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,


  1. Terie,
    I saw in one of your posts that you came with a dog. I am about to move there and need advice about shipping my pet there. Can you help?!!! I am moving in two weeks and have no info, please, any help would be WELCOMED thanks

  2. I was hoping the anonymous poster came back with a contact information but she didn't. I guess I'll meet her soon.

  3. It sounds like a little paradise! ;) I'm glad you've settled in and you're happy! ;)

  4. Hi! I am a young adult working for the CYP programs at MWR and there is an opportunity that has arisen in which the Naval Base in Cuba is in need of employees to come & assist with training new employees. I am interested in the trip, but as someone who has done little traveling alone and has never been away from home except for college - I am unsure of this adventure. Can you give me some background info on the base there? I see from your blogs that you have enjoyed your time there and it is safe [ which was a primary concern for me].
    *Are there other youth my age (early 20's)
    *How safe is safe?
    *Am I allowed to leave the base at all ever?
    *How is the family life on that base?
    *Will I feel welcomed?
    *What if I miss home?
    *What are the youth centers like there?

    If you can email me back at that would be great! Or

    *Incase I am unable to come across this blog again*