takes a long time to go through that process.  Time is something we don't have on our side.  Immediate family is something else we don't have.  Therefore, we must form bonds very quickly. We learn to embrace the differences in others and learn to trust, and I mean really trust, our neighbors from day one.

To someone in the civilian sector saying goodbye to someone you met a couple of months ago may seem like a simple, ok a little sad, but nothing to write about.  To us, particularly here in Guantanamo Bay, saying goodbye is quite an event and you really only have to have known that person a couple of months to have tears flowing into the bay.

Over the last few weeks we have had several friends leave.  They were like sisters to us all and we miss them dearly.  Each time we celebrated their new adventure by going to the beach or the pool, by taking them to lunch or bringing them dinner.  There were several parties, afternoon tea, coffees and finally a toast to bid them farewell as they took the ferry that would eventually take them to the airport.

Today was the last of them, at least for a few weeks.  Our good friend and her family left the island and is now headed to another island on the other side of the world (and I mean that literally).  She was an avid participant in all my fitness classes, she was a hard-worker, a fun, happy, sweet, beautiful girl.  I wish her the best in her new adventure and hope to meet up with her again in the future.  I've only known her 6 months but I feel like I've known her for a lifetime. It was hard not to cry when the ferry took off and headed to the other side of the island.  It was no different with the others that left before her.  Happy for them but really sad to see them go.

I love all my friends.  Thankfully, I have the ability to form bonds very quickly and lucky for me, the people I've met and have made a part of my life are amazing, wonderful, and the most awesome people anyone would be lucky to have as friends family.

I don't know how we'll ever do this but I do hope someday when we're all beyond the military and child rearing years we meet again somewhere.  I can almost see a book coming out of our lives as military spouses, civilian spouses working with the military and as sisters living in Guantanamo Bay!

My advice to everyone, civilian and military, don't wait to meet the people around  you.  While we may do this out of solidarity, we must also remember that life is too short to waste it trying to figure out people.

Just add smiles and kaboom, instant family!

Until next time,


Friday, June 18, 2010

Rescue me.... it's my birthday! um, a rip current?

Today is my birthday. I decided long ago that I would always find a way to spend my birthday surrounded by people, like the day I was born. Every day is a blessing, everyday is special and every year I’m thankful and proud of my accomplishments up to that point. This year, things are a little different. I have a story to share, so here it goes.

My friends, Michele, Isabel, Wendy and I planned to go snorkeling off of one of the prettiest parks in Guantanamo Bay. Phillips Dive Park is aptly named because it is the perfect setting for diving and snorkeling expeditions. You are in 8-10 feet of clear water the moment you step in. The view under water is AMAZING! There are so many pretty corals, fish in a variety colors (I’m sure I’ve seen Nemo and Dori on several occasions), and all the sea life, it is just breath taking. It’s like looking into a very big salt water fish tank. I can’t begin to describe, you really have to experience it for yourself.

The plan was to go out, have fun, come back in, eat, rehydrate, rest and go home! When Isabel, Michelle and I entered the water we joined Wendy and her family there as well. The four had already been in the water so they went back to shore. However, the adventure for Isabel, Michelle and me was just beginning. 

We suddenly realized that our efforts to swim to the pier or anywhere were taking us nowhere. I could not believe that we were being pull towards the ocean, this could not be happening, we’re in the bay and in a rip tide! Yes I felt a panic button being pushed but I had to be sure. I put my snorkel gear back on, attempted to swim with my face in the water and all I could see were water bubbles going past me. The coral just beneath me was still there despite my efforts to swim away from it. I looked at a big rock to my right and it was now in front of me, my friends were in front of me and I felt like I was being pulled directly into the sea. 

Did I panic? Yes. I did. I admit it. I was attempting to swim against a current and moving further and further away from my target. I think we all felt a little panic at different times as we realized that we were becoming fatigued and going nowhere but out to sea. Isabel was giving the distress signal to our friends on the pier but we could not be sure they could even see us. We yelled for help and at the same time I was thinking "they can’t hear us." 

Michelle and Isabel helped me regain my composure and we realized we needed to stop fighting the current and swim in a different direction, preferably, parallel to the shoreline. We made a hard right towards the coral reefs and swam to a large coral rock that was poking out of the water, just past the cave. Here we climbed and hoped that our friends who managed to make it to shore had not forgotten about us. They did not. We turned back and realized they were standing above us and they had already called for help. Yay! 

Once on “the rock” we tried to assess what just happened. We weren’t sure if we should laugh or cry, be upset or embarrassed. We couldn’t possibly be the only ones who had experienced this situation. Surely the boats will come soon and rescue us. Every 10-12 minutes the tide would rise and crash into the rocks making us even more nervous. For a brief moment we thought “if the tides keep rising, there wont be much left to stand on.” However, I noticed (or maybe remembered from somewhere) that there was a time interval and we would be rescued soon enough. We decided we needed to stay calm and laughter is a great way to relieve anxiety. We told some jokes, laughed at each other, sang some songs and made up words to others songs. Our friends on land even managed to sing Happy Birthday to me AND they were taking pictures, for training and historical purposes of course.

