Adios Guantanamo...nunca te olvidare!
The time to leave GTMO came so quick I don't even remember my last week on island...sort of. We left July 21st and I'm still trying to gather my thoughts and feelings leading up to the ferry's last whistle.
Leaving that island is not as easy as moving from another base within the states. In the states you get packed out and then you leave. There's no lingering, no waiting, nothing... if anything you might spend a few days in a hotel waiting to leave one city for another. If you forget to pack something, no big deal, throw it in the car and keep going, if you're over seas and forget to pack something you can mail it to yourself or just get rid of it. If it doesn't fit in the luggage it's not coming with you.
Anyway, the last week required us to check out, attend hail and farewell, pay out bills, be entertained by friends,turn in work time sheets, go to lunch with friends, turn off the cable/phone, have wine at the Marina with friends, pick up school records, go out one more time with friends, medical records, fit in one more dive, check luggage and pets early, get boarding passes the day before, get pet health and travel records, go for a walk with friends, and finally leave... Whew!!! Exhausting right?
Leaving GTMO... this is how it went for me.
After a long walk on the Ridge Line with my friend Ashley and her mom Beth I went home, showered, changed, got the kids ready, finished cleaning up and packed up the leftover foods and anything that was not trash. My neighbor Mayin took that box home.... then the Ferry farewell; probably the hardest farewell ever experienced because everyone you care about or who cares about you is there to see you off and to jump in the water for you and that feels great. You feel loved beyond words.
It was a busy, emotionally exhausting, physically exhausting week, but so many memories were made in just one week.
This blog has been read by more people than I realized. Towards the end of our tour I met many people who were reading the blog just to become familiar with Guantanamo and a few who started reading over a year ago and later made the decision to take that GTMO job because of what they read. I am so glad that my photos and stories were helpful to so many. I plan to leave it open as a source of reference for new families, but I know that a new GTMO family is moving to the island and I am so excited that she is ready and able to take "the torch" and continue educating, sharing, entertaining, with her blog about life in GTMO.
I know many people will think I'm making more out of this then there is, but know this, Life in Guantanamo Bay is not AT ALL like life anywhere else. Life on the only gated community on communist soil, knowing that you have the Castro Family on the other side of the fence and some other residents living on the other side of some other fence, it's a bit daunting. But in everyday life you don't come across anyone from the other side of either fence. You're too busy running the kids to a game, the pool, the beach, the next dive, a party, wine nights, girls night at the pool or guys Poker night, running to the NEX, the movies, or running just because it's an MWR scheduled event. You are busy... bring a calendar because you'll need it from day one.
Life in GTMO is different. Only those who have been there can truly get it and I'm glad I am one of the few. I know live in the great state of Virginia where nothing is 5 minutes away, hubby can't come home for lunch, and I actually have to plan my day to include travel time.
Take a few minutes to read from the beginning of this blog and then go and read Joy's blog GTMO Adventure as well, as she moves through the moving process and adjustment period. I can still answer questions if you have them, please leave me a message, I will get back to you!
GTMO you gave me many long lasting friends who are more like family. Thank You to MWR for allowing me to torture military and civilians with my six AM boot camp workouts for the last two years; thank you to all the people who came if for no other reason than to support me and be in my class at such early hour; Thank YOU to IOM for giving me a job so flexible that allowed me to participate in my families activities but also gave me the opportunity to help with Migration and resettlement of people in need. Thank YOU to all my friends... you are my GTMO family and I will never forget you!!