Friday, March 11, 2011

Family in Guantanamo - The arrival

We are so excited to finally have some relatives in town --- Yay!!! So to detail what it takes to get here, from anywhere and if you are not military dependent or accompanied by a retired military person.

First we have to settle on dates and make sure that the one (1) airline has available seats on their flights.  Air Sunshine is a chartered service that travels from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Naval Base Guantanamo several days a week.  One flight in, one flight out...if you miss it there is no other flight until the next day.  The ticket costs $550 round trip. There are no discounts, off peak season, military specials, nothing... it's a flat fee.  Don't  complain about it.  It is what it is.  

Once we secure the flight we have to fill out a form requesting permission to bring guests on board the base.  That process is painless and as long as the host/sponsor and guests have a clean record you will have an approval in less then 5 days.  Send that form along with a copy of the ticket receipts to the guests.  They will need to pay their way to Fort Lauderdale and need to be there at least 2 hours prior to departure.  For many that means flying in the night before, staying in a hotel and all that comes along with spending one night in a different city just to catch a flight out the next day.  My family didn't have to do that but they did have to get up at 5 am, fly from DC to FL and then wait a few hours to get on their flight to GTMO.

Airplane is small and moves slower then your average Jet but they arrived at 6:00 pm.  Once in Cuba they go through several layers of security, which I thought was strange since they are already here.  Anyway, just when they think they're done we tell them we need to get on a crowded, hot bus to go catch a Ferry to cross the bay.  It's lie Planes, Trains and Automobiles... one big comedy after another.  Thankfully they have a good sense of humor and are seasoned travelers.  They just flow with it.  I think they were really happy we were there to pick them up.  Someone told them they'd miss the Ferry.  Not sure why people feel the need to scare others who are new.

Coming in late is so deceiving.  They can't see any landmarks or the water and so we just drive home and eat a very late dinner.  

We are going to hit the ground running.  If the flight wasn't late we would have gone to the movies on the first night to see True Grit in an outdoor theater but it didn't happen. 

I hope to detail all we do here so no one forgets.  Busy days ahead! Stay Tuned!  There really is a lot to do here in Guantanamo Bay!


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