The rescue boats could not come close enough to get us off the rock and we were not about to start swimming towards them. Those tides were not looking very friendly. Now we could see four boats in the water trying to figure out how they could get closer to us, a fire truck on land and an ambulance waiting for our arrival at Ferry Landing. Finally, another boat managed to come a little closer. A rescue crew member swam part way with a line and we swam to him. One by one we were pulled out of the water and into the rescue boat. One hour later, safe at last. On the ride back to Ferry Landing we asked the crew if they had to do this a lot to which one of the replied “no, actually in the three years I’ve been here, this is my first rescue.” OK so, not sure how to feel about that now.

The rescue team agreed that the current was strong and that we did the right thing to swim parallel to shore and away from the rip current. They were great, made us feel comfortable and provided us with water and a quick medical screening, just to be safe. 

This is how I spent my morning on my 43rd birthday. Apparently, the event was filmed and I know we have pictures which I will share when we get them. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A visitor's experience in GTMO

Windmill Beach, Guantanamo, Cuba

This week we have a visitor in town.  My friend's mom came all the way from California to experience, first hand, life in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  It's hard to believe that anyone could be so happy living in a tiny part of an island where leaving is challenging and EVERYBODY knows your name (and sometimes, your business).

I'm happy to say that she has been pleasantly surprised by the activities, the people and the location, dry as it may be at times.  Eve, as we like to call her, still can't believe that we go snorkeling in the morning, followed by a light snack at the park, go home for a quick shower and change of clothes and then go to an all-you-can-eat seafood fest at the Galley.  The kiddos go down nap while mom's catch up with the daily chores, read, relax, etc. Then, off we go to the pool for swim lessons during which time the kids are trained and the parents simply sit and enjoy the company or go for a swim themselves.  All in a day's work.  Granted, this could easily be the schedule for those of us who work part time or are stay-at-home parents and while it might be a little more challenging for the full-time employees, they do have some flexibility in taking time off for R&R (rest and relaxation) and the weekends/evenings are generally filled with other activities.

Eve wondered when we would encounter some down time, not because she wanted any, but because she expected us to get tired of going to the beach, the pool, the Galley, and all the other activities available to us.  Well sometimes we do get tired of these things.  But then there are the birthday parties, the hails for incoming families and the fair-wells for those leaving, Bingo, Bunco, Bible Study, the Movies, and a whole list of other activities that take place throughout the week. Obviously, we don't all participate in everything but the opportunity is there if we want it.

We are lucky and blessed to have what we have here. I thought the people here were just nuts to be so in love with GTMO. But now I understand!  I don't have friends here, I have a family.  If I need a car, a ride, something from the store, I can simply call or email (or FaceBook) my friends and someone will be at my door within minutes.  If I need to vent, share a happy moment, have an evening cocktail, I just make a call, email, FB and someone will be at my door within seconds.  Funny thing is though, when I need to be alone to think, cry, read, rest and relax, again I make a call or send an email and the response to that is... "Good for you! You deserve "ME" time!" and no one will bother me (except my kids, they don't get it yet!)

So Eve said to me today when we left yet another pool party, "I still can't believe how nice everyone is and how friendly they all are to people they don't know and will probably never see again.  Everyone is so welcoming.  You are all very lucky to have each other."  I think she wants to stay longer.  I have a feeling she'll be back before her daughter's tour here is over.

Personally, I can't wait to share this little paradise with my family and hopefully, my friends as well.  It can be challenging getting in and out of here but the experience is well worth the trip.

We had a busy day and now we must got to the Tiki Bar for some adult fun with my girlfriends :-)

Until next time,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Proud Moments in Pictures

I love taking pictures.  My kids used to call me "mammarazzi" because it seemed like I was always trying to catch every special and not so special moment on film (and now digitally). I'm not necessarily good at catching the shadows or certain special details that some professionals catch, but what I do have are the most amazing stories for every single picture I take.

I take pride in being a positive, energetic, generally happy person.  Now that school is out for me (yeepee!!) it is much easier to wake up happy too.  If not for my pictures I might have forgotten how much fun we've had and I might not realize how much I was really doing amidst final exams and written essays.  I still wonder how I managed to do it all and managed to smile each and every day.

Today I'm just sharing a few pictures of proud moments that I did not miss and I have the pictures to help me always remember.

Sent my first born off to college, we stayed in touch, he managed to get on the Dean's List and finish the first year with a bang!  I miss him so much but I'm always happy when he's happy.  We are so proud of him :-)

My little artist managed to amaze me yet again with another interesting self portrait.  I can barely manage stick people so I really don't know what talent gene pool she's taking after. I love it when she draws herself or others in a short period of time and doesn't realize how talented she is.  Anyway, we are proud of her and her improvements!

My little swimmer.  He started off screaming at the idea of getting in the pool and now he is jumping and swimming.  How crazy is that.  Kids learn so fast and adapt so quickly.  Now he's fearless, which makes me even more afraid.  I must keep my eyes on him at all times.  We are proud of him for taking such a leap in his swimming lessons.

Little Miss Scientist here announced that she wanted to grow up to protect endangered animals.  For her diorama she chose the Mountain Gorilla, learned all she could about them and then during the fair, shared what she learned with other adults and children.  We are so proud of her for persevering and completing this project.

So I think it goes without saying that we only have four kids, Ha! Kidding!  That we are proud of our kids and so happy that they are happy in everything they are doing.  I'm glad to have these and hundreds of other photos to go back and relive these very special, proud moments in pictures.  They don't have to be organized, in an album, or in a scrapbook (that would be cool but let's not kid ourselves) I'm just happy to have them.

Have a fantastic week everyone!


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