Sunday, August 19, 2012

Final Destination: Guantanamo Bay

We made it!  Our flight was great and miraculously, all six children and the dog cooperated during the travel day and we had no major hiccups.

I stole the title of this blog post from my new gtmo friend.  I had posted a status on Facebook that said, "next stop: Cuba" and her comment was, "final destination: gtmo".  Indeed.  Our final destination for quite awhile is here.  And that makes my heart happy.

My mind is completely overwhelmed with things to say.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • The island is beautiful.  To me, it is a cross between several places that I've been.  The coastline reminds me of California.  It is rocky cliffs.  The water is unlike any color that I've seen and I'm sure the picture won't do it justice.  I'm used to the beautiful waters of the Gulf Coast of Florida, but the water here is another color entirely.  It's almost like sapphire blue and turquoise combined.  The vegetation is very dense in areas, but in other areas, it is very desert-like.  It reminds me of Arizona when I see giant cactus.  And then there are hills everywhere.  In fact, our house sits atop a hill and we have quite the view!
  • Iguanas are synonymous with gtmo.  I think I have seen no less than 50 so far.  They come out at certain times of the day and it is not uncommon to see 5 or 6 within a small area.  I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing them.  
  • The people are friendly!  Starting with the terminal in Jacksonville, everyone was very welcoming.  Several people have told me to let them know if we need anything.  I got several phone numbers for people as well.  
  • Our neighbors are fantastic.  They brought us over some food today, complete with homemade tortillas and salsa.  They have four children and some are the same ages of ours, so that should make for some fun times.
  • There are more Jamaican and Filipino nationals here than there are Americans so it really feels like we are living in another country.
  • I love the Jamaican and Filipino people!  Warm smiles, hugs and kisses abound!
  • When we boarded and deplaned, it was on one of those rolling staircases.  You know the kind where you actually walk out to the runway.  That right away made me feel like I was going on vacation.  I suppose because the only other time I have done it that way, I was, in fact, going on vacation.
  • We had a two-hour flight and it included a free in-flight movie, a pillow and blanket on every seat and a MEAL!  Yes, you heard me.  A meal.  I think I was 15 the last time I got an in-flight meal.  My poor kids are going to be sadly disappointed when they realize that a meal is not standard with most flights these days.  The meal and movie was a great distraction for the kids and I think we owe most the the good behavior to it.  :)
  • As promised, Vic took us to dinner at the Galley.  This might be more familiar if I described it as a "chow hall".  It was great food and the best part is that it only cost our family of 8 around $28.  That included dinner, salad bar, dessert, drinks, etc...  
  • I got to shop at the commissary for the first time ever!  Since we are civilian, we don't normally get commissary privileges in the states.  So for me, the prices are even cheaper than the normal prices at a grocery store in the states.  Fun!  
  • We enjoyed two church services today.  11 a.m. for the protestant service and then at 6 p.m. for the GBCF (guantanamo bay christian fellowship) which is mostly filipino nationals, although there was a good presence of Americans as well.  Both services were great and we were thoroughly welcomed at both.
I have so much more that I could say.  I will end for now, but I will continue to write in the days ahead.  Tomorrow is going to be busy with several errands, laundry and some organizing.  And of course, more exploring!


  1. So exciting! I'm so glad I get to keep up with you guys thru the blog. Much love to you all! - Lynn

  2. A few thoughts:

    1. You can use coupons now -- 6 months expired! They're great.
    2. The rolling staircases, meals, and movies are pretty standard for the military flight. You did take a military flight, right?
    3. You have already experienced the neighborliness that is second-to-none on the military base. I'm sure you can feel the community already. This will be such a wonderful place for you to raise your children. They can play outside all they want. Strangers can take them places and help you on base. It's amazing!

    I literally got goosebumps reading your post. So very excited for you on this adventure.

  3. Great blog, I love it!

  4. Wendi, yes, I'm so excited about the coupons! Knowing that I can use coupons and then seeing the cheap prices made me eager to get my hands on some. :) And yes, a military flight. Way fun